Interns – They are the best and, sometimes, the worst thing about being Executive Director of the Georgia Innocence Project.
When I started this job I thought my least favorite part of the job would be dealing with the interns. [Honestly, there are moments when that is true. But, thankfully, those moments are few and far between.] I just couldn’t imagine working with law students day-in-and-day-out. When I was in law school I thought law students were the most obnoxious people on the planet.
Turns out, working with interns is one of my favorite parts of the job. They are so enthusiastic (and loud). They are so excited about learning criminal law and procedures (and have a thousand questions). They are so passionate about their cases (and are relentless). They are simply great.
This summer the interns are particularly creative. When they are reading a reading a case and they are confused by the evidence they act it out or conduct an experiment. They’ve identified prints using blush and a makeup brush, lifted those prints using regular tape, put a stocking over their face to see if they can be identified, demonstrated you can use duct tape if you are wearing latex gloves, and proved that they have no idea what color their colleagues eyes are.
Our office could not do our work without the interns. They work on the requests for assistance we receive. With supervision from Christina and I, they review the initial letters, gather critical documents, interact with law enforcement, prosecutors and court personnel, read transcripts and other documents, and creates tracking documents. They work to locate DNA evidence we can test. The interns then present their cases to our Legal Advisory Committee. If that committee accepts the case, the intern prepares the case for litigation and, if they are 3Ls, they participate in the litigation. All the while, they must maintain our case database and help the staff with anything we need to do to keep the office open. Simply put, they do a great job for us.
It is my hope that we provide these interns with a good learning experience. I also hope that they learn how to be great lawyers. Some of my former interns are public defenders, some are prosecutors and others are in private practice. It is thrilling to me to hear from those folks and to know that we have had a part in educating the next generation of lawyers. I really love hearing from former interns/now prosecutors who are evaluating cases recognizing the risks of wrongful conviction.
**** These thoughts were prompted by one of the strangest former intern moments happened yesterday when former intern, now GIP Staff Attorney, Christina Cribs, went up against one of our former interns yesterday in a hearing. (While I was pleased how Darrel Ambrosini handled himself, I was thrilled watching Christina win the day.)