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LLM Criminal Law Course Descriptions

To earn the LL.M. degree in Trial Advocacy, students must complete 24 units over the course of two terms. These 24 units comprise the course requirements and the clinical placement. Each course has been designed with an emphasis on developing criminal litigation skills that are required in the courtroom. All courses are taught by experienced criminal defense attorneys. The following is the complete program schedule:

Fall Trimester
Federal Defender Training 2 units
LL.M. Trial Skills Program 3 units
Federal Motions Practice 2 units
Evidence Advocacy 2 units
LL.M. Scholarship Seminar 2 units

Spring Trimester
Federal Criminal Practice 2 units
Federal Defenders Office Clinical Placement 10 units

Course Descriptions

Federal Defender Training explores the "nuts and bolts" of criminal litigation and is based on the "new defender training" that lawyers in federal defender offices receive. The course emphasizes the practical application of the federal law in pre-trial, trial, and post-trial settings. Topics covered include bail/detention hearings, discovery entitlements and obligations, voir dire, motions for acquittal, sentencing procedure, and post-conviction remedies, as well as the Federal rules and statutes relating to these topics.

LL.M. Trial Skills Program is an intensive trial skills course taught in a small group setting by an experienced federal criminal law attorney. Each week, students will learn advanced techniques on a variety of litigation topics including trial theories and themes, jury selection, opening statements, direct examination, cross-examination, and closing arguments. During the course, students will be assigned to teams and simulate two federal mock trials in front of sitting federal judges at the U.S. District Court as part of the course.

Federal Motions Practice covers substantive federal criminal law and its applications to the majority of motions and briefs that a federal defense attorney files as part of their litigation practice. Topics covered range from suppression motions based on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to common federal offenses such as firearms and drug offenses. The goal of this class is to teach students a thorough understanding of the substantive law by drafting and arguing motions including motions to suppress, motions in limine, and affirmative defenses. Students should expect to prepare at least one motion a week on selected criminal law issues, as well as brief and argue relevant U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit holdings.

LL.M. Scholarship Seminar requires students to research and write law review- quality papers on select federal criminal law topics under the supervision of a faculty member. Each paper is eligible for submission to the Federal Criminal Defense Law Journal to be considered for publication.

Evidence Advocacy focuses on the practical application of the Federal Rules of Evidence in a criminal law trial environment. Students are required to master and apply evidentiary rules and principles to fast-paced courtroom hypotheticals.

Federal Criminal Practice, in conjunction with the clinical placement, involves tasks designed to enhance the student's clinical experience including journals and other written assignments.

Federal Defenders Office Clinical Placement provides students the opportunity to actually practice in federal court in conjunction with, and under the supervision of, select federal defenders offices or at private criminal law firms. Placement sites are selected and closely monitored by the LL.M. director. The sites include offices throughout California and the United States including Puerto Rico.

  • Recognized by the Judges Advocate General Corps (JAG)
  • Offers Exclusive Training by SD Federal Defenders Inc.
Learn More!

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Still Accepting Applications for Fall 2013

Program Highlights
  • San Diego Federal Defenders Clinical Placement
  • All Faculty are Federal Defenders
  • Longest Established Trial Advocacy Program
  • Study on the beach!