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Criminal Prosecution Clinic: Clinical Coursework

The six students enrolled in Stanford¿s Criminal Prosecution Clinic prosecute cases at the San Jose Superior Court under the guidance of Santa Clara County prosecutors. Students formulate case strategy, identify and interview witnesses, and advocate before the court at evidentiary motions or preliminary hearings. The cases, almost always felonies, include drug offenses, thefts, burglaries, assaults (including domestic assaults), weapons possessions, and a range of less common crimes. Students offer testimony by police officers, crime victims, and other witnesses and cross-examine defense witnesses, including those defendants who take the stand. Clinic students spend at least three full days a week at the D.A.'s office. All six students must spend all day Tuesdays and Thursdays on site. Each student also must choose a third on-site day that stays constant through the term. There generally will be two class sessions each week-a three-hour on-campus class and a lunchtime seminar in the D.A.'s office. At the beginning of the term classes focus on skills training, including direct and cross-examination, admission of physical evidence, making and answering objections, and argument. Toward the end of the term the focus shifts to an examination and critique of the local mechanisms of criminal justice. Topics include the impact of race, gender, and class on the quality of justice; the institutional strengths and weaknesses of the actors in the system; prison conditions and prison reform; and the ethical issues that confront prosecutors and defense lawyers. Students typically tour the Santa Clara County crime lab, San Quentin Prison, and the Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton and have the option to spend an evening on a police ride-along. Students must submit regular written reflections on their experiences in and observations of the local justice system. Their assigned cases often will demand written court filings. During most weeks students will meet one-on-one with the faculty supervisor. Evidence is a prerequisite. In rare cases a concurrent clinic module in evidence can fulfill this requirement. Courses in criminal procedure (investigation) and trial advocacy are strongly encouraged. Students will be awarded three separate grades, each reflecting four credits, for clinical practice, clinical methods, and clinical coursework. Elements used in grading include class attendance and participation, writing assignments, case preparation, and courtroom presentations and advocacy. Class attendance is mandatory. Grading is on the H/P system. Special Instructions: General Structure of Clinical Courses: All of the Law School¿s clinical courses, other than advanced clinics, are offered on a full-time basis for twelve credits. This format allows students to immerse themselves in the professional experience without the need to balance clinical projects with other classes, exams, and papers. Students enrolled in a clinic are not permitted to enroll in any other class, seminar, directed research, or other credit-yielding activity within the Law School or University during their clinical quarter. Nor are they allowed to serve as teaching assistants expected to attend a class regularly. There is a limited exception for joint-degree students who are required to take specific courses each quarter and who would be foreclosed from taking a clinic unless allowed to co-register. These exceptions are approved case by case. The clinical quarter begins the first day of classes and runs through the final day of exam period. Students should not plan personal travel during the Monday-to-Friday workweek without permission from on-site and faculty supervisors. Students are expected to be available by email or cell phone during workday hours Monday through Friday and are expected to devote at least thirty-five hours per week to various facets of this work. In some weeks casework may demand longer hours. Enrollment in a clinic is binding; once selected by a clinic to which he or she has applied, a student may not drop the course later except in limited and exceptional cases. Requests for withdrawal are processed through the formal petition and clinical faculty review process described in the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website. Students may not enroll in any clinic (full-time or advanced) that would result in their earning more than twenty-seven clinical credits during their law school career. For more general information about clinic enrollment and operations, please see the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website.

2015-2016 Winter
01/04/2016 - 03/07/2016
Instructors: George Fisher

Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

George Fisher
Pat Sheeler