The Legal Advocate

A blog brought to you by the national institute for trial advocacy

New Mexico Public Defenders/NITA Public Service Program

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This year, NITA joined forces with New Mexico Law Office of the Public Defender for a public service trial skills program, June 8-9 in Albuquerque. During the intensive two-day program, the public defenders learned skills such as opening and closing statements, direct and cross examination, and exhibits. With a “drills-style” and NITA’s tried and true “learning-by-doing”, attendees were able to enhance their trial skills in this customized two-day program. NITA Program Director and Attorney Mary Jo Barr worked with Metro Division Managing Attorney Patricia Anders at the New Mexico Law Office of the Public Defender, to make sure the program schedule was customized to fit the needs of the public defenders.

“I loved this course. It was a very effective in helping boost my trial skills. I especially like that the course helps improve individuals from whatever their current skill may be,” stated one attendee. NITA programs cater to various skills levels which can often create a wide range of attendees.

Likewise, one attendee stated, “This was very helpful. I do not have much trial experience, and it was very useful to get some guidance on being an effective trial advocate. I appreciated the opportunity to practice in front of people, even when I felt uncomfortable.” NITA’s learning-by-doing method calls for many opportunities in which attendees practice a skill and then are able to receive immediate feedback and critiques. This approach means many chances to be on your feet and practicing.

Not only did the public defenders share their successes of the program, but Program Director Mary Jo Barr also felt the course very worthwhile. “Public Service is the noblest good – we hear it so often is has become a platitude. Working with the public defenders of the State of New Mexico at the NITA trial skills program and the difference between talking about public service and doing public service could not have been more obvious or rewarding. It may be a platitude to say it these days but it remains righteous to do it.”

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NITA’s team of practicing lawyers, professors and judges from around the nation dedicates its efforts to the training and development of skilled and ethical legal advocates to improve the adversarial justice system. NITA's Goals are to:
  • Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy.
  • Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice.
  • Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.
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