Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic

Mission Statement

The St. Thomas Criminal and Juvenile Defense clinic is dedicated to serving the Twin Cities community by representing youth and adult defendants in criminal and delinquency cases who may otherwise be unable to afford legal representation. Our mission is to provide diligent, effective, and empathetic representation and advocacy in pursuit of each client’s desired outcome. The clinic also works to identify and remedy systemic problems which cause injustices or inequities within the criminal and juvenile legal systems.

The Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic is a one-semester, six-credit clinic offered in both the spring and fall semesters. Under the supervision of Professor Rachel Moran, students will have the opportunity to defend both children and adults accused of crimes in juvenile and criminal court. Working in teams of two, students will represent approximately two to four clients per semester, and in most situations will represent those clients through the resolution of the case. Students will appear in court regularly throughout the semester for arraignments, conferences, motions hearings, bench trials, jury trials, and sentencing hearings. Students will develop skills in fact investigation, client counseling, interviewing, negotiation, motions writing, oral argument, direct and cross examination, jury selection, and all other aspects of pretrial and trial litigation. In some cases, students will also partner with graduate psychology and social work students in the Interprofessional Center to provide holistic services and counseling to clients.

Through the seminar portion of the class as well as field experiences, students will also explore systemic injustice issues within the criminal and juvenile legal systems, including explicit and implicit biases, disproportionate minority impact, prosecution of children as adults, criminalization of poverty and mental illness, hyperincarceration, and lack of law enforcement accountability.