Texas Tech University

Information for Students

Credits: 6 credits for the spring semester—2 for the classroom component and 4 for the casework.

Grading: This is a graded course.

Semesters Offered: The Capital Punishment Clinic is offered as a one semester graded course during the spring semester to third year law students in their final semester of law school.


Upon application, four students will be invited to participate to work with the Regional Public Defender's Office for Capital Cases located in Lubbock, Texas. The Office provides representation for indigent defendants charged with capital murder in Texas. The Regional Public Defender's Office for Capital Cases maintains eight offices throughout Texas. The home office is in Lubbock. This is the first Public Defenders Office of its type and is the prototype for representation of those accused of capital crimes. The selected students will work with attorneys, mitigators, investigators and other professionals to help represent those facing the death penalty. Students will use cutting edge techniques and apply their legal education—most specifically in criminal law, criminal procedure, and legal writing—in order to investigate, interview clients, and witnesses and draft motions and briefs. Students are closely supervised at all stages of their cases by Professor Patrick S. Metze, the Chief Public Defender for Capital Cases — Adjunct Professor Ray Keith — the trial attorneys and the staff working at the Regional Public Defender's Office for Capital Cases. The classroom component will continue the student's study of capital punishment jurisprudence focusing on skills development, ethics, and case strategy in real on-going capital cases. This clinic requires a significant commitment of time, which will return a unique, experiential opportunity for third year students as they approach the end of their legal education.

Selection Process

A mandatory information session for students interested in participating in the Clinical Programs is held in late January or early February of each year. Information is provided by the Clinic Directors regarding each individual clinic, as well as the process for student selection. Students interested in applying to the Capital Punishment Clinic are instructed to first complete the Capital Punishment Seminar offered in each Fall semester and then to complete the required documents and application on or before the deadline announced during the seminar. Documents to be attached include the clinic application, resume with references, unofficial transcript, and a one-page narrative indicating why you are interested in the Capital Punishment Clinic. All clinics are by invitation only. After an interview, applications to the Capital Punishment Clinic are reviewed by the Clinic Director and the Adjunct Professor. Offers are made to students by the Clinic Director with a deadline for you to accept the offer. During open registration, the Registrar's office enrolls you in the clinic. You will not be able to enroll yourself.

Required Prerequisites

  • Must be a third year law student.
  • Must not be on academic probation. Should a student be placed on academic probation during his or time in the clinic, he or she will be withdrawn from the clinic.
  • Must have taken the Capital Punishment Seminar offered in the fall semester of each academic year.

Recommended Prerequisites

  • Evidence
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Texas Criminal Procedure
  • Trial Advocacy
  • Mock Trial or Moot Court.


  • Students may not be concurrently enrolled in this clinic and another clinic or externship.
  • Students may not have outside employment if enrolled in this course.
  • Students may not sit for the February bar exam.

Enrollment is by application and invitation only.