Forensics Litigation (SC)
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Forensics 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 and requires some specialized skills. We are excited to offer a new J-term course to provide those skills—by the end of the week 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 (we plan to bring in practicing fingerprint examiners to participate), and talk to them about their case files, from real cases. The prosecutors and defense lawyers will conduct motion in limine hearings, and finally, both sides will conduct mock trials with direct and cross-examination of forensic experts. A sitting judge will likely join us to preside. 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 about ten experienced practicing criminal lawyers. Each student will then write an 8-10 page paper, due by Friday Feb. 3rd at 4:30pm (via EXPO) describing what worked and what did not during the portion of the simulated case that they worked on. Student grades will be based on the paper, participation in the class discussions, and planning and advocacy in the simulations. While having taken evidence or trial advocacy is helpful, it is not a prerequisite.
*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.
**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.