First Big Moment #1

One of the first big moments of my internship was when I got to observe a criminal court hearing in a young offenders courtroom. This specific section of the courthouse dealt with offenders who were charged as adults but were around the age 15 and 16.

I was waiting for another case to be called, so I sat in. The court room was packed. Many teenagers were there waiting. A case was called in and 11 family members related to the defendant were brought in to be introduced to the judge. The boy was walking into the court room wearing handcuffs. He was 17 years old. His grandma was his guardian. He had a girlfriend and a 7 month old baby boy there waiting and watching. Other family members were there like his sister, brother and aunts. The defense attorney talked about how although his charges were serious that he has a really strong family support system and was accepted into a work program to work 5 days a week if he were to be released while awaiting trial. His charges were in relation to an incident where he allegedly shot one bullet into a area full of people after he was shot at by someone else. The defense attorney asked the judge for the defendant to be released while awaiting trial because the process would take so long. She pointed out his family members, especially his son. She made it clear he wasn’t a flight risk and would always come back to court.

The prosecutor talked about how it was such serious charges against him and said it didn’t matter about his family and that it is a safety issue. Originally his bond was set for $75k. I sat watching while his family members stood next to me crying and listening to details of the case being discussed. His girlfriend had someone take the baby outside and she listened to the discussion of his case while crying. It was a very tense moment in the room. After hearing from the work program representative, the judge spoke. The judge said that he would release the kid to the work program and that he must follow all directions of the program and never miss a court date. The judge was stern with him and made sure he would comply with all of the circumstances. While the judge was talking, the court officers took his handcuffs off. When the judge finished talking, the boy stood up in his jail outfit and walked towards the back of the courtroom to go greet his family members. His family members were crying tears of joy and yelling with excitement inside and outside the courtroom. I watched the boy walk out of the court room with his family and embrace them outside of the court room. I watched him grab his baby to hug him. Him and his family seemed so happy.

2 thoughts on “First Big Moment #1

  • July 20, 2018 at 7:20 pm
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    Hi Madison,

    Thanks for sharing your posts! I really enjoyed reading them. Just based off your posts, I’m already attached to some of the stories you’ve mentioned. I love how you go into detail about one of the courtroom observations you participated regarding the 17 yo defendant. I’m not sure I could sit through the hearing based on seeing his family react so emotionally. How long are your court observations?

    It’s such great work that the Legal Aid Society does. They are very beneficial to our community. It seems like you are really enjoying your experience so far. I also like the fact you’re able to attend conferences on behalf of the Legal Aid Society. I’m sure that is very helpful to them and that they appreciate it. What are some of the conferences have you attended? Also how do you like the client visits? I’d love to hear more about that. I’m seems liked you’re getting a wide range of experience. Would that be true?

    This is such a great opportunity as you’ve mentioned you’ve been able to professionally and personally develop through this experience. I’m so happy hearing this! Would you want to do some type of work with legal aid in the future?

    Reply
    • August 6, 2018 at 2:20 pm
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      Hi DeMario,

      I’m glad you liked my posts! The amount of time I spent observing court varied day to day depending on my schedule. If I had a conference or home visit to attend, those took priority. I was in court if my supervisor had any of her cases on for a hearing or if any other staff member pulled me in on a case. Also, there’s always a social worker on intake (when a client gets arrest and is getting basically arraigned) so I would be in court if we were on intake as well. Other than that I was basically observing court in all of my downtime during the work day. If I wasn’t working on a specific case I would observe family court for a few hours a day. For criminal court, I observed specific youth offender parts a few times for a few hours at a time.

      LAS definitely does incredible work, it really blew my mind. The staff were so dedicated to their clients. I have attending many conferences for our clients that are all planning types of conferences. Usually the detention facility, foster case agency, or ACS (Child protective services) hosted conferences throughout the life of a case multiple times for everyone involved to touch base and plan. For a child protective case, usually the conference would be hosted by the foster case agency. People like the birth parents, foster parents, agency staff working on the case and the LAS social worker attend the conferences to touch base and plan for the next step in the case.

      Visiting clients at home was definitely really weird because it felt intrusive to whoever’s home it was that we were entering. The client was usually used to being asked a bunch of questions by an adult by that time in their case, so it wasn’t very hard. Visiting a client at a detention center was much more difficult for me because I got to see where they were staying and I got to leave and they didn’t. I definitely got a wide range of experiences at LAS this summer. I worked with mostly child protective cases and juvenile delinquency cases which have a wide range of differences within each area. I’m definitely interested in pursuing social work in the future with some sort of connection to crime and justice!

      Hope this answers some of your questions!

      Reply

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