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303-764-1400 Applying for a Public Defender

Advanced Training

Designed to Provide Concrete Knowledge

No lawyer ever reaches a point where there’s nothing else they can learn, regardless of their level of experience. Advanced Training consists of a wider breadth of non-mandatory trainings which, with some exceptions, vary from year to year. Advanced level trainings are designed to provide lawyers concrete knowledge in areas that impact complex litigation practice like forensics, mental health defenses, and dealing with expert witnesses. Examples of past advanced training offerings can be found here.

Direct File and Transfer Training

This training program educates defenders representing children facing criminal prosecution in adult court. It covers the law and procedure in direct file and transfer proceedings, what to do in the first few days after picking up one of these challenging cases, and a variety of advanced litigation topics, including:

  • Specialized mitigation gathering and presentation
  • How to compile and use data to persuade
  • Working with experts
  • Gathering, organizing and synthesizing records for your expert
  • Services available in DYS versus YOS and DOC
  • A panel discussion with judges who frequently hear these cases

Forensic Science Friday

This periodic Friday noon-hour series conducted over zoom offers lawyers insight into areas of forensic science that may be implicated in their complex cases. Past sessions have included:

  • Investigating the other side’s expert
  • DNA
  • Arson investigation

Post-Conviction Training Series

This multi-session series focuses on the intricacies of post-conviction defense work. This series includes sessions on proportionality reviews, 35(a) Illegal Sentence claims, as well as various issues related to ineffective assistance of counsel claims, such as investigating IAC claims, writing supplemental briefs, issue spotting, hiring and working with an expert, and conduct a hearing.

Mental Health Academy

This multi-day training session provides in-depth training to experienced lawyers on litigating cases in which the client’s mental health may be a part of the defense. Lectures cover:

  • How to work with clients with mental illness
  • The black-letter law on insanity and non-insanity mental health defenses
  • Investigating the client’s mental condition and background
  • Working with mental health experts
  • Preparing for trial

Advanced Homicide Training

AHT is a three-day training for experienced lawyers, as well as new-to-homicide lawyers, to work on advanced trial skills. The purpose of this training is to prepare lawyers to try the most serious felony cases such as first degree murder.

The training builds on the skills that lawyers were introduced to and tested on in Bootcamp and have since gained a higher level of proficiency in. The training consists of a series of lectures covering a myriad of topics such as:

  • How attorneys treat complex cases differently
  • Advanced voir dire
  • Advanced litigation and investigation
  • Client interaction
  • Jury instructions
  • Motions
  • Telling the client’s story

Lectures are followed by breakout workshops where students work with faculty on implementing the lessons in their cases. Classes are limited in size and are conducted at various regional offices.

Sexual Assault Litigation

Although sexual offenses make up a small percentage of most public defender caseloads, these cases are more likely to go to trial because of the tremendous stigma and serious sentencing consequences associated with sexual crimes. Not only are many sexual offense cases emotionally intense to try, but they frequently involve specialized and highly technical evidentiary and legal rules.

For this reason, public defenders have access to at least one “Sex Liaison” in each Regional and Appellate Office to help answer their questions. Lawyers are also invited to participate in group brainstorming sexual offense workshops to identify investigation and litigation strategies. These workshops also help lawyers prepare to best address the factual and legal challenges in their individual cases. Trainings in this area of practice are overseen by Laurie Rose Kepros, Director of Sexual Litigation.