Course Description



LE = 16

Prerequisites: Criminal Law

An experiential approach to understanding the nature of the criminal attorney's practice and the criminal justice system. Students prosecute and defend simulated cases. Activities include client and witness interviewing, motions practice, voir dire, examination of witnesses, trial, and appeal. These activities allow for reflection on the intellectual, ethical, pragmatic, and personal issues confronting criminal practitioners and on the workings of the criminal process.

As an advanced simulation course in criminal practice, students are assigned the role of prosecutor or defense attorney in one of two cases, which run throughout the semester. Students are responsible for exercises in all stages of the criminal process, including initial interview of client or police and complainant, fact investigation, grand jury practice, motions, plea bargaining, voir dire, aspects of trial (including planning the case, arguing to a jury, and examining and cross-examining lay and expert witnesses), sentencing, and appeal.

Through their experiences, students have the opportunity to develop lawyering skills, to learn experientially the use and integration of areas of doctrine, and to learn about and reflect on issues that arise in the criminal justice process. Skills include pretrial and trial skills, the exercise of lawyerly judgment, and strategic thinking. Doctrinal areas include criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence. Issues raised include: (1) Does the practitioner's view of the guilt or innocence of the defendant matter? How do prosecutors and defenders justify their roles? How do they feel about these justifications? As a defense attorney, what is it like to operate in a state of uncertainty about your client's guilt? How does this affect your relations with the client, your strategy, and your sense of self-worth?; (2) There is much discussion in the literature about whether the criminal process is basically an adversary system or a bureaucratic system. What insights do we have on this as we go through the process? In this regard, what is the role of plea bargaining? What are the pressures on judges, prosecutors, and defenders to move cases expeditiously?; and (3) What is the effect on the practice of mandatory minimum sentencing or sentencing guidelines? Is the cure of these statutes worse than the disease of discretion? What is the prosecutor's role in sentencing, and does it affect the defendant's right to a trial?

There is no final exam, grades are based on performance and participation during the semester and final trials performed by the students.