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A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Saying Goodbye

Today is officially my last day interning at The Semrau Law Firm. This month has been a journey filled with tasks ranging from completely updating the website and social media to writing a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court. I started off this internship thinking I would be getting coffee and making copies for everyone in the office, but that picture was completely obliterated as soon as I walked in the door.

The first day I walked into the office, Scott and I sat down and he gave me a to-do list with at least fifteen different assignments ranging from updating all the website content to writing a daily blog to enhancing all our social media. And on top of this list, every day I came to work Scott and I would spend the morning in court, and then in the afternoon he would give me at least three more tasks to complete. These tasks ranged from researching information for clients to calling different lawyers to set up appointments. But the most interesting, and probably most difficult, was when he asked me to write a Cert Petition.

A Cert Petition is a document a losing party files with the Supreme Court, in our case the Georgia Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the decision of a lower court. It includes a list of parties, a statement of the facts of the case, the legal questions presented for review, and arguments as to why the Court should grant the writ. One afternoon Scott dropped me off at the office and told me he had a Cert Petition due at five that night and I was going to write the first draft. He gave me all the previous briefs and documents and the court’s decision and told me to see what I could do in an hour. I have never heard of any other intern my age getting remotely close to being assigned a project like this. When he first told me what he wanted me to do my jaw dropped, but once I calmed down a bit I realized this was one of the most amazing opportunities I could ever have at this age. As the nerves faded away I began to write, and soon realized I was learning more about the law by doing than I ever would by watching or researching. This was just one of the crazy, but amazing, tasks Scott gave me.

One thing I learned about writing is that under all the fancy lawyer words and legal phrasing, we always need to ask: “What was unfair? – What happened to the client that was unfair?” In this case our client appeared at his arraignment, requested an appointed lawyer and was denied. He was immediately arraigned pro se, without a lawyer. At no time did our client waive his right to counsel nor did the Court make an inquiry into the reason why the Defendant did not have counsel. Once the Defendant hired us, the judge said it was too late to file any motions. According to O.C.G.A. 17-7-110, all motions in a criminal case must be filed within ten days of arraignment. We argued that the judge should’ve given our client an extension since the arraignment was legally insufficient without a waiver a counsel, and therefore, the mandate should not have been imposed on our client. We thought it was unfair to require a non-lawyer with a high-school education to write and file his own legal pleadings. Honestly, our client didn’t even know what a “Motion” was supposed to do. We argued that telling the client that he was supposed to file his own motions within 10 days was the same as telling a drowning man that he might want to take swimming lessons! That doesn’t sound fair at all. Now we have to wait for an answer as it usually takes eight or nine months to get a response from the Georgia Supreme Court.

To finish up my last blog post, I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. Like Scott puts it, being a lawyer isn’t rocket science, but from my experience, I promise you it isn’t as easy as it looks. First, I want to thank Scott for giving me this incredible opportunity. Throughout the month everyone in court kept reiterating how lucky I was to have an internship with Scott, and they were right. I have learned more than I could ever have imagined. I know his goal was to deter me from ever even consider law school, but he did the opposite. It was so interesting to get a back stage look at what lawyers do, and I can’t wait to continue down my pre-law path. Second, I would like to thank Michael. Along the way whenever anything got a little too overwhelming Michael would always step in and help. I would have never been able to make it through all my to-do lists without his help. It was also fascinating to shadow Michael a few times and hear his perspective on being a defense lawyer. Third, I would like to thank Tomeca for all of her help along the way, especially answering all my inane questions. Whenever I had a problem, I knew I could count on Tomeca to know the answer and not get annoyed with how ridiculous I sounded. I don’t think I could’ve made it through this month without her help. Fourth, I would like to thank our officemates Cleve and Pam, and everyone else I met this month who offered me advice and an invitation to reach out to them in the future. This month has been one of the most fascinating months of my life and I can’t thank The Semrau Law Firm enough.

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