New Attorney Training

New Attorney Training is a year long training curriculum that is required for all attorneys joining the Department of Public Advocacy. The training includes a week long session focused on the following areas: District Court, Juvenile Court, Circuit Court; and the Litigation Practice Institute where participants will work on trial skills from voir dire to closing statements. 

District Court 

Course Objective: To provide new attorneys with their first basic training for actually representing clients in court, assuming no prior knowledge of Kentucky law or procedures, by offering introductory-level lectures, overviews, and interactive scenarios containing basic legal issues for the attorneys to identify and argue on behalf of their clients.

Topics include:

  • ​The Role of the Public Defender
  • ​​Courts, Crimes, and Other Legal Basics for New Attorneys
  • ​Conducting Preliminary Hearings
  • Understanding Pretrial Risk Assessments and Litigating Pretrial Release
  • Initial Client Interviews and Pre-Arraignment Interviews
  • Negotiation Practice
  • The Client Decision Interview
  • Calling the District Court Docket – District Court training ends with a day and a half of calling a typical district court docket: the arraignment docket (jail docket), the show cause docket (old fines, etc.), the preliminary hearing docket, and the pretrial conference docket. Coaches play the roles of judge and county attorney (prosecutor) while each new attorney comes before the court to represent his or her client as that client’s name is called on the docket. Each new ​attorney has a client in jail and will argue for a bond reduction as his or her client comes up on the arraignment docket. Each new attorney also has at least one other client on one of the other dockets and will represent that client as that client’s name is called as well. 
  • The District Court Black Letter Law Review – This is one of the main training manuals given to new attorneys during new attorney education. It is updated every year and handed out during District Court training. It contains all the basic law one might need to begin practice in District Court including all the “answers” to the legal scenarios. New attorneys go through the Black Letter Law Review while the docket is called.

Juvenile Court 

Course Objective: To provide new attorneys or other attorneys not familiar with defense practice in juvenile court a thorough introduction to juvenile law and procedure in Kentucky highlighting particular areas of concern based upon common practices by judges and prosecutors. This introductory-to-mid-level training stresses that juvenile law is a specialized area of practice requiring its own expertise.

Topics include:

  • ​The Role of the Juvenile Defender – An Overview of the Ethical Considerations and Expectations of Those Representing Juveniles in Delinquency and Status Offenses
  • Guiding Principles of Juvenile Defender Practice – Guidance from Experienced Juvenile Defenders
  • History of the Juvenile Justice System in Kentucky and Recurring Systemic Problems and Issues
  • Adolescent Development – Emphasizing the Importance of Educating the Judge, Prosecutor, and Others on the Why Juveniles Behave as They Do
  • Contempt – A Review of Contempt in the Context of Juvenile Court
  • Defending Status Offense Cases
  • Handling Transfer and Competency Hearings
  • Handling Detention and Disposition Hearings
  • Adjudication Hearings
  • The Case Problem – New attorneys will be given a case problem to work on during the training. Groups will sign up to handle different procedural steps in the case: one group will handle the detention hearing, another will handle the competency hearing, then another will do the transfer hearing, etc. Time for research and preparation is provided once each group knows what part of the process it will be handling. On the final day of training the groups go in order arguing the client’s case as it progresses through the process of juvenile court. They explain the law to the judge and argue on behalf of the client.
  • Juvenile Law Manual – This is a major reference work compiled by the Juvenile Post Disposition Branch which has been provided to each of the field offices and which is also available for new attorneys to consult during Juvenile Court training. Intended Audience: All newly hired public defenders. Experienced attorneys looking for refresher are also welcome.

Faubush Litigation Institute 

Course Objective: Participants work their way through the stages of a trial using either a case problem or one of their own cases. Each topic is presented in a plenary session then followed with extensive practice and feedback in small groups. Faculty includes outstanding trial skills coaches from across the country. This training is conducted off-site to maximize focus on learning.

​Circuit Court

Course Objective: To provide medium-to-advanced-level training in litigation especially with regard to the handling of cases and representing clients in circuit court.

Topics include:

  • Client Relationships and Working with Post-Conviction
  • Analyzing Cases and Kentucky Evidence Law 
  • Kentucky Trial Law 
  • Discovery in Circuit Court
  • Litigating Parole and Probation Revocations
  • Case Reviews and Working with Investigators
  • Mental Health Defenses and Working with Experts
  • Handling Civil Contempt Cases
  • Search, Seizure, and Suppression 
  • Sentencing Law and Advocacy 
  • The Trial Law Notebook and Guide to Kentucky Sentencing Law – This is another of the main training manuals given to new attorneys. It is updated every other year. It covers all the prevailing Kentucky law regarding pretrial litigation in circuit court as well as taking the reader from the beginning to end of a circuit court trial. This Notebook goes out to legislators, judges, and others throughout the state.