The Dr. David Weiner Criminal Law Clinic places third- year law students as interns in the Public Defenders Office, which represents citizens who have been accused or suspected of criminal behavior. Public Defense lawyers work to ensure that justice is done for those who are already victims of society's ills and for whom the court's sentence could mean either a conviction for life, or a new lease on life. The internship familiarizes the students with this significant element of legal work, and develops their compassion, understanding and professionalism in dealing with clients from society's most difficult populations.
The students accompany and assist the Public Defense attorneys as they represent defendants in criminal cases in a variety of courts, meet with their clients and with the prosecution. The student interns also participate in a unique project devoted to handling applications for retrial, in cases where a miscarriage of justice or a wrongful conviction is suspected.
The Clinic offers the students enrichment classes and workshops on criminal law and its practical applications. In these lectures the students discuss the ethical and practical challenges of representing suspects in criminal offense cases, with emphasis upon the rights of the accused and the professional and ethical obligations of the defense. The classes cover topics s such as settlement negotiations, use of experts and private investigators for the defense, court procedures, cross examination, and appeals. The classes also create a much needed forum for discussion of ethical, practical and emotional issues that arise from the students' experiences in court.