Access to Justice Clinic: Effective Assistance of Counsel at Bail

This one-semester clinic provides students with various courtroom advocacy experiences of representing individual defendants in jail because they cannot afford bail and with opportunities to engage in systemic reform that enhances the city’s or state’s pretrial and bail system. Students’ client representation of incarcerated poor and low-income people accused of non-violent crimes typically results in appearing on two or three occasions before various District Court judges. Systemic law reform projects typically focus on addressing judicial reliance on money bail as a condition of an accused regaining liberty while awaiting trial. Prior projects range from providing second chances for defendants to recall failure-to-appear (FTA) arrest warrants for missing scheduled court appearances to proposing changes in current procedural law and initiating class action litigation that now establishes a constitutional right to counsel at initial hearings.

During the first third of the semester, students develop lawyering and advocacy skills, such as client interviewing, fact investigation, creating a successful theory of the case and persuasive argument. Students’ preparation for practice begins by touring the city’s Central Booking jail and observing District Court commissioner hearings and judge’s bail review proceedings. Students then assume the lawyer’s and client’s roles in a series of simulated exercises, culminating in their arguing for clients’ pretrial release before a sitting District Court judge. Thereafter, they become Rule certified to practice law as a student-attorney. As Rule 19 attorneys, law students use their developing skills to represent actual clients held in jail since arrest on unaffordable bails in the $100 to $1,000 range.

Our Tuesday and Thursday bi-weekly, clinic classes are devoted to understanding Maryland practice, the pretrial release and bail system, the guarantee and role of counsel, and the influence of race, class, gender and orientation upon judicial balancing of individual liberty and detention. Throughout the semester, we discuss lawyers’ professional responsibility and ethical duties to the client, court and public.

By semester’s end, students will have had a variety of first-hand client and courtroom experiences and will be introduced to and undoubtedly engaged in systemic reform.

Students who enroll in this course are required to attend Law Practice Orientation at the start of the semester.

This course is not currently scheduled.
Last offered Fall 2017.

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