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 () – 

January 29th – February 11th () –

February 12th – February 25th () –

February 26th – March 11th () – 

March 12th – March 25th () – 

March 26th – April 8th () – 

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.