2012 PFIG Recipient Mary Kidd
College of Arts & Sciences
Spanish and Foreign Affairs Major
2013 Graduation Year
Internship: US Attorney's Office
Notes on the first week
"Homicides? Are you all Homicides? Ok, right this way." I walk into 555 Fourth Street NW on a hot June morning and shuffle in alongside a herd of twenty-somethings with the same wide-eyes that mirror my own face. After a couple hours of lectures on topics ranging from "Confidentiality" to "How to make the most out of your internship," they finally divide the interns into our respective divisions. I've been assigned to work in the Homicide division of the United States Attorney's Office in Washington D.C. I've always had a keen interest in criminal history and law, and although the nation's capital has come a very long way in the past twenty years, the city was notorious for its high rates of murders and violent crimes in the 1990s. My aim in choosing this division is to learn more about the city's history and find out how law enforcement and the court system have been able to significantly decrease the amount of violent crimes since the 1990s. In addition to my affinity for learning about the history of crime in the District of Columbia, I've known since I was about 10 or 11 that I wanted to be an attorney.
As a Homicide intern, I've been awarded the opportunity to closely follow the day-to-day assignments of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) that bring justice to the seven districts in D.C. Although as an undergraduate student legal internships tend to air on the clerical side, I've had no such experience. During my first week I was able to sit in with an AUSA as he explained trial procedure and answered any questions that the witnesses of a homicide might have. I also helped the AUSA with trial preparation by offering an outside perspective to the case and creating additional questions for each witness. I watched detective interviews, assisted in assembling the government's exhibits and helped conduct legal research on Defense motions. One thing I really enjoyed from my first week (and something that will be rewarding throughout my internship here) was being able to work so closely with law enforcement. Detectives, police officers, and crime scene technicians are always in the office, and it's been great being able to meet and talk with them. I've already planned to go on a ride along with an MPD officer and one of the AUSAs has promised to take me to see the Medical Examiner sometime this summer.
The office is conveniently located across the street from District and Superior courts and interns are encouraged to visit often to get a better feel of what being an AUSA is like. My first week I was able to visit both courts and I even sat in for part of the Roger Clemens trial! Most of my visits to court this week have been in Superior Court with the AUSA I sat in witness meetings with, and I already feel like I've learned far more than expected. This first week has been both informative and exciting and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for me!
What a crazy past couple of weeks it has been! I’ve done everything from sitting in on status hearings to watching a sentencing; visiting the DNA analyst to going on a midnight ride along with the Metropolitan Police Department. Interning at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. has been exciting, fulfilling and rewarding; it has reaffirmed that becoming a prosecutor is what I want to do.
Every week, the office hosts a "Brown Bag" lunch panel where several AUSAs relate their experiences before during and after law school. Our second week the panel discussed law firms and the third week they discussed judicial clerkships and internships. I can’t really emphasize enough how valuable this internship has been for me. As an undergraduate, I’ve received so much useful information and advice that will surely help me when I’m in law school and after I graduate. The office also plans several trips for the interns. A group of us took a tour of the Supreme Court—a mere week before the ACA decision was made!But the most rewarding experience I’ve had so far has been connecting with the attorneys in the office. Being able to witness firsthand how their work positively affects the community serves as a constant reminder that this is the career path I want to pursue. Each AUSA gives their case their all; they make it their mission to ensure that justice is served. Some of these homicide cases involve children or families, and the emotional strength it takes to handle these is truly admirable. I chose this internship for a variety of reasons, but helping people in the community was number one.
I ask every attorney I work with the same usual questions. "Where did you go to law school?" (I’m proud to say there are a large amount of ‘Hoos and Double ‘Hoos in the office!) "Did you go straight through?" "Did you work for a firm or did you do a judicial clerkship?" While their answers to these questions all may vary, when I ask them why they became an AUSA, their answers are all the same. They love their job; they love the fact that their sole mission is to "do the right thing." Most AUSAs have been practicing law for many years and come from all different backgrounds. Most have worked for law firms before. But in the four weeks I’ve been here (and boy have they flown by!), I can say confidently that there is not one AUSA who doesn’t love what they do. The energy and positivity in the office is contagious. As exciting as my two ride alongs with MPD and visits to court and crime scenes have been, there has been nothing more rewarding than seeing the passion that each AUSA has for what they do. I only hope that I too may one day return and do the same.
"I like homicide!" may sound a bit odd to those unfamiliar with the divisions at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., but it’s something I’ve repeatedly said to other interns and AUSAs since I began my internship in June. This summer has been one of the most exciting, informative and valuable experiences I have ever had. Not once did I feel like any of my projects or tasks were menial, unimportant or unnoticed. I helped write sentencing memos, conducted legal research and some writing, I saw multiple trials from start to finish, I visited DNA analysts, medical examiners and crime scenes, and I formed relationships with AUSAs, police officers, detectives, and crime technicians who have taught me invaluable lessons.
It’s actually rather difficult to sit here and write this post without worrying that I’ll leave too much out. There was never a dull moment in the office, or even in the city, for that matter. Out of everything I did this summer, three things stand out to me the most. The first are the ride alongs I went on with an officer that I became well acquainted with from the casework he did with the AUSA. The most exciting part of the ride along, I have to say, was being able to wear a bulletproof vest. As scary as this may sound, I never once felt unsafe despite being out on the streets from 11 PM to the wee hours of the morning. The officers of the sixth district do a tremendous job of keeping the city safe and I thoroughly enjoyed spending several nights watching what they do.
The second thing I did that I really enjoyed were my visits to the D.C. and the Baltimore Medical Examiners. During the first trip to the D.C. Medical Examiner, I asked the ME why she chose her occupation. She told us a very heartfelt story of how someone close to her had been killed when she was young. Because she lived in a small town, not much was done in terms of collecting evidence and an autopsy was never completed. When she went to college, she took a class on forensic investigation and the very first day, a Medical Examiner spoke about criminal investigations in homicides and the investigation and autopsy process. She was so upset that the same had not been done for her family member that she decided at that moment to become an ME. It was an unexpected response to my question, but it was very rewarding to hear her story and why she chose her line of work. The attorney I came with said in all the years he's worked with her, he never knew her story and was glad to hear it. During my second trip to the Medical Examiner, a veteran detective and AUSA drove some interns and me to Baltimore, MD. We left the office early one morning and drove up to talk to an ME about an upcoming homicide trial. To my surprise, and even to the surprise of the AUSA and detective, the ME allowed us to go up into the viewing room and watch several autopsies! It truly was an informative and incredible experience.
The relationships I made at the office, however, were the most rewarding aspect of my internship. I love how closely the Homicide AUSAs work with detectives and law enforcement and the constant energy in the office. The AUSA I spent the most time with taught me more than I expected to learn from a 10-week summer internship. I can only aspire to be as great of an attorney as he is one day. All in all, I had an amazing summer and am very grateful to the Parent’s Fund for allowing it to happen!