Michael G.

January 7th – January 14th (0 hours) – One meaningful experience I’ve had recently was going to the project meeting at the district office. We talked about the end of the year project, and how this semester would be set up. I felt rather relieved after the meeting, because I was genuinely worried about the original project. I also learned a bit more about the requirements for the time logs and about the fact that they were not in the binder and that I needed to print them myself.

One skill I’ve started to develop is the ability to analyse a case during a trial. I developed this skill by observing cases and going over them with Mr Kimminau. He helped me figure out which parts of the case were important and which weren’t. A lot of my practice came from observing trials. The easiest way to keep practicing this would be to continue observing trials either in person or online. Analyzing cases like this would be very useful once the program is over and I don’t have a mentor to talk it over with.

This skill will allow me to understand cases I observe without having someone to fill me in every time. In college, a large degree of emphasis is placed on case analysis, and the ability to do this in the middle of a trial may allow me to get a head start. In a career, this skill would be less useful, because briefs are usually provided to lawyers assigned to the case. However, it would help me read the direction of a trial, and tailor my questions accordingly.

One term I’ve learned recently is prima facie. While in government class, we read a law that included a prima facie clause. I looked it up and found out that a prima facie clause allows an element of a case to be assumed to be true, so it doesn’t have to be proven in a trial. Most of the time such a clause is included, it is either ignored or ruled unconstitutional.

January 15th – January 28th (16.15 hours) –  In the past week, one interesting case I listened to was Dew v. ROC. This case involved a contractor, Dew, who was engaging in illegal contracting practices. His original company, Adobe Air, had its license revoked 45 times because of customer complaints and skipping out on bills. After this, he used his father’s name to create a shell company, lied on multiple licensing forms, and eventually got caught and fined. He did this two more times, lying to the government each time. When he eventually got caught, he was fined $2,500 for each day he was committing this fraud, which totaled to $1,227,000. Dew took the case to court, saying that he was not notified of which crime he was accused of committing, that the ROC didn’t have enough evidence against him, and that the fine was excessive and unfair. The court found that he was wrong on every one of his accusations. This case was interesting because part of the reason the court refused to overturn the decision was because of Dew’s continued attempts to stop the fine. While he was doing so, he ended up ruining some of the facts of his appeal. This taught me that, even if you think that a ruling is wrong, it’s best to make sure you have the strongest case first, and don’t end up implicating yourself in things you don’t mean to.

One term from that case that I didn’t know before was aggravating factor. Most crimes that are punished with fines have minimums attached to them, and the maximums can decided through case law. If a fine is too high, it can be reversed for being too cruel. In some circumstances, however, the person being fined does something that can make administration of the law especially difficult. These actions are called aggravating factors, and can cause someone’s fine to be higher than would usually be allowed.

January 29th – February 11th (3.57 hours) – Last week, I went to the federal courthouse to watch Mr. Kimminau work. He said that his case was pretty boring, and sent me to watch another case. After a while, he came to watch with me. The trial was against an undocumented immigrant who was charged with assaulting a federal officer. During the case, Judge Collins came in and sat with us and watched. We talked about the strategies of both sides, and basically ripped on the defense theory. It was really nice to have an experienced judge there to talk to us and analyse the case with. I learned that sometimes, it’s worth badgering your own witness a bit, because it can draw out some more emotion from them, which can pull the jury to your side.

