A Travellerspoint blog

The Court Keeps Me Busy

I know I haven't written for awhile ...

sunny 96 °F
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Okay - I've been working like crazy since I got here but the good news is that I love it!

First, I absolutely love Judge Klein, the judge I work with. He's really nice and easy going and we get along very well and very easily. I've written several memos so far (2ish every week). I've done some for civil motions, criminal motions, and one for a jury trial (demurrers, pleas in bar, probable cause, motion to compel, criminal procedure). I get to sit in on trials and motions - there's a motions docket every Friday and depending on the week it is either civil or criminal motions or criminal sentencing (the judges rotate which they are doing). I think the best thing they do here is that all the judges share the dockets. Once the things scheduled for your courtroom are done the clerk will email the other courtrooms to find out who has what left and take on some of the motions from another courtroom. That way they all share the load an no one is done until everyone is done. I think that is a much better system than how most courts run (i.e. once you finish your docket you are done, which leaves others to battle through a tough docket on their own ...) I also do some of the less glamorous things - the Courthouse is undergoing construction so my Judge moved his chambers upstairs to the fifth floor adjacent to the new wing they built - so nicer chambers and courtrooms but we had to move everything from the old chambers to the new. I've become an expert packer, sorter, mover, picture hanger, and organizer! :) but I don't at all mind doing that kind of stuff for the Judge because he helps and shows all of the people he works with a lot of respect. It is much easier to do grunt work with someone that doesn't take advantage of you and who respects you, I've discovered. Besides that Judge Klein always pays me back for the less exciting work I do for him - buys me lunch/dinner etc. He's also very easy to joke around with and we're a little sarcastic with each other, fun to joke around with one another.

Second, the entire community at the Courthouse is great! Everyone is very close and it's like a family. Everyone does so much work so fast and are sometimes deciding difficult and important things, and sometimes work late together it is easy to feel close knit with the other interns, clerks, judges, and secretaries. Two of the clerks, Melissa and Rocky, are particularly fun and I have lunch with them and/or use them as a sounding board when I am researching and writing. When things get a little confusing or hectic they are life-savers.

Third, it is very helpful and interesting to see things from the other side of the bench. I have seen some terrible briefs/memos from attorneys and some good ones - and I've seen some really awful oral arguments and some really brilliant ones. That in and of itself has been an invaluable experience and I feel it gives me an absolute head start on being a better attorney. Also hearing the different judges opinions on their cases and the attorneys on each side and the way they synthesize the law and make decisions when the law isn't clear is also insight you really cannot get anywhere else. Judge Klein is also a professor at George Mason Law School (which is ranked directly below Madison - so it's about the same caliber school). He has a lunch seminar series of sorts for all the interns once a week - three to four judges or practicing attorneys come have lunch with all of us and talk about a topic (last week was about balancing your personal and professional life and how to make a good impression with judges as a new attorney - their expectations and allowances etc.). We eat lunch and can chit chat with them first and then they have a more formal talk and then open it up to questions. Then once a week Judge Klein has lunch with all the interns and teaches them about some aspect of Virginia law (we've done motions to compel, demurrers, pleas in bar). Finally, whenever I write something for my Judge he goes through it and makes notes and corrections and then at the end of each week we sit down and go over everything that he's looked at together so that he can explain what was good and what needed work. It's really helpful for my writing and my research skills have gotten better just by doing the work. I think I can easily say that I've learned more in three weeks then in my whole first year - at least more that I will successfully retain.

Fourth, I've met up with some friends from home in Racine while I was here. I've seen my friends Jolyn and Tory a few times. We went to Fur (if anyone knows what that is - club) to see a DJ - it was expensive and we were out way too late but it was fun. Then we had a pool party and bbq which was a lot of fun. I've been out to eat to several good places with my Aunt and Uncle, we also went to see the new Chronicles of Narnia which I liked, we went to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day and visited my grandparents and great-grandparents, and we went to a Nationals baseball game against the Brewers and somehow the Brewers managed to lose even though the Nationals are absolutely terrible ... hmm. I also went back to Wisconsin last weekend. It was my birthday Friday and also my good friend from high school, Kristen's wedding. Jake and I attended the wedding and had some good food, drinks, and a little dancing. Then we went home and hung out with my parents for a little while - got my birthday presents (anyone remember how I got all my dvds stolen, well my parents replaced probably about half of them for my birthday), and saturday we went out to lunch at the Olive Garden, went shopping, visited my friend Betsy and her twin children, had a nice family dinner - during which the torrential downpours started infiltrating our basement (oh great) but my sister and Brian (her husband) were there too - we played a little Tripoley at the end of the night too. All fun things! The storms delayed my flight the next day but I got to move to Midwest (mmm chocolate chip cookies) and get a free round-trip voucher! so all in all worth it.

