Student News

“Prosecutors care deeply about serving justice,” said law professor John Douglass. “The best way to transmit that sense of commitment to the next generation of prosecutors is to get students in the same room with experienced prosecutors and consider difficult issues arising in real cases.”

The Prosecution Project gives students that chance. The semester-long policy clinic is a partnership between Richmond Law and the Justice and Professionalism Committee of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys. The collaboration is among the first of its kind in the nation.

In the clinic, law students were introduced to the professional roles of prosecutors, their ethical responsibilities, and the challenges they face in today’s criminal justice arena. In addition, students conducted research and analysis on topics of importance to prosecutors and the public, which they presented to an audience of about 300 Virginia prosecutors at the VACA Spring Institute in April.

“The presentations all dealt with prosecutors’ constitutional and ethical duties to disclose information favorable to defendants,” said Douglass, who teaches the course. “We explored that obligation in connection with guilty pleas and sentencings, and also looked at contemporary disclosure issues arising from police use of body cameras and social media.”

This was the second year the Prosecution Project was offered. Douglass said it was rewarding to see former students at the VACA Institute — this time as assistant commonwealth’s attorneys.