Making a Difference
Students in the Criminal Practice Clinic stand up for the rights of low-income individuals charged with crimes. Typically, clients face misdemeanor or felony charges in New Hampshire circuit and superior courts. Some clients also face charges in the United States District Court. Students are responsible for client interviews, factual investigations, motions practice, negotiations with the prosecutor, and trials before a judge or jury.
Students work under the direct supervision of Clinical Professor Behzad Mirhashem, an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Students are certified to practice by the New Hampshire Supreme Court under Rule 36. They appear in a variety of courts for bail hearings, pretrial motion hearings, bench trials, jury trials, sentencing hearings, and post-conviction proceedings.
Clinic cases include sale and possession of drugs charges, theft and burglary offenses, assaults, and driving offenses. Students also complete an intensive, practice-based class that includes hearing and trial simulations. The basic and advanced Criminal Practice Clinics are often the capstone experience for students aspiring to be prosecutors or public defenders. After completing Evidence and Professional Responsibility, students may enroll in the Criminal Practice Clinic where they have an excellent chance of handling both bench and jury trials.
Recognizing the value of this clinical experience, the New Hampshire Public Defender requires completion of the Criminal Practice Clinic by any summer interns. Upon graduation, students with this solid bank of experience have secured employment with Prosecutors' or Public Defender offices from New Hampshire to Alaska.