The National Advocacy Center has sent out its Winter Training Schedule, and it looks pretty good. If you don't know about NAC, you should check it out. My personal favorite is the Courtroom Technology seminar in February.
But what makes the experience worth the trip is the opportunity to meet prosecutors from all 50 states, seeing how they do things in their state. Most of the time, I have come back appreciating the Texas way.
What has been your experience at NAC? What course would you recommend others taking?
I found it refreshing to attend a program where the instructors were actually there to teach and the students were actually there to learn. (John, your talks are good, but the majority of non-TDCAA CLE is a waste of time and money). The appellate course offered a great balance between written and oral advocacy. Be careful when you're there, though. An assistant united states attorney was murdered near the campus during a robbery last year.
It was good to learn more about the courses. One of our prosecutors attended a trial advocacy course some years ago and rated it very highly. I understand that Judge Hervey is, or has been, one of the instructors.
Their materials inspired me to apply for a position on the appellate advocacy course this year.
I have been to the advocacy center a number of times and it is a first class operation. The trial advocacy II class focuses on the use of expert witnesses. They will bring in experts from the state crime lab in Columbia and mental health experts from the school and allow students to conduct direct and cross examinations. Everything is videotaped and students get feed back from a number of faculity advisors.
Logistics are great. Rooms are super, food is fantastic. When we left, they gave us check for $100 to cover incidental expenses. They pay your travel ahead of time. Only problem: the non-stop flight from DFW to Columbia SC is a Atlantic Southeast flight on a CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet) 100. It looks like a half-size DC-9 or MD-80. Two tiny seat on each side of a tiny isle. OK if you're a tiny person. They operate out of that remote little terminal area off the Delta Concourse, which is a good hike from the main Delta terminal at DFW.
I attended Domestic Violence in Rural Areas. The material was good and I learned a lot. All the presenters were from large cities, and they kept pushing labor intensive and expensive programs/solutions that rural prosecutors can't afford.
In the advocacy exercises, they encouraged us to "try new things" and "break out of the mold." But if you did something other than the way they suggested, then you got criticized by the evaluators.
Agree with comment above that interaction with other prosecutors from around the nation was most valuable. I was the only one from Texas in a class of 50 or so.
I attended a week long NAC seminar called ChildPROOF, Advanced Trial Advocacy for Child Abuse Prosecutors,a couple of years ago.... It was top shelf from beginning to end. All of the instructors and critiquing (sp?) folks were first class prosecutors. The facilities, food, etc., were great. I also made some life-long contacts from other states and countries. I would highly recommend attending their seminars. However, don't make the mistake of considering it a vacation. They sent a large packet of material to the students well ahead of the seminar with instructions re reading and preparing...... and they expect you to do so. It was very intense. I worked well into the nights preparing for the next day's "trial" but it was truly worth it and I learned a great deal.
Posts: 276 | Location: Liberty County, Texas | Registered: July 23, 2002
I attended the Appellate Advocacy course last year. It was excellent. The course was very hands-on. Make no mistake: they put you to work in South Carolina. However, the return on your investment made it all worthwhile. Probably the best aspect is the ability to learn what other states are doing.
The facilities are state-of-the-art and the person in charge of your local budget can't complain about the price.
Barbara Hervey was on faculty at that particular seminar. Everyone did a great job.
I, too have enjoyed several seminars at NAC, including advanced trial advocacy III and appellate advocacy, where my oral argument was judged by none other than DA Bradley. Both courses were active seminars where an actual trial or appeal was taken from beginning to end. In the appellate advocacy course you write a brief before appearing based on a set of facts submitted to you.
Neither course involved taking it easy, and I still communicate with many of the great fellow prosecutors I studied with. In trial advocacy you form teams with other prosecutors and stay with that team all week. You bond fast, and my group still talks regularly via email and helps each other regarding various issues that arise. Several of the folks in my team that attended Advanced trial advocacy III hooked up again several years later in New Orleans. What kind of price can you put on that kind of fun and friendship?
The hospitality couldn't be better, Columbia is an interesting town that many compare to Austin. The folks at the NAC are great, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. They bring in the best of the best to teach there.
I did find that the regular seminars (i.e. parental kidnapping seminar) are a lot more bland than the interactive seminars.
The one bad thing about NAC was that I had to hear about how much more money prosecutors in other jurisdictions make than the Texas assistants. It's also bad when police officers in your jurisdiction (i.e. Sgt. and Det.) with less time on the job than you as a prosecutor make more money than you, and that's not including extra jobs. Although none of us are in this for the money, it's nice to see that in some jurisdictions prosecutors are appreciated and can support their families properly. And although some of the other jurisdictions that pay well do have higher costs of living than Texas, just as many of the other jurisdictions that pay more have costs of living very similar to Texas.
Posts: 37 | Location: Richmond, Texas, USA | Registered: July 22, 2002
I agree with Mike Little about the ChildPROOF seminar. I attended it at the same time he did (although I was in a group with much less experienced prosecutors -- no electeds in my group). Anyone who tries child abuse cases MUST go to this class. It was the best CLE I've ever attended, both for substance and for the motivating aspect of meeting other people in this business who feel passionately about protecting children. Warning: It's like boot camp -- physically and emotionally. There's homework every night, with the added pressure of being videotaped and critiqued every day. But you'll come home both exhausted and energized by the experience. I found the people in South Carolina to be very friendly and accomodating (unlike the surly service-industry people in Houston) and the food at NAC was great. I agree with the comment about the plane ride, though. It's a little plane, and on the way back, my neighbor was freaking out when we hit some turbulance. He reminded me of John Lithgow's character in "Twilight Zone, The Movie."
Posts: 514 | Location: austin, tx, usa | Registered: July 02, 2001
I attended this seminar last year. It was great! Most of the prosecutors that attended were experienced...ave 5-10 years. I agree with all of the other comments.I highly recommend this particular course.I really would like TDCAA to model a course after this one. We all need to be better at Cross!
Posts: 10 | Location: Beeville,Texas | Registered: August 03, 2001
I highly recommend attending any course at the NAC. Just getting a fresh viewpoint from folks outside of your office can be helpful, whether they are instructors or other attendees. Having been there both as an instructor and attendee several times over the past couple of years, I will make this observation: (1) You only get back what you put into your stay. Don't go if you're not ready to work. (2) Only use what you learn that you are comfortable with. Just because someone else does it another way doesn't mean that it will work for you.
Posts: 13 | Location: Beaumont, TX, USA | Registered: February 22, 2002
Ramon has a good point. At the appellate course, the "right" answer to the test case was very jurisdiction dependent. The stuff we learned about briefing and oral arguments, though, was broadly applicable
Posts: 2130 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001
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