The Community Defense Externship offers students the opportunity to learn about the practice of indigent criminal defense in a community-based setting. The externship is for four credits and consists of a weekly seminar and a placement at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS). NDS Executive Director Leonard E. Noisette, Esq., and NDS Deputy Director Rick Jones, Esq., will teach the course. This externship is open only to second-year and third-year J.D. students.
Mr. Noisette will teach the seminar. The seminar will meet once a week for two hours, either at the law school or at the NDS offices. Students should not schedule anything immediately before or after class given that some classes will be held at NDS. We will rapidly review aspects of criminal law and procedure related to the initiation of a criminal case and its movement through the court system, and will discuss practical and ethical considerations related to client interviewing and the forming of the attorney-client relationship. Subsequent seminar sessions will focus on various aspects of lawyering on behalf of clients in the criminal justice system. Topics to be discussed include discovery and motion practice, investigations, developing a theory of the case, suppression hearings, disposition advocacy, and trial preparation.
Each student will be expected to work at least 10 hours per week for 14 weeks (one semester) at the NDS office. The practicum/fieldwork component of the course will begin in the first week of class. Students will be assigned to work with Mr. Jones, who, as Chief of Litigation at NDS, is primarily responsible for NDS homicide and complex litigation practice. There will be weekly team meetings at NDS offices, approximately two hours in length, at a time to be determined. Students should expect to assist with all aspects of pretrial preparation of cases, as well as in any matter that proceeds to trial. Students should also expect to perform substantial research and writing as part of the work with Mr. Jones. Students will each be assigned primary responsibility for one substantial piece of written work in connection with their work on the cases.