One of my SMART goals was to observe and assist in a witness interview with Mr. Kimminau. I chose this goal because I felt that doing this would allow me to get some hands-on experience in a setting that didn’t have very high stakes. If I were to suggest a useless or irrelevant question during an interview, there would be no real repercussions, besides a slight increase of the time spent interviewing. Even when I wasn’t actively volunteering questions, watching Mr. Kimminau would help me figure out what kinds of things are important and what should be focused on. I could also pick up on things that are more dependent on style, like the way questions are worded or his general demeanour during the interview. I completed this goal fairly early last semester. Because of the need to keep the details secret, I can’t go into much detail at all, but I’ll try to describe what happened as best as I can. Mr. Kimminau told me that a client was coming over to talk to him about some details of his case. When the client got there, we took them to Mr. Kimminau’s office. At that point, I was ready to get started, but he started to just idly chat with the client. At first, i was pretty confused. Before the client arrived, the way Mr. Kimminau was talking about them made it sound like he wasn’t particularly friendly with them, so it was weird to see them talking so familiarly. When I thought back on it later, I realised that he was probably talking with the client this way to try to put them at ease. Once they were done chatting, Mr. Kimminau asked them if they wanted anything to drink or eat, sent me to get it for them, then started the interview. He started out by asking pretty basic questions: what happened, when did it happen, why, etc. Most of the time, he just let the client talk, and didn’t stop them even when they got off track. After he was done with the basic questions, he moved on to more legal matters like how the defense should look and whether or not the client wanted to sue his accusers. During this part of the interview, Mr. Kimminau did most of the talking, and told the client to stay on topic much more often. When he was done, he asked the client if they were sure they wanted to hire him, dealt with payment, and sent them off. Observing this interview allowed to me to cover one part of my goal, but I wasn’t able to assist or ask questions. This was because I came into the interview a little under informed. The client had already sent Mr. Kimminau a description of his case, and the basic questions he was asking them were really just formalities. A lot of the later questions he asked were based on information that I didn’t know, because I hadn’t read the initial brief, and didn’t even know what the charges were. Afterwards, I asked Mr. Kimminau some clarifying questions, and was able to understand what was going on a lot better. This experience will help me in the future because it provided me with a good example of how to drive an interview in the future. Now, I have an idea of what’s important and what’s not, and am much more aware of just how much can be left out of an interview if that knowledge is useless or already known.

One industry specific word I’ve learned recently is playing to the jury. While observing the case I described above, Mr. Kimminau said that the defense wasn’t focusing on the actual charges. Instead, they were flashing a lot of horrible pictures and giving sympathetic descriptions of events to drive the jury’s emotions. He said that basically ignoring the charges and focusing on emotional appeals in this way is called playing to the jury, and is generally looked down upon.

February 12th – February 25th (17.35 hours) – One interesting experience I had last week was going to court and watching a hearing regarding a murder case. The hearing was a pretrial matters hearing where the lawyers and the judge work to set various stipulations, rules, and deadlines. At one point, the prosecution was trying to get the defendants prior felony in, without describing what the felony was. When the judge asked if the defense has any objection, the attorney said that he was fine leaving out the details of the felony, but wanted the jury instructions to say that it was a nonviolent felony. Then, the prosecutor said that while that might be the best thing to do, it was too fair to the defense, which felt kind of odd, but was understandable. The judge said that it was more important that the jury not have room to speculate about what the nature of the conviction was, so it was best to just say it was nonviolent. This was interesting because, as far as I know, any information about prior convictions is usually inadmissible, unless it goes to the accused’s trustworthiness. This experience showed me that sometimes some things might get in that you wouldn’t expect to, and that it’s best to see what you can get away with, rather than assume what the judge will say.

One term I learned was preclude. Commonly, this means that something is prevented from happening before it occurs. While listening to the pretrial hearing, I figured out that, in the law, it means that a piece of evidence can be excluded from the trial before the trial even begins, which the lawyers had to do regarding several pictures of the crime scene.

February 26th – March 11th (13.05 hours) –  One interesting case I watched and read in the past two weeks was Alassadi v. Knightbrook. The case dealt with aspects of intervention, which is a legal process through which a group or individual can become party to a case they were not originally involved in. Motions for intervention are granted in a civil case when the movant can prove they have an interest in the property or transaction in question and that their ability to pursue that interest would be impaired by being excluded from the case. In this case, Goldberg and Osborne were trying to intervene in a lawsuit being brought by their former client, Alassadi, against the insurance company Knightbrook. Alassadi had used G&O’s assistance to secure a settlement deal with Knightbrook, then fired them before the settlement was paid. In order to get their payment, G&O attempted to intervene in the settlement case and force Knightbrook to pay both parties. The court denied G&O’s motion. G&O then tried to sue Knightbrook in a separate case, but that court turned down their case because they said G&O’s claim had already been denied when their motion to intervene was denied. The appellate court found that this was not allowed because, by having their intervention motion denied, they had technically never been a party to any case. This case taught me about intervention, which was a concept I had heard about before, but had misunderstood. This knowledge will be useful in the future if I ever get scammed by a client in the future.

