LAW 701

Prisoners' Rights Clinic


Public Interest Law

In this intensive clinic, students will represent incarcerated people who have raised conditions of confinement and related civil rights claims in cases pending before the federal and state courts of appeals across the nation. On occasion, students may also represent incarcerated people seeking review in the United States Supreme Court or a state supreme court. The clinic will provide an opportunity for students who may be interested in appellate litigation or who will be clerking on an appellate court to develop competency in appellate briefing and familiarity with the appellate process. Through this work and the accompanying seminar, students will be exposed to issues facing incarcerated people, substantive law governing carceral institutions, and obstacles incarcerated people face when seeking to vindicate their rights in court. Prominent among those obstacles is lack of access to counsel; because many of the clinic’s clients are pro se at the trial level and would proceed pro se on appeal without our assistance, students’ casework will fill an important need. Students will review the lower court record in their assigned cases, engage in legal research, and prepare multiple drafts of their briefs based on feedback from the instructors, class discussion, and case rounds. Students will work in teams of two. Students will communicate frequently with their clients by writing and through telephone calls (and possibly visits), consulting with them about the issues and arguments to be raised on appeal and advising them of progress on their cases. Through these attorney-client relationships, students will have the opportunity to learn about their clients’ experiences of incarceration, and will be able to incorporate their clients’ thoughts into their representation. Preference will be given to students who have taken or will be enrolled in Prison Law & Policy or Suing the Police, or who otherwise have significant academic or work experience with prisoners’ rights or police misconduct litigation. The clinic seminar will be taught, and the case work supervised, by Prof. Littman and two attorneys who are members of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center’s Supreme Court and Appellate Program (RSMJC-SCAP). IMPORTANT NOTES: This is an intensive clinic, and the workload will be heavy. Enrolling is a commitment; please do so only if you are able to make the casework a priority. If you are a 2L, you are required to enroll in the clinic both in Spring 2023 and Fall 2023. If you are a 3L, you may enroll in the clinic for only one semester, in Spring 2023. After the initial semester, all students will be required to enroll for a full year. Students must be able to participate in an orientation that will occur at some point during J-Term 2023. The schedule for this orientation is to be determined; it may involve sessions during the evening or on the weekend. Most cases will involve merits briefing, but it is possible students will handle petitions for rehearing or certiorari and amicus briefing as well. At the discretion of the instructors, some students may have the opportunity to participate in oral argument either during their enrollment or thereafter.

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