A Journey of Transformation at the National Criminal Defense College

Sufia Khalid: A Journey of Transformation at the National Criminal Defense College.

We are extremely proud to announce that Sufia Khalid, MLFA’s Federal Criminal Defense Staff Attorney, has reached a significant milestone in her career. She recently completed an intensive training program at the prestigious National Criminal Defense College’s (NCDC) Trial Practice Institute in Washington D.C. This institute is renowned as the top advanced trial training program for federal criminal defense in the United States.

The attendees of this program range vastly in their experience, from fresh faces with just a couple of years under their belt to seasoned professionals with over 20 years of trial experience. Despite this diversity, each participant shares a common goal – to refine their skills and contribute more effectively to the field of criminal justice.

Sufia was accepted into the June session of the Trial Practice Institute where she spent two transformative weeks immersed in a rigorous trial skills program. The NCDC faculty, a team of nationally acclaimed trial lawyers and coaches, guided the participants through every step of the process. They were supported by professional actors who played the roles of clients and witnesses, adding a layer of realism to the learning experience.

The structure of the program placed participants into small groups, fostering an environment of intense learning and practice. Each day was filled with training and demonstration sessions led by the faculty, followed by group preparation for individual presentations the next morning.

The curriculum covered a comprehensive range of trial aspects, including client-centered interviewing, developing a consistent and compelling case theory, handling issues of race in a criminal trial, jury selection strategies, crafting powerful cross-examinations, arguing evidentiary issues, using visual aids strategically, preparing the client for direct examination, and delivering persuasive opening and closing arguments.

Each skill was introduced by a faculty member who demonstrated how to execute it most effectively. Participants then had the opportunity to prepare their own case witness overnight and present their skill application the next day. For instance, in a hands-on practice session focused on impeaching a witness during cross-examination, participants were assigned an investigating officer from the case to prepare for impeachment.

This iterative process of learning, practicing, receiving feedback, and refining techniques proved to be immensely beneficial. The constructive feedback from faculty and peers led to visible and often dramatic improvements in each participant’s skills.

Sufia characterizes her experience at the institute as transformative. She commends the exceptional faculty for their constant availability and valuable advice. The connections she made during these two weeks are not just professional ties but lasting relationships with individuals who share a passion for supporting MLFA’s mission. These connections will serve as a pool of mentors for Sufia in her future trials.

As Sufia moves forward, she eagerly anticipates implementing everything she learned into MLFA’s upcoming criminal defense trials. Join us in celebrating Sufia’s accomplishment, a testament to her commitment to justice and her unwavering dedication to the communities we serve.

Image 1: Sufia practiced impeaching a government witness during cross-examination with an actor/witness.

Image 2: Sufia’s small group at the NCDC Trial Practice Institute.

Image 3: Shaffey Moeel, one of the nationally recognized faculty members delivering the skills training on client-centered interviews.

Image 4: Sufia and her small group with their final case theories and themes.

Image 5: Sufia’s small group on Day 1.

Image 6: The NCDC Deryl Dantzler Trial Practice Institute Class of 2023.