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Miami Law Students Present Ethics Training to the Public Defender

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Miami Law's Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program (PREP) recently traveled to the Miami-Dade County Public Defender's office, where PREP Fellow Brandon Spivack and Interns Gray W. Rifkin and Daniela Torrealba provided a multi-faceted interactive presentation on both traditional and cutting-edge ethical issues.

The presentation began with an interactive discussion on "prosecutorial disclosure" and focused on the Brady Rule, a constitutional ruling which requires the government to disclose advantageous material information to the criminal defendant, as well as the state law governing prosecutorial disclosures. Then the training turned to issues arising from social media and the ethical implications of its use in the practice of criminal law. This topic sparked obvious interest among the attorneys in the office, provoking a healthy debate. Among the issues discussed were social media's impact on rules such as confidentiality, trial publicity, candor toward the tribunal, and conflict of interest.

Brandon Spivack, a PREP program veteran, commented that, "the trainings allow for the students and current lawyers to learn from each other – the academic world meets the practical world. This is a truly a unique and beneficial experience for law students because it teaches us how to work the ideologies of law into practice."

Following the presentation, PREP Director Jan Jacobowitz received a thank you email from Robert Coppel, Director of Training and Professionalism at the Public Defender's Office.

"For the last three years, thought-provoking ethical issues have been brought to the forefront at the Miami-Dade County Public Defender's by the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program of the University of Miami Law School," Coppel wrote. "With the guidance of Director Jan Jacobowitz, each presentation has been masterfully prepared and presented by law students in the program. Each presentation has been a give-and-take with the attorneys and the law students and hopefully, it has bridged the academic world to the practice of criminal defense."

The Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program was established in 1996 as an in-house program within the Center for Ethics and Public Service at the University Of Miami School Of Law. The program has dedicated countless student hours to public service and has educated thousands of members of the Florida Bench and Bar. As the students teach, they learn and quite often make a difference, prompting organizations to pause and reconsider their approaches to some of the toughest ethical dilemmas.