One of my SMART Goals was to create and follow through on a realistic calendar to earn 56 hours over 4 weeks, starting on April 9th. I made this goal to make up the hours I had missed over the semester, and to try to get to where I needed to be by the end of the quarter. I completed this goal by watching, listening, and sometimes reading appellate court cases and observing trials at the superior court. Everyday, I would make time to listen to 2 hours worth of appeals cases, which usually amounted to 3 cases. Most of the cases were about 45 minutes long, so I would do two 40 minute cases, and one 30 minute case. When I had time to sit down with nothing else to do, I would watch the cases through the Arizona Court of Appeals Youtube page. Doing this made the time slightly less boring and helped me to focus on the details of the case more. A lot of the time, some of the details of the case weren’t made very clear by the lawyers or judges. This was most likely because they had already read through the briefs in the case, and didn’t want to waste time going over things everyone involved already knew. In cases like those, I went the the Court of Appeals website and opened up and read the brief. I didn’t count this towards my hours because the reading was often very slow, and the briefs included many legal concepts that I had to look up. I didn’t feel like this extra work was part of the plan that we discussed, so I thought it would be better to leave that time out. The reading was still helpful, though. Looking up those terms taught me about a lot of new concepts I hadn’t known about before. One of the biggest obstacles to completing this goal was the need to work on assignments for other classes as well. Devoting 2 hours each day to listening or watching court cases meant that I had much less time to work on things for other classes. In order to space out some of the work, I tried to listen to one case over lunch, work on other classwork when I got home, listen to a case after I was finished, then do another right before I went to bed. This helped lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed by a lot. Even with that challenge, the whole process was still pretty simple. By the end, I had gotten into a groove which made things pretty easy. Some of the later cases related to topics we had gone over in Mock Trial or AP Government, which made them more enjoyable, and made the time go by a lot quicker.

Completing this goal helped me get better at planning things out and managing my time. When I first started doing it, I tried to leave the cases until the latest time I possibly could, which only meant that I had to stay up late to get them done. This obviously wasn’t working, so I finally started to plan this whole thing out in more detail than I originally thought was necessary. Over time, I shifted into the pattern I described above, spreading out the cases and my other work. Shockingly, having a sensible schedule actually helped relieve some of my stress. I know that’s really obvious, but being put into this situation helped solidify the importance of a plan in my mind in a meaningful way.

One interesting term I learned was res judicata. This was an important concept in the Alassadi case. When G&O was trying to have their case heard in a separate trial, Knightbrook claimed that that was not allowed under the principle of res judicata. I looked the term up while reading the brief and found out that it refers to the idea that, once a matter has already been settled in a fair and competent court, it can’t be retried in a separate court by the same parties. This is similar to the idea of double jeopardy. It’s meant to prevent endless trials over the same facts and issues, and aims to respect the decisions of each judge or jury.

March 12th – March 25th (0 hours) –  Over the past two weeks, I was on vacation in St. Lucia, which didn’t give me many opportunities directly connected to the internship program. However, while I was there, I spent a good amount of time in various government buildings with my dad while he was trying to find his parents’ birth certificates and land records. While going through this, I tried to find some of the differences between the American system and the St. Lucian system. One difference I noticed was that St. Lucia will not give people copies of birth or death certificates because of a wave of identity theft a few years ago. We also went to talk to a lawyer there about the land our family owns on the island. While we were there, the lawyer explained how land inheritance works in St. Lucia. It was interesting the see the differences between our legal systems.

One term I learned while talking to the lawyer was “land register.” A land register is kind of like a deed. It shows who owns a piece of land and it’s location. Unlike a deed, a land register also shows how many people have lived on that land in the past, its value when it was originally sold, and includes a suggestion on the kind of crops that might be suitable to grow there, among other things. As far as I’m aware, there’s nothing exactly like this in the US, so I’m not sure how useful this concept will be in my future career.

March 26th – April 8th (11.08 hours) –  One interesting case I’ve listened to was Brush & Nib et al v. Phoenix. This case involved a Christian art shop who was objecting to a Phoenix ordinance which banned businesses from refusing services to gay couples. The owners of the business sued the city of Phoenix with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal advocacy group. The case was heard on January 22 this year. The Brush and Nib invoked the Arizona Constitution, and claimed that the Phoenix ordinance violated their right to freely exercise their religion. The Superior and Appeals courts had previously found against the Brush and Nib, so they brought it to the Supreme Court. The ruling has not yet been published, so I’m not sure how the case ended up. By watching this case, I realised that, even if I may disagree with certain political positions, they may have good legal arguments and legitimate complaints.

