Criminal Justice Clinic

Faculty

  • Binny Miller
    Professor of Law
    Co-Director, Criminal Justice Clinic (Defense)
  • Jenny Roberts, Professor of Law (Defense), Co-Director, Criminal Justice Clinic (Defense)
  • Laura Bach, Adjunct Professor (Prosecution)

Staff

Defense and Prosecution Advocacy

The Criminal Justice Clinic is designed to teach student attorneys about the theory and practice of advocacy in the criminal and juvenile justice systems with the knowledge that these skills apply to lawyering in many other settings. The clinic practices in Maryland. The clinic offers opportunities for second and third year students to participate in either defense or prosecution, and occasionally, both.

Defense semester: Most clients of the clinic face charges in Montgomery County, although we sometimes represent clients with charges in other Maryland counties. We represent adults and juveniles; the majority of our clients are adults. Under the close supervision of a faculty supervisor, student attorneys are responsible for all aspects of their cases, from the first client meeting to courtroom advocacy. Student attorneys experience many aspects of representing clients, including developing a case theory, interviewing witnesses, researching the law, negotiating with prosecutors, arguing motions, conducting hearings, and most importantly, learning about the lawyer-client relationship. Some student attorneys represent clients whose cases go to trial. Even those cases that are resolved short of trial provide opportunities for extensive client contact, case theory development, fact investigation, and trial preparation. Student attorneys work in teams of two and meet at least weekly with their faculty supervisor to discuss their cases. They also meet weekly as a group in a two hour seminar and one hour case rounds that focus on client interviewing and counseling, fact investigation and case theory, as well the strategy, tactics and ethics of criminal defense work.

It is necessary to have access to a car for some activities, although the courts are metro-accessible. Typically student teams are paired up so that cars can be shared.

Prosecution semester: Student attorneys spend 1 or sometimes 2 days each week in a Maryland prosecutor's office (in either Montgomery County or other counties such as Ann Arundel and Prince Georges) where they are supervised by a prosecutor. They meet with an adjunct professor in a three hour weekly seminar to discuss trial advocacy and issues such as prosecutorial ethics and systemic pressures on prosecutors. There are also some individual sessions during the semester. Student attorneys are involved in handling court dockets, and spend a lot of time in court. They assist their supervisors with many activities, including conducting hearings and trials, and in some cases having the primary responsibility for courtroom advocacy.

Student attorneys must be willing to be placed in any of the available placements and to commute the necessary distance to the placement, which may take an hour or more. This work may require access to a car, since only the Montgomery County courts are metro accessible.

Options for students:

Students can opt for a single semester of either defense (fall or spring) or prosecution (fall). For spring defense students, an Extended Spring Defense option is available. Under this option, students will participate in some class work (but no case work) during the fall semester so that they can work on Circuit Court cases in the spring. Additionally, we are asking students interested in Fall defense to indicate whether they have a preference for working on juvenile cases.