California Western -- Laurence Benner
Courses Taught - Laurence A. Benner

Criminal Law

Advanced Criminal Justice

Bail Project Clinical Component

Advanced Criminal Litigation

Constitutional Law II

Criminal Procedure I

CRIMINAL LAW (3 units)
Studies the current law of crimes, both common law and statutory. This inquiry focuses on when and how the state can deprive citizens of liberty. General principles of criminal liability include elements of certain crimes, justification, excuse, and sanctions.
with integrated Bail Project Clinical Component
Students taking this unique seminar/practicum explore current issues in criminal justice and, in a joint venture with the San Diego Public Defenderís Office, participate in CWSLís award winning Bail Project, which provides an opportunity to interview felony arrestees in jail and represent actual clients in court. Advance Criminal Justice is a core course in the Criminal Prosecution and Defense Area of Concentration which satisfies the scholarly writing requirement (SWR) for this special award of distinction. The paper may be written on any topic concerning criminal law or criminal procedure. In addition to special training on bail and preventive detention, the class will also include special focus on current events involving the detention of enemy combatants, material witnesses and unlawful belligerents.   back to top
History of the Bail Project
Prior to the Bail Project, an indigent accuses unable to make bail normally had no access to legal assistance or even advise about basic rights for anywhere from two to five days after their arrest. To remedy this problem Professor Benner worked together with the Chief Public Defender, Steven Carroll and two California Western alumni, Chief Deputy, Juliana Humphrey (class of '87) and Director of Training, Gary Gibson (class of '91) to develop a program which would bring law students into the jail.

Specialized Training for Clinical Component
The Bail Project is made an integral part of this course as a special clinical component. Students are given specialized training in client interviewing, ethics and bail representation and a tour of the jail, the superior court and the public defender office. After this initial training students then act as pre-arraignment representatives of the Public Defenderís Office. Going into the jail, the students identify recent arrestees who have not made bail and conduct an initial interview to obtain information for bail representation, provide advice as to rights and address concerns arising from incarceration. In appropriate cases students provides representation in court seeking a bail reduction or O.R. release for the client. The student has the option to follow any clientís case through the system to disposition.   back to top
with option to add 4th unit through participation in the Bail Project
This course is a "Transition to Practice" practicum designed to bridge the gap between law school and the real world. Modeled after National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) "hands on" training workshops, students are alternately assigned the role of either prosecutor or defense counsel in a series of performance exercises that involve factual investigation, bail representation, pre-trial motion practice, discovery, plea-bargaining, strategy & tactics and jury selection. There are also numerous opportunities to perfect courtroom advocacy skills such as direct and cross-examination of actual San Diego police officers using real cases. For their final exercise student attorneys will interview live clients and witnesses rather than being given a fact pattern, investigate a real crime scene, brainstorm the theory of the case, file and litigate pre-trial motions and conduct an actual jury trial. Special emphasis will also be given to the problems involved (from both the prosecution and the defense perspective) in litigating eyewitness identification cases. Optional Clinical Component: Students can also add (at their option) an additional unit of credit for participation in CWSL's Bail Project. The first two weeks of Advanced Criminal Litigation involve intensive training on client interviewing, ethics and bail representation. Those students adding the Bail Project Clinical Component will receive additional training by the Public Defender's Office and tours of the Jail, the Public Defender Office and the Court. For further details see Advanced Criminal Justice above, which includes the Bail Project as an integrated part of that course or contact Professor Benner.   back to top
This course focuses on Constitutional protection for basic individual liberties. The topics covered include equal protection, substantive due process including the right to privacy, procedural due process, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.  These topics touch many of the current controversial issues of the day, including racial profiling, affirmative action, gender discrimination, gay rights, abortion, flag burning, and hate speech. The role of the Supreme Court in resolving such issues and the relationship between constitutional doctrine and changing economic, social and political forces, including war and terrorism, are central themes throughout the course. The method of instruction is primarily Socratic, with historical material covered by lecture.   back to top
The objective of this required upperclass course is to help students gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental relationship between the Bill of Rights and our democratic form of government. The course focuses primarily upon the Fourth Amendment (search & seizure), the Fifth Amendment (confessions), and the Sixth Amendment (right to counsel). The course covers topics such as eye-witness identification, drug testing, and electronic surveillance.   back to top

Full course descriptions are available in PDF format on the J.D. Curriculum page.

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