The Criminal Clinic is divided into two programs: the Trial Clinic and the Appellate Clinic. Both are year-long, ten credit offerings in which law students represent indigent criminal defendants in the Connecticut state courts under the supervision of the Clinic's two full-time professors. Typically third year students take the Trial Clinic. Second year students more typically enroll in the Appellate Clinic. Criminal Procedure and Evidence are pre- or co-requisites for the Criminal Clinics (see the appropriate clinic description below for specific details).
Students are given as much responsibility in a Criminal Clinic client's case as the supervising professor believes the student can handle, consistent with the clinic's commitment to the highest standards of criminal defense. Our goal is to train student attorneys so thoroughly in the animating principles of defense lawyering that the student attorney will ultimately be able to spearhead his or her casework, not merely follow a supervisor's lead. To attain that goal, the programs begin with a thorough steeping in the "first principles" of constitutional criminal law and procedure, the Connecticut Penal Code and Connecticut rules of criminal procedure, and the demanding ethics of defense lawyering. While training continues throughout the school year (class seminars, simulations, video exercises, mock trials, etc.), the field work component of the clinic experience is the "hub" of the clinical experience. Some students are likely to be assigned case responsibilities early in the fall semester, others later in the semester, in the discretion of the supervising professors.
We strongly recommend that those considering enrollment in one of the Criminal Clinic programs speak with a student currently enrolled or to one of our nearly 400 alumni. The Clinic's Office Administrator has a contact list of current clinic students and clinic alumni.
The Criminal Clinics develop a student's technical professional competence in the criminal law so that our student attorneys can practice in the clinic consistent with the highest standards of criminal defense and so that our students attorneys can reflect on and maximize their learning from their professional experiences in the clinic. Our clients' cases "bring alive," and thereby confront student attorneys, with the myriad legal, social, economic and political issues that are omnipresent in the practice of criminal law: the potentiality for defining and doing justice in the criminal justice system; the obstacles to doing justice in the criminal justice process; the system's treatment of individual persons (defendants, complainants, witnesses, etc.); the cultural and communicative links and gulfs between lawyers and clients–particularly indigent clients; a lawyer's sometimes conflictive duties to his client and to others (the Bar, the Courts, society, to the lawyer's own values); and the need for decision-making that is timely, competent, ethical, legal and true to a client's interests/goals.
If you have questions or comments about the Criminal Trial Clinic, please do not hesitate to call, write or e-mail us.
65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105-2290
Tel. (860) 570-5165 Fax (860) 570-5195