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The Criminal Defense Clinic Curriculum
The Criminal Defense Clinic is an excellent opportunity for students to work under the close supervision of experienced lawyers and gain an understanding of what it takes to provide a competent legal defense for the accused in our criminal justice system. Students explore the unique dynamics of the attorney/client relationship in criminal proceedings, and develop an understanding of discovery techniques, case analysis, plea negotiation, evidentiary issues, and ethical issues in the context of criminal defense practice.
In addition to the work requirements, each intern is required to attend a weekly class which provides a forum for discussion and in-depth study of topics that are critical to defense practice. Note that Court proceedings, depositions, witness appointments, and other “real-life” events may conflict with scheduled classes during the semester. Students should arrange their schedules to allow as many free full days as possible to work in the office.
Interns will develop skills in interviewing, counseling, factual development, and a variety of other areas that are specific to the practice of criminal law. Interns will be confronted with a multitude of legal, social, economic and political issues that are pervasive in the practice of criminal law such as:
- The social, economic, or cultural connections or challenges between lawyers and clients (particularly indigent clients) that may aide or impede communication;
- The conflicts that a lawyer may experience in their duties to their client and others, such as the bar, the court, society, or the lawyer’s own values;
- The need for timely decision making that is competent, ethical, legal and consistent with a client’s interests and ideals;
- The system’s treatment of the state, alleged victims, law enforcement, witnesses, and the defendant;
- And the potential for defining and achieving justice in the criminal justice system, as well as identifying obstacles to achieving justice in the criminal justice process.
Internships are currently offered in the Public Defender’s Office in Gainesville, Alachua County; Ocala, Marion County; Orlando, Orange and Osceola Counties; Jacksonville, Duval County; and Palatka, Putnam County. Other locales may be available at a student’s request. Please note, however, that ANY placement outside of the immediate Gainesville area may be arranged only with prior written approval of the professor.
Information for Legal Assistance
Representation in criminal law matters is not offered directly to the public through the clinics. Interns work only with clients through the Public Defender’s Office. No criminal law advice or appointments are handled through the Clinics.