The New Orleans Bar is sponsoring a free CLE program this Friday for any civil practitioner who agrees to take at least one pro bono criminal appointment. The Orleans Indigent Defender office has been seriously understaffed for years, but the situation has become an epic crisis in the wake of Katrina.
The CLE program this Friday is targeted at civil practitioners who want to volunteer, but feel they need a cram course in criminal law and procedure before doing so. If you volunteer to take one case, the CLE program is entirely free. This is a win-win-win situation, so please consider taking advantage of it. Seminar details are here.
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Back in 1993 when I started my law firm, I took a similar class, a freebie sponsored by the DC Public Defenders’ office. It was excellent and it was free. I still have my 100 pages of notes from the course.If you are nervous about handling a criminal matter, I guarantee that these classes will teach you everything you need to know. My course taught us exactly what to say when our client was presented to the judge, what to do to get your client out on bond, how to handle probable cause hearings plus all the lingo (like Jencks requests and asking for the Gerstein, which at the time in DC was shorthand for the statement of probable cause). Do not miss the opportunity to see how the criminal system works – it will change the way you look at civil trials and about our judicial system in general. I handled about 25 court appointed cases over a 3 year period (a few to jury trial) and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my legal career.