Law 720 - Criminal Trial Advocacy

George S. Cardona

George S. Cardona

Lecturer in Law
B.S. Yale, 1982
J.D. Yale, 1986
UCLA Faculty Since 2000
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 practiced a host of core lawyering skills such as: 

1. Case planning; 

2. Developing a theory of the case; 

3. Strategic decision-making; 

4. Collaboration; 

5. Legal storytelling; and 

6. Oral advocacy. 

In addition, students will be familiar with concepts involved in using judgment in lawyering for clients (whether individual or a government entity) and with ethical and practical issues (including decisions about strategy and tactics) specific to criminal trials.