Life-Changing Court Cases

Students in the Advanced Law & Trial Internship Summit can choose from a number of legal focus areas. We bring in specialized mentors, experts, lawyers and instructors for each focus area to assist students in researching and developing a legal defense for their real-life clients.

Top defense ideas/methods will be used in real court cases in the fall of 2018.

Each defendant represented by the Advanced Law & Trial Internship Summit will receive a $5000 grant to put towards their actual court case. This grant can be used to pay for outside forensic testing, case examination by experts and will transform the clients’ ability to defend themselves in court.

Learn more about the following focus areas below: Civil And Constitutional Rights, Drug-Related Criminal Cases, Child Custody Cases, & Robbery-Related Criminal Cases.

Civil And Constitutional Rights Case Teams

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an accused the right to representation by counsel in serious criminal prosecutions.

In the landmark 1963 case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution and held that a fundamental and essential prerequisite to a fair criminal justice system is the right to be defended by competent and effective lawyers.

The court stated, “Reason and reflection require us to recognize that in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. This seems to us to be an obvious truth.”

Students on Civil and Constitutional Rights case teams will work directly with clients to protect their civil liberties.

Types Of Cases Students Will Help Their Clients Prepare A Defense For An Actual Court Case In The Fall of 2018
Nondiscrimination Protections Help enforce federal and state laws to protect people from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and ability –Learn More Here
Immigration Rights & Detention Assist immigrants living and working in the United States who have been improperly fired, imprisoned or are facing housing discrimination issues. –Learn More Here
Racial Profiling Assist individuals potentially targeted by law enforcement officials for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. –Learn More Here
Program Participants Will Work Directly With Civil Rights Experts And Leading Defense Attorneys

Drug Related Defense Cases

Drug-related charges are the leading cause of incarceration in the United States.  In addition to jail or prison, a felony or misdemeanor conviction can negatively effect employment and life opportunities.

Students will become interns for an experienced criminal defense attorney and become part of a committed defense team working to spare clients lengthy prison terms and fines by securing dismissals, acquittals, and reduced charges. 

They will research potential defenses, which may involve challenging the stated facts, testimony or evidence in the case and targeting procedural errors such as Fourth Amendment violations, under the guidance of a public defender.


Types Of Cases Students Will Help Their Clients Prepare A Defense For An Actual Court Case In The Fall of 2018
Possession Of An Illegal Substance In 2015, the possession of small amounts of marijuana became legal in the District of Columbia, even with this development, drug arrests have actually tripled in the district. Students will work with low-income community members who may not have understood the rules of the new law or were improperly detained.
Public Intoxication & Disturbing the Peace Public Intoxication & Disturbing the Peace is a criminal offense that occurs when a person engages in some form of disorderly conduct, such as fighting or causing excessively loud noise. Young individuals who are convicted of this crime can face a felony conviction, jail time and negatively affect their ability to obtain future employment.
Distribution With The Intent To Sell Statistics from the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department shows a large increase in the number of distribution busts in 2017, with the 220 arrests more than doubling the number seen in 2013. At least 1/3 of these arrests are for selling $20 or less worth of Marijuana which comes with a permanent criminal record and strong financial penalties.
Program Participants Will Work Directly With Washington DC Police Officers, Substance Abuse Experts, and Receive Evidence Exclusion Training.

Property Crime Defense Cases

Persons who have been charged with a property crime such as burglary, theft, fraud or robbery may face consequences from a small fine up to several years in jail or prison if they are convicted. This makes it critical for those who have been accused to have representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Students who choose to work on these cases will review evidence and potential witnesses, and look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that might result in the ability to negotiate lesser charges, lesser penalties or dismissal of the case. Students will work with a public defender to look at the case from all sides to determine the client’s options and the possible outcomes.

Types Of Cases Students Will Help Their Clients Prepare A Defense For An Actual Court Case In The Fall of 2018
Theft Theft charges involve wrongfully obtaining or using the property of another with intent to deprive the other of a right to the property or to take the property for his or her use. To “wrongfully obtain” simply means that you did not have permission to take the property. These chargers often happen within civil or marital disputes, with the accused party believing they had permission or ownership of the property in dispute. If convicted the charge can cause long-term consequences upon conviction.
Burglary Both burglary in the first degree and burglary in the second degree are felonies with mandatory minimum prison sentences. A person charged with burglary in the first degree faces a felony conviction and five to 30 years in prison. These chargers often happen between business partners or former employees of businesses who at times believe they had ownership of the property in question.
Shoplifting Shoplifting is defined as a separate crime in D.C. Code 22-3213. It is a specific type of theft offense that charges someone with taking personal property known to be for sale without making full payment.  Shoplifting also encompasses the commission of certain acts intended to defraud a property owner so he receives less than full value for his property. This is one of the most common crimes where evidence is deemed illegally obtained and many accusations are proven false, especially in lower-income communities.
Program Participant Will Work With Former DC Detectives, Prosecutors and Survaliance Experts

Child Custody Cases

Child custody cases are considered some of the most crucial decisions the United States Justice System deals with, because in this case, a judge must use the information available to him or her to determine the best interests of a child.

Students will assist with the preparation of cases for child custody matters, which may include a parent’s attempt to relocate, a request for sole or joint custody, or relatives who are requesting temporary custody in cases of alleged unsafe home environments. Students will be able to research prior cases, meet with the plaintiff, and talk with a child psychologist in order to gain a complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding the case. Students will learn about what the court uses to assess the environment that is in the child’s best interest, and appreciate the complexities of custody and placement cases. 

Types Of Cases Students Will Help Their Clients Prepare A Defense For An Actual Court Case In The Fall of 2018
Sole Custody Students will work with a parent to obtain “sole custody” of a child so they have exclusive physical and legal custody rights concerning the child. These custody arrangements are rare, and are usually limited to situations in which one parent has been deemed unfit or incapable of having any form of responsibility over a child — for example, due to drug addiction or evidence of child abuse.
Grandparent Visitation and Custody Students will work with a child’s grandparents to show that a parent is abusive, unfit, or incompetent with the goal of convincing Washington D.C. judge to grant permissive (and in some cases permanent) rights to the grandparents if it is in the best interest of the child.
Reinstatement of Joint Custody When parents divorce, the divorce decree will specify with whom the divorcing couple’s children will live (and circumstances under which the other parent will visit with the children). If a parent has been convicted of a crime or has substance abuse problems, they may have custody of their child revoked. After serving their sentence or having been sober for serval years, obtaining legal access to their child is not always possible. Students will work with rehabilitated members of society to reconnect with their children.
Program Participants Will Work Directly With Child Custodial Experts, Therapists, and Child Custody Experts