Clinic Course for Current J.D. Students
The Juvenile Justice Clinic is open to Georgetown law students who meet the requirement of the D.C. Student Practice Rule. Students apply for membership in the clinic in the Spring during the Law Center's Clinic registration period. The course may be taken either for the Fall semester only or for the entire year.
THE JUVENILE JUSTICE CLINIC EXPERIENCE
The Juvenile Justice Clinic was created in 1973 to protect the rights of children in various legal settings. Today, students represent children charged with delinquency in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Students are permitted to represent juvenile clients charged with every type of crime except murder, forcible rape, armed robbery, and first degree burglary. Currently, the majority of cases involve robbery, weapons possession, car theft, assault, distribution of drugs, and sexual touching. Students occasionally represent clients in special education or school disciplinary hearings.
Students work closely with faculty and fellows to develop the skills needed to practice law. Students individually represent clients and each is responsible for two to four pretrial cases per semester. Caseloads, however, are flexible. The quality of the case as a teaching tool rather than the quantity of cases determines the number of clients a student represents.
Practice in the Juvenile Branch of the D.C. Superior Court is similar to that in the adult criminal court except that only bench trials are permitted. Court rules are similar to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Students interview clients and witnesses, investigate cases, negotiate with government attorneys, research, write, and litigate motions involving the suppression of evidence and other legal issues. Students also conduct preliminary hearings, trials, pleas and sentencing hearings.
Juvenile Justice Clinic students accept complete responsibility for their cases. Part of that responsibility, however, is to make full use of the experienced fellows and faculty who ensure that while the students benefit from an extraordinary educational experience, their clients benefit from extraordinary representation. The students will be supervised by Professors Kristin Henning and Wallace Mlyniec and by Prettyman Fellow Texys Morris.
The Clinic's Mission is 1) to teach law students how to think independently, to synthesize facts and legal principles, and to plan litigation strategies; 2) to develop a law student's ability to analyze the substantive law and to determine its appropriateness in a particular factual context; 3) to provide highly effective representation to clinic clients; 4) to improve troubled adolescents' chances of becoming productive citizens; 5) to protect the rights and interests of children; and 6) to help law students understand the impact of legal systems on a community.
Although interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and trial skills are constantly stressed, the Clinic teaches more than just litigation techniques. The Clinic seeks to teach students how to exercise good judgment and to plan litigation and settlement strategies that attain a client's goals. We also seek to develop a student's ability to analyze the substantive law and to challenge or change it when it no longer serves valid societal interests. Although the client in the juvenile clinic is a minor and the cases involve criminal law issues, the lawyering skills that students develop are transferable to the practice of law in any other context.
The method of instruction used in the Juvenile Justice Clinic is complex. Lectures and seminars are directly related to the students' actual case work. Using class sessions, videotaped simulations, discussion groups, and individual supervision sessions, students are taught methods of planning and problem solving, as well as interviewing, counseling, investigating, negotiating, and trial skills. They also learn how to examine witnesses, research and write motions, and argue complex legal issues. Additionally, our methods go beyond the boundaries of law school to include the study of other disciplines. We do so with a belief that principles embodied in these other disciplines help students understand the relationship between lawyers and clients and the role of law in society.
Students are required to return to class one week before the start of the semester to participate in an orientation program. This Fall, students will return on Monday, August 27, 2012. The orientation takes place early so that students may concentrate on clinic duties and learn the fundamentals of practice without the distractions that otherwise occur in the first week of school. After the orientation, classes are held twice a week in the Fall (Tuesday and Friday at 1:20) and once a week in the Spring (Tuesday at 1:20).
Eight to ten students are selected for the two semester program. They receive 14 credits for their work. Four to six additional students are selected to participate in the Fall semester only. They receive 9 credits for their work. Except in extraordinary circumstances, students taking one semester must complete their case work even if it carries over into the second semester. Please designate on the Clinic application your preference for participating in either the full year or the Fall semester program.
The Clinic is demanding and time consuming. Based on the number of credits they receive, students can expect to work an average of 32 hours per week in the Fall and 20 hours per week in the Spring. Given the typical life of a case, students may actually work more or fewer hours in any given week. The consensus of our students has been, however, that anyone who is well organized can successfully combine the Clinic and part-time employment or participation on a law journal. Students must arrange their class schedules so that at least one day per week (it cannot be a Tuesday) is completely free of any class or employment responsibilities. Because a client's freedom is at stake, we expect clinic work to take precedence over most other activities in a student's life.
All students are responsible for cases over class breaks and finals but we can usually schedule around them. One semester students, except those who are graduating at the end of the Fall semester, must carry their cases through to completion even if the case goes into the second semester. Such students will not be expected to perform any other clinic work. Two semester students are expected to work until graduation but we will be as flexible as possible consistent with our client obligations.
All students are required to attend a five-day orientation, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., beginning August 22. Students unable to attend all sessions of the orientation may not enroll in this clinic. Students also have a summer reading list of about 50 cases that must be completed before returning for Orientation.
A student must learn how to investigate a case in order to become a competent attorney. Students in this clinic investigate in pairs. Given the nature of our work and the urban location of our crime scenes, investigating may present dangerous situations and carries with it a certain amount of risk. While Washington is no different than any other city in this respect, students must learn about the city's different neighborhoods and be aware of their surroundings at all times. We strongly discourage students from going to these areas alone, especially at night. Students always consult with a fellow or faculty member before investigating.
This clinic has existed for more than 35 years. Investigations have been conducted without incident in all but two of those years. Notwithstanding our training and precautions, however, a student has been injured in the past while investigating. If you are reluctant to take on the responsibility of investigating your cases, you should enroll in another clinic.
D. Conflicts of Interest.
A stringent federal conflict of interest statute prevents students who are employed by the District of Columbia government or by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia from participating in the Juvenile Justice Clinic.
Students may take the clinic for one or two semesters. Students taking the clinic in the Fall only are expected to finish their case work even if it extends into the second semester. Such students will not be expected to do any other clinic tasks in the carryover period. Students who take the clinic for the full year are expected to handle their cases until they graduate although arrangements can be made for students who leave Washington early. Students wishing to continue representation of their clients through the summer may make arrangements to do so.
F. Other Courses.
Clinic work is demanding, the Fall learning curve is steep, and much of the work is done in the day time. Because students receive 9 credits in the fall, we expect that most of them will take another class. Although we cannot control student course selections, we strongly suggest they take no more than one three or four hour course in addition to the clinic in the Fall semester and then take a larger course load in the Spring.
When registering for classes, students must keep one full week day, other than Tuesday, free of classes and all other obligations, including work. (Friday will suffice if the clinic class is the only other activity.)