One of the most important things I learned about myself is that I need to learn to manage my time better. More than once during this program, I missed a deadline or a meeting because I didn’t remember it or didn’t have enough time. By focusing on that in the future, I’ll make sure I plan ahead early enough to have enough time to do everything I need to. Another thing I learned about myself is that I don’t put myself out there as much as I should. Many times during this project, I failed to seek the kind of opportunities that would allow me to gain much more meaningful experience. I now know that I should put a much larger effort behind searching for useful and productive activities, rather than waiting for them to come to me or jumping on the first one that is presented.

1. Always make sure plans between you and your mentor are completely straight and understood. Misunderstandings can cause you or your mentor to end up wasting your time, or can end with you doing more or less work than you really needed to.
2. Keep up with all your work and don’t put it off. Many of the assignments for this program or for SEP require signatures, work, or input from your mentor. While you might be able to bang out a paper in a night, your mentor probably doesn’t have enough time to rush a document to you.
3. Build a support team who can keep you on track. Whether that involves other students in the program, other seniors, or your family, it’s important to make sure you have people around you who you can rely on for help or reminders on upcoming deadlines in case you forget.

One term I learned was recently was “affirm as modified.” I saw this term in the Appellate Court opinion in the Brush and Nib case. I was confused about whether this meant the appellant’s complaint was affirmed, or the previous ruling was affirmed. I looked it up and found out that it was referring to the previous court’s ruling.

April 9th – April 22nd () – 

July 20th – August 13th (0 hours) – One meaningful experience I have had in the program so far is communicating with a prospective mentor. Before having that experience, I was worried that my writing was not professional enough or was not able to get my point across clearly. This was not the case, as my initial letter was above average, at least to Mrs. Wahl. I also learned the importance of forwarding important emails to Mrs. Wahl or Mrs. Polivchak. Information that I wouldn’t think of as important, such as the fact that my prospective mentor works out of a home office, can be major decision drivers for my teachers. From now on, I know that it’s more important that they know what’s going on, than it is that we move quickly.

One thing I hope to learn from the program’s teachers (Mrs. Wahl or Polivchak) is how to better speak up for myself in a respectful way. I’m often afraid that I’m coming across either too harsh or too soft. Having people to look at emails before I send them to gauge that sort of thing would be very useful. In a similar vein, I hope to learn how to deal with a client in a way that makes it clear that I’m on their side, while making sure they are not hiding anything from me from my mentor. This is a very different scenario, but it involves the same skills, in a way. It’s very important to know every detail of a case as soon as possible, and getting it directly from your client can help when preparing a theme to guide your case.

One thing I’ve learned about myself as a student is that I need to take more care when planning out my schedule. In more than a few instances recently, I’ve ended up working really hard towards some assignment, only to realize that another assignment I haven’t started is due in an hour. Most of the time, I can finish it up quickly, but being in this program has allowed me to see that that won’t always work, especially with the whole inter-office mail thing. That realization has pushed me to start working on my prioritization skills. One thing I’ve learned about myself as a professional is that I need to be more independent. For example, I have been relying too much on my friends to help me stay on track with the deadlines of the program. I could easily do this myself by focusing on how missing the deadline would affect me, and by making sure to put all the dates into my calendar as soon as I learn about them.

August 14th – August 27th (0 hours) – Since I have not gone to my internship site yet (I am supposed to start this Tuesday), I’d say that my most meaningful learning experience so far was planning my eventual route to the site. Up to that point, I’d never had to think about routes like that, so this gave me a good opportunity to do so. I was going to just use the Google Maps route, but I realized that there was a way I could go that would allow me to get to the site much quicker. My route avoided streets that would usually be congested around 1:00 to 1:30. I wasn’t overly proud of myself for figuring this out, seeing as it isn’t a very impressive skill, but I did recognize how useful it could be going through my internship. Because I’ll be spending a significant amount of time in my internship going to meet clients, I think I’ll be able to use this experience in the future to make sure I get to all the meetings on time, or even a little early.

