All posts by edoski

End of Sex Crimes Internship

Even at the midpoint of my internship I felt that I was meeting the goals I had set out for myself before starting.

The first of the goals was to learn how to best interview victims. I have been able to sit-in on interviews. Most recently was a forensic interview of a child, which was particularly interesting because there are specific guidelines on how to interview children to avoid leading them in one direction. My office had to have a specialist from the University of Southern California come in and conduct the interview, while we watched in another room via a live-streaming service provided by USC.

My second goal was to learn more about the standard of prosecuting Sex Crimes. I have accomplished this goal by screening cases as they come in, and trying to match the elements of the law to see if the case should move forward. I have also been able to talk to DAs about he difficulties of pursuing cases they know might not seem strong enough in the eyes of a jury.

My third goal was to apply things that I had learned in the Politics of Rape course that I took last semester. I feel that this was best accomplished when I talked to DAs about Title IX processes, because the DAs are largely removed from that system. It was interesting to hear their perspective of the movement going on right now about rapes on college campuses. My office gets cases from USC and the DAs said that they feel there has been a rise in such cases being reported within the last few years.

My fourth goal was to reconnect with attorneys I have worked with in the past and I have been able to do it.

Lastly, my fifth goal was to get a better idea of whether or not I would want to work in Sex Crimes in the future. I can confidently say that I would be very interested in working in Sex Crimes again and plan on interning in the same office next summer!

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Building off of this experience, I would love to get more involved with organizations on campus and organizations in general that help victims of sexual assault. This summer I worked in Sex Crimes and next summer I might want to build off of that experience and work in the Human Trafficking Section of Sex Crimes. I would also like to pursue a thesis that involves Sex Crimes in some way.

I would advise anyone interested in an internship at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to apply! I’ve had a great time interning there and the internship lends itself to making connections so once you’re in if you like it you can likely come back again.

I feel very lucky to have been in a workplace where the bosses were all women, and all of the women in the office are clearly well respected. It is always helpful to see women in strong roles, and pick their brains about what it is like to try to have a family with a career. I think it’s important to talk to women in the workplace to get an idea of what it is like for them to work.

The biggest thing (and probably the most obvious thing) that I learned this summer in regards to being a problem solver/change agent/citizen is that people should report sexual assaults. The prosecutors take difficult cases and provide a wonderful support system for victims.

 

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Mid-point of Sex Crimes Internship!

Hi everyone! I’m mid-way through my internship at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Division. I am progressing through my 5 Learning Objectives successfully, I would say that so far I have been able to do something for each of the 5 goals I set for myself.

My first goal was to learn about the best ways to interview victims and I was able to sit in on an interview with a District Attorney while she interviewed victims of sexual abuse within the LA County Jail. It was an odd series of interviews because all of the victims were inmates of the jail. I consider myself lucky to have seen those victims interviewed, because I got to see the DA interview victims who she was very different from. My second goal was to learn about the qualifications needed for the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute a sex crime. I have been able to learn about this goal by reviewing cases and recommending whether or not I think they should go forward. The biggest hurdle to getting a case filed is getting in touch with the victim and getting the victim on board with pursuing the case. If the victim does not want to go forward with a case the office will drop it. My third goal was to apply things that I learned in Sally Kenney’s Politics of Rape course to my internship. I am constantly thinking about the readings and discussions we had in the class, especially as I am reviewing new cases. The knowledge I received from the course has been particularly helpful in terms of cases where the victim is a female college student. My fourth goal was to reconnect with attorneys from the District Attorney’s Office who have mentored me in the past. I could probably do better with this, but overall being in the same building that I worked in last year has been great, because it means I run into people I worked for last year. My final goal was to see if I could handle prosecuting sex crimes and I believe that I could. I have a long time before I have to decide which aspect of law to purse, but after working in the Sex Crimes Division this summer I feel even more inclined to pursue this field. I can definitely see and understand that Sex Crimes is not for everyone, but it is something that I feel I could prosecute if I decided to do that type of law. The best way for me to monitor my growth has been just to talk to my supervisor and gain more responsibilities. I think that it is also helpful to think about my goals and progress by discussing them in this blog.

My current project is redacting medical records for an underage victim and summarizing any statements she made that were recorded in the medical records. It is tedious, but it is very important. It is a lot of fun to review cases and either decline them or assign them for a further interview. It is almost like a puzzle because we have to look at the laws and make sure the police reports cover the elements of the crime before we can move forward with an interview. It is nice, because unlike most projects, reviewing cases does not usually take more than an hour so after completing a bunch in one day it feels like a lot of work was accomplished. The biggest project I worked on was a power point presentation that will be used by a district attorney during his opening and closing arguments at trial. I had to put together police reports, statements, 911 calls, photos, and other evidence. I really enjoyed that project, because it will actually serve a very important function in the case.

In general the District Attorney’s Office has a lot of women, so I think it is helpful for me to see the way women work while balancing whatever home life they have. My boss gets up at 4am every morning as a way to take care of everything at home and to get her work done. It seems that there are more male judges than female judges, and sometimes the attorneys talk about how that can be difficult.

