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August 18, 2005

DC LSIC Clinic: Orientation Notes, Day 1

I started orientation for the DC Law Students In Court clinic (criminal division) yesterday. Here are some of the things I learned:

  1. D.C. Superior court sees about 12,000 misdemeanor cases each year.
  2. The DSLIC clinic handles about 100 of those cases.
  3. U.S. Attorneys rotate in and out of the misdemeanor docket so often times the prosecutor in your case will know less about misdemeanor law than you do. It's also not uncommon to get a case dismissed for failure to prosecute.
  4. “You have to have a very negative outlook when you're doing this job—and be happy about it! Assume the worst, but hope for the best.”
  5. “C-10” is the arraignment court. Someone should write a book called “C-10.”
  6. “Supervised release” is the new public relations move of federal courts that D.C. has adopted to make people think we don't offer parole anymore. Supervised release is parole.
  7. When you first meet your client in C-10, focus on getting him/her out of jail. It is never better for your client to stay in jail. “If you want to torpedo your attorney/client relationship on the first day you meet your client in jail, try telling him 'I think it's best for you to stay in here for now.'”
  8. “Get used to the fact that judges are going to yell at you. It's expected. It's required. You get extra credit for that.” Sometimes judges yell at you because they're bored and the want to entertain themselves.
  9. Everything we're telling you about the law has this court culture component—what judges do, how the prosecutor works. “It's a human experience; it depends upon the people.”
  10. Be nice to everyone in the bureaucracy!

Posted August 18, 2005 08:16 AM | 3L lists

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Sounds like it should be a lot of fun! Good luck!

Btw, as to #7, I'm not sure what the statutes are down there, but sometimes it is better for the inmate to remain incarcerated, especially if he's being held on bond for another charge. That way he gets pre-sentence credit on all dockets.

Posted by: Gideon at August 18, 2005 09:41 AM

Sounds like fun!

It's the same in Immigration Court - yelling judges, fast dockets . . . only the govt lawyers know their shit.

Posted by: Avoiding Billable Hours at August 18, 2005 02:55 PM

Why does that list sound so fun? Maybe that's when you know you might be in the right pofession; when you start looking forward to judges yelling at you and maybe getting to yell back (in a respectful manner).

Posted by: Reckless Murder at August 18, 2005 07:28 PM

It *is* fun -- and priceless. I can't imagine trying to go into practice w/out some training like this to prepare first. I'll pick up my first cases next week...

Gideon: Yes, that's true here, too. Definitely something to keep in mind, but it's probably still true that you don't want to tell your clients it's best for them to stay in jail. Instead, I imagine you could just say, "You're gonna be held b/c of these other charges so the best thing we can do is ask for the same conditions you got on that charge so you'll get double-credit for any time you spend here." Or something like that...

I'm not necessarily looking forward to being yelled at by a judge, but I know it will happen and I'm not feeling worried about it.

Posted by: ambimb at August 19, 2005 07:44 AM

# “You have to have a very negative outlook when you're doing this job—and be happy about it! Assume the worst, but hope for the best.”

That is so Ago's philosophy of life.

Posted by: Melissa at August 20, 2005 11:38 PM

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