August 28th – September 10th (4.83 hours) – One meaningful experience I’ve had was going over some of the restrictions that are put on lawyers. Mr. Kimminau explained that, quite often, lawyers have to keep in mind not just a strong defense for their client, but also a strong defense for themselves. If a client or a judge feels that a lawyer is not representing their client faithfully, they can sue them. This is called the requirement for “zealous representation.” Generally, people can sue lawyers for money and for their licence. So, oftentimes, they have to present a slightly weaker defense case, to avoid questions that might come up with a more zealous, but more risky case.

Because I will be doing my internship at a couple different sites, there are multiple sets of expectations. At Mr. Kimminau’s home office, he said that it would be a lot more laid back. Most of the time, it’ll just be the two of us working, so there won’t be very stringent rules. In court, there will be much stricter rules. For example, while I might be able to joke around at the office, I would have to closely watch what I say and do, when I’m at the courthouse even if there isn’t a trial going on. The same basic idea applies when I’m at the jail. One overarching expectation is that I never discuss any information about a client that might be used to identify them or that could be used against them in any way. This is extremely important because if a client felt their case was ruined because their information got out, Mr. Kimminau could lose his licence.

I’m pretty used to switching between being loose and being professional, so I don’t think the behaviour expectations will be a big problem. Mr. Kimminau laid out very clear rules for what I could or could not talk about when it came to clients, so I don’t think that will be a problem either. I’d have no reason to tell anyone about anything anyways, and if there was something particularly interesting, I could just talk about it with Mr. Kimminau.

While it’s not a specific term, one important case was Gideon v. Wainwright. Mr. Kimminau explained that it was the case that set the requirement that everyone be provided with a lawyer if they need one. It was an important precedent for the Miranda case.

September 11th – September 24th (8.48 hours) – One interesting experience I’ve had so far was at the settlement hearing I went to with Mr. Kimminau. Without going into too much detail, it was basically a case of an uninformed participant making a poor decision because they weren’t represented by an attorney. Mr. Kimminau explained that, even in a very basic case, there’s always a lot of complicated or confusing circumstances. The great majority of the time, there’s no way to really understand them without the help of a lawyer. The problem is that courts are not required to provide an attorney in certain types of cases, even though they can be just as complicated. This helped illustrate the importance of attorneys, simply because it was sad to see someone make an unnecessary mistake like that.

While we were heading to the settlement, Mr. Kimminau mentioned that it would be presided over by a judge pro tempore. A judge pro temp is a lawyer who is very familiar with a certain field of law who is asked to preside over a small settlement case in that field. They don’t have the power to make any orders that aren’t fully agreed to by both parties.

September 25th – October 8th (37.31 hours) – The first week of break, I spent every day either at the courthouse or at the home office. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I observed a first-degree murder case. The case had been going on since the week before, and ended on Friday. While the case itself was very interesting, it was much more engaging to analyze the lawyers’ performances. I noticed a couple of very effective ways to structure questions that I hadn’t thought of, which will probably prove very useful in the future. One of the prosecutors was clearly very nervous, and was very ineffective, which gave me a chance to identify some behaviors to definitely avoid.

Lately, I’ve been texting the most. This is useful because it allows me to get in contact with Mr. Kimminau very quickly, which can be very important when he’s left me in or told me to go a restricted area. Texting allows me to find out who I should talk to and what I should do to make it clear I’m allowed to be there if there’s any confusion. It can also be useful when trying to tell him I’m on my way or running late. On my phone, text messages are always signaled with a flash of the flashlight, which allows me to notice them even when I’m in a courtroom and have to mute my phone. Besides all of that, he’s said he much prefers texts over emails, which makes it a simple choice between those two.

Usually, it’s a decision between an email, a call, or a text. If I’m at home, I almost always call, simply because any question I think of at home usually requires a longer conversation than would be practical over text. When I’m on the way to meet up, I usually text, as a call in that situation would only take about 5 seconds. I usually save emails for bigger things like schedule planning or a longer, harder to remember message, like when I described the site visits.

