The Federal Defender Office has been collaborating with the Challenging Mass Incarceration Clinic (CMIC) at Yale Law School since 2016. Kelly Barrett and Carly Levenson co-teach CMIC with Professor Miriam Gohara and co-supervise students working on federal sentencing, reduction in sentence, and pre-trial cases. CMIC’s representation model is holistic, client-centered, and mitigation driven. We explore the foundations of building an effective working rapport with clients and of assembling the tools necessary to provide comprehensive, meaningful representation. These include: interviewing clients and relevant witnesses; conducting a broad-based, thorough fact investigation; developing a case theory; working with experts; organizing and managing cases; researching relevant legal doctrine; and written and oral advocacy. Throughout the semester, we gather evidence of, study, and present in our advocacy the historical, racial, sociological, and economic structures that contextualize our clients’ contact with the criminal legal system. We also investigate and gather evidence of our clients’ own social histories and life circumstances in order to persuade decisionmakers to reconsider lengthy prison sentences or to persuade judges not to impose prison sentences in the first instance.
For more information on FDO’s collaboration with CMIC, please listen to Professor Miriam Gohara’s interview at https://soundcloud.com/yaleuniversity/episode-three-miriam-gohara.