My move to America was filled with both apprehension and excitement. Having never been to the US before, I was unsure what to expect of Texas. I arrived on the Sunday afternoon before I was due to start at the defenders' office on the Monday and so I had the rest of the day to settle into what would be my home for the next few months. Houston was much larger than I had expected, and although everyone had pre-warned me about the heat, I was not prepared for the humidity!
Despite never getting used to the heat outside (or the temperature of the air conditioning inside!), Houston was a great city – full of things to do and places to visit. I was lucky enough to be placed with other interns, one of which was from Minnesota and who also had never visited Texas before. This was great as we were able to explore Houston together for a weekend. We visited NASA, Galveston beach, and we even went to watch the Houston Astros baseball game so I could get the real American experience.
The work I undertook at Texas Defender Service was really interesting and varied from day to day. From reading past expert testimony transcripts, to listening to jail calls, to reading through disclosure and then comprising a witness list. I also had the opportunity to do some investigation work which was enjoyable and something I had never done before. I, along with another intern, travelled to Corpus Christi for a few days to visit the homes of potential witnesses and interview them in regards to their relationship with the client, in order to assist the mitigation team.
Whilst in Houston, I also managed to observe part of a capital murder trial which was very interesting to see – it was completely different than the criminal trials here in the UK, so it was good to be able to compare the two. Visiting death row was also an interesting experience. It was great to be able to meet the clients; seeing how grateful they were for our contribution to their capital defence cases was really quite overwhelming and probably the most memorable moment of the whole internship.
Interning in Houston was one of the best things I have ever done and I would reccomend an Amicus internship to anyone who is interested in capital defence work. The experience was second to none - being able to contribute to such important capital defence work whilst seeing the importance of this contibution first hand was very rewarding. The skills I have learnt throughout this whole experience will undoubtedly aid me in my future career endeavours.