Criminal Law Prosecution Clinic 

Students in the Criminal Law Prosecution Clinic work as student assistant district attorneys within the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office. By court rule, students in the Clinic are authorized to practice in any District Court case, which includes a mix of both misdemeanors and felonies. Typical of the offenses litigated by students in the District Court are possession and/or distribution of controlled substances, domestic violence offenses including assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and violation of a restraining order, larceny, assault and battery on a police officer, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During the course of the semester, a student attorney will appear in three different sessions of the District Court: the arraignment session (in which students represent the Commonwealth in bail hearings), the motion session (in which students prepare and litigate oppositions to motions to suppress and motions to dismiss) and, ultimately, the trial session (in which a student prepare and litigate jury and jury-waived trials). This clinic allows students to gain substantial exposure over the course of the semester to the entire process of litigating a criminal case.

In addition to the fieldwork as a student attorney within the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, there is a classroom component which operates as a combination seminar/simulation. This part of the course is quite intensive for the first three or four weeks of the semester as well as the week prior to the start of classes. Students must attend a two day orientation the week before classes begin, no exceptions will be made to this mandatory orientation. Following this initial training period, the class will meet at a designated time for a two-hour session on a weekly basis for the balance of the semester.

Prerequisites: To be eligible to enroll, a student must have completed his/her second full year of law study or third full year of part-time law study and must have successfully completed courses in Evidence and Criminal Procedure Investigation.

Students Certified Under Rule 3:03: Criminal Clinic students are required to be certified to practice under the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Student Practice Rule 3:03. Please note that an amendment is sent to the S.J.C. upon completion of the clinical program and 3:03 certification is withdrawn at that time.

Semesters Offered: Fall

Credits: 6-credits which includes Seminar (2 credits) and Field Placement (4 credits).  Satisfies 6 experiential learning credits.

Spots available: 4

Grading: Letter Grade

Conflict of Interest:  Students may not have ANY outside legal employment while they are participating in the Criminal Clinic.

Application:  Applications will be accepted for clinic openings in the Fall 2016 semester.

Application Requirements: Resume, unofficial transcript, and Criminal Prosecution Clinic application.

Application DEADLINE Date:   March 2, 2016

Restricted Withdrawal:  This clinic is considered a Restricted Withdrawal Course.  A student who withdraws from this clinic course 30 days prior to the start of the semester shall receive a “W” on their transcript.


Tina Cafaro
Clinical Professor of Law

Professor Cafaro is the supervising attorney for the Criminal Law Prosecution Clinic. Cafaro earned her J.D. from Western New England University and then clerked for the Honorable Kent B. Smith of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. She was an Assistant District Court Attorney in the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office and has worked for the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council teaching criminal law and procedure.


To learn more, contact Marie Fletcher, Clinical Programs Administrator, at Tel.: 413-782-1469 or email:


Video Spotlight:
Criminal Law Clinic

M-E Dupelle

"The criminal clinic was by far the most valuable experience of my law school career. To be able to step out of the classroom and get real life experience in a courtroom has added immensely to my understanding of the law and its practical applications. I feel extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity."

Mary-Elizabeth Dupelle
Class of 2007 Criminal Clinic Student

1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield, MA 01119
Main University: 413-782-3111
Admissions: 413-782-1406 or 800-782-6665