Academic Programs

Third Year Students

The criminal clinic accepts 18 upcoming 3L students each year. Students must commit themselves to participate in the clinic for both semesters of their third year. As a prerequisite to their participation, these students must have completed by the end of the first semester of 3L year, a course in Evidence, a course in Trial Advocacy, and a course in Criminal Procedure.

Fall Semester - 3L year

In the first semester of their 3L year, students participate in Criminal Trial Practice I (5 credits). Each week, Criminal Trial Practice I meets for two hours. Students must also be available one morning a week to be in court. The classroom component of this course provides students an introduction to Massachusetts criminal procedure and basic instruction in lawyering skills such as case planning and investigation. Students are assigned to cases handled by senior members of the Prosecutor and Defender programs and are expected to conduct tasks out of court such as legal research, fact investigation, witness interviews and preparation. One morning a week, students are in court observing and second seating the cases they have helped to prepare.

Spring Semester - 3L Year

In the second semester of their 3L year, students continue their participation in the criminal clinic by enrolling in Criminal Trial Practice II (5-8 credits). This course examines advanced issues in criminal practice, such as motions to suppress and sentencing advocacy. In conjunction with their class work, students are assigned to either the Prosecutor or Defender component of the clinic. Students in the Prosecutor Program receive five credits and must be available to be in court one day a week. Students in the Defender Program receive eight credits and must be available to be in court two days a week.

Defender Program

Students in the Defender Program are assigned to represent indigent defendants charged with criminal offenses in either the Boston Municipal Court or the Boston Juvenile Court. In both locations, the students act as defense counsel under the supervision of a clinical professor. The work in court provides students with exposure to lawyering experiences such as investigation, interviewing, counseling and trial advocacy. Primary emphasis is on the development of trial skills, and students spend the first part of the semester acting as defense counsel in misdemeanor cases of increasing complexity. Later in the semester, representation in felony cases is possible. At all times case assignments are based upon an individual assessment of a student's progress and demonstrated competence.

Prosecutor Program

Students in the Prosecutor Program will act as prosecutors in the Quincy District Court, for the Norfolk County District Attorney's office. The students have responsibility for all aspects of the cases they are assigned, under the supervision of the clinical professor. Students are exposed to a wide variety of experiences, including investigation, interviewing and trial advocacy. Students spend the first part of the semester representing the Commonwealth in misdemeanor cases of increasing complexity. Later in the semester, representation in felony cases is possible, as well as having an opportunity to appear before a six-person jury session. At all times case assignments are based upon an individual assessment of a student's progress and demonstrated competence.