Clinics

Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic

LW.10051 / LW.10536
Professor Kim Taylor-Thompson
Professor Anthony Thompson
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 16 students

Year-long course
14 credits*
Pre- or Co-requisite: Evidence. Criminal Procedure or Criminal Litigation are recommended.

Introduction

The Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic will be offered to 16 students as a year-long, 14-credit fieldwork course and seminar. Students should expect to devote 12-15 hours per week to their fieldwork.  This new clinical opportunity is an outgrowth of two clinics formerly taught as independent clinics: the Community Reentry and Reintegration Clinic and the Criminal and Community Defense Clinic.  Next year, the clinics will merge to offer students an exciting opportunity to explore the intersection of direct representation in criminal court, city-wide criminal justice policy, and community engagement.

The clinic allow students to explore the ways that defenders can provide holistic representation to clients charged with criminal offenses.  It will also explore that defenders can work in collaboration with community groups and their clients to address broad, pressing issues in the criminal justice system. The clinic will expect students in the course of direct representation to work on reentry issues.  Using an interdisciplinary approach, students will be expected to explore ways that defender offices can be more grounded in the communities from which their clients come and to which they will return. In addition, the clinic will examine and work to make reform recommendations regarding current bail policies in the New York City criminal justice system.

Course Description

Fieldwork

Students will be assigned to work in two offices: Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) and the Bronx office of the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Practice. Students will have the unique opportunity to be embedded in two of the premier criminal defense offices in New York City.  Students will have the opportunity to work with lawyers directly on criminal matters facing clients.  That work will involve intake, investigation, advocacy at arraignments, working with clients and witnesses, and legal research in adult court. In addition, at BDS, the students will have the opportunity to continue working with the Brooklyn Adolescent Representation Division (BARD), a special unit that advocates on behalf of young people in the adult system. In both the Bronx and Brooklyn, the clinic will look to address common reentry issues that clients face in criminal court.

In addition to the casework, students in both offices will collaborate on an extensive review of misdemeanor bail policies in the Bronx and Brooklyn to gather data that can be used in litigation or in legislative advocacy to reform current bail practices.

Some feel for the fieldwork of the clinic can be found in the work of each independent clinic in previous years. Fieldwork has included the following:

  • Working with clients and witnesses in the preparation of defenses to criminal charges.
  • Legal research in preparation for matters that arise in criminal cases.
  • Appearances in court in arraignment hearings.
  • Making Bail Arguments.
  • Working with clients to obtain certificates of relief from disabilities and certificates of good conduct where appropriate.
  • Devising and implementing a comprehensive legal needs assessment to determine the services a neighborhood-based defender office should provide.
  • Devising and conducting a study of remand practices in juvenile court in New York City.
  • Advocating, in coalition with other community-based providers, for the use of alternatives to incarceration and bail reform.
  • Advocating for other policies that facilitate the reentry of individuals returning to their communities.

The Seminar

The will examine various conceptions of the role of the defender office in an effort to begin developing a vision that treats individual representation as the primary, but not sole responsibility of a defender office. Students will be introduced to approaches that attempt to move defender offices toward more community-based, activist roles in the political and justice systems. Students will explore the range of roles that defenders can play in advocating for their clients and client communities. They will be exposed to principles of problem-identification and problem-solving as theoretical constructs. Then, through case studies of individual representation, outreach, education and organizing initiatives, students will closely examine ambitions, methods and achievements in light of those theories. The interdisciplinary approach of the seminar is designed to encourage students to share ideas and theories across disciplines as a means of developing stronger analytical, consensus-building and leadership skills.

The seminar will also provide a forum for a collaborative effort with staff from local defender offices, advocacy groups, and community members to begin the process of moving beyond the defender's constitutional mandate to represent individual clients charged with crimes toward a role that involves greater participation in the larger community. The seminar will explore various policy roles that defender offices might begin to assume. Students will examine the tendency of traditional defender offices to isolate themselves from the larger community and will attempt to determine whether and how these offices might become more actively involved with client communities, the media and others in position of influence to shape and advance an agenda on behalf of defenders' client base.

The seminar will include simulations and materials to expose students to various forms of advocacy. Lawyers who represent individuals charged in the criminal justice system need to have a varied arsenal at their disposal.  The seminar will expose to students to media advocacy, legislative advocacy, and community advocacy.  Students will explore ways to develop facts and frame issues, collaborate with staff and communities, and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies that have been developed. Class discussions will examine the differences between - and interrelationship of - individual and group representation, informal and formal advocacy, and litigation and non-litigation strategies.

Application Procedure

Please submit your clinic application, resume and unofficial transcript through CAMS, the online application system. There will be an interview which can be scheduled on CAMS. If you have any questions, please contact Damaris Marrero at 212-998-6473 or via email.

Student Contacts

Criminal and Community Defense Clinic
Danielle Arbogast
Siobhan Atkins
Kadeem Cooper
Jesse Dong
Yvonne Eloseibo
Hannah Mercuris
Sarah O’Brien
Olivia Scheck
Community Reentry and Reintegration Clinic
Stephen Ballentine
Toi Carrion
Jeffrey Dahlberg
Anna Estevao
Caleb Fountain
Brittany Francis
Rachel Hoerger
Daniel Yu

* 14 credits include 3 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits per semester.