Director’s Message

Jonathan Rapping

The Criminal Justice Certificate Program is a cutting edge program designed to prepare its graduates to excel in the practice of criminal law. Students are given a powerful foundation of knowledge in the field through the program’s core curriculum. A problem-based teaching method is used to ensure that the students appreciate both how all the core courses fit together within criminal law and how they apply to its practice. This integrated and applied approach to teaching ensures our students receive a well-rounded and practical educational experience.

With an increasing demand from the criminal justice system for capable practitioners, and shrinking state budgets, new prosecutors and defenders are more likely than ever to be thrown into the criminal law arena with very little training beyond law school with an even greater responsibility. Traditional legal education, however, does not prepare the young criminal lawyer to function effectively. Therefore, it is critical that a law school meet the need to ensure that criminal law practitioners are better equipped to live up to their professional and constitutional obligations as practitioners.  The Criminal Justice Certificate Program at Atlanta’s John Marshall meets this need.

As students begin the specialized coursework for this Program in their second year, they will use a hypothetical criminal case to tie together the lessons taught in criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, advanced criminal procedure, and advanced evidence. They will build the case file for this problem throughout the second year. This case will then be the basis of Integrated Advocacy, a practical course that uses the simulated problem to tie all of the required courses together in the context of teaching pre-trial litigation and trial advocacy. Through Criminal Justice Lawyering: The Role of the Lawyer in Promoting Criminal Justice Reform, students will be introduced to a variety of important topics relevant to the practice of criminal law, and discuss the role prosecutors and defenders play in addressing these issues. This course is meant to put a practical gloss on the comprehensive menu of criminal-law related coursework. During an intensive, third-year externship experience, students will apply these lessons in a criminal law placement. The curriculum teaches skills that help students apply these lessons in the practice of criminal law, as well as strategies to help them address challenges they will confront as practicing attorneys.

The mission of AJMLS “is to prepare highly competent and professional lawyers who possess a strong social conscience, continually demonstrate high ethical standards, and are committed to the improvement of the legal system and society.” The Criminal Justice Certificate Program further demonstrates our commitment to this mission.

Jonathan Rapping

Director of Criminal Justice Certificate Program and Professor of Law