CAPITAL HABEAS LITIGATION CLINIC
(LAWC-5001) - 4 UNITS
The Federal Public Defender's Capital Habeas Unit (FPD) represents individuals who have been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death by the State of California, and who are challenging their convictions and sentences in federal court in order to get a new trial. This clinic provides students with an opportunity to develop a well-rounded set of skills and learn diverse areas of law in one semester.
During the semester students are assigned to a capital habeas case. But before they begin working on it, they receive a week's worth of training, to teach them about the "nuts and bolts" of capital habeas litigation. In order to obtain a new trial for her capital habeas client, a capital habeas lawyer must demonstrate that her client's conviction or sentence is unconstitutional. This requires the lawyer to be well-versed in California criminal law, state and federal procedural law, and federal constitutional law. During the first week of the clinic, deputy federal public defenders ensure that clinical students gain an understanding of these areas of law, as well as the typical timeline of a capital habeas case and the difficulties capital habeas lawyers encounter when trying to obtain relief for their clients.