Post-conviction & Sentencing: Legal Theory and Practice

This course will introduce students to second-look sentencing and the state post-conviction process, through representation of clients currently incarcerated under lengthy sentences in the state of Maryland. Second-look sentencing allows courts to reevaluate a person’s sentence after that person has served a significant period of time in prison and determine if that sentence is still necessary. The post-conviction process pertains to the state criminal process after direct appeal is concluded.

Students will learn through traditional reading assignments, immersion in a case study of Unger v. State, 427 Md. 383 (2012) and its implementation, and from doing actual legal work. The legal work, conducted in student teams under professors’ supervision, will involve practical writing to include drafting a sentencing review motion for an older state prisoner and drafting the settlement proposal. The student also will attend a resentencing hearing, if one occurs during the semester.  It also will include interviewing the client, and analyzing the trial, sentencing, and other transcripts, as well as other documents. Students will work collaboratively with each other and with social work school students to represent their clients. 

The course will also consider over-incarceration (particularly of older prisoners convicted of violent crimes), racism in the criminal justice system, restrictions in the last several decades of early release and rehabilitative programs, recent development of second-look programs, and the need for an interdisciplinary approach to advocacy.

To conduct the hands-on client work, it is preferable that students have enough flexibility in their work schedules to spend at least two week days during the semester visiting their client in prison and observing one hearing. 

This is a clinical course in which students will be helping represent actual clients, therefore attendance at all classes and team meetings is important. Team meetings will be held each week and will either be in person at school or conducted by Zoom. 

Students can elect to take to take this course for 3 or 4 credits, the difference being the amount of time a student devotes to the course: approximately, on average, 10 hours a week for 3 credits, and 13 hours a week for 4 credits.

This course does not satisfy the Cardin Requirement.

Class admission priority will be given to evening students. If space remains, transfer and day students can be enrolled as well. Students who enroll in this course are required to attend a course orientation program on Saturday, January 8, 2022 from 9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., as well as complete the asynchronous, virtual general clinic orientation between the morning of January 7th and midnight on January 9th .

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course