Clinic: Criminal Defense - Skills

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CRIMINAL DEFENSE CLINIC IS A 6-HR. CLINIC. STUDENTS MUST REGISTER FOR BOTH 397C AND ONE OF THE 397D SECTIONS. The Criminal Defense Clinic is the Law School's oldest in-house clinical program, having operated continuously since 1974. Clinic students, supervised by skilled practitioners, represent indigent misdemeanor defendants in Travis County. Typical offenses include DWI, theft, drug possession, assault, and prostitution. The director and two supervising attorneys are very experienced criminal defense lawyers and clinical teachers. Clinic students function as the "first chair" attorney; supervisors merely guide them and sit "second chair" during court proceedings. Students arrange jail release, interview clients and witnesses, litigate pretrial issues, negotiate with prosecutors, and try cases to judges and juries. For appeals, students review transcripts, write briefs, and present oral arguments. Over the years, the collaboration between Clinic students and supervisors has produced impressive results, including a victory in the United States Supreme Court. Clinic participation requires scheduling flexibility. Court appearances usually occur on Tuesday morning, but not always. The class meets 3:30-5:20 on Thursday, but additional classes and simulations are scheduled during the first month, and office hours are scheduled during the client-intake period. These extra obligations make the first month especially demanding. The Clinic is a six-credit, pass/fail course. The classroom component emphasizes the nuts and bolts of criminal defense. The simulation component emphasizes negotiation and trial skills. The Clinic typically attracts students interested not only in criminal prosecution and defense, but also in civil litigation. Prerequisites: 43 credit hours completed before enrollment; not on scholastic probation. In addition to selecting the Clinic during Early Registration, students must fill out a short application.


Headshot of Cummings, Patricia J. Cummings, Patricia J.
Headshot of Allison, William P. Allison, William P.
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