Federal Defender Clinic
LW.10783 / LW.10767
Prerequisites: Criminal Procedure, Evidence or a trial advocacy or litigation course**
Students in the Federal Defender Clinic (FDC) represent indigent defendants charged with misdemeanor offenses, such as drug possession, simple assault, weapons possession, and petty theft, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Students work on cases from initial appearance through final disposition, including pleas, hearings, trials, sentences, and appeals.
The focus of the FDC is on live-client representation and litigation. While under faculty supervision, students fulfill every role of the lawyer, including interviewing clients, negotiating with adversaries, speaking on behalf of clients at all appearances, making opening and closing arguments, cross-examining government witnesses, and other aspects of in-court hearings and trials. Students work in teams on most cases.
Fieldwork includes attending court on arraignment days, interviewing and counseling clients, investigating factual matters, researching legal and factual defenses, and negotiating with prosecutors and agency representatives to obtain favorable dispositions. Much more extensive fieldwork is undertaken in cases not disposed of at the initial arraignment day, including full case analysis and legal research, crime scene investigation and interviewing of witnesses, further client interviewing and counseling, and drafting discovery motions, subpoenas, and pretrial motions. Students then conduct extensive negotiations, engage in proffer sessions, and draft plea agreements. Cases not settled are taken to formal court hearings and bench trials before federal Magistrate Judges with students handling all aspects of the cases, including motion practice, witness preparations, direct and cross-examinations, opening and closing statements, and legal arguments.
In addition to their misdemeanor cases, clinic students work on federal felony cases through the clinic's affiliation with the Federal Defenders of New York. Students will work directly with experienced Federal Defenders in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York to help them defend federal felony cases. Research and preparation for sentencing will be a focus of the 2013-14 clinic felony fieldwork.
The seminar meets two evenings per week for a total of four hours. The seminar involves critical examination and discussion of the criminal justice system based on the students' experiences and observations. After a discussion of interviewing and negotiating strategies and techniques, students conduct mock client interviews and negotiating sessions to prepare for arraignment day. The remainder of the fall semester is spent discussing legal analysis, investigations, discovery, subpoenas, client-centered counseling, plea bargaining, motion practice, and techniques of litigation. Students draft case analysis memoranda, discovery requests, motion papers, and negotiation letters. The spring semester focuses on trial strategies as some cases may head to hearings and trials. During the school year, students will engage in a full simulated suppression hearing, and a full simulated trial. Interwoven into the seminar are discussions of the ethical and systemic issues facing public defenders.
Qualifications for Applicants
Only third-year students are eligible to take this clinic. Criminal Procedure, Evidence or a trial advocacy or litigation course is required as a prerequisite. If students have not taken any of these courses, they are expected to take one concurrently with the clinic; Criminal Procedure is the recommended course in that instance.
Credits and Hours
The FDC is a year-long, 14-credit, clinic. We will award three clinical credits and four academic seminar credits each semester.
Particular Scheduling Requirements
In addition to the evening seminar hours, FDC students will be required to attend approximately five court intake days per semester. Accordingly, students will need to be available on Tuesdays between 9 AM and 1:30 PM and may not schedule other classes at that time.
Applicants should submit a resume, unofficial transcript, and application using CAMS, the online application system. Students will be contacted by Michelle Williams after their applications are submitted to arrange individual interviews with the professors. If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Williams at (212) 998-6439 or email@example.com.
Students are strongly encouraged to speak with current members of the clinic:
Interested applicants may also contact the adjunct professors. Christopher Flood may be reached via email at Christopher_Flood@fd.org; Annalisa Mirón may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* 14 credits includes 3 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits each semester.
** If students have not taken any of these courses, they are expected to take one concurrently with the clinic; Criminal Procedure is the recommended course in that instance.