The Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) is the curriculum-based criminal law program of Harvard Law School. Since its founding in 1990 by Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., CJI’s mission has been to educate Harvard Law School students in becoming effective, ethical, and zealous criminal defense lawyer-advocates through practice in representing indigent individuals involved in the Massachusetts court system, as well as to research and present issues and debates about the criminal and juvenile justice systems in order to affect local and national reform.
CJI’s bicentennial program will highlight its history and the footprint it has had on social and criminal justice. The program will be hosted by Professor Dehlia Umunna, with special guests that include the Honorable Leslie Harris (Ret.) of the Dorchester Juvenile Court in Massachusetts; Attorney Patrice Fulcher, training director of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender; Mr. Raj Jayadev, co-founder of Silicon Valley Debug; and current and former students. They will share their unique perspectives and the experiences of those who have been involved with and affected by the criminal justice system.
A major aspect of CJI’s work is criminal justice reform, one client at a time. CJI endeavors to force the courts and the system to see its clients as human — more than a charge, more than a docket number, more than an accusation — and storytelling is the tool that is often employed to insist upon the clients’ humanity. Standing up for a person’s rights is not merely reciting a sound legal argument. The art of persuasion necessarily involves capturing your audience’s attention and painting a picture in their minds. Learning how to tell an effective and persuasive story is a foundation of the CJI experience. The CJI Moth-style contribution attempts to capture the moments when this lesson is learned—in the courtroom, in conversations with adversaries, in the classroom, and in the field.