The skills I am building in the internship will be great wherever I work. The interns and the attorneys all have diverse backgrounds but common interests. I feel that there is so much I could learn from any of them. It is especially helpful to be around older interns who are all in law school, because they have a lot of advice to give that I need right now. Additionally, being comfortable in an office and in court is a valuable skill.

Here is a picture of my beautiful lobby! I have yet to run into LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, it’s rumored she has a private elevator!

 

Weeks 1 and 2 in Sex Crimes!

I am interning at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Division, located in downtown LA. Even though it is fun to be in the center of the city, my hour and a half drive to and from work is never my favorite part of the day! I work in the Hall of Justice–the first few floors are for LA County Sheriffs and the top floors are for DAs, including the District Attorney of LA County Jackie Lacey (unfortunately I haven’t run into her in the elevator yet). Last year I actually worked in the same building in Major Crimes. I work in general sex crimes, but some of my intern friends in the same office work for human trafficking. Within the office there is a focus on all types of sex crimes. The office itself differs from other offices that I have interned in before, because this office has several rooms for interviewing adult victims, a room for interviewing child victims, and even a room for comfort dogs to be utilized during the interviews (the dogs have yet to be seen but they are coming!).

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As one of two undergrads who is interning, I am expected to be paired with an intern who is in law school while we both help DAs. Every 2 weeks we get assigned to a DA that we will help with whatever they need. We also get to accompany the DA to court pretty much every day. The court is conveniently across the street, which sometimes means that there is a lot of running back and forth when the DAs need something from their offices. In the past 2 weeks I have done a few different tasks for the DA I was assigned to. I organized a case file (DAs are given a lot of copies of various papers so removing repeats helps make things clearer for court), I transcribed an interview with a suspect, and I helped her with a presentation she gives to volunteers who help with victims.

In addition to helping the DA we are assigned to, the interns are expected to screen cases in our free time (we are also assigned a whole week where we only screen cases). The process of screening is when detectives write up reports that are submitted to the DA’s office where they are read and are either declined or moved forward to an interview. If we screen a case that moves forward to an interview we are expected to sit in on that interview, which I have already been able to do. It was very interesting to watch the preparation that goes into a victim interview, and how the DA has to be very careful to not ask leading questions, but also try to get as much information as possible so that they don’t have to bring the victim in for an interview more than necessary.

The Assistant Head Deputy of the office, Jodi Link, is the person who runs the law clerk program and she also runs many trainings with law clerks, DAs, and law enforcement. Last week I went to one of the trainings for law enforcement and it was quite a treat! She is very entertaining and I could tell everyone in the room left very informed. It was beneficial to go to the training before I sat in on an interview with the victim, because at the training she went into detail about questions to ask victims. I actually found this internship because last summer I went to a law clerk training for my position at Major Crimes and Ms. Link was running the training. I liked her leadership style and emailed her shortly after about possibly interning in her office. Interestingly enough, the only other undergrad working in the office with me (there are about 15 interns total) got the internship in the same way. So as a piece of advice for others, I would say that going out on a limb and showing interest in something definitely puts you ahead of other candidates.

This summer is already very hectic, every single day I come home with stories to tell my parents. Every case is fascinating in its own way and I consider myself lucky that in my internship when I have to read a bunch of files, it’s basically like reading a Law & Order: SVU storyline. That being said, the subject matter is very difficult. It’s plain to see that the DAs in the Sex Crimes Office have something in them that allows them to work these cases and still lead normal lives and have families. Because I have interned in DA’s offices before, I think the biggest thing I hope to learn by the end of this summer is if I can handle these types of cases, or if this type of work is not something I should pursue. In addition, I plan on going to law school and being surrounded by law students is the best thing I could have done right now they are full of advice and a few have even offered old LSAT prep books, so as another piece of advice if you’re planning on going to grad school befriend people in grad school!

Weeks 1 and 2 in Sex Crimes!

I am interning at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Division, located in downtown LA. Even though it is fun to be in the center of the city, my hour and a half drive to and from work is never my favorite part of the day! I work in the Hall of Justice–the first few floors are for LA County Sheriffs and the top floors are for DAs, including the District Attorney of LA County Jackie Lacey (unfortunately I haven’t run into her in the elevator yet). Last year I actually worked in the same building in Major Crimes. I work in general sex crimes, but some of my intern friends in the same office work for human trafficking. Within the office there is a focus on all types of sex crimes. The office itself differs from other offices that I have interned in before, because this office has several rooms for interviewing adult victims, a room for interviewing child victims, and even a room for comfort dogs to be utilized during the interviews (the dogs have yet to be seen but they are coming!).

As one of two undergrads who is interning, I am expected to be paired with an intern who is in law school while we both help DAs. Every 2 weeks we get assigned to a DA that we will help with whatever they need. We also get to accompany the DA to court pretty much every day. The court is conveniently across the street, which sometimes means that there is a lot of running back and forth when the DAs need something from their offices. In the past 2 weeks I have done a few different tasks for the DA I was assigned to. I organized a case file (DAs are given a lot of copies of various papers so removing repeats helps make things clearer for court), I transcribed an interview with a suspect, and I helped her with a presentation she gives to volunteers who help with victims.

