Law 695:  Fundamentals of Trial Practice

The trial advocacy courses consist of a five-hour basic trial advocacy class in the fall followed by an optional elective 2 hour advanced trial advocacy class in the spring. The fall Trial Advocacy courses are prerequisites to the elective spring course. Trial Advocacy provides an opportunity for students to experience and apply the principles of the adversary method of adjudicating disputes from Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure and Evidence. In addition, the courses expose students to the "art" of trial court advocacy and to some of the frustrations, vexations and mental, physical, and emotional demands that attend the application of substantive principles to uncertain trial court fact reconstruction.

Two hours in the fall semester are graded and three are pass/fail. To enroll in fall Trial Advocacy, students are required to sign up for both Law 694 and Law 695. The spring semester Advanced Trial Advocacy class is satisfactory/unsatisfactory. 

Fall Semester Class

During the fall semester, the class considers realistic problems in direct and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, the introduction and use of exhibits and demonstrative aids at trial, jury selection, opening statements, and closing arguments. The demonstrative-simulation method of instruction is used. Each Friday the class is exposed to a discussion of fundamentals and a demonstration of technique with respect to a particular segment of the trial. This component is the basis for the two graded hours. Students must attend one of nine small groups the following week and solve new problems similar to those they have previously seen demonstrated. Students oppose one another in these sessions with a simulated courtroom process. Video critiquing is part of the teaching process. These classes are held at the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana. This component is the basis for the three ungraded hours credited under Law 695.

Also during the fall semester, students are required to complete 12 hours of court watching at the State and/or Federal Courts in Urbana. This required court watching component is done in conjunction with the League of Women Voters. No credit for the course is given until court watching is completed.

Spring Semester Classes

The Advanced Trial Advocacy class taught in spring is available in a variety of options, including a simulated civil trial, a simulated criminal trial, the Trial Team, or representation of clients in a civil plaintiff's case in the U.S. District Court in Urbana. 

In the simulated standard trial options, students are paired into partnerships and pitted against each other in one-day jury trials presided over by visiting Illinois judges in front of mock jurors. Students complete their own trial preparation as appropriate for the kind of trial (civil or criminal) that they have elected. In the civil trial, this will include pre-trial case development and practice including the drafting of pleadings, pre-trial discovery (including interrogatories, requests to produce and depositions), and other pre-trial motion practice. The attorneys have necessary pre-trial hearings for all issues raised by the case assigned them. The civil case file is developed through all pre-trial stages to a final pre-trial, including identifying witnesses and exhibits and preparing jury instructions. The criminal trial covers all aspects of criminal pre-trial case development and practice including the drafting of charging instruments, motions addressing bail and discovery, and other pre-trial motion practice. The attorneys have necessary pre-trial hearings for arraignment, bail, preliminary hearing, and hearings for motions filed regarding the case assigned the attorneys. The criminal case file is developed through all pre-trial stages to a final pre-trial, including identifying witnesses and exhibits and preparing jury instructions. In each kind of trial, all of the pre-trial phases are under the supervision of a Trial Advocacy Program faculty member. Pre-trial work is completed prior to Spring Break and trials are scheduled to conclude prior to spring break. 

The courses in Trial Advocacy are marked by action -- not lecture. The student learns by observing, doing and reading the literature of Trial Advocacy.

Sequence and Prerequisites: Evidence (Law 682) is a prerequisite or may be taken concurrently. The fall semester courses in Trial Advocacy and Fundamentals of Trial Practice ( Law 694 and 695) are non-waivable prerequisites to the spring semester options.

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