Comparative Criminal Justice Clinic: Focus on Domestic Violence

LW.11757 / LW.11968
Professor Holly Maguigan
Professor Shamita Das Dasgupta
Open to 3L, 2L, and LLM students*
Maximum of 12-15 students
Not offered 2020-21
7 credits**
No prerequisites or co-requisites (see "Qualifications for Applicants" below)


The work of the Comparative Criminal Justice Clinic is criminal defense and assisting the clients of community-based organizations. The clinic offers students the opportunity (1) to compare and contrast different uses of criminal prosecution to combat domestic violence, (2) to develop a critical analysis of the advantages and limitations of various criminal justice strategies, and (3) to assist lawyers, agencies and CBOs working to devise and implement changes in those strategies.

Course Description


Domestic violence occurs everywhere, with different resonances in different cultures. Every country has a criminal justice system, but the attempt to use arrest and prosecution as tools against domestic violence is far from universal. Within each nation where domestic violence is prosecuted, there is debate about whether a criminal-court approach will ever make more than a marginal difference. This debate, examined in a comparative and interdisciplinary context, is the focus of the weekly seminar.

Specific areas of inquiry will include mandatory arrest, prosecutorial discretion, no-drop policies, and mandatory reporting to law enforcement by health care providers. In each area we will analyze the potential for racial, cultural, and gender bias in the policy’s implementation. The main points of comparison will be India and the United States.


All fieldwork placements will be in New York City. They include criminal defense offices, advocacy organizations, and community-based organizations. Every student will have client contact and responsibility, and the placements will offer opportunities ranging from direct representation of an individual to provision of advice to an agency on policy and strategy issues.

In Spring 2012 students worked on criminal defense teams representing battered women accused of crimes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens with lawyers at the Legal Aid Society and in private practice. Students on the civil side worked with attorneys at Connect, Sanctuary for Families, and Safe Horizon. Students should plan on spending12-20 hours a week on fieldwork (3-5 hours per credit).

Substantial Writing Credit

Students who plan to fulfill this writing requirement in connection with the seminar should meet with Professor Maguigan once during the Fall 2011 semester. Call her at (212) 998-6433 or e-mail to arrange an appointment.

Qualifications for Applicants

This course is open to second-year and third-year JD students, to LLM students, and to MSW and PhD candidates at Silver School of Social Work. There are no prerequisites, but students will find it helpful to have academic training or practical experience in one or more of the following areas: criminal procedure, comparative or international law, evidence, domestic violence counseling, advocacy, litigation or policy, and interdisciplinary work. Law students who wish to work in the area of criminal defense should have taken criminal procedure and evidence.

Application Procedure

Interested students applying during the Spring 2011 cycle should submit an application, resume and grade transcript through CAMS. Students will be selected on the basis of their applications and interviews with faculty. Please schedule your interview through CAMS. Current CCJ students are available to answer questions: Rosalind Bell, Kimberly Donnelly, Brian Harris, Alice Huling, Marietta Jo, Dahsong Kim, Elena Lobo, Evelyn Malave, Karl Mulloney-Radke, Lauren Restrepo, Anha Vo and Heather Webb.

Places are reserved for transfer and LLM students and for students in the social work school. Their application deadline is October 15, 2011. Transfer and LL.M applicants should use the CAMS procedure described above. (Please note that there is a separate application form for LLM students.) Social work students should download the application form and send it, along with a resume and informal transcript, via e-mail to both Holly Maguigan and Damaris Marrero. For questions regarding the application procedure, please contact Damaris Marrero.

For more information about the clinic, please contact Professor Shamita Das Dasgupta, Professor Maguigan at (212) 998-6433 or via e-mail, or former students listed above. You may also reach the clinic administrator Damaris Marrero, at 212-998-6473, or via e-mail. Ms. Marrero will schedule the interviews.

* The seminar portion of the clinic is also open to MSW and PhD candidates at the Silver School of Social Work.

** 7 credits includes 4 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits. Only the three-credit seminar portion is open to social work students.