"I think what has made working for the Center for Criminal Defense so rewarding is the clients. The opportunity to develop relationships with them and advocate on their behalf makes criminal defense work so enjoyable and appealing to me on a daily basis. Nothing is more rewarding than fighting to protect the rights and liberty of individuals caught up in the criminal justice system."
-- Rachel Good
Students with varied interests are drawn to the Center for Criminal Defense. For example, many have a strong desire to protect the rights of the accused, and some students wish to become prosecutors and see this Center as an opportunity to learn from the defense perspective. At the same time, it is common for students to enroll who envision a corporate career, yet are nonetheless intrigued by criminal practice.
In this Center, students are provided with opportunities for in-court work. They also may represent client interests which often involve issues such as double jeopardy, search and seizure, and self-incrimination. And, because the Center for Criminal Defense frequently collaborates with other Bluhm Clinic Centers, students also are exposed to matters related to civil practice, wrongful convictions, civil rights, and appellate advocacy. For example, in partnership with the Center on Wrongful Convictions, students may work on behalf of a client whose conviction has been reversed. Efforts then turn to preparation for the new trial that had been ordered. The same scenario would apply when the Appellate Advocacy Center has succeeded in obtaining relief on appeal for one of its clients, usually in the Federal courts.
By the time they have completed clinical work, students often have participated in evidentiary hearings or jury trials. Additionally, they may have had the chance to cross-examine witnesses, participate in jury selection, or to argue contested motions – priceless experiences that position students favorably as they begin their legal careers.
Courses in evidence, criminal procedure, and legal ethics, while not prerequisites, are often of value to students who enroll in this Center.