Forensic evidence, from DNA to fingerprints to ballistics, has never been more important in criminal cases. However, litigating scientific evidence in the courtroom is not like it appears on TV shows like CSI—it is challenging and requires some specialized skills. We are excited to offer a new short course to provide those skills—by the end of the course you will be able to handle sophisticated scientific evidence in the courtroom. While the focus is on forensics used in criminal cases, many of the same principles and skills apply when litigating scientific evidence in any type of case. The course will be a practicum: a scientific evidence trial advocacy course. We will begin with introductory lectures both on forensics and how to prepare for trial, so that students will be fully ready for their parts in a final eight-hour day of simulations. During the simulations, the “prosecutors” will first interview their forensic experts (one of your instructors), and talk to them about their case file documents, which are taken from real cases. The class will break into groups to brainstorm potential motions to exclude expert testimony or limit language and discuss collectively as a class, both sides will conduct mock trials with direct and cross-examination of forensic experts before a judge, and finally, we will conduct closings. We will stop in between each session to exchange feedback and talk about what worked and what did not. Each student will have a chance to present in these simulations. The course will also be to open to a select group of experienced practicing criminal lawyers who will collaborate with students throughout the simulations. Students will be graded on a memo written reflecting on their portion of the trial; their draft questions finalizing their planned questions; and on their participation and oral advocacy in the simulations. While having taken evidence or trial advocacy is helpful, it is not a prerequisite.
|Course Areas of Practice|
Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context