The Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic, first established as a component of the Urban Legal Clinic (now known as the Civil Justice Clinic), provides legal representation to incarcerated youths and to adults in minor criminal, parole, and actual innocence matters.
Students go to court at least once each week for the purpose of interviewing and counseling new clients facing criminal charges and representing them at arraignment. Following the initial appearance, students conduct investigations, engage in discovery and motion practice, negotiate pleas, and, in many instances, prepare the case for trial. Students conduct suppression hearings and bench trials, as well as oral argument on sentencing and other issues, under close faculty supervision. In addition, students undertake a variety of work on behalf of clients who were convicted of serious offenses as juveniles, including preparation for parole hearings, appeals from denials of parole, and investigation of innocence claims. Finally, students work intensively with youth committed to New Jersey's juvenile justice system, challenging conditions of confinement, seeking parole release, appealing parole revocations, and easing the re-entry process.
Work on behalf of clients is supplemented by weekly case rounds classes, during which students conduct simulated hearings, hear from guest lecturers, and brainstorm about their cases. They also take on juvenile justice policy projects in collaboration with the New Jersey Public Defender’s office, the Rutgers-Camden Children’s Justice Clinic, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and the ACLU of New Jersey, among other organizations.
The clinic will share a lawyering skills seminar with the Civil Justice Clinic, instructing students in a full range of lawyering skills including interviewing, counseling, development of a theory of the case, cross-cultural competency, negotiation, motion practice, and various aspects of trial practice and witness examination.
- Laura Cohen, Director