Course Requirements

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There are no prerequisite courses for taking the Criminal Justice Clinic, however, preference may be given to students who have completed Evidence, Pretrial, Trial, a course from the Ethics curriculum, CJA I or CJA II.

Rule 13 Students

Because the clinic is likely to involve court appearances, preference will also be given to students who are certified Under Rule 13.

Course Materials

While there is no required textbook for the course, there will be weekly reading assignments. Class materials are distributed to students throughout the semester as needed and can be downloaded from this web site (see the Class Reference Materials link).


There is no final exam for the course. Specific requirements for receiving credit will be set by the professor. The course is graded on a modified pass/fail basis: High Pass (94), Pass (credit is earned but no grade is recorded), Low Pass (78), and Fail (70). The mandatory median applies to the clinical courses, so a Pass is the usual grade for the course. However, as in any course, all of the grades are possible.

Student interns are evaluated in this course based upon their performance doing the tasks practicing lawyers do. The major areas which comprise the evaluation of each student’s work include:

  • Analytical skills of problem solving and legal analysis
  • Interviewing, communication, client counseling, and client rapport
  • Appreciation of professional responsibility obligations
  • Factual investigation and fact development
  • Legal research and writing
  • Strategy and creativity
  • Advocacy and negotiations
  • Relations with lawyers in the office, opposing counsel, court personnel, witnesses, and other clinic participants
  • Observance of office procedures, and organization and management of legal work
  • Seminar class preparation and participation
  • Fulfilling journal requirements

In evaluating each student intern, the faculty instructor considers many aspects, including but not limited to: effective interviewing, fact investigation, identifying and resolving ethical issues, negotiating, legal evaluation and analysis, research, writing, and for Rule 13 interns, advocacy.

Credit Requirements

Students will work between 17.5 – 21 hours per week on clinic matters to earn between 5 – 6 credit hours for the course. Students work 3.5 hours per week for every credit hour, i.e., students must work 17.5 hours a week to earn 5 credits, and 21 hours per week to earn 6 credits. The two-hour, weekly class period is counted towards the students required clinic hours per week.

If a holiday falls on a day a student is scheduled to work, the student has to make up the hours missed.  This is necessary for two reasons.  First, the average number of weekly hours is based on what is viewed as necessary for both a quality learning experience and to justify the number of credit hours awarded for the clinical course.  Second, a student with a schedule that involves a number of holidays should not receive credit for time not worked, especially when compared to another student whose schedule does not involve the same number of holidays.

Over the course of the semester, you are required to submit at least thirteen (13) journal entries. You should complete at least one (1) journal entry per week, and by the end of Week Seven you should have completed at least seven (7) journal entries. Each journal entry must be the equivalent of at least two double-spaced, typed written pages in length. Journal entries for each week are due on or before Sunday noon, and each timely submitted entry will be returned to you with comments within one week of my receipt of the journal entry. A complete explanation of the journal requirement is found under the Student Journal.

Clinic Schedule

Each student develops an individual schedule of the days and times they will be at the Public Defenders Office. Students should reserve at least two mornings a week to be able to assist with docket (typically from 8:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Monday - Thursday). However, the best schedule is one that allows the student to be in the office three or more mornings a week and complete the rest of the scheduled hours in the afternoons. Students will also meet as a class once a week for approximately a two-hour class period at the public defenders office in Clayton. The class will typically meet Tuesday afternoons from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Quality of Experience

The quality of each student’s experience in the Criminal Justice depends in large part on the effort he or she puts into this experience. Every effort is made to provide students with increased responsibilities throughout the semester. There is a Criminal Justice Clinic Experience Checklist form designed to assist students in experiencing as many fundamental lawyering skills and values as possible. As the semester proceeds, it is the students’ primary responsibility to discuss their progress in completing the checklist of activities with the attorneys in the Public Defender Office and with their supervising faculty member. If a student feels that he or she is not receiving the exposure to the types of experiences expected, the student is encouraged to discuss it early in the semester.