The New York County District Attorney's Office recognizes that legal training is essential to a prosecutor's development. We have therefore established an extensive and in-depth training program that begins when Assistant District Attorneys first enter the office, and extends throughout their professional lives.
Training begins with orientation, where arriving ADAs are instructed on the fundamentals of prosecution laws and procedures, criminal court practice, and ethical obligations. As they progress in their careers, ADAs receive training in trial advocacy, grand jury procedures, supreme court practice, and homicide prosecution. Additionally, the office offers extensive ongoing training programs that allow ADAs to remain abreast of changing legal matters and to develop expertise in particular areas of law. The Office is an accredited Continuing Legal Education provider.
Training extends beyond legal skills and case analysis to professional development. ADAs promoted to supervisory positions receive training in making the transition to supervisor, time management and leadership skills.
The office also recognizes the importance of reinforcing the high professional and ethical standards that are essential to ensuring that justice is done is every single case. To that end, ethical considerations pervade every aspect of legal training.
Besides formal training, ADAs receive informal mentoring from their supervisors and more experienced peers. The office has a cadre of highly experienced trial, appellate, and investigative attorneys who are strongly committed to mentoring the attorneys in the office.
Orientation and Criminal Court training provide new ADAs with a framework of case law and skills to build on throughout their careers. The program, which takes place during the first six weeks in the Office and beyond, includes lectures, workshops, demonstrations, and tours, and covers such topics as New York Criminal Procedure law, New York Penal law, search and seizure law, suppression law, case assessment, drafting complaints, interviewing witnesses, arraignments, hearings, and ethical considerations for prosecutors. During the course of the program new ADAs receive further instruction on how to handle cases involving sex crimes, domestic violence, child abuse, official corruption, driving while intoxicated, identity theft, narcotics, and bias crimes.
This program introduces second-year criminal court ADAs and first-year Special Narcotics ADAs to supreme court practice. Grand jury training focuses on case assessment and investigation, evidence analysis, ethical considerations, and all phases of grand jury practice, and consists of lectures, demonstrations, and a series of workshops with individualized instruction. Preceding this week long, full day program is a lecture series that focuses on the development of skills in early case assessment and intelligence gathering, search warrants, and the basics of supreme court practice.
At the conclusion of the new ADAs' first year of practice, the Trial Advocacy Program offers ADAs the opportunity to sharpen their developing trial advocacy skills. The program begins with a lecture series that covers all phases of trial practice. ADAs then are assigned to small groups, each led by an experienced senior ADA. Each participant prepares motions in limine, voir dire, opening statements, direct and cross examinations, and summations based on the case materials. Notable expert trial attorneys both from within the Office and from the criminal bar and bench meet with the ADAs and critique their performances. In addition, some of state's leading criminal attorneys offer demonstrations. The program culminates in a mock trial held in New York State Supreme Court, with a real judge and volunteer jurors and witnesses
The Office offers homicide training to experienced felony ADAs designated by the Chief of the Trial Division as having achieved sufficient skills and judgment to prosecute homicides. The training instructs ADAs on our "Homicide Call" system, responding to the precinct and crime scene, sources of evidence and evidence collection, advanced forensic techniques, case analysis, working with the Medical Examiner's Office, and many other topics that allow ADAs to prosecute homicides efficiently and effectively
The Training Unit assists all ADAs in gaining the skills and knowledge important for effective criminal prosecution. To this end, the Office offers a series of training programs to ADAs throughout their careers. Weekly lectures cover topics such as legislative changes (recently, the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) and drug sentencing reform have been addressed), updates in case law, professional and ethical obligations, new forensic techniques, interpreting scientific evidence and testing, and advanced trial advocacy skills. More complex topics are covered by seminars. Recent seminars included two-day programs on DNA, homicide, and advanced trial advocacy. Finally, the Office offers advanced training programs on topics such as cybercrime, seizing computer evidence, money laundering, identity theft, examining a DNA expert, and stock fraud, which allow ADAs to stay abreast of the newest crimes, crime-fighting techniques, and legal changes. In addition to this in-house training, the Office participates with the New York State Prosecutors Training Institute, and sends ADAs to various programs throughout the state.