This two-semester externship explores how important constitutional rights are advanced but not always enforced in high-stakes state criminal cases and in prison civil rights cases.
The externship will include seminar and fieldwork components. George Kendall, who heads Squire Sanders & Dempsey's Public Service Initiative (PSI), and PSI attorneys Corrine Irish, Samuel Spital and Carine Williams will have responsibility for both components. PSI's litigation practice focuses primarily on criminal justice and prisoners' rights, and the team did a similar seminar and clinic at Brooklyn Law School in 2008 and 2009. George and Sam will be appointed lecturers-in-law and teach the seminar and supervise students both semesters. Carine and Corrine will be appointed lecturers-in-law but each teach one semester only. All fieldwork will be devoted to indigent PSI clients, or to amici supporting indigents before the Supreme Court. No student will work on a case generating commercial fees for the firm. All four instructors will supervise the students' fieldwork in both semesters.
The full externship, inclusive of classroom and fieldwork components, will be limited to ten students. All students must enroll in the full externship for both semesters.
In the first semester, the class will focus primarily on: (1) familiarity with the important constitutional rights most relevant at trial in capital and serious criminal prosecutions; (2) spotting issues as to the assertion and enforcement of those rights at trial or on direct appeal; and (3) understanding how post-conviction doctrines facilitate, or fail to facilitate, their enforcement in later proceedings.
In the second semester, students in the class will primarily study rights commonly implicated in the prison setting, and various doctrinal obstacles to remedies when such rights are violated.
In both semesters, the class will also focus on the relationship between the state and federal courts in the enforcement of constitutional rights, and consider the role of the Supreme Court in rights enforcement. We will also carefully consider and address the legitimate interests of the states, including public safety, the finality of convictions, and budgetary constraints.
The class will ordinarily meet Friday afternoons, at Squire's midtown offices in Rockefeller Center. Occasionally, the class may meet at Columbia Law School (for example when a guest speaker's presentation would be of interest to a large portion of the law school community).
The fieldwork component of the class will require that students be divided into groups of two or three; each group will be matched to a case for work on legal research and record-based analysis in a capital, serious habeas or prison civil rights case. Students may also have the option to travel for one or more of the following reasons: interviewing clients and/or witnesses; performing research in clerks' offices, libraries or archives; and attending court proceedings.
The doctrines and case law covered in the class will provide students with the legal background they will need for their fieldwork. However, because students will receive case assignments at the beginning of the first semester, some students will need to do certain readings before they are covered in the class. When this happens, the student's supervisor will identify the readings and discuss them with the student. Supervisors will also work closely with students to prepare for any fieldwork requiring travel (e.g. participating in client or witness interviews), and will closely supervise students when such fieldwork occurs.
Students must take both semesters to receive course credit. Four credits will be earned in the Fall: two graded academic credits for the seminar (when it will meet weekly) and two ungraded clinical credits for the field component. Students will receive three credits in the Spring: one graded credit for the seminar in the Spring (when it will meet every other week), and two ungraded credits for fieldwork.
Grades for the seminar will be based upon participation in class and the quality and timeliness of written assignments. In the first semester, students will either write a term paper; or draft a research memo, pleading or section of a brief which requires work equivalent to a term paper. In the second semester, students will either write reflection papers on the readings, which we will discuss during our final class, or do a case-related written assignment of equivalent work.