Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Professor Robert Krivoshey: Preparing Students for Success in the Courtroom

Professor Robert Krivoshey
Professor Robert Krivoshey

The best way to learn is usually by doing. It's the basic principle behind the criminal prosecution and criminal defense practica, and many of the other learning opportunities with which Clinical Professor Robert Krivoshey is involved. Since joining the Moritz faculty in 1988, he has helped hundreds of students hone their skills through hands-on experience in Ohio courtrooms.

In the fall, Krivoshey co-teaches the criminal prosecution practicum with Professor Ric Simmons. Since 1984 the course has provided a unique learning opportunity for students to "get their feet wet" in court. Working side by side with the Delaware County Municipal Court, students learn practical trial skills that will serve them well in the future. "It's one-on-one education," Krivoshey says, "They get to try a real jury trial."

Class size is limited to 20 to allow students the close supervision and training necessary. In accordance with Supreme Court of Ohio guidelines, third-year students represent the state on a variety of misdemeanor cases that Professor Krivoshey picks based on their instructional value. Delaware County court proceedings are broadcast live over the Internet, adding another dimension to the experience, as classmates and instructors can remotely view and critique student performances.

In spring Krivoshey switches gears, team teaching the criminal defense practicum with fellow Moritz Professor and OSU Provost Barbara Snyder. The courtroom component takes place in Franklin County, where students experience firsthand the day-to-day challenges facing practicing attorneys. "The student actually files the motions, obtains discovery, and negotiates with the prosecutor, in contrast to other classes in which the student simply reads about these procedures in a casebook," says 3L Matt Palmer, a current defense practicum student.

Though decisions made by the students can have profound implications, Krivoshey has no doubt that the students are up to the challenges that come with serving real clients in actual cases. In one instance, students had to decide whether to charge a man with offenses that would require him to register as a sex offender for life or offer lesser charges. In his opinion, the legal services students provide are at least as good as those provided by practicing attorneys. Their clients probably better represented, Krivoshey says, since the students have one case on which to focus, instead of many; plus, they are eager to put their best foot forward.

Prof. Krivoshey and wife Goldie on vacation in France
Prof. Krivoshey and wife Goldie on vacation in France

In addition to co-teaching the prosecution and defense practica, Krivoshey teaches trial advocacy, jury selection, and evidence. Despite spending mornings in court and afternoons in the classroom, he finds time to serve as faculty advisor for the National Trial Advocacy Team, another way to get students acclimated to the rigors of the courtroom and teach them to think on their feet. Teams of two students compete in grueling, three-day mock trial competitions that are judged by practicing attorneys.

A 1978 graduate of OSU College of Law, Krivoshey has years of experience in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer in Columbus. The New York City native always wanted to teach, he just didn't know early on that he would end up teaching law. An historian with a masters and doctorate in the subject, he found opportunities for professional historians were dwindling in the 1970s. After his wife Goldie Shabad joined the faculty of Ohio State-she is a professor of comparative politics-he decided to continue his education here in law.

Krivoshey finds the close interaction with students the most rewarding aspect of his job, and he feels fortunate to have a position where he gets to know students on an individual, personal level. The mementos displayed around his office-most striking is a pair of steer horns mounted on the wall, a gift from his first Trial Advocacy team-reflect the rapport he shares with his students.

Says Palmer, "Professor Krivoshey's teaching style is great. Not only does he have a wealth of practical experience obtained from years of practice, but he also has a unique ability to convey that knowledge through examples and hypotheticals that are easy to recall and understand. The door to his office literally is always open, and he's happy to interact with students."