When I was observing the murder trial, the defense counsel asked for a “directed verdict” after the prosecution rested. A directed verdict is when the judge rules that the prosecution has not provided sufficient evidence to prove the charges. In such an event, the judge can let the defendant go without even going through the defense’s case.

October 9th – October 22nd (8.2 hours) – One meaningful experience I’ve had in the past two weeks was going to the trump rally in mesa. Mr. Kimminau said that going there would be useful, as a lawyer needs to stay up to date on political happenings, and told me to go. It was pretty interesting. He tasked about changes Martha McSally was hopping to make to the criminal justice system, which connects directly to my internship.

One term I’ve learned is a motion to continue. I actually learned this from watching law and order. Basically, it’s a request to postpone trial proceedings to give the litigants time to negotiate a deal.

October 23rd – November 5th (0 hours) – Mr. Kimminau was not in town the week of the last reflection log, and he was not working last week, so I haven’t had any internship experiences, but I did have a law-related experience. That was my field trip to the Superior Court with my Mock Trial team. We observed a few change-of-pleas and some sentencings. We also watched a couple direct and cross examinations in an assault trial. After going there so many times, I felt very comfortable, and I realised that I actually know quite a few people. It felt nice to be able to help guide my classmates around.

I don’t really have any coworkers besides Mr. Kimminau, but I have talked to a few of the employees at the court. One time was when I made contact with the court liaison, Ms. Krisanne. I was assigned to observe a trial by Mr. Kimminau last quarter, and when I was there, I noticed that she was watching, as well. I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch the sentencing, but I really wanted to know what it was. The next time I saw her, I asked her where I could find out about it, so she offered to email me the results. She actually emailed me this morning, and we exchanged a few emails throughout the day about other questions I had about the case. She’s very nice, so the communication was not difficult.

The closest time I’ve had to a social interaction was when I saw one of Mr. Kimminau’s lawyer friends at Subway on the first Friday of break. He had introduced me to her earlier in the week, and she recognised me. She invited me to sit with her and talk. She was very funny, so it was very easy to talk to her. I don’t regularly have a chance to talk with many professionals besides Mr. Kimminau because they are usually very busy. He introduces me to a lot of people, and tries to give me time to talk to them, but I rarely get any chance to have a real conversation.

One industry specific term I’ve learned was sui generis. While on the field trip, the judge was discussing the terms of a plea agreement, and was having an issue with a part of the agreement saying that the defendant could be allowed to be released on parole as long as he avoided any “outlandish actions.” “Outlandish” is not a legal term, so the judge asked the lawyer to change it. Instead, the lawyer asked if he could define “outlandish” as anything that could be construed as a crime, or anything that put himself or others in danger. He said this definition would be applied sui generis. After we left the courtroom, I asked our guide what that meant, and she said that, basically, it applies to a definition with a law or agreement which cannot be applied to the same term in other agreements. That means that the definition of “outlandish” would only apply to this specific plea, and not to any others.

November 6th – November 19th (3.57 hours) – One meaningful experience I had in the past 2 weeks was attending a divorce trial with Mr. Kimminau. This was the first time I’d seen him in an actual trial. My main goals while I was there were to watch how he structured his questions, and to see what a bench trial looked like. I had never seen one before, so it was a very useful experience. It was interesting how involved the judge got. He was asking his own questions and declaring evidence inadmissible before anyone objected, which I thought was against the rules. Mr. Kimminau explained that divorce trials are less formal, so it was allowed.

We don’t have a solid schedule, simply because Mr. Kimminau doesn’t always have things for me to do. Usually, I’ll ask him I’d he had times for me to come in. I’d he does, I try to get there as soon as possible. I think he would say that I do a pretty good job at that. Whenever I know I’m going to get there a bit late, I make sure to tell him. One way I make sure I’m pin time is by setting an alarm as soon as I find out the time he wants me to get there.

I don’t think I’ve been doing very well balancing my time. These past couple weeks, I’ve spent way too much time dealing with mock trial and preparing for the competition, so I didn’t have much time for school work at all. I ended up turning in about 3 assignments late. Next semester, I’ll make sure to set aside enough time for everything, even if that means staying up a bit later than usual.

One term I learned was “community funds.” I heard this term at the divorce trial. Apparently, community funds refers to any money that either partner in a relationship could expect to bee able to use, or expenses they’d both be expected to pay.