For the last two months, I have been volunteering at a Post-conviction Capital Representation Office in Phoenix.
The work I have been exposed to has been incredibly varied and stimulating. I have read petitions, conducted legal research, written up case memos to chronologise procedural history and facts, summarise trial transcripts, edited witness statements, and ran errands at the police department.
A particular highlight of my internship was attending the Santa Clara Conference, where defence attorneys from across the country came together to brainstorm their pending capital cases, and listen to lectures from renowned capital defence attorneys, and mitigation specialists. This intensive five days certainly exposed me to the intricacies of capital trials, strategic litigation and the significance of racial discrimination and trauma in capital work. Listening to lawyers share their clients’ horrific childhood experiences, in conjunction to intimate stories about their clients’ resilience and growth, really contextualised the sheer injustice and absurdity of the death penalty.
The week after Santa Clara, I was lucky enough to meet two of our office’s clients. Our discussions extended beyond their cases to their impressive knowledge of London’s geography, abortion rights developments, their family and their love for painting. The way they had both built a life for themselves in prison, despite the conditions, clarified why capital lawyers fight for life in prison verdicts.
I am looking forward to spending my last few days in Arizona helping with jury selection interviews. I will be accompanying the office's lawyers and investigators during unannounced interviews of proposed jurors in preparation for an upcoming trial.
In my free time, I made sure to travel as much as possible. Arizona was perfectly located to explore the Southwest. I spent time visiting San Francisco and San Diego, as well as the national parks in New Mexico. I am looking forward to spending my last weekend in Arizona at the Grand Canyon, before spending a couple of weeks in Mexico.
I am immensely grateful to Amicus for organising this unique experience. I am most thankful to two supervising lawyers, who inspire me daily with their compassion, kindness and unwavering dedication to fight for justice for their clients. Shadowing two fiercely committed female lawyers has motivated me to persevere with the (often frustrating) Criminal Bar.