In addition to helping the DA we are assigned to, the interns are expected to screen cases in our free time (we are also assigned a whole week where we only screen cases). The process of screening is when detectives write up reports that are submitted to the DA’s office where they are read and are either declined or moved forward to an interview. If we screen a case that moves forward to an interview we are expected to sit in on that interview, which I have already been able to do. It was very interesting to watch the preparation that goes into a victim interview, and how the DA has to be very careful to not ask leading questions, but also try to get as much information as possible so that they don’t have to bring the victim in for an interview more than necessary.

The Assistant Head Deputy of the office, Jodi Link, is the person who runs the law clerk program and she also runs many trainings with law clerks, DAs, and law enforcement. Last week I went to one of the trainings for law enforcement and it was quite a treat! She is very entertaining and I could tell everyone in the room left very informed. It was beneficial to go to the training before I sat in on an interview with the victim, because at the training she went into detail about questions to ask victims. I actually found this internship because last summer I went to a law clerk training for my position at Major Crimes and Ms. Link was running the training. I liked her leadership style and emailed her shortly after about possibly interning in her office. Interestingly enough, the only other undergrad working in the office with me (there are about 15 interns total) got the internship in the same way. So as a piece of advice for others, I would say that going out on a limb and showing interest in something definitely puts you ahead of other candidates.

This summer is already very hectic, every single day I come home with stories to tell my parents. Every case is fascinating in its own way and I consider myself lucky that in my internship when I have to read a bunch of files, it’s basically like reading a Law & Order: SVU storyline. That being said, the subject matter is very difficult. It’s plain to see that the DAs in the Sex Crimes Office have something in them that allows them to work these cases and still lead normal lives and have families. Because I have interned in DA’s offices before, I think the biggest thing I hope to learn by the end of this summer is if I can handle these types of cases, or if this type of work is not something I should pursue. In addition, I plan on going to law school, and being surrounded by law students is the best thing I could have done right now. They are full of advice and a few have even offered old LSAT prep books, so as another piece of advice if you’re planning on going to grad school befriend people in grad school!

Starting my Internship at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Office!

Hi! My name is Elizabeth Doski! I am a sophomore at Tulane double majoring in Political Science and Sociology and minoring in Psychology. In the fall I will be studying abroad in London! On campus I’m involved in Women in Politics and Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE). I’m originally from Los Angeles and will be back home for the summer.

This summer, and for the last three summers, I have had an internship with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. I started in my local office when I was a junior in high school. At the time one of the district attorney’s needed a lot of help, because she was working on a case that involved dozens of robberies committed by twin brothers at various Starbucks locations. It was a very confusing case with lots of witnesses so I helped her organize the testimonies. Last year I was lucky enough to move to the Major Crimes Division, which is defined as cases that receive media attention. This year I am so excited to be in the Sex Crimes Division. I will be working on cases that include sex crimes, human trafficking, and domestic abuse. In the past my internships have included reading transcripts and summarizing them, listening to prison phone calls and transcribing them, and organizing case files for the attorneys. This year my responsibilities have been expanded to sitting in on interviews with victims. Also, my supervisor will pair me with an older law clerk–someone who is in law school–so that I can work on more advanced projects under the guidance of someone more trained in legal procedures. The more advanced projects include writing memos that the attorneys turn into judges.

My five learning objects are:

1) Learn the most effective way to interact with victims of sexual assault during difficult moments, such as when they are being interviewed about their experiences.

2) Be able to review sexual assault cases and understand which direction the District Attorney should take the case in and why. (During my interview Ms. Link stated that interviewing victims and reviewing cases are skills she likes to have her student workers develop).

3) Apply my knowledge from my Politics of Rape class with Dr. Sally Kenney to real-life situations in the Sex Crimes department.

4) Further my connections within the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office and reconnect with the District Attorneys who have mentored me in past summers.

5) Explore this aspect of the law to see if it’s something I could see pursuing later in life. More importantly, to see if I will be able to handle the horrifying nature of the Sex Crimes cases.

This internship fits with NCIs mission of educating women and helping them excel in the workplace. So many of the cases that I will deal with will involve women, so I think it is important that there are women advocates for the victims. Additionally, my supervisor is a woman with a very high position within the LA DA’s Office, so it will be advantageous for me to watch the way she juggles her work and her family.

I prepared for this internship by working for the LA DA in past summers. For example, there is a law clerk training that I do not have to do, because I have done it so many times before! I also took Dr. Kenney’s Politics of Rape classic this past semester, which was a perfect introduction to what I will be dealing with over the summer. The class gave me information about the history of laws regarding rape, the history of anti-rape activism, and the history of rape on college campuses. It also gave me new insights on how victims feel in the aftermath of a rape, which I feel will help me immensely this summer. This will be a challenging summer, one where I will have to learn a lot and go out of my comfort zone, but it is so exciting to be taking this next step toward a career in law that I intend to pursue!