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Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund

Heather Case

I spent this summer trying cases at the Coos County District Attorney's Office in Coquille, Oregon. I came to law school wanting to work in criminal prosecution, and my internship helped me learn the day-to-day skills involved while giving me trial experience and professional connections. This internship also helped give meaning to the classes I’ve taken, especially Evidence and Legal Profession.  HeatherCase2-160x240

Over the course of this summer, I represented the State of Oregon in five misdemeanor trials, and assisted on many others under my supervising attorney. I conducted a felony trial from start to finish and questioned an expert witness in another felony assault trial. I carried my own caseload, and because the docket is quick in Coos County, I was able to take multiple cases from arraignment to sentencing (either from a plea or after trial). Perhaps the most interesting thing I did this summer was to be third chair attorney to a murder trial under the elected District Attorney. I questioned two witnesses over a four- day trial, helped with trial (including jury selection) and witness preparation, and learned the rules of evidence so I could anticipate objections and prepare responses.

Being in the office full time over the summer allowed me to be involved in the daily operations of the District Attorney’s Office. By the end of the summer, I was able to do in and out of custody charging and run the morning docket, which included arraignments, sentencing, hearings and taking pleas. I interviewed civilian witnesses and law enforcement officers for trial preparation and to gather more information for charging decisions. I wrote motions for the attorneys in my office to help on their cases as well, including responses to motions to suppress, motions to introduce prior bad acts of the defendant, several various motions in limine and responses to motions to sever.

I was also inspired by the examples set by the deputy district attorneys in my office. Their commitment to justice and ethical considerations in the face of strict time constraints and their dedication to the public inspired me to continue pursuing a career in prosecution. I would never have been able to have such a rewarding summer experience without the help of the OLSPIF stipend. I am proud to be helping other students with future stipends by serving on the Board of Directors this next year in OLSPIF.