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Finally, after 12 years as a prosecutor, Pamela Ham has the chance to step away from the swirl of the criminal courts to freshly examine something important to her: how she does her work. “How much discretion do we have? Is it fettered, unfettered? Is there a disparity in different counties and, if so, is that evil or is that OK?” asked Ham, a deputy district attorney in the Monterrey County, Calif., District Attorney Office. “You don’t have the time normally to read a 200-page critique of prosecutorial discretion.” Now she’s got some time. Ham and 15 other equally harried prosecutors are taking the time to study and discuss trial tactics, the most recent decisions on Fourth and Sixth Amendment cases and much else about their profession as the inaugural class in the Prosecutorial Science Program, a new LL.M. degree offered by Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif. Studies began last summer with an intensive two-week residential program focused on prosecutorial ethics that set the tone for the program and bonded the students, who otherwise meet almost entirely by video conferencing. With Duke in mind The program started, coincidentally, about the time Mike Nifong, the former district attorney for Durham County, N.C., was disbarred for “intentional prosecutorial misconduct” in his overly aggressive prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players charged with the sexual assault of an exotic dancer during a team party in March 2006. The charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence. “Our mission is to reinforce the old model that the prosecutor is not representing simply the interest in conviction, but is representing the state’s interest in justice. Recent events in North Carolina reinforce the need to stay vigilant on that point,” said John Eastman, dean of the law school, referring to the Nifong case. “Sometimes that means not proceeding with an action that you might have the facts to prove to a jury but that you know in a broader context is probably not the accurate story.” The two-year master’s program is the joint creation of Chapman and the California District Attorneys Association. The only other educational program focused on prosecutors is the National Advocacy Center at the University of South Carolina, a joint venture of the National District Attorneys Association and the U.S. Department of Justice. “We think what the national association is doing in South Carolina is great, but we saw the need for a mentored, distance-learning program,” said Roy Hubert, director of special projects for the California District Attorney Association. The California association has committed $1.2 million for three years to the Chapman master’s program, Hubert said. Although all the prosecutors enrolled now are from California, the program is designed to be expanded nationally, he said. ‘Boot camp experience’ Ronald Steiner, director of graduate and summer programs at Chapman, said studies began with the two-week summer residential program focused on ethics so the students, who live and work in California counties stretching from the Mexican border to Oregon, would know each other face to face before they became participants in video conference classes. “There is a difference between being on a video conference with someone and actually knowing them,” Steiner said. “The format allowed for something of a boot camp experience, spending a lot of time together so that by the end of the session they were really bonded. We did an evaluation afterward and they were just ecstatic, glowing, because it gave them a chance to spend some time away from work but on the issues they care about, talking with people who are similarly situated.” The program is strong on the practical � such as trial methods, technology and investigative techniques � but students seem to enjoy most the opportunity to discuss with their peers the unique challenges and obligations of a prosecutor. “Our responsibility is not just to our client � the people � but also to the defendant,” said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Scott Steiner, a student not related to Ronald Steiner. “We discussed at length the notion of the minister of justice. The discussions were compelling, very thought-provoking, on the issues we are all aware of as prosecutors, that our responsibility is not to any one person.”

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