Federal Criminal Justice Clinic
The Federal Criminal Justice Clinic zealously represents indigent defendants charged with federal crimes and gives students a unique opportunity to practice in federal district court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and to write briefs to the United States Supreme Court. The FCJC is the only legal clinic in the country that exclusively represents indigent clients charged with federal felonies. We enter our federal district court cases at the time of the arrest, take them to trial or guilty plea and sentencing, and then carry them through appeal and beyond. As part of our broader mission to promote fairness in the criminal justice system, we also take Seventh Circuit appeals and write amicus briefs and petitions for certiorari to the Supreme Court. We have filed amicus briefs in two pending Supreme Court cases: A brief on behalf of The Sentencing Project and the ACLU in Alleyne v. United States, No. 11-9335, and a Criminal Law and Procedure Professors’ Brief in United States v. Davila, No. 12-167.
FCJC students are generally assigned to cases in teams of two. Students interview clients and witnesses; meet regularly with clients at the federal jail; conduct and participate in bond hearings, preliminary hearings, arraignments, evidentiary hearings, plea hearings, sentencing hearings, and trials; research, write, and argue motions and briefs; negotiate with prosecutors and probation officers; and participate in case investigations. Students involved in our appellate litigation research and write briefs to the Seventh Circuit and the Supreme Court and conduct oral argument in the Seventh Circuit. The seminar component includes skills exercises, simulations, lectures, case rounds, and discussions. Students enter the FCJC in their 3L year, must spend a full year in the FCJC, and must put a minimum of two credits towards the clinic per quarter (a ten-hour-per-week time commitment). The pre-requisites/co-requisites are Evidence, Criminal Procedure I, and Professor Siegler’s Federal Criminal Procedure course; these courses may be taken at any time during 2L or 3L year. It is strongly recommended that students interested in joining the FCJC take Professor Siegler’s Federal Sentencing seminar during 2L year, and take the Intensive Trial Practice Workshop at the beginning of 3L year.
Alison Siegler, the director of the FCJC, is Associate Clinical Professor of Law and was previously an attorney with the Federal Defender Program.