Section Description Provided by Instructor
NOTE: This is a year-long commitment and registration for both semesters is required. Students will be registered for both the Fall and the Spring terms.
This two-semester externship will focus upon federal constitutional rights, and the legal doctrines and on-the-ground factors that influence how they are enforced in serious criminal and prison cases. As part of the unique public service practice groups within two commercial law firms – the Squire Sanders Public Service Initiative (PSI) and the Holland & Knight Community Services Team (CST) – students will work on prisoner cases where the stakes are high. They will perform a variety of litigation tasks related to one or more clients challenging death sentences, life imprisonment, solitary confinement or other constitutionally-based challenges to sentences or prison conditions. George Kendall, who heads PSI, PSI attorneys Corrine Irish and Carine Williams, and CST attorney Samuel Spital, will jointly teach the course and supervise field work. The class will ordinarily meet at Squire’s midtown offices in Rockefeller Center. In the fall, the class will meet weekly on Friday from 1pm-3pm; in the spring, class will meet every other week on Thursday from 4:20pm-6:10pm. 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 seminar will utilize court decisions, legislative activity, related research, and PSI/CST case materials to explore how the enforcement of constitutional rights operates both in theory and in practice. The weekly fall seminar will focus on understanding the constitutional rights implicated at trial in capital and serious criminal prosecutions and understanding how post-conviction doctrines facilitate or fail to facilitate their enforcement. In the bi-weekly spring seminar, students in the class will study rights commonly implicated in the prison setting, and various doctrinal obstacles to remedies when such rights are violated. The seminar will also seek to develop the skills of students through in-class exercises that engage students in the advocacy required of practicing attorneys and policymakers in this field.
PSI’s litigation practice focuses primarily on capital, serious criminal and prisoner rights cases in the American South. All fieldwork will be devoted to indigent PSI and CST clients, or to counsel of record or amici supporting indigents before the Supreme Court. Students will be assigned to case teams in groups of two or three and provide legal research and record-based analysis in a capital, serious habeas, or prison civil rights case. It may also be possible for students to travel for one or more of the following reasons: interviewing clients and/or witnesses; performing research in clerks’ offices, libraries or archives; and assisting in court proceedings.
Requirements & Application Process
Students must take both semesters to receive course credit. Four credits will be earned in the fall: two graded academic credits for the weekly seminar and two ungraded clinical credits for the field component. Students will receive three credits in the spring: one graded credit for the bi-weekly seminar and two ungraded credits for fieldwork. Grades for the seminar will be based upon class participation, class presentations, and the quality and timeliness of written assignments. Evidence, Criminal Procedure and/or Federal Courts are recommended pre-requisites or concurrent courses.
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Admission is by instructor permission during the Externship application period n the spring - see the Social Justice Initiatives page for more information.
Learning Outcome Goals
No learning outcome goals have been provided.