Constitutional Rights Enforcement in Capital Habeas and Prison Cases Externship - Full-Year Course
George Kendall, Sam Spital, Corrine Irish, and Carine Williams, Lecturers-in-Law (Full-year course: 3 academic and 4 clinical credits)
This two-semester externship will focus upon federal constitutional rights, and the legal doctrines and on-the-ground factors that influence how they are enforced in serious criminal and prison cases. As part of the unique public service practice groups within two commercial law firms – the Squire Patton Boggs Public Service Initiative (PSI) and the Holland & Knight Community Services Team (CST) – students will work on prisoner cases where the stakes are high. They will perform a variety of litigation tasks related to one or more clients challenging death sentences, life imprisonment, solitary confinement or other constitutionally-based challenges to sentences or prison conditions. George Kendall, who heads PSI, PSI attorneys Corrine Irish and Carine Williams, and CST attorney Samuel Spital, will jointly teach the course and supervise field work. The class will ordinarily meet at Squire’s midtown offices in Rockefeller Center. In the fall, the class will meet weekly on Fridays at 11am; in the spring, class will meet every other week on Thursdays at 4:45pm. Occasionally, the class may meet at Columbia Law School (for example when a guest speaker’s presentation would be of interest to a large portion of the law school community).
NOTE: This is a year-long commitment and registration for both semesters is required
The seminar will utilize court decisions, legislative activity, related research, and PSI/CST case materials to explore how the enforcement of constitutional rights operates both in theory and in practice. The weekly fall seminar will focus on understanding the constitutional rights implicated at trial in capital and serious criminal prosecutions and understanding how post-conviction doctrines facilitate or fail to facilitate their enforcement. In the bi-weekly spring seminar, students in the class will study rights commonly implicated in the prison setting, and various doctrinal obstacles to remedies when such rights are violated. The seminar will also seek to develop the skills of students through in-class exercises that engage students in the advocacy required of practicing attorneys and policymakers in this field.
PSI’s litigation practice focuses primarily on capital, serious criminal and prisoner rights cases in the American South. All fieldwork will be devoted to indigent PSI and CST clients, or to counsel of record or amici supporting indigents. Students will be assigned to an attorney’s case team or teams and provide legal research, record analysis, fact investigation, trial prep and/or hearing prep in one or more capital, complex habeas, or prison civil rights cases. While the exact nature of the work a particular student is involved in will vary depending on the particular needs of a case at the time, in the past, students have:
Assisted in jury selection for death-penalty resentencing in Florida (PSI/CST obtained reversal of original death sentence in the 11th Circuit);
Conducted expert witness and fact witness preparation for Schulp innocence hearing in Virginia;
Assisted with expert witness preparation in state post-conviction hearing in death penalty case in Arkansas;
Assisted in preparations for oral arguments in the 5th Circuit for prisoner’s rights case;
Prepared drafts of motions in state and federal court and petitions of certiorari in state and U.S. Supreme courts
Travel may be possible for interested students, but not a requirement of the externship.
Requirements & Application Process
Students must take both semesters to receive course credit. Four credits will be earned in the fall: two graded academic credits for the weekly seminar and two ungraded clinical credits for the field component. Students will receive three credits in the spring: one graded credit for the bi-weekly seminar and two ungraded credits for fieldwork. Grades for the seminar will be based upon class participation, class presentations, and the quality and timeliness of written assignments. Evidence, Criminal Procedure and/or Federal Courts are recommended pre-requisites or concurrent courses.
Please send an email to [email protected] answering the following questions:
- Why you are interested in taking this course?
- What prior work experience, law school activities, and/or other experience have you had that are relevant to this externship?
- What challenges do you anticipate in taking this course and working on these cases?
Limit your response to no more than one single-space page and include a copy of your resume. In addition, please indicate whether you have taken or will concurrently take: criminal procedure, federal courts, evidence or any other course that may be relevant to this externship. Applications are due by Monday, April 13th, 2015.