It's been in the high 90's the last five days or so out here and ridiculously humid, with the humidity index they say it was 105 today (bleh) - and to make things even more special the storms here knocked out people's power (AC included) and the side of the Courthouse that my judge's chambers is on had its AC knocked out - needless to say today was hot, sweaty, and sticky yuck! More of the same tomorrow probably. Oh well! Hope everyone is happy and healthy and staying cool.
~M045.jpg046.jpg044.jpg040.jpg

Posted by meblandfor 21:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Silly Lawyers!

why do I want to be one of those again?

sunny 72 °F

So the internship is going great. I love the Judge I work for. He's really nice and very receptive and I'm going to learn a lot from him no matter how hard I try not to. He's very committed to teaching me and the other interns. I've had to write two memos already, and I have another due tomorrow, and a project to work on regarding a debate between two of the judges due early next week, and today I sat in on briefing the Judge on the cases on his 2 wk civil and domestic dockets for tomorrow. There's some research I am doing for him that he will use to write an opinion that will be published in the reporter on a case he is hearing. The other interns are nice and easy going and very fun and talkative and I will get along just fine with all of them. I heard several stories about my cousin that used to be a judge on this circuit before he retired. They used to call him "Send 'em down Brown" and "Killer Bee" b/c of his strict manner in criminal cases. One of the secretaries told me stories about his obsessions with penguins and chocolate too. Funny stuff. The Judges law clerk Melissa has been so great in this transfer into the interns taking on work. So all in all I'm quite happy and I've already probably learned more in the last two days then my first year of law school - ok that's a slight exaggeration.

On a different note I found there are at least three folks I know from high school here so I will be getting together with them hopefully. I think tomorrow night I'm going out with two girls I know from back in Racine, should be good. Anywho I brought work home with me tonight - I have class tomorrow (my Judge teaches the interns little mini over lunch courses on legal writing and civ pro rules and other schutff) so I have to read the material for that AND I have to go through a Virginia Act as part of my research for a memo I'm putting together for tomorrow ... Hopefully I can get most of that finished tonight so I can sit during dockets tomorrow (meaning sit next to the Judge up on the bench - cool stuff), or even just visit other courtrooms and sit in the jury box and listen. Yay! :) Hope everyone has an amazing Memorial Day weekend (court is closed on Monday hehe - what might I do?)

Posted by meblandfor 16:52 Archived in USA Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Washington D.C.

Copelands, Aunts, Uncles, and CARS!

semi-overcast 65 °F
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I dropped Jake off at the Badger Bus stop at Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee on Sunday morning (the 18th). It was a quick goodbye since airports don't let you linger with your car near the pick-up and drop-off points ... sigh ... it was hard needless to say. It will be strange not seeing him everyday and it's tough to be apart as anyone could imagine. However, thank goodness for technology now - with email, IM, phones - it'll be easier. So then I got on the road at 9:30 am and headed off for Columbus Ohio. As per the usual arrangement Chicago was damn near impossible to get around - there's construction up the wazoo and one of the exits i was told to take by my ever favorite mapquest was closed - humpf - so much for smooth sailing. Luckily Jenny has lived in Chicago for forever and I do have a general good sense of direction thus a little west and a little south of where I should have driven I went and finally met back up with a road I needed to be on. Bleh! But I was treated much better by Indiana and Ohio - easy drive with fine weather and little construction - can't ask for much more than that. Seven and a half hours later I landed in Upper Arlington at the Copeland house (my friend Darcy from law school and her parents). We had great conversation, good food, a little tour of the OSU campus (yuck buckeyes ... BUT the campus was quite lovely and must be a nice place to live), and watched the movie Into the Wild (from the Jon Krakauer book made into a movie by Sean Penn - pretty good and true to the book if anyone is considering it). After two margaritas mixed by bartending friend we were ready for bed! (side note: anyone that knows Darcy make it a point to meet her mom - it's unnerving how alike they are!) Up in the morning around 9, breakfast (wonderful cinnamon french toast a la mrs. copeland) and off for the second leg of the drive to D.C. The drive was fine but I forgot about mountain driving - it's a struggle staying at one speed with all the ups and downs. I'm just a simple great plains girl I guess! A completely uneventful 7.5 hours later I was in Alexandria dragging an ungodly amount of luggage into my Aunt and Uncle's house. (I managed not to even hit any traffic around D.C. at rush hour, that is ahh-mazing) Had some bad news when I got here though. My Aunt's 15 year old yorkie terrier passed away that same morning (Monday the 19th). She'd been sick and was a bit old for a pup so it wasn't completely unexpected but was still very hard and sad, she was a good doggie. It was dinner, watching the news and OTH (goodness knows why my Aunt agreed to that - and she probably thought it was terrible and of course she'd be right, but we all have our guilty pleasures), then off to bed.

