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Clinical Education at UT Law

Real Cases. Real Experience.

Juvenile Justice Clinic

Additional Course Information

Course Description

Taught by Pamela Jackson Sigman

6 credits (pass/fail) — offered Spring only

Students must register for Law 397C and 397D, for a total of six credits.

Students must have completed 43 credit hours prior to enrollment pursuant to rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas for the supervised practice of law by students.

Recommended (but not required) background classes include criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence.

Student attorneys are required to reserve at least one morning each week (Monday through Thursday) when they are available to be in court to handle their plea adjudications/dispositions. Contested hearings are scheduled for the afternoon on the student attorney’s designated court day. It is preferable that student attorneys have two days each week when they are available to be in court, on either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. This flexibility provides students with more opportunity for handling a variety of cases and works better with the court’s schedule. Although this flexibility is preferred, it is not required. In most instances, student attorneys will be in court a maximum of one day per week and be finished by noon on their designated court day. Thursday is a popular court day for student attorneys; however, there are a limited number of students who can be assigned a Thursday court day. Please take this into account when scheduling other classes.

Approximately twelve to fourteen hours per week will be required for casework and for attending class. The classroom component meets two times a week for approximately four weeks and one time per week thereafter.

Each student completes a mock hearing exercise that is videotaped in the Eidman Courtroom. The exercise teaches the student to prepare for argument and examination of witnesses in the context of a hearing to suppress illegally seized evidence.

Each weekday, Travis County Juvenile Court holds hearings to determine if juveniles who are being detained should be released. A public defender is present to provide representation for each juvenile who has a hearing that day. Student attorneys will each take responsibility as the public defender for two days of the semester. This teaches students to handle a large caseload in a very short time, and to think and act quickly.

During the first month of the semester, the class travels to Marlin, Texas, to tour a Texas Youth Commission facility, and meets with juveniles who have been sentenced to TYC. Additionally, the class adopts a local junior high school at the end of the semester and speaks to seventh grade students about constitutional rights and protections and the consequences of violating the law.