Spring 2024 Application Period is closed. Spring '25 will open in November 2024. 

Thank you for your interest in the Stanislaus State Criminal Justice Department’s Court Observer Program (CJ 4945). This three-credit Program, offered in the Spring semester, is designed as a transitional tool from the academic world to the legal profession and it is open to all students/majors. It counts as 3 elective units for the major in Criminal Justice and it satisfies 3 units in the Service Learning/Activity requirement of the pre-law minor. Units also apply to overall units for other majors/minors.

Interested students must apply, interview, and be accepted prior to enrolling. Details below. If accepted, students will receive a permissions number by December 4, 2023. 

Selected students will meet weekly at the Stanislaus Superior Court and observe court proceedings with the cooperation of local judges. There will also be regular meetings with the faculty member overseeing this Program, wherein students and the faculty member will discuss the students’ experiences and observations in Court. During the course of this program, students will apply the theoretical knowledge they acquired in the classroom to practical situations in a working professional environment. 

The Program was recently profiled by the Stan State Strategic Communications & Marketing office:

View Court Observer Program Offers Students an Inside View of Criminal Justice Proceedings

This exciting opportunity for our future legal community is:

  • Unique: There is currently no other class at Stanislaus State that offers this opportunity.
  • Designed to give students an understanding of legal thought and practice as they consider careers in the legal field, which can include work as attorneys, judges, paralegals, court support staff, political organizing, public interest legislators, law firm support staff, human rights workers, and government/agency employees.
  • Offering students an opportunity to explore the inner workings of the American court system by observing judges at work and by reflecting upon the professionalism required by all participants in the court system.
  • Operating as a transitional tool from the academic world to the legal profession, allowing students to observe how the theoretical knowledge they acquired in the classroom applies to practical situations in a working professional environment.
  • Not an internship. Internships normally require students to work. Participants in the Court Observer Program do not work for the Court, but they observe justice at work from a privileged position as a ‘guest’ of the hosting Court.
  • Flexible and provides a wide range for participation and interaction between Observers and the bench.
  • Participation in this program requires application, interview, and approval of the instructor and/or agency representative. The selection process is competitive and rigorous. We look to select 24 students, who will meet at court each week for about 4 hours per week during the Spring 2024 semester. Much of what they see or do each week depends on the judge's schedule and individual decision, but in a given semester students will generally get to watch a few trials, see jury selection, settlement conferences, and calendar calls.
  • Prerequisites: CJ 2250, 2255, 2280 (CJ majors) or consent of instructor (all others). Open to all students.
  • Download the application here (ignore the Nov 21 due date): Court Observer Program Application 2024.docx
  • Complete and submit to Prof. Blake Wilson by 5 pm. Tuesday, Nov. 28 
  • In-person interviews for selected students: Nov 30 or by appointment. 
  • Contact COP Supervisor Prof. Blake Wilson for more information. 

Updated: April 12, 2024