Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia (PAC) presented its annual Basic Litigation Training Course from June 23-29, 2007 in Forsyth, Georgia at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC). Fifty-three newly hired prosecutors from across the state participated in the intensive six-day seminar. The course is devoted to in-depth lecture sessions as well as workshops that give prosecutors with little or no courtroom experience an opportunity to hone their skills.
Joe Mulholland, District Attorney for the South Georgia Judicial Circuit, was selected as an instructor for the training. "I have served as a faculty member for four years," said Mulholland. "The primary reason I participate each year is to see how much the assistant district attorneys in my own circuit improve after completing the program. Hopefully, I am able to help some young prosecutors improve their skills. I also enjoy teaching because, every year, it seems like I gain new insights from my fellow faculty members that I take back with me."
Faculty members use their experiences to assist with training and educating new prosecutors by placing a significant emphasis on the development of "Theory" and "Theme" based prosecution. And, with a faculty to student ratio of nearly 1-to-1, the Basic Litigation Course conducted in Georgia continues to be one of the most effective courses of its kind. "Young prosecutors often are forced to try cases with major ramifications early in their careers," said Mulholland. "The more we can prepare them, the better it makes our entire justice system."
Mulholland graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1998 and from Georgia State University College of Law in 2001. After working in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit during law school, Joe changed his career track from investment banking to prosecution.
"I saw the difference that a person could make in the lives of victims, especially child victims, and wanted to be part of that. It became about service rather than salary."
During the week-long training, instructors emphasized legal subjects such as: opening statements, direct examination, introduction of evidence, use of demonstrative aids, cross examination and impeachment, hearsay, motions, similar transactions and character evidence, expert witness, and closing arguments. The course culminated in a mock trial conducted in front of a volunteer jury.
"During Basic Litigation training, students learn the fundamentals of prosecution and how to try a criminal case," said Mulholland. "They learn how to give an opening, closing, direct examination and cross examination, by both listening to strategy from instructors and from practicing and getting critiqued on their form."
"I believe that my students" biggest strength was their passion for justice and their desire to become better civil servants. Lack of experience was their biggest weakness; however, the students really seemed to listen to our advice and we could see them implementing those ideas into their methods," said Mulholland.
"I require that every new assistant district attorney that I hire attend the Basic Litigation Course, no matter what their level of experience. I think that even a seasoned attorney can gain something new from the course, in particular the details in trying a good prosecutorial case," said Mulholland.
The Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia presents its Basic Litigation Training Course to new prosecutors every June.