The Prettyman Fellowship

The Prettyman Fellowship


– In this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. – [Kristin H.] I think
the Prettyman experience was, was better than anything that I could have ever hoped for. – [John C.] You know, to be
able to represent somebody that’s never been represented before in a trial context is pretty powerful. – The E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship was the first program of its kind. It’s an elite post-law graduate fellowship in criminal defense and clinical teaching. – The program was founded in 1960 before the decision in
Gideon vs. Wainright where the Supreme Court required
council in criminal cases. – The Prettyman Fellowship
seemed to anticipate that there would be a right to council for poor people accused of crime, and anticipate the need
for a core of young, well-trained, devoted, defense council. – Ken Pye, who was the driving force behind it’s creation
and the first director. Ken was a visionary who
sort of saw the need and the opportunity to create a program that would provide
council in indigen cases, and to use it as a program for study, training, and scholarship, and it was groundbreaking at the time. – Criminal law was very
much shunned in those days. There was a lot of grumping about why these people should
be getting free services, and we should be spending
government money, and I always had an interest
in being of some assistance, being part of the solution. I was a Prettyman Fellow
from 1967 to 1969, and it was an opportunity that if I hadn’t gotten it would have clearly made a significant difference in my life. I was certainly, would
have ended up being a, if I may use the term,
more traditional lawyer, and that wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun I can assure you. (“Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones) It was a very active time. Beginning in the early 60s, certainly in the Civil Rights movement. Also, approaching the
height of the Vietnam War. Was characterized by some as the period of the
criminal law revolution. We had a very, very small office, in then the old law
school when at 5th and E. I remember trying sit-in
cases on Capitol Hill. First amendment type,
freedom of speech issues. You had many, many Vietnam War protests. The laws were being tested, that certainly was an
intensive experience early on. You know, if I got through two years of the Prettyman Program, you know, one could take just about anything. – There is no other program
of its kind in the world. What’s unique about the
fellowship, is that, in contrast to starting your career in a public defender’s office, the fellowship affords young lawyers an opportunity to really
focus on the work. By representing fewer clients, by having close supervision, by being able to take
on the kind of issues that one just doesn’t have time for, especially when you’re a new defender with a hundred cases or so. – I think it’s the most
fun way to practice law. You get near, you get to
take on the government. You are litigating, in your first year, constitutional issues, that
if you go to other places, you are never going to
be able to litigate. – I think it’s a great
thing for Georgetown. I think it is one of the things that, that kind of elevates
Georgetown’s reputation as a provider of clinical legal education. – I think the Prettyman
experience was better than anything that I could have ever hoped for. We look back on our Prettyman days, and we recognize just how
important those classes were. And we used to laugh about, you know, the pedagogical method and
the non-directive method, and how many times in a
day can I say, you know, “What do you think,” to the
students, “what do you think?” The teamwork that’s
evident in the program. We go over to the courthouse in force. We go and we support each other. Someone has a trial, you can rest assure your classmates were right there with you. Your fellowship supervisors,
the faculty in the clinic. It always felt like when we
were at that trial moment, that I wanted to play
that song, Fight The Power by, you know, Public Enemy because you really had
that sense of camaraderie and teamwork with you at all times. So we felt like we were
collectively representing clients. And I think that’s, you know, something that I’ll never forget about the Prettyman Program. ♪ Fight the power ♪ ♪ Let me hear you say ♪ ♪ Fight the power ♪ ♪ Let me hear you say ♪ ♪ Fight the power ♪ ♪ Let me hear you say ♪ ♪ Fight the Power ♪ ♪ Let me hear you say ♪ ♪ Fight the power ♪ ♪ Let me hear you say ♪ – My name is Seann Riley, and I am the deputy director
of the Bronx Defenders. The Bronx Defenders is
a public defender office located in the south Bronx, which is one of the poorest
areas of the country, and over-policing is rampant here, so to be able to provide
the quality of defense that were able to do here is you know, it’s actually kind of poetic. (soft guitar music) When I started at the Bronx
Defenders seven years ago we were a staff of about 45. We’re about 150 now, and we’re growing to about 230. It’s a really collegial atmosphere. It actually reminds me
a lot of the Prettyman. I’m one of probably about
six Prettyman fellows who work at the Bronx Defenders. I think the Prettyman Fellowship prepared me because I had
such a solid foundation. There’s one thing that I
learned at the Prettyman program was learning the case law, and knowing the law, and knowing it well enough, so that when you walked into a courtroom if there’s any sort of surprise or anything that came up that you weren’t prepared for you would know how to handle it. And that’s what high-volume practice is. High-volume practice is basically putting out fires every single day, and learning how to triage cases, and looking back on it, the Prettyman Fellowship
was the greatest way to start my career as a public defender. It really, kind of,
built a foundation for me that I don’t think I would
have gotten anywhere else. – One of the most important lessons that I took from the program was that there’s just never too much that you can do on
behalf of any one client. That we can do more than
just be their lawyer and their advocate in the courtroom. – By and large we represent people, I like to think of them as good people who do bad things. And it takes a certain kind
of person to do that work. And the fellows come to the program already with that perspective. It’s full of commitment,
it’s also full of joy. – You know, to be able
to represent somebody that’s never been represented before in a trial context, it’s pretty powerful. And to give somebody the
ability to fight back when they haven’t been able to. – Being able to fight for
people who have no power, no money, nothing in the world but us. – I stand between my
client and a jail cell. It’s an incredible
privilege to play that role. – Our fellows do everything
that they can to make sure that if indeed they’re
gonna get a conviction that it’s gonna be hard fought. (soft rock chords)

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