Consider it CSI: UT.
University of Toledo students studying criminal justice and paralegal studies will get a dose of reality as part of a pioneering summer course titled Criminal Forensics and Trial Practice.
It’s a collaboration between the Paralegal Studies and Criminal Justice programs in the College of Health and Human Services.
Students are placed on prosecuting and defense teams and assigned as crime scene investigators, paralegals and attorneys. They are responsible for investigating a mock homicide, indicting a suspect, and conducting a trial.
The exercise will begin with a fake crime scene at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 23, at the southwest corner of Wildwood Preserve Metropark near the maintenance building. Sixteen undergraduate students plan to spend up to 10 hours at the site.
The students will test their knowledge of forensic principles, such as securing a crime scene, photographing and collecting evidence, blood spatter analysis, and interrogation, with the guidance of John Schlageter, director of the UT Paralegal Studies Program and a former attorney who practiced in Ohio and Michigan, and Andrew Dier, director of the UT Criminal Justice Program and a retired UT police officer.
“This is an opportunity for students to step out of the traditional classroom setting and practice hands-on skills that they will use in their careers,” Schlageter said.
A mock jury trial will be held Thursday, June 22, in the McQuade Courtroom located inside the Health and Human Services Building.
At the trial, students will use their knowledge of trial procedure, including the preparation and examination of trial witnesses, how to make a closing argument, and rules of evidence.
“Following proper procedure from the very beginning at the crime scene could be the deciding factor in a guilty verdict from a jury,” Dier said. “This is practical training to put the students in real situations and force them to make mistakes here because in the real world of law enforcement, we get one shot to do it right, one bite of the apple.”