Law School Course Areas and Related Classes
WHAT THIS AREA IS ABOUT. Criminal law deals with defining conduct that the state views as sufficiently harmful to warrant penal sanctions, determining the scope and severity of those sanctions, and fixing the procedures that can be employed in investigating, apprehending, prosecuting, adjudicating, and punishing persons who are believed to have engaged in the prohibited conduct. The area includes the juvenile justice system, the mental health system, sentencing policy, and the justification for punishment. Career paths include service as a public prosecutor, as a private defense attorney or public defender, or as a general practitioner.
The law school offers a number of courses, seminars and clinics in this area. It will probably not be possible (even if it were thought to be desirable) to take all of them and to accomplish your other educational goals. Scheduling problems are such that you may not be able to take these courses in their ideal sequence.
BASIC COURSES. There are four basic courses in the criminal law area: Criminal Law; Criminal Procedure: Investigation; Criminal Procedure: Prosecution; and Federal Criminal Law or White-Collar Crime. Criminal Law is the basic first-year course in substantive criminal law.
The two criminal procedure courses emphasize the federal constitutional law of criminal procedure. Criminal Procedure: Investigation covers search and seizure law, Miranda and other police interrogation issues, and the exclusion of evidence obtained as a result of police misconduct. Criminal Procedure: Prosecution covers most of the rest of pretrial, trial, and post-trial criminal procedure. Each of these courses fulfills the Con Law II requirement.
The Federal Criminal Law and White-Collar Crime courses detail the prosecution and defense of complex criminal trials in federal court. Students will be alerted to the manner in which federal civil and criminal sanctions can be employed against, among others, lawyers, banks, and corporations.
CLINICS AND INTERNSHIPS. The law school offers several clinics in the criminal law area: Actual Innocence Clinic, Criminal Defense Clinic, Juvenile Justice Clinic, Mental Health Clinic, and Capital Punishment Clinic. Each requires the student to represent a person under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The classroom portions of each clinic deal in part with the substantive and procedural law in which the clinic functions. In addition, each clinic has as an objective teaching students litigation skills by actual representation of clients or by both actual representation and simulation of courtroom proceedings.
There are also numerous internships giving students the opportunity to participate directly in the prosecution and defense of criminal cases, including the Prosecution Internship, the U.S. Attorney Internship, the International Internship/Clerkship (with placements at international courts and prosecution offices), and the Nonprofit/Government Internship (with placements at the Federal Public Defender's Office and Texas Defender Service). Students may also intern at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals through the Judicial Internship.
SPECIALIZED COURSES. Basic Trial Advocacy: Principles, and the simulation course, Basic Trial Advocacy: Skills, are both useful to a student wishing to pursue a career in criminal law upon graduation. If you believe you may wish to practice criminal law, you will wish seriously to consider one or more of these offerings. Two courses, Texas Criminal Procedure: Pretrial and Texas Criminal Procedure: Trial and Beyond, are for students who have a strong interest in practicing criminal law in Texas. The seminar in Criminal Defense focuses on the defense of complex federal criminal cases. Modern Juvenile Justice deals with the law relating to the juvenile justice process. There are also seminars offered on a variety of topics, such as federal criminal practice, white collar crimes, juvenile justice, Texas criminal procedure, federal criminal appeals, sentencing policy, punishment theory, and the philosophy of criminal law.