Federal Criminal Sentencing Advocacy Clinic

Information Introduction

Section 1, Fall 24

Schedule Information

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


1710-1910 WB104A

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. 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: It is recommended, but not required, to have completed, or to concurrently take, a course on criminal procedure (Crim. Investigation, Crim. Adjudication, or Crim. Pro. Survey). 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: None

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: NOTE REGARDING ENROLLMENT: the enrollment process is described at https://www.law.virginia.edu/clinics/faqs-about-clinics#howenroll. If seats are available in this clinic after the lottery process, students can enroll themselves in the course via the SIS Add/Drop process. If a student seeking a seat in this class is enrolled in another clinic, enrollment authorization from the instructors from both clinics must be provided to the Student Records Office via email ([email protected]).

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.: 124820853

Modified Type: Clinical

Cross Listed: No

Waitlist Count: 0

Concentrations: Criminal Justice , Litigation and Dispute Resolution , Public Service and Leadership

Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Friday, November 22, 12:01 AM

Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Friday, December 06, 11:59 PM

Information reflected on this page was last refreshed at: Friday, July 19, 2024 - 7:02 AM *

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