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Criminal Defense

Take a hard look at how the American criminal justice system really functions. Then work to improve it.

From the start of the Criminal Defense Clinic, you'll be out front representing clients in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Under the supervision of Professor Cheryl Bader, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Professor Martha Rayner, a former public defender of the Legal Aid Society and the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, you will take on the full representation of your clients charged with misdemeanor crimes. You may also represent sentenced clients seeking clemency and parole, clients indefinitely prisoned at Guantanamo, and pursue reform-oriented litigation and projects.

After a few weeks of intensive preparation, you'll meet your first clients in a holding cell behind the courtroom and then appear before a judge to argue relevant legal issues and for the immediate release of your clients. You will get out on the streets to investigate cases, examine alleged crime scenes, interview witnesses, draft and argue motions, prepare for trial, interview and counsel clients, and negotiate with prosecutors.

You will work closely with law colleagues as well as social work and forensic psychology colleagues. And your experience will be contextualized with seminar work that examines the strengths and weaknesses of a complex criminal justice system and the role of the defense attorney.

All this will take place in a supportive and reflective environment where you will learn to be your own best guide and teacher to becoming an excellent problem solver and provider of legal services.