Sue Kilgore -writes from Puerto Rico where she is a student clerk for the Honorable Jaime Pieras, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
Every morning of my summer clerkship starts pretty much the same–with a stretch and a yawn on my balcony overlooking the ocean, as I contemplate yet again how hot it is for only 8:00 in the morning. On the way to the Courthouse, I stop to buy "café con leche para llevar" ("coffee with milk to go") and maybe a quesito, a delicious cheese-filled, sugar-covered pastry. I love the Courthouse in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, not only because it is a pretty colonial-style building that is thankfully air conditioned, but because everyone greets each other with a big smile and an enthusiastic "Buenos dias!"
Then the day’s work begins. I typically have between two and three assignments at any given time, in addition to the summaries of First Circuit cases that I prepare for the Judge weekly. I have drafted opinions on several types of motions, probably the most juicy being a motion for an order of contempt of court against an attorney in a particularly protracted piece of litigation. The most difficult opinion I worked on was a motion to dismiss involving claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII that also raised sovereign immunity issues and involved both institutional and individual defendants. I also prepare case memoranda and other documents for pre-trial meetings between the Judge and counsel, which I attend to take notes. Following the meetings, I compose initial scheduling conference orders that define the course of discovery for each case. I was also fortunate to witness a rendition hearing and parts of a jury trial while working here. These experiences not only familiarized me with courtroom procedure, but afforded me the chance to observe differing advocacy styles.
Clerking for Judge Pieras has been a wonderful opportunity!