National Criminal Justice Academy

National Criminal Justice Academy

The National Criminal Justice Academy will help meet prosecution (and, in the future, defense) needs for advocacy training, while at the same time creating educational and research opportunities for students and faculty at the College of Law.  The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) has elected to enter into an exclusive partnership with the University of Utah to pursue this objective, and key members of the criminal defense community are meeting to discuss how defenders can become formally involved with this project as well.

The NCJA is committed to providing hands-on training that focuses on the development of practical skills coupled with thorough, individualized feedback and evaluation of each participant’s performance in the program.  These training programs will be taught and designed almost entirely by prosecutors and former prosecutors.  We will create a curricular advisory board composed of prosecutors to oversee and assess the training regimen.

Paul Cassell is an experienced former federal prosecutor, who continues to be actively involved in litigation around the country in defense of crime victim’s rights.

The University of Utah also offers many criminal law-related programs to its students, including classes in Evidence, Trial Advocacy, Criminal Process, and Innocence Investigation and Post-Conviction Process, among many others.

Students at the College of Law interested in criminal law can take a number of classes in this area and can pursue several clinical placements:

The Criminal Clinic focuses on the practice of criminal law (including case preparation, oral advocacy, court procedures, and ethics); the role and function of prosecutors and defense attorneys; and the criminal justice system.  Students appear as prosecutors and defense attorneys in misdemeanor cases and assist in felony trials.  This clinic is a two semester commitment (Fall & Spring) open to third year students only.

The Crime Victim’s Clinic provides free legal representation to crime victims when victim’ rights issues are at stake. The Legal Clinic is available to serve victims of all types of crime and has a statewide focus. Its goals are to provide free legal services to crime victims in criminal district, justice, juvenile and appellate courts; to recruit and train a roster of pro bono attorneys and law students to provide legal services to victims; and to provide education to criminal justice professionals on victims’ rights.  The Crime Victim’s Clinic has four staff attorneys to assist law student volunteers with questions and training.

The Innocence Clinic introduces students to the justice system from the perspective of a wrongfully convicted individual.  Students learn about the system by dissecting and investigating closed cases where errors may have been made resulting in the wrongful conviction of an innocent person. This Clinic involves a two-semester commitment.  It is open to 2Ls and 3Ls.