Proud to announce the success of S.I. Trial Lawyers Association Internship Program

I am proud to announce that I have been moderating the Staten Island Trial Lawyers Summer Internship Program and it has been an exciting program. The students are energized, especially after hearing our guest speaker, Romi Cohn, on Monday.  (Mr Cohn is a Holocaust survivor and author who described life in a society where the Rule of Law was absent).

Staten Island Trial Lawyers Association Summer Youth Internship Program

August 10, 2015
August 14, 2015
The Staten Island Trial Lawyers Association (“SITLA”) has developed its first Summer Youth Internship Program in reaction to a need to provide a law related experience to youths between the ages fo sixteen and twenty one.

The concept was first proposed by Charles DeStefano, President of SITLA and approved by its Board in January 2015. The Courts have always welcomed student interns, however the programs required that the participants be admitted in an accredited law school (JD) program. The members of SITLA concurred that a youth program could inspire high school students and college students to become attorneys, judges, Court Clerks, Court Attorneys, and Court Officers.

The purpose of the Internship is to create a positive experience for high school and college students who have a desire to work in a law-related position after graduation. During the discussion leading to the program, many of the members of SITLA shared their stories about how they ultimately became attorneys. Inspiration was rooted in the simplest of experiences, e.g., a neighbor who was an attorney who took a student to calendar call in a Supreme Court part, or a college student who was invited by an Assistant District attorney to sit in on Night Arraignments in Brooklyn.

Many students who believe that they wish to become attorneys or work in the legal community have taken high school course in law, participated in Moot Court, and have done community service in a program that is peripherally related to law; however, few have ever stepped foot into a courtroom.

As attorneys and judges, we know that the theory of law is quite different from the application and practice of the law. We have been told that the first thing a law graduate should do to embark on his or her career is to find out where the courthouse is located! This internship would do that (and more) to a fledgling attorney.

Requirement to participate in the program

The participants must be enrolled in a high school or college program, preferably a Staten Island resident. The students must submit a resume’ and cover letter, the latter which sets forth there reason to particpate in the program. The students must be within the ages of sixteen (16) and twenty one (21). A strong desire to work in a law related field would be a compelling reason to select a potential intern.

The program will be limited to a maximum of ten (10) interns.

Format of program

The interns will convene at the Supreme Court, Richmond County located at 18 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, New York on Monday, August 10, 9:30 am for orientation. The specific room / location to be determined.

The interns must dress neatly ( business attire) and must be prompt. They will be greeted by a member of SITLA who will discuss the day’s program. Lunch will not be provided and interns are expected to bring their own lunch.

Each day may consist of morning sessions, generally from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Some days may consist of afternoon sessions, depending on the calendar and feasibility.

Day 1

The Supreme Court experience – The interns will be taken by a moderator (SITLA member) to one or more parts to attend Calendar Call. They will be asked to remain seated and quiet during the opening of calendar call. Once the calendar is underway, they will be given sample copies of forms used in the Civil Part. The students will be given an explanation of each form, of protocol (e.g., finding your case on the calendar list, checking in with Clerk, etc).

Copies of Bills of Particulars and Deposition transcripts will be distributed. Explanation of these items will follow.

The judge in the part, in his or her discretion, may permit some or all of the interns to sit in on a conference in chambers. The interns should be taking notes of their entire experience in order to prepare for the Question & Answer session at the conclusion of the day.

If a jury trial is ongoing, the interns (in discretion of the presiding judge) will be encouraged to hear Opening Statement, direct and cross examination, voir dire of evidence, and Summations. They are to remain in their seats and are not to speak during any trial.

The moderator will encourage interns to sit near the front rows in order to hear Oral Argument. A condensed version of the CPLR (and later CPL in the Criminal Term) will be provided for interns to refer to sections of the law. Additionally, if there is not Oral Argument, the moderator will encourage interns to engage in discussion with members of the Bar, Court Officers, Court Attorneys, and clerks whenever it is reasonably practicable.

At the conclusion of the calendar call, the interns will return to a location in the courthouse to follow up with a discussion and “Q & A.”

1 pm to 2pm – Special Guest Speaker – Mr. Romi Cohn, survivor of the Holocaust in Slovakia and Hungary and author of the acclaimed biography, “The Youngest Partisan,” will address the group. Mr Cohn will share his experiences fighting the Nazis as a young man and relate how the Rule of law, when not respected, can wreak havoc and destroy the fabric of society.
Days 2 and 4 – Family Court Experience

The interns will meet at the Family Court of Richmond County located on Richmond Terrace. They will be greeted by SITLA Member, David Moreno, who is private practitioner and 18-B attorney in that Court. The interns will be taken to one or more parts to hear the daily calendar. Court Officer, William Quirk, will also provide insight into the daily calendar in the Family Court. Judge Helaine Sacco will be on hand to entertain questions from the interns, as well as providing information regarding the function and roles of the attorneys. Law guardians, etc.

The interns will be given written materials (e.g., sections of the law, articles from the NYLJ) that they may refer to during their day at Family Court.

A discussion and “Q & A” will follow at the conclusion of each day.

Day 3 – The Surrogates Court Experience

The interns will promptly meet at the Courtroom and be seated and silent during calendar call. They will be encouraged to sit close to the front rows in order to hear the daily calendar.

Following calendar call, the interns will be briefed by SITLA members Ron Cerrachio and Jerry Judin. An overview of the function and purpose of the Surrogates Court will be provided.

Written materials will be distributed prior to the calendar call. Interns are encouraged to take notes and be prepared to ask questions.

Day 5 – Criminal Court Experience

Interns will convene in AP 1 in the Arraignment Part. In the discretion of the presiding judge, they may be seated in the Jury Box during the session.

The interns will be provided with written materials, including copies of the CPL as well as other relevant informational materials. They will be given copies of forms that are used in that Part, including “Notice of Appearance” forms, as well as “Order of Protection” forms.

The moderator will introduce the interns to members of the District Attorneys Office, the defense bar, Court Officers, Interpreters, Court Clerks, etc., during breaks and after session has concluded.

They will be encouraged to ask questions and take notes. A discussion will follow in the courtroom and/or in the waiting area of the courthouse.

Final Project

The group will convene on the last day in order to share their experience in each courthouse. A questionnaire will be distributed which will contain cogent questions about their experience. The interns will be asked what court experience that they liked most, which particular case and the most impact on them, etc. A list of questions will be compiled by members of SITLA; an email blast will ask for suggestions for the list.

An essay of 800 to 1000 words will be assigned to the interns. The topic (to be determined) will relate to the importance of jury trials, the need of the public to have access to Courts, etc.

A Certificate of Participation will be distributed upon completion of the above program
The Staten Island Trial Lawyers Association hopes to continue the program in the future and wishes to inspire our youth to become lawyers or court employees.


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