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The Office of the District Attorney of Allegheny County administers the Criminal Prosecution Practicum under the auspices of former prosecutor, Judge Edward J. Borkowski. The practicum runs the full school year, so those interested must devote both semesters to the program. The practicum combines classroom instruction with actual courtroom prosecution experience in order to prepare students for the practice of criminal law.
The classroom portion of the course requires students to attend a two hour class once a week in the courtroom of Judge Borkowski in the Allegheny County Courthouse. Students will be instructed on and be required to conduct opening statements, closing arguments, and direct and cross examination of lay and expert witnesses. Students are provided with a vehicle that includes police reports, lab reports, and transcripts of taped statements based on the class model (a homicide case) from which the exercises are performed in class by the students in a live courtroom setting with a judge and defense attorney present and participating as such.
The practical portion of the course requires students to extern ten (10) hours per week in Stephen A. Zappala’s Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office. Certified students are permitted to litigate guilty pleas, suppression motions, and nonjury trials in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The goal of the practicum is to give students a broad overview of the inner workings of a prosecution office while providing hands-on experience in prosecuting cases.
Each student enrolled in the practicum will be certified by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as a certified legal intern pursuant to Pennsylvania Bar Admission rules 321 and 322 to formally participate in legal matters. Any second year students will be certified during their second term. Depending upon the maturity and quality of the individual, students may be given the opportunity to handle actual preliminary hearings, juvenile court cases, motions, hearings, and trials.
Grading is Pass/Fail and will be based upon class attendance and completion of the required 104 hours.