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CRIMINAL DEFENSE



Prof. Cheryl Bader
Clinical Associate Professor of Law,
Criminal Defense Clinic

 
Prof. Martha Rayner
Clinical Associate Professor of Law,
Criminal Defense Clinic

Watch Professor Bader and her students discuss a recent court appearance for their Occupy Wall Street clients

IN THE CRIMINAL DEFENSE CLINIC (CDC), students are out front representing clients in Manhattan Criminal Court where they are confronted with a hard look at how the American criminal justice system really works.  After just a few weeks of intensive preparation, students meet their first client in the holding cell behind the courtroom.  That same day, they appear on the record before a judge arguing for their client's immediate release.  From the outset, CDC students take complete responsibility for the representation of their clients. Under the supervision of faculty members with extensive experience in criminal practice, students interview and counsel clients and investigate their cases - including visiting alleged crime scenes, interviewing witnesses and drafting subpoenas.  Students gain experience drafting motions and other legal documents, as well as arguing those motions in court.  They develop case theory and strategy and negotiate with Assistant District Attorneys.  Anytime a client is scheduled to be in court, CDC students will appear on the record on the client's behalf.

In addition to the CDC's primary focus on representing individuals in New York City Criminal Court, we also pursue reform-orientated litigation and projects. Our work also takes us into a host of other fora, including state and federal court - for civil and administrative proceedings that grow out of the many civil consequences that arise out of the criminal charges our clients face - which sometimes includes appellate litigation.  Another component of our work encompasses the representation of clients convicted of serious offenses seeking parole, affirmative civil rights litigation and habeas litigation on behalf of clients indefinitely imprisoned by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

CDC students benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration with a graduate fellow in Forensic Psychology supervised by Dr. Barry Rosenfeld and Social Work graduate students supervised by Kathy Ho, LMSW, LCSW. This partnership permits students to understand and address the social and psychological issues that are so often part of their clients' cases.

The CDC challenges students to develop and hone strong advocacy skills through oral and written communication.  It stresses close attention to law and facts and active self-reflective learning.  We emphasize problem solving and critical thinking, which includes evaluating policy choices embedded in law and how the processes of adjudication impact the clients we serve.