Today I unpacked (thrilling right), had a visit with my Aunt Mary Jane, did some errands with my Aunt Barbara (the one I'm staying with), drove to Fairfax to see where I will be working, picked up doggie's ashes, had lunch at a fantastic little Italian restaurant, and am now writing and will be making dinner in an hour or so. Not a particularly eventful day but nice. Fairfax is a beautiful city. The downtown (which they now call Old Town Fairfax) is where the courthouse is and there are many old brick southern style buildings that now have things like Panera in them. It looks like it will be a great city to work in, there will be plenty of places to go out for lunches and dinners with co-workers and possibly a few good little bars to hang out in. The drive isn't perfect but it won't kill me - without traffic today it took us about 30 minutes one way so with rush hour it could take up to an hour but it's not a terrible route so hopefully rush hour will only add ten minutes or so to the drive which will be manageable. The best thing is that gas in Fairfax seems to be considerably cheaper than in Alexandria so I know where I'll be filling up!

I start work tomorrow - orientation at 8:30 am. So I'll figure out what it's going to be like and write more hopefully tomorrow :) Love to all.mary_and_barbara.jpg100_0145.jpg

Posted by meblandfor 14:43 Archived in USA Tagged automotive Comments (1)

Finals and Moving

so much to do so little time ...

rain 67 °F
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To Racine for the weekend, moved all the non-essential stuff that's not going to D.C./SA with me back to my parent's house today. It feels weird that I won't see/use any of that stuff again until Thanksgiving ... my Dad says the basement is starting to get crowded storing all of my stuff and my sister's stuff. So much for ever really leaving the nest I guess. :P

I called South Africa this morning at 2:30 am ... of course it was 9:30 am there. Then I realized how far away I was really going to be. I'll be awake when everyone is asleep here and vice versa. Did I really think this through? Just kidding I'm really excited. Professor Klug told me and Kathryn yesterday that although it's still quite nice during the day there in July (remember it's the middle of their winter) it will get really cold at night and they don't insulate the buildings there because it's only cold at night and only for one month - so space heaters will be my friend for a few weeks. Getting back to the original point - I talked to a very nice woman that works for the Mandela Institute about housing (at 2:30 in the morning) and she's now looking into our housing 'options'. I won't hear back immediately however because they had a four hour scheduled power outage yesterday. Does that seem weird to anyone? Yeah that's what I thought. I am now waiting and crossing my fingers that on campus housing actually comes through ... Found out I can't try out for law review because I'll be in South Africa, oh well, one less stress to worry about over the next couple years. I think I'll be taking some gender and human rights classes in SA so maybe I'll try writing on to the Women's Law Journal (I know it has another name now but I can never remember it).

On another note, I have about five bazillion things to do still before I leave on top of which we are now entering finals zone. YUCK! Why do law school finals have to resemble popular torture techniques so much? If you are a masochist go to law school, if you are sadistic teach there ... sigh. I do have some partly sane teachers this semester but I worry that just means that everyone in the class knows the material really well so it'll be just as hard to 'distinguish' myself. Did I mention as a former teacher I hate the use of curves and detest the socratic method? I pretty much shouldn't have gone to law school right? Oh I bitch about it I guess but I do love it. It's the first time I've been really challenged academically in my life and I can't imagine not knowing the people I'm friends with now. Plus I love to argue! Just ask Jake, he's getting frustrated with my always being able to find a way to be right even when I'm way off.

Anyway I'm only babbling about non-exciting home stuff right now ... probably won't write again until my housing gets figured out OR I go to D.C. whichever comes first because of finals.

Posted by meblandfor 20:10 Archived in USA Tagged packing Comments (0)

Paperwork and Decisions

what classes do I take and how does a person pack for 6 months?

semi-overcast 47 °F
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Application number 2 is underway - to make the acceptance official I have to fill out a Wits "occasional studies" application and fax it over to them. I've been told this is basically a formality - nonetheless I'll have to retract the title of my first entry :) Part of the application is deciding what classes I want to take ... much to choose from so I'll be meeting with Prof. Klug sometime next week to figure all that out.

I met the other student that is going with me this week. Her name is Kathryn and she seems great. I think we'll have a really good time there together. We both agreed that we had no idea how to pack for this trip, 6 months means I'll need most of the stuff I have - at least clothing wise - and i'll need linens and some electronics and some things that remind me of home ... well looks like I'll be paying the fee for having luggage that is over the approved weight ...

I'm looking at going on safari over the spring break while I'm there. There's a decently priced one at Krueger Park ... There is a you tube video called "Battle at Krueger" and it's from a safari there. Look it up if you have time it's AMAZING! Well that's all for tonight.
~M

Posted by meblandfor 21:52 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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