In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professors. In this practicum, students will work on all aspects of an innovative litigation strategy, using the First Amendment to fight the pervasive problem of judicial and political interference with public defenders across the country. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 15 hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professors.
SEMINAR: Civil Rights Corps (CRC) recently launched its Indigent Defense Initiative, through which Civil Rights Corps attorneys will (among other things) represent defense attorneys who are removed from indigent-defense panels because they vigorously advocate on their clients’ behalf. CRC’s first case, Willey v. Ewing, 18-CV-81 (S.D. Tex.), will serve as a model. In Willey, CRC’s client, a criminal defense attorney, was removed from cases to which he had been appointed and passed over for further appointments because he complained about unconstitutional practices on behalf of himself and his clients.
In the seminar, students will master the law of First Amendment retaliation, addressing the theoretical, procedural, and ethical dimensions of litigation in this area. Through the seminar, students will integrate the legal doctrine they learn into practical application of CRC’s ongoing litigation in the area of independent defense.
PROJECT WORK: Students will assist in investigating new cases and in all aspects of litigation on CRC’s clients’ behalf, from drafting complaints, investigating, writing motions, and doing legal research. In weekly seminars, students will prepare for this work by discussing the diverse legal topics that arise in the project’s litigation. Topics will include civil procedure, federal courts, and the First Amendment’s protection from employment retaliation. Students will build writing, research, and strategic skills through one-on-one feedback.