Trial Advocacy

Incoming Training

First Year Training

Supreme Court Training

CLE Courses


Kevin M. Duddy
Director of Trial Advocacy

Robin D. Leopold
Assistant Director of Trial Advocacy

The Trial Advocacy Office is responsible for all tiered training of assistant district attorneys as well as the continuing legal education of the office’s professional staff. The Queens County District Attorney’s Office is an accredited provider of continuing legal education under the rules and regulations of the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board. As such, the office sponsors annual legal conferences on specific areas of criminal law and is a state-wide leader in providing all necessary continuing legal education program hours to every member of the professional staff. The Trial Advocacy Office also assists the New York Prosecutor’s Training Institute in developing and implementing prosecutor training throughout the state.

Tiered Training

The Acting District Attorney is committed to developing the highest level of skill and professionalism among his staff of over three hundred prosecutors. To this end, the Trial Advocacy Office has a full time staff devoted to creating and implementing training programs that are specifically tailored to the needs of assistant district attorneys at various stages of their professional development.

Incoming Training
The Office hires new prosecutors in two “classes” each year; one in late summer and one in early spring. The classes consist of both admitted attorneys and recent law school graduates who have demonstrated an interest in a career in criminal prosecution. These classes of recruits are initially assigned on a full time basis to the Trial Advocacy Office for a period of approximately four weeks. During this time they undergo an intensive academic and practical introduction to the criminal justice system. A battery of lectures and interactive training sessions are given on criminal law and procedure, ethics and basic skills development. They receive instruction from senior members of the office staff, from members of the judiciary, police department, forensics offices and substance abuse treatment community. Training is also given on the challenges of providing prosecution services in the most ethnically and racially diverse county in the United States. The student prosecutors are also drilled in mock courtroom scenarios to hone their budding advocacy skills. They take educational trips to other service providers in the criminal justice system including a correctional facility, the police training center at Rodman’s Neck, the police laboratory and a substance abuse rehabilitation facility. They spend a day touring Queens by bus to ensure their familiarity with the county they serve and then complete their incoming training by submitting to a comprehensive examination Click here for a sample schedule.

First Year Training
During the first year with the office, prosecutors are assigned to misdemeanor prosecutions and also attend the First year Training Program. This consists of a series of weekly lectures and practice sessions over a period of approximately six months. These sessions are principally aimed at developing and honing their advocacy skills. At this point in their careers, the new prosecutors have had some practical courtroom experience and accordingly have a greater practical basis from which to absorb their skills training. Accordingly, pre-trial litigation skills that were introduced during Incoming Training are covered in greater depth and trial skills from jury selection through closing argument are given greater emphasis. Throughout this program, emphasis is placed on persuasive, ethical and professional presentation of evidence and argument. The sessions are run by the Director and Assistant Director with assistance from experienced trial and appellate prosecutors within the office.
Click here for a sample schedule.

Supreme Court Training
Prosecutors in the Queens DA’s Office are required to undergo an additional intensive training program prior to an assignment to a felony prosecution bureau. During this intensive two week regime, the prosecutors are completely removed from their day to day assignments in order to focus exclusively on their training. This program consists of both academic and practical instruction and is broken into two parts. The first part covers work that will be part of the prosecutors’ new assignments including grand jury practice, criminal investigation techniques, office policies, drafting search warrants and legal motions and applications. The second part consists of intensive trial skills training and involves both lectures and intensive performance sessions where the trainees are required to conduct aspects of trial work in a mock setting. The performances are critiqued by supervisors who are all experienced trial attorneys. Satisfactory performance in this program is required before an Assistant District Attorney may advance to an assignment in a felony trial bureau.
Click here for a sample schedule.

Targeted Training
The Trial Advocacy Office performs regular “troubleshooting” sessions with the trial prosecutors to address new developments in the law or issues that prove to be of concern to our appellate courts. These training sessions are repeated bureau to bureau at times convenient to the staff and are intended to react quickly to new developments or to correct problems before they are repeated.

Continuing Legal Education
The Trial Advocacy Office provides for the continuing legal education needs of the entire professional staff of the office. The Queens County District Attorney’s Office is an accredited provider of continuing legal education. The Trial Advocacy Office ensures that the entire staff is kept up to date on recent developments in relevant aspects of the law and provides each prosecutor with a sufficient number of continuing legal education hours to comply with New York State CLE requirements. To this end, the Trial Advocacy Office produces monthly “office-wide” CLE sessions at which attendance is mandatory for the entire professional staff. Experts from within the office as well as from the legal community generally are invited to lecture. Topics covered include annual reviews of cases from the Court of Appeals and from our Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, search and seizure law as well as any new legislative or legal ethics developments that the staff needs to be aware of.
Click here for a sample schedule.

Special Conferences

Annual Gang Conference

The Trial Advocacy Office, in conjunction with the Office’s Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau and the Mid Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Network sponsors the annual Metropolitan Violent Gang Conference which is a two day regional conference for both prosecutors and law enforcement professionals on recent developments in law enforcement techniques designed to combat gang violence.

Shaken Baby Conference

The Trial Advocacy Office, in conjunction with the Office’s Special Victim’s Bureau and the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, sponsored the first of the now biennial Abusive Head Trauma Training Conferences on September 17, 2007. The Office’s Special Victim’s Bureau has proudly taken a leadership role in advancing the level of understanding of this devastating syndrome among the law enforcement and prosecution and medical services communities.

New York Prosecutor’s Training Institute

The Office’s Director of Trial Advocacy proudly serves as chair of the New York Prosecutor’s Training Institute’s Training Committee. The Training Committee coordinates with NYPTI in producing state-wide training programs for prosecutors including the annual Metropolitan Training Program at the New York City Police Academy and the Annual Summer College at Syracuse University. Members of the Queens District Attorney staff are frequent lecturers at these and other NYPTI sponsored conferences.




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