The Domestic Violence Bureau offers a fieldwork opportunity, in which students are able to prosecute misdemeanor crimes on behalf of the State. Students will have the opportunity to apply law they learned in Criminal Law, Evidence, Criminal Adjudication and other classes. Operating under an Appellate Division special practice order, each student will be responsible for about 15 to 20 active domestic violence criminal cases and may work on other cases. Students will get the opportunity to argue pre-trial motions and take their cases to trial in a first-chair capacity as needed. Students also will subpoena relevant evidence, draft complaints, prepare discovery materials and negotiate pleas with defense counsel. They also will interview victims and meet with police, defense counsel and judges, seeking the right solution to cases that are fraught with consequences for the victims, defendants and families. To the extent possible, matters of discretion (e.g. what to charge, what plea to offer, what evidence to subpoena) are left to the student's judgment. Thus, each student is forced to grapple with the tough decisions inherent to domestic violence prosecutions. Students will spend at least 10 hours per week working at the Bureau and appearing on their cases in Queens Criminal Court (located next to the E and F subway stop in Kew Gardens, Queens).
In light of students' high level of responsibility, Mr. Kessler will make sure that they receive attentive and accessible supervision at all times. Each student is assigned to a supervising ADA, with whom they will build a relationship over the course of a semester. In addition, the bureau chief/adjunct professor will be available to answer questions regarding procedure and logistics. Students will critically examine the ethical, strategic and justice implications of their work with their supervisors and Mr. Kessler.