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California Western’s Trial Skills Academy Trains Latin American Lawyers

SAN DIEGO, April 13, 2009 – California Western’s Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy hosts the 4th Annual Janeen Kerper Trial Skills Academy from April 27 to May 1.  The Spanish-language program trains lawyers from Latin American countries in oral trial advocacy skills.  Sixty people are expected to participate, including lawyers from Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.

“This is a truly international group, which shows the strength of the adversarial system,” said Professor Justin Brooks, Director of the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy.

The Trial Skills Academy is the only program in the United States focused on strengthening the litigation techniques of Latin American attorneys through exposure and practice. 

“We are not only exporting a set of practical skills to legal professionals in other countries, we are spreading the positive aspects of our legal culture,” said Professor James Cooper, Director of Proyecto ACCESO, a co-sponsor of the Trial Skills Academy.

Top criminal defense attorneys from around the United States come together to help their visiting colleagues become more effective trial lawyers.  Seasoned attorneys guide “student” attorneys through the week-long seminar to improve their trial techniques through role-playing the defense and prosecution in a simulated criminal case. 

Participants in the Academy visit the San Diego Police Department, the State Defender’s Office, the Federal Defender’s Office, and the Federal Court of San Diego to further understand how the American judicial system functions at the local, state, and federal level. 

The late Professor Janeen Kerper was a co-founder of the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy and Proyecto ACCESO, the school’s Rule of Law training program that has empowered thousands of lawyers, judges and law enforcement officials throughout the region.  Through Proyecto ACCESO, Kerper helped spread trial skills in Latin America as many countries shifted their criminal procedure from the inquisitorial system to the adversarial system.