Practice Court and Criminal Law
Over the last several years, Baylor Law’s Practice Court Program has undertaken several strategic enhancements of its criminal practice offerings to replicate real-world situations that students may face.
Students who want to focus on Criminal Law are now assigned sequential criminal and civil “Big Trials,”—where they learn that what works in your favor in the criminal trial—may cut against you in the civil trial.
Baylor Law’s Criminal “Big Trials” incorporate trailblazing collaborations with experts, both within the Baylor community and beyond, to improve case files and courtroom experiences for Baylor Law students. Retired Texas Ranger and Baylor University Senior Lecturer James (Jim) Huggins has worked with the Practice Court team to help stage murder scenes and complex blood spatter analysis issues. Baylor University Undergraduate students in the ‘Expert Witness Testimony Course’ are required to testify during Practice Court trials.
Professor & Chair of the Psychology and Neurosciences Dept. at Baylor University, Dr. Charles Weaver, a nationally known expert on eyewitness identifications, collaborates in the development of case files and issues regarding the limited correlation between eyewitness confidence and eyewitness accuracy of testimony—and what that means for future Baylor Lawyers trying cases before a jury. Dr. Weaver and his Ph.D. candidates have served as expert witnesses for several cases.
Our Practice Court program has also pioneered unique collaborations with experts beyond the Baylor campus. Baylor Law has pioneered a groundbreaking partnership with Kerrville State Hospital, a mental health facility for people hospitalized on forensic commitments. Doctoral candidates training to be expert witnesses in criminal cases involving defendants with mental health issues regularly work with Baylor Law students during their Big Trial, including appropriate procedures for giving video depositions and in-court procedures.
While those doctoral candidates are exposed to a real-world model of the litigation experience, future Baylor Lawyers also learn about the effective use of expert witnesses in trials. Often, the Ph.D. candidates cannot return to Baylor Law for “Big Trials,” providing the perfect opportunity to train our criminal law students on how to preserve testimony in a way that presents well to the jury—for both direct and cross-examination.