Rethinking Criminal Defense Clinics in Zero-Tolerance Policing Regimes


This article explores one defense clinic’s evolution from an individual direct representation model to a “combined advocacy” approach in response to systemic civil rights violations associated with aggressive prosecution of “zero- tolerance” policing strategies in New York City. The pedagogical and ethical implications of engaging students in this form of criminal defense “cause lawyering” is deconstructed through an examination of the student attorneys’ experience litigating individual cases and their collaborative work with community residents, social scientists, and public interest attorneys. Finally, this piece proposes a mobile clinic to bring interdisciplinary advocacy resources directly into neighborhoods targeted by Compstat for intensive zero-tolerance policing.

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