Clinic: Criminal Defense - Skills

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The Criminal Defense Clinic (CDC) is the Law School's oldest in-house clinical program, having operated since 1974. Student-attorneys are licensed by the State Bar of Texas and try cases under expert and experienced faculty members. In addition to trials clinic students investigate crime scenes, interview clients and witnesses, litigate pretrial issues, negotiate with prosecutors, and work with judges and court staff. At times, students may arrange jail release. If a case goes to trial, the student-attorney will try the case. Over the years, the collaboration between Clinic students and supervisors has produced impressive results, including a victory in the United States Supreme Court. However, the Criminal Defense Clinic is primarily a trial clinic, not an appellate or post-conviction clinic. As such, it is a true complement to your doctrinal legal education. Clinic students sit "first chair" for the clients. The Clinic’s two supervising attorneys guide students and sit "second chair" during court proceedings, including jury trials. Over the years students have tried approximately two hundred jury trials and thousands of preliminary hearings. The key to this type of teaching/learning is intense preparation and team work. A hallmark of the CDC and of all good trial lawyers is preparation and professionalism. Each Clinic student also works office hours every week with hours depending on the size of the clinic. Students conduct initial intake interviews with potential Clinic clients, work on current cases and handle any emergencies that arise such as jail release. Being a member of the Criminal Defense Clinic is a fascinating and challenging way to learn “the practice.” It is a true complement to the analytical and critical thinking skills you have honed during your first year and a half of law school. In class, we incorporate a clinical teaching tool called “rounds” where we review current cases and court appearances. These discussions are a very powerful learning tool in the Criminal Defense Clinic and in clinics across the nation. The Criminal Defense Clinic is a six-credit, pass/fail course. The classroom component emphasizes the nuts and bolts of criminal defense with emphasis on misdemeanor practice in Travis County. We work closely with each student to avoid conflicts with other classes, job interviews, callbacks and exams. The two required simulations emphasize negotiations and trial skills. They are recorded and critiqued immediately. Volunteer prosecutors, often from Williamson County, assist Supervising Attorney Richard Segura to make the simulations “real.” For more information on the Criminal Defense Clinic, contact Bill Allison the CDC’s director (232-1463; CCJ 4.302A) or Kim Waters the CDC’s administrator (232-1300; CCJ 4.302 Library). The Criminal Defense Clinic is physically located in CCJ suite 4.302 along with the Capital Punishment Clinic and the Actual Innocence Clinic. Prerequisites: 43 credit hours completed before enrollment (this is a requirement of the State Bar Act and is not negotiable). Students may not be enrolled in another clinic. Most CDC graduates tell us “The Clinic” was their best experience in law school. APPLY ONLINE:


Headshot of Segura, Richard J. Jr. Segura, Richard J. Jr.
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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
08/03/2015 Instructor(s) updated