Criminal Defense Externships

Explore criminal defense externships:

Shannon Cumberbatch and Gregory Herrera, Lecturers-in-Law, 4 credits (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

Course Description
This externship immerses students in the cutting edge of defense work on the frontier of civil rights in the South Bronx - the poorest congressional district in the country. A person of color living in the Bronx is more likely to be stopped and frisked by the police, arrested, evicted, enter a homeless shelter, be on welfare, or have their children removed than a resident of any other county in New York State. The Bronx Defenders has pioneered Holistic Defense, an innovative approach to indigent defense, in order to help clients deal with the enmeshed penalties of criminal justice involvement.

Course content and fieldwork will train students as future holistic lawyers offering seamless access to services that meet clients' full range of legal and social support needs.

The Seminar
The weekly classroom component will help the students contextualize their experiences with their clients and the justice system. By addressing topics like racial and class disparity in the justice system, policing policy, and the social history of the South Bronx, students will be able to locate their experiences of individual client representation in the broader discussions of normative social, political, and economic policy. Role playing, simulations, as well as background reading and real- world case studies, will help inform students, and lead them toward a mastery of both the theoretical underpinnings of holistic advocacy and the practical aspects of actual client representation.

Fieldwork
The Bronx Defenders' award-winning collaborative approach uses interdisciplinary teams of criminal defense, family defense and civil action lawyers; social workers, and investigators to address both the underlying issues that lead to criminal justice involvement and the devastating collateral consequences of arrests and convictions. Students will be paired with a mentor at the office and will have the opportunity to participate firsthand in interdisciplinary team-based representation.

Important Information
The course will be limited to 8-12 students and will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites to take this course other than a passion for service in low-income communities.

Mark Zeno and Ben A. Schatz, Lecturers-in-Law  4 credits (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

Course Description
The Center for Appellate Litigation Criminal Appeals externship offers CLS students the opportunity to brief a criminal appeal on behalf of a client who is among society’s most disenfranchised: a sentenced and incarcerated person who has been subjected to systemic and individual injustices during the era of mass incarceration. Each student selected for the externship will assist a client in challenging the system that has taken away their freedom, representing them on an appeal of their felony conviction to the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.

The Seminar
The externship consists of a seminar component and a field component. The seminar will meet for two hours weekly. Seminar sessions will consist of lectures, discussions, and in-class exercises. Seminar sessions will address both the fundamentals of appellate advocacy (including the harmless error and preservation doctrines, and scope and standards of review) and the practical skills essential for effective lawyering (including ethical responsibilities, brief writing, oral advocacy, and client communication). Focus will also be placed on a variety of other issues affecting students entering the legal profession (including a “career fair” with a panel of CAL attorneys). The externship’s seminar portion will be graded.

Fieldwork
The field component will be with CAL, a public defender organization based in lower Manhattan that represents clients convicted of crimes in Manhattan and the Bronx on their state court appeals. CAL, founded in 1997, engages in cutting-edge client-centered advocacy, often involving complex constitutional issues. Although students will work with CAL attorneys and utilize its resources, students will not be required to spend any minimum number of hours in CAL’s office. Working in two-person teams, students will represent a client appealing their felony conviction with CAL and, under the supervision of one of the instructors, will draft an appellate brief. For the supervised brief-writing part of the course, students will digest the full appellate record, research and select issues, draft the opening brief in collaboration with their clients. Students will meet with their assigned instructor weekly, either virtually or in person, and engage in scheduled conference calls with their clients, many of whom are incarcerated in NYS correctional facilities. Students will be given the opportunity to visit incarcerated clients. At the conclusion of the semester, briefs will be filed with the Appellate Division, First Department. Students may later draft a reply brief and/or orally argue their cases. Each student will be expected to devote at least 12 hours per week during the semester to their assigned appeal.

Important Information
The course will be limited to 8 students and will be open to JD and LLM candidates. Preference will be given to students who have an interest in zealously advocating for people ensnared by the criminal legal system and utilizing persuasive writing as a means of achieving justice.

Alice Fontier and Danielle Jackson, Lecturers-in- Law, 8 credits (4 in the Fall and 4 in the Spring)

Course Description
The NDS Community Defense Externship is an 8-credit course offering students the opportunity to learn about and experience the practice of client-centered indigent criminal defense in an innovative, holistic, and community-based setting. The course consists of a weekly seminar and a field placement at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS). Alice Fontier, NDS Managing Director, and a practicing attorney from the criminal defense practice, teach the course. Students will be evaluated and graded based upon class preparation and participation, and active participation in the field placement.

The Seminar
The weekly seminars will provide an in-depth examination of indigent defense generally, and holistic representation as practiced at NDS, specifically. The Seminar will consist of two parts. Half of the seminars will consist of lectures and presentations on the areas of law in which NDS provides holistic representation – this includes parental representation in Family Court; eviction defense in Housing Court; Immigration; Juvenile Defense; Enmeshed Civil Penalties; and policy and legislative advocacy; in addition to a thorough examination of criminal practice and procedures in New York State. In the second portion of the seminar, students will work through a criminal case problem from arraignment through trial and disposition. This portion of the seminar will be primarily experiential, students will be taught about a particular aspect of criminal practice, and then will be expected to demonstrate those skills the following week. For example, students will learn about the bail process and then make bail arguments; motion writing will be accompanied by drafting and arguing a suppression writing; and students will learn and practice basic trial skills.

Fieldwork
The field placement will be at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS). Each student will be expected to work at least 11 hours per week at the NDS office at 317 Lenox Avenue or in the field. Students will be responsible for all aspects of at least one misdemeanor case, beginning with the client interview and arraignment at New York County Criminal Court. Fieldwork may include, but is not limited to, attendance in court, visiting clients in their homes and/or visiting clients in jails.

Students will also be matched one-to- one with NDS Staff Attorneys and will spend the year assisting their attorneys in all aspects of their cases, including writing and researching motions, investigations, social service and mitigation work, plea bargaining, and preparing for pre-trial hearings, trials, and sentencing.

Important Information
The course will be limited to 10 students and will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites for this course, but preference will be given to students who have taken Evidence and Criminal Procedure. Students who wish to take a Trial Practice course are encouraged to take Advanced Trial Practice after this externship. Students should plan to avoid permanent scheduling commitments on Fridays, as to ensure adequate time for fieldwork. Occasional Friday commitments are permissible.