Law 720 - Criminal Trial Advocacy

Diane Birnholz

Diane Birnholz

Lecturer in Law
B.S. University of Pennsylvania, 1985
J.D. UCLA School of Law, 1990
Course Description:

This course will be graded on a P/U/NC basis. Students are allowed to take only one Trial Advocacy related course (Civil, Criminal or Year-long) in their 2nd or 3rd year due to overlap in course content.

This course explores theoretical and practical aspects of the criminal trial process and provides training in the skills needed to represent the prosecution and the defense in criminal trials. Classes consider the principle function of criminal trials--the resolution of disputed questions of fact in determining guilt--and the trial lawyer’s role in presenting persuasive evidence to the judges and jurors who perform that function. Classes focus on the development of specific trial skills in such tasks as fact analysis, conducting direct and cross examinations, making opening statements and closing arguments, using exhibits, and making and responding to evidentiary objections.  In addition, classes address legal issues relating to aspects of criminal trials including jury selection, discovery, the use of informants, and ethical obligations of both the prosecution and defense.  These subjects are presented through a combination of lecture, discussion, demonstration, and simulated role-playing exercises. Simulations are videotaped and critiqued by the instructor. The simulations culminate in a videotaped mock trial tried before a judge and jury.

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students will have developed and had extensive practice with a host of core lawyering skills such as:

1.  How to approach a new criminal case file

2.  Developing a theory of the case

3.  Figuring out areas for further investigation/fact development

4.  Making persuasive arguments

5.  Collaboration with teammates

6.  Preparing witnesses

7.  Legal storytelling

8.  Completing a full criminal trial for both the prosecution and the defense

9.  Thinking on one's feet

10.  Oral advocacy 

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Diane Birnholz 21S 720 LEC 1 TR 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM 4.0 Yes No
  Pre or corequisite: Law 211. Evidence. Experiential course enrollment through separate process; deadline: Noon on 11/6/20. See ENROLL.LAW.UCLA.EDU. Early drop deadline: 5:00pm on 1/29/21.This course may shift to hybrid instruction (i.e., students have the option of participating in-person or remotely) at some time during the spring semester.
Textbook Information:
Textbook for Spring 2021 LEC 1
Mauet, Thomas A. Trial Techniques and Trials  10th ed.  
ISBN: 9781454886532. Wolters Kluwer. REQUIRED $171.00