Criminal Case Experience

The fieldwork placement is in a District Court where students represent the Commonwealth in criminal cases under the direct supervision of an Assistant District Attorney and the general supervision of the professor.  As student prosecutors, participants learn the multi-faceted role of the District Attorney in the prosecution of criminal cases including handling arraignments and bail/detention hearings, interviewing witnesses, providing discovery, handling pre-trial motions, engaging in plea negotiations, preparing for trial, arguing dispositions and writing legal memoranda.  Students are likely to handle evidentiary hearings on Motions to Suppress and may also handle bench or jury trials during the year. 

The classroom component consists of lectures, discussions, and simulations focusing on criminal procedure, evidence, search and seizure, courtroom advocacy, prosecutorial ethics, case preparation, and the exercise of discretion by prosecutors.

Requirements

Students are required to submit reflective journals and time logs periodically and, at the end of the year, a paper. Students must have available one full day per week in the fall semester (8:30 am-4:30 pm) and two full days per week in the spring semester for court appearances and case preparation. Students’ preferences for court assignments will be solicited, and court assignments will be made at the beginning of the fall semester.  Students are placed in a variety of counties.

Evidence is a prerequisite. Preference is given to students who complete a trial practice course or the equivalent (e.g., Trial Team) before the course begins. Students accepted into the clinic who have not had a trial practice course must take one in the first semester. Students will not be able to engage in employment in which they handle criminal defense matters during the academic year in which they are enrolled in the clinic. Also, each District Attorney’s Office will conduct a background check, including a criminal record check, before accepting a student for placement.

  • Full-year (only open to students in final year of law school)
  • 8 credits (4 credits per semester/3 credits letter graded & 5 credits ungraded)
  • Contact:  Diane Juliar, Clinical Professor of Law, djuliar@suffolk.edu