Federal Criminal Sentencing Advocacy Clinic

Information Introduction

Section 1, Spring 24

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 6/6
Credits: 3
Days Time Room Start Date End Date


1700-1900 SL276

Course Description

The Federal Criminal Sentencing Advocacy Clinic teaches students advocacy skills focused on the sentencing phase of an indigent federal defendant’s case and gives students a unique opportunity to practice in federal court. During the 2023-24 school year, this clinic will be offered in the spring 2024 semester only. In federal criminal defense practice, one of the most significant opportunities for advocacy is at the sentencing phase of the case. The clinic seminar will teach students about federal sentencing law, procedure, and sentencing guidelines, as well as advocacy strategies and client-centered counseling. Clinic students will work directly with clients to advocate on their behalf throughout the sentencing phase of felony cases. Students may draft and file objections to presentence reports and sentencing guideline calculations and will draft sentencing motions in advance of sentencing hearings in federal court. As time and available cases allow, students will also learn about and engage in advocacy related to post-sentence probation/supervised release violation hearings. Additionally, many federal inmates are serving sentences in excess of what they would receive for the same offense today, not because they are “innocent” of the offense of conviction, but due to guideline errors in the original case, changes in law that were not made retroactive, and/or evolving community standards. Others have significant health issues that make their continued incarceration unjust. And, even after serving their term of incarceration, many people face many more years of community supervision that severely and unnecessarily restrict their liberty. Students will learn about available mechanisms to reduce these custodial and noncustodial sentences. As time and available cases allow, students may also work directly with clients to file post-sentencing motions in federal district courts to reduce both the custodial and noncustodial (community supervision) portions of a client’s sentence, including sentence reduction motions and motions for early termination of supervision. Both second-year and third-year students are eligible to enroll, but students must be 3Ls in good standing and meet third-year practice guidelines, and have a third year practice certificate in order to argue in court. This clinic will likely require students travel to jails and/or federal courts within the Western District of Virginia with an attorney to meet with clients and attend court hearings.

Course Requirements

Exam Information

Final Type (if any): None

Description: None

Other Work

While the workload will vary by week, students should expect to work between 9-11 hours per week, including class preparation and class time.

Other Course Details

Prerequisites: Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Concurrencies: (Criminal Investigation (7019) OR Criminal Adjudication (7018) OR Criminal Procedure Survey (7009)) These courses can be taken concurrently or prior to enrolling in the clinic.

Exclusive With: None

Laptops Allowed: Yes

First Day Attendance Required: Yes

Course Resources: Materials will be provided for the classroom portion of the clinic; no required textbook.

Course Notes: Students interested in this clinic must rank the clinic in the clinic lottery in October. Students selected for the clinic through the clinic lottery process will be automatically enrolled prior to the regular course lottery. NOTE REGARDING GRADING BASIS: Students in this clinic will receive a grade of Honors (H), Pass (P) or Fail (F) at the conclusion of the semester. In accordance with Academic Policy, CR, NC, H, P, and F grades do not earn grading points, so they do not contribute to a student's grade point average (GPA).

Graduation Requirements

Satisfies Understanding Bias/Racism/Cross-Cultural Competency requirement: No

Satisfies Writing Requirement: No

Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes

Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

Additional Course Information

Schedule No.: 124218047

Modified Type: Clinical

Cross Listed: No

Concentrations: Criminal Justice , Litigation and Procedure

Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Saturday, April 20, 12:01 AM

Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, April 28, 11:59 PM

Information reflected on this page was last refreshed at: Monday, February 26, 2024 - 7:03 AM *

*During open enrollment periods, live enrollment data may be found in SIS.