Monday, August 4, 2008

US District Attorney's Office - Baltimore

Thanks to the Equal Justice Foundation for the funding that allowed me to work at the US Attorney's Office in Baltimore.

My first day on the job I was assigned to a capital murder prosecution involving two big-time drug dealers from Baltimore City. As it turns out, the capital defendant decided to plead guilty a few days before the start of trial, which allowed him to avoid a death penalty trial. The second defendant went to trial and I had to draft multiple evidentiary memos to either allow or exclude evidence in the trial. When we weren't in trial, we were interviewing and preparing witnesses because the judge decided to do the trial at whirlwind speed (condensed a 3 week trial into 5 days). To make a long story short, the second defendant barely made it through the prosecution's main witness before he decided to plead guilty - good move (we talked to the jury afterwards, and they were all ready to convict).

I've also been working on a 4th Circuit appellate brief in a RICO case, responding to various habeas petitions, and drafting memos on a variety of other topics. There are tons of different things going on around the office, and the attorneys really let us (the law clerks) pick and choose what we want to work on. We go to court most days, and get to see some top notch litigators in action. I came here having no desire whatsoever to do litigation - and after watching what goes on in the courtroom (and behind the scenes), I can't wait to start arguing a case. Amazing how pumped up some of these attorneys get before they go to court - like an athlete before a big game.

We also get to do some pretty interesting stuff outside of the office - like watch an ATF explosives demonstration, go on DEA ride-alongs to bust drug dealers and execute search warrants, visit the "Supermax" prison in Baltimore. We also went to the firing range with ATF agents and, in addition to firing every kind of gun imaginable, also donned full body armor and stormed a house (with paintballs not bullets).

All-in-all, I would definitely recommend working at the Baltimore US Attorney's office. There are tons of substantive legal projects here for the taking. Thanks to the Equal Justice Foundation for making this possible!

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