Today was my second day back with my original Assistant Public Defender, and we did something new! We went to the 14A-1 Court down Washtenaw instead of 14A-3 in Chelsea. The State has recently started allotting more funding for Offices of the Public Defender, which is great. Michigan, compared to other states, is extremely behind on standardizing public defense practices across jurisdictions. A part of Washtenaw County’s funding is going towards hiring four new Assistant Public Defenders this fall, which should help with the caseloads of the current attorneys. This will free up time for the APD’s to do something new, though: be present for arraignments in jail.
This morning we went and spoke with 11 or 12 people being held in custody who were awaiting arraignment on the afternoon docket. We went down into the jail interview rooms, where I conducted multiple client interviews and helped explain the next steps. Interacting with the clients was actually a great experience, particularly because so much time is spent with the paperwork of the case rather than the people.
At arraignment, the only thing a defense attorney is worried about is getting reasonable bond set for their clients. On this particular day, we won some battles and lost others. However, we sat before a kind magistrate who seemed incredibly fair, in my humble opinion, which was heartening — not all magistrates, judges, or referees really care enough to be kind to defendants or those charged with an offense.
After my two weeks of child abuse/neglect cases, I appreciated being back with criminal cases. They move at a faster pace and it’s easier to communicate with adults than (often traumatized) children. That being said, I think I only like law as far as this internship goes. I had a guiding conversation with the abuse/neglect attorney last week that opened my eyes to something about myself I might have been subconsciously avoiding: law is something I could do, but at this point in my life, I’m not prepared to do it with my whole self.
I think I’m still going to take the LSAT, though. I don’t want to rule anything out of my future plans, and I’m prepared to apply to many different graduate school programs in order to see what fits best. I have two weeks left in this internship, and now that I’ve taken the pressure off of my own shoulders to get into a great law school next year, I’m going to go with the flow and try and learn as much as I can, and maybe even enjoy it.