Post-Conviction & Sentencing: Legal Theory and Practice

Course Description

Spring 2023
Tuesdays: 3:15-5:15

This is a five- or seven-credit course, at the student’s choice, open to second and third-year students. It satisfies the Cardin Requirement. Enrollment is limited to four students. Preference will be given to third year students who need to satisfy the Cardin requirement. The focus of this course will be on the criminal process after direct appeal, called the post-conviction process. The legal work will include #1 and #2 time permitting,

1. Work under the Juvenile Restoration Act (JRA), an important very recent reform (effective October 2021). Students, working in teams of two, will help to represent prisoners who committed their crimes as juveniles (age 17 or younger) and have served at least twenty years. Under the JRA, they are entitled to resentencing hearings. The legal work, conducted in student teams under the professor’s supervision, will involve practical writing to include drafting a resentencing motion and a settlement proposal (for the prosecutor), interviewing the client and others, and analyzing the trial, sentencing, and other transcripts, as well as other documents. Each team will work collaboratively with a social work school student to represent their client. The student also will attend a resentencing hearing as background.

2. Supporting proposed criminal justice reforms in the Maryland legislature. It is quite possible that students also will work with criminal justice reformers to support appropriate legislative reforms, including by doing research, drafting testimony, helping to identify and prepare witnesses, and possibly testifying before a committee or committees.

The classroom component will introduce students to the basic skills of practice, e.g., interviewing, writing (letters, requests for information, motions, supporting memos, and affidavits) and fact-finding. The course also will consider over-incarceration (particularly of older prisoners); issues of class, race, access to justice, and professional responsibility in the administration of criminal justice; restrictions in the last several decades on early release and rehabilitative programs; the more recent development of second-look programs (providing resentencing opportunities), and the need for an interdisciplinary approach to advocacy.

Students who enroll in this course are required to attend a course orientation program on Saturday, January 7th, 2023 from 9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (which will substitute for three classes), as well as complete the asynchronous, virtual general clinic orientation in January 2023.


1 The difference between the two will be amount of time the student devotes to the course. The expectation is that students will spend on average a total of 18 hours a week on clinical work for five credits, and 25 hours a week for seven credits.

Current and Previous Instructors

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions

P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course