This summer I am excited to be interning with the Washtenaw County Office of Public Defender, where I am assisting attorneys who defend indigent criminals in Ypsilanti’s adult misdemeanor court. I decided to pursue this opportunity so I could be exposed to the court room and get a better understanding of legal proceedings. I’ve been contemplating attending law school for the last few years, but I know that in order to officially make that decision I need to see what it is really like to be a lawyer. I am excited to learn more about the field of law and figure out my path for the future!
Going in to the internship, I was nervous about upholding my morals when helping criminals. I soon learned that it is not the public defender’s job to justify our client’s actions, but rather to make sure they are not being taken advantage of by the state. It is my job to interview clients to get their side of the story, help explain to them what will be happening to them in court, and see how they want to pursue with the case. Many of our clients are ready to do what they have to in order to get back on their feet, so instead of feeling like I am betraying my morals as I feared I would, I feel like I am having a positive impact on people’s lives.
Below are pictures of 14A-1, which is one of the court houses we pick up dockets in each week, the lobby of the jail, andinside the office. It is hard to photograph a day in the life of an intern with the Public Defender, because most of our time is spent in the court room or in the jail interviewing our in custody clients, where phones are not allowed. When in the office we are dealing with our client’s files, which also cannot be photographed as they are confidential.
The final picture is of my ID, which reminds me of my first mess-up. The first day I went to do jail visits I forgot my ID and was therefore not allowed to interview the clients. Because I carpooled there with one of my attorneys and some other interns, I was stuck sitting in the lobby of the jail for almost two hours. I was very annoyed with myself and have not forgotten my ID since then.