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LAW Three Strikes Project: Clinical Practice

Public Interest Law: Direct Legal Services

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LAW 587A

Three Strikes Project: Clinical Practice

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Recommended for route(s):

[ Academia ] [ Regulatory & Policy ] [ Litigation ] Public Interest Law: Direct Legal Services

Why it is relevant for ...

[ Academia ] [ Regulatory & Policy ] as a Clinic : This clinic is a great choice for students interested in criminal law, whether their focus is on prosecution or defense work. Students in the clinic work with clients at trial, on appeal, and post-conviction; so, they get a broad range of litigation experience as well as experience in substantive criminal law issues. The clinic is also useful for future public interest lawyers who may represent clients caught up in the criminal justice system. Be sure to also consider other clinics: Whether or not a clinic focuses on the substantive law of your specific career orientation, you can be confident that every clinic will provide skills-based training that is relevant and transferable to other areas of practice. Review the clinic activities for the skill sets you are most interested in acquiring, such as interviewing clients, presenting arguments, writing for different audiences, or negotiating and collaborating with others. Equally important, the mentoring offered to students by clinical program directors provides a valuable opportunity to develop that key lawyering competence: professional judgment. The following clinics are particularly useful for those planning to work in the policy arena or practice with regulatory agencies as they develop a policy focus and administrative advocacy skills useful for this career direction in any substantive area: Criminal Prosecution Clinic, Cyberlaw Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic, Education Law Clinic, Supreme Court Clinic

[ Litigation ] as a Clinic : This clinic is an obvious choice for students interested in criminal law, but it is also useful if your career orientation is litigation. Students in the clinic work with clients at trial, on appeal, and post-conviction; so, they get a broad range of litigation experience as well as experience in substantive criminal law issues. Be sure to also consider other clinics: Whether or not a clinic focuses on the substantive law of your specific career orientation, you can be confident that every clinic will provide skills-based training that is relevant and transferable to other areas of practice. Review the clinic activities for the skill sets you are most interested in acquiring, such as interviewing clients, presenting arguments, or writing for different audiences. Equally important, the mentoring offered to students by clinical program directors provides a valuable opportunity to develop that key lawyering competence: professional judgment. The following clinics are particularly useful for those planning to litigate as they develop written and oral advocacy skills useful for a litigation career in any substantive area: Criminal Prosecution Clinic Cyberlaw Clinic Environmental Law Clinic Community Law Clinic Education Law Clinic Supreme Court Clinic

General course Description:

The Stanford Three Strikes Project (formerly the Criminal Defense Clinic) is the only legal organization in the country devoted to representing individuals facing life imprisonment under California's Three Strikes law, which was enacted by voter-approved initiative in 1994. The Clinic represents defendants who have committed minor, non-violent, offenses yet face a life term under the recidivist sentencing law. We represent individuals at every stage of the criminal process: at trial, on appeal, and in state and federal post-conviction habeas corpus proceedings. Current clients include inmates serving life sentences for stealing one dollar in loose change from a parked car; for simple possession of less than a gram of narcotics; and for writing bad checks.

The Clinic will also address public policy issues raised by the Three Strikes law. This work will include legislative and fiscal analysis, political strategy, empirical studies and scholarship, and media relations. The initial goal of the Clinic's public policy work will be to evaluate various reform proposals and strategic options, including initiative campaigns, legislative action in the state assembly, and impact litigation. We will also work with a number of outside organizations committed to criminal justice public policy, including both defendant-oriented advocacy groups and prosecutor's offices throughout the state. We strongly encourage students of all political persuasions to apply to participate in the Clinic.

In terms of the Clinic's case work, Clinic students work in teams of two and take primary responsibility for all aspects of the Clinic's litigation. Students are responsible for managing relationships with Clinic clients, including visiting clients in prison; students also conduct factual investigations in the field throughout California, research case law and draft court pleadings, and argue cases in open court. Much of the Clinic's work involves novel and complex appellate and post-conviction constitutional litigation. Clinic attorneys supervise student work and meet weekly with each student team.

The Clinic also includes a seminar component, which covers instruction on research and writing skills, investigation techniques, and advanced doctrinal analysis of state and federal criminal law. The seminar also involves presentations from guest speakers, including public policy advocates, outside counsel, and experts in forensic psychology.

In the course of a quarter, each student team is expected to complete at least one major written project. That project depends on the timing and posture of each case but is typically a legal brief for filing in state or federal court.

The Clinic was founded in 2006 by Larry Marshall and Michael Romano. One of the aspirations of the Clinic is to adopt clinical pedagogy, litigation strategies, and policy reform developed in the context of capital and innocence programs and engineered by Professor Marshall and apply them to the Clinic's cases under the Three Strikes law. The Clinic is supervised and instructed by Michael Romano, who maintains a small criminal defense and civil rights practice in San Francisco, and Galit Lipa, a former public defender in California and Washington DC.

General Structure of Clinical Courses:

The Law School's clinical courses are offered on a full-time basis for 12 credits. This allows students to obtain an immersive professional experience without the need to balance clinical projects with other classes, exams and papers. (The rules described here do not apply to Advanced Clinics for students who are continuing with a clinic in which they were previously enrolled. For information about Advanced Clinics, please see the course descriptions for those courses.)

Students enrolled in a clinic are not permitted to enroll in any other classes, seminars, directed research or other credit-yielding activities within the Law School or University during the quarter in which they are enrolled in a clinic. Nor are they allowed to serve as Teaching Assistants who are expected to attend a class on a regular basis.

There is a limited exception for joint degree students who are required to take specific courses each quarter and who would be foreclosed from ever taking a clinic unless allowed to co-register.

Clinic students are expected to work in the clinical center during most business hours Monday through Friday. Students are also expected to be available by e-mail or cell phone when elsewhere during those hours. Because students have no other courses (and hence no exams or papers), the clinical quarter begins the first day of classes and runs through the final day of the examination period. Students should not plan personal travel during the Monday to Friday work week without authorization from the clinical supervisor.

The work during the week is divided into three components. First, the main component is the work on client matters or case work. Students are expected to devote at least 30 hours per week on average to the various facets of this work (this time includes meetings with instructors to discuss the work). In some weeks longer hours may be required depending on client needs and case work demands. Second, students will spend approximately five-to-seven hours per week preparing for and participating in a weekly seminar or seminars. Third, over the course of the quarter each student will prepare for and participate in periodic inter-clinic small group Grand Rounds sessions.

Students will be awarded three separate grades for their clinical quarter, each reflecting four credits. The three grades are broken into the following categories: clinical practice; clinical methods; and clinical coursework. Grading is pursuant to the H/P system. Students may not enroll in any clinic (basic or advanced) which would result in them earning more than 27 clinical credits during their law school career.

Course Style: A Clinic provides hands-on practical legal experience under the supervision of a faculty member and complemented by a seminar.

Course Frequency: Offered twice a year

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