For this project, you will be asked to think creatively about the life of those who are working in the court system every day.
First, choose a role that you are interested in – Judge, Clerk of Court, Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, Baliff, or another support person who works within either the criminal or civil court system.
Next, research what that person’s professional life looks like. The easiest way to research this is to interview a person who is performing this role every day. Maybe that means calling the Office of the State Attorney and asking for an interview, or heading to the courthouse to speak to the Bailiff (this might be harder in these times, but you’d be surprised about how willing people are to talk about themselves!), or watching a documentary that shows how a person works through their day.
After researching the person, think creatively about how a “day in the life” of your person might look. Walk me through that day – what time do they wake up? What time do they have to be to work? How long is their commute? How long are they in the courtroom during an average day? Do they go out to lunch every day or do they have to eat a granola bar at their desk? Who do they spend the most time talking to – their colleagues, criminal defendants, police officers, or is it a solitary role? Are they clocking out at 5 PM or working till 9? Are their hours variable or the same every day? Do they go out with friends after work or people they have been working with all day? These are just ideas, remember – be creative.
The second part of this assignment is to identify the most pressing court system issue facing your subject today. If you choose a prosecutor, the biggest issue might be the current uncertainty about the death penalty statute. If you choose a defense attorney, maybe the issue is the bias in sentencing. If you choose a clerk, maybe the issue is lack of funding. Again, these are examples. Either interview your chosen person on this topic or, after doing your research, try to identify what you think the issue might be for that person.
Identify one piece of research that will help for you to help the issue concerning your person. Make sure to cite your research using APA formatting.
Finally, make your submission. You can share what you have researched and designed in any way that you would like! You can write it out like a daily calendar, make a short video, make slides, create social media postings, create a powtoon, or anything else that you can come up with to convey your ideas.
At the end of this, I would like to see that you have thoroughly researched and then thought critically about what it’s like to be one of these players in the courtroom.
If we were in person for this course, you would be completing an internship with the Office of the Public Defender. One student who was previously involved in that internship commented that he was shocked at the fact that the defense attorney he was working with went out to lunch. Every. Single. Day. That may seem like a little thing, but it tells you something about the quality of their professional life. This is just one example, and there are hundreds more.
I have attached two examples for you. These examples are not “perfect”, but they are good examples of using real examples and conveying the information in a way that shares a realistic idea of the person’s life. Remember to look for those things that make this person’s career unique. There should be information included that is associated with that person’s role in the court system.
Stacy Honowitz, a prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, describes her occupation as “quite daunting to know that you hold someone’s liberty in your hands every day”. She talks about sleepless nights during trials, and the “huge sense of responsibility” that she has to the public. I really enjoyed reading these excerpts from her article in the Huffington Post because I feel that prosecutors are sometimes not seen as individuals the way that defense attorneys are. As Honowitz put it, “Everyone seems to lump prosecutors together and refer to them as “the government”. Prosecutors like Stacy are under a lot of pressure to get it right. A prosecutors biggest fear is wrongfully convicting an innocent person. Their days and nights are filled with pretrial meetings with victims, phone conversations with witnesses, and of course sorting through evidence and building a case.
A prosecutor’s typical day will vary based on case load and complexity of the cases. Some prosecutors may enjoy a typical eight hour work day, while others that are in a period of trial preparation can expect to work longer extended hours to include nights and weekends. Many prosecutors even spend thier free time thinking about their case and brainstorming or strategizing. One district attorney shared a glimpse of a typical day in thier life on vault.com which I will show below.
9:00 a.m.: Arrive at office, check emails, and get files and paperwork for court.
10:00 a.m.: Arrive at court for multiple issues, including an arraignment for a burglary case and hearings for drug possession cases, a money laundering case, and an attempted murder case. Speak with court clerks while clients arrive and judge hears various issues.
12:15 p.m.: Meet opposing counsel for plea bargain agreement for drug possession case.
1:00 p.m.: Quick lunch at desk while looking over emails and making phone calls. Wait for witness to show up at 2:00.
2:00 p.m.: Witness doesn’t show. Work on research for motion on attempted murder case involving Fourth Amendment right of seizure.
3:00 p.m.: Brief interview with police officers on felony assault case.
3:30 p.m.: Witness for 2:00 finally shows up with father and sister. Conduct fact-finding issue on domestic violence case. Witness recants some testimony and father pressures her not to testify against her husband, leaving ADA uncertain as to strength of case.
4:45 p.m.: Contact court clerks regarding hearing status of various cases.
5:10 p.m.: Review documents for money laundering case, and call witnesses and corporate officers for interviews in the next few days.
6:15 p.m.: Head home.
I though that this timeline illustrated the district attorney’s day well, and I noticed a few things that surprised me. There was a lot of work crammed into a 9 hour day, and his/her lunch break wasnt much of a break at all. Looking over emails and making phone calls WHILE eating lunch. I also thought that the amount of cases that he/she was juggling was profound. Four cases, all presumably at different stages of the process must be exhausting to manage. And lastly, I admired the prosecutors ability to adapt and stay productive when the witness was a no-show for the 2:00 meeting. After doing my research for this assignment, I definitely have more respect for the men and women who work within the criminal justice court system.
Melissa Torres Occupation: Paralegal
Benincasa Law Firm 1946 16th Ave, Vero Beach, Fl 32960
6:30 AM Wake Up
7:00 AM Done getting
7:10 AM Make coffee
7:15 AM Leave for
8:00 AM Arrive to
8:15 AM Check emails
8:45 AM Discuss the plan for the
9:00AM Call clients for
9:30 AM Organize case files
1:00 PM Lunch break
2:00 PM Meeting to
go over progress
4:45 PM Call clients
for any updates
5:50 PM Meet with lawyer on completed tasks and
discuss next day
6:10 PM Leave work
6:50 PM Arrive home
7:00 PM Cook/eat
8:15 PM Shower
9:20 PM Spend time with family
10:00 PM Get ready for bed
10:30 PM Go to sleep
By: Jessica Barrera
Sometimes she would not have enough time to eat. She would eat a fruit at her desk.
The receptionist is the person she would communicate the most throughout her day.
On average she would work 40 to 45 hours a week. Sometimes after leaving work, she would have time to hang out with friends at
the gym. On the weekends she would go to church and spend time with her significant