Course Description

601:723. Civil Rights Practicum (3) S



The Civil Rights Practicum is an experiential advocacy program designed to promote access to justice for pro se plaintiffs in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Students will have the opportunity to represent pro-se litigants in settlement conferences with opposing counsel in a variety of Section 1983 civil rights cases. Students will have the opportunity to:

Review client claims and related documents;

Conduct confidential client interviews;

Explain the legal process and rights to clients;

Negotiate with opposing counsel; and

Draft Settlement Agreement if case is resolved

In 2015, the combined dockets of the Camden, Newark, and Trenton vicinages included 1,917 pro se cases. Of those, 1,200 were prisoner 1983 condition/treatment suits. Under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, prisoners in state prisons have the right to sue in federal court to seek relief for alleged violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute. In an effort to improve access to counsel for prisoners seeking relief and alleviate the strain on judicial resources, the Civil Rights Practicum will be appointed to handle cases which have been previously screened by the District Court for the program.

The project will be under the direction of Adjunct Professor Lou Moffa, who is an experienced federal court litigator and civil rights attorney. In this limited enrollment course, students will attend weekly seminars and have supervision meetings with Professor Moffa to discuss all aspects of assigned cases.

Eligible students include all third year students (who will be certified to practice under the New Jersey student practice rule 1:21(3) (b)) in addition to qualified second year students who have had professional responsibility.