In the Criminal Defense and Justice Clinic (CDJC), students represent individuals charged with misdemeanors; examine, consider, and act to remedy injustices in the criminal justice system; and participate in a rigorous and interactive classroom seminar.
Students in the recently launched CDJC represent indigent defendants in misdemeanor cases in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Charges will typically include assault, destruction of property, drug possession, theft, threats, and unlawful entry. Under the guidance and supervision of faculty, students will learn the critical substantive law and the skills necessary to provide excellent, client-centered representation, including fact investigation and witness interviews, interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating with prosecutors and representing clients in court. Students will be responsible for every aspect of their cases, from pick-up shortly after arrest through completion of the trial stage of the case, to investigating facts and interviewing witnesses, interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating with prosecutors, and ultimately taking the case to trial, if necessary. In preparation for trial, students will develop the various advocacy skills necessary to represent their clients in court, including also engage in motions practice, opening statements, cross and direct examination, and closing argument and arguments.
Student Information and Eligibility Requirements
The Clinic will focus primarily on defending people in criminal proceedings in Washington D.C. As students represent clients in the criminal justice system, they will also gain insight into the justice and injustice of the system itself and tackle issues relating to race, poverty, and mass incarceration in the criminal justice system. They will gain perspective from their case work and from class discussions to assess the effectiveness of the system to achieve justice. Students may also work on related policy work connected to racial and/or economic justice and criminal law. Special projects in the Clinic will engage students in system reform through direct action.
Criminal Procedure (6360) and Evidence (6230).
For more information, please log in to the Portal. A complete set of application instructions is posted approximately one month prior to the registration period for the following semester on the Clinics portal page.
Information for Clients
Unfortunately, the Criminal Defense and Justice Clinic cannot take cases from the public. The Clinic currently receives all case appointments from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.