TLF Fellow of the Month: Jillian Trezza

Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Division, Manhattan

My summer legal internship with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Division in Manhattan, New York was both exhilarating and invaluable. I was exposed to and able to participate in virtually all facets of the criminal litigation process. From conducting criminal investigations and extensive interviews with clients, to supporting the attorneys at trials and hearings, to researching and writing briefs and motions for submission to the court, my practical and hands-on experiences were truly exceptional.

Two particularly memorable experiences stood out. The first was serving as “co-counsel” for a misdemeanor case, defending a client charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Although not able to speak on the record, I was involved in all other aspects of the trial, from jury selection to generating defense strategies, to cross-examination and summation preparations. Participating in, and observing the entire course of the litigation process, while serving a client, was both deeply rewarding and thrilling. The final result was a verdict in our favor, and the client received full acquittal of all criminal charges.

The second experience was researching and writing a motion brief to convince the court to suppress physical evidence that we argued was the result of an illegal search and seizure. While a judge’s decision on evidentiary suppression is usually made at the end of a formal hearing, at the completion of our proceeding, the assistant district attorney asked the judge to stay his decision and entertain written briefs. The judge agreed, and I had the challenging and exciting opportunity to research and author our argument. After considering briefs on both sides, the judge ordered to suppress the physical evidence, ultimately agreeing with our position. The prosecution was forced to dismiss the case, since the evidence the charges were based on was ruled the fruit of the illegal search and seizure.

Besides the substantive work, the opportunity to interact with and discuss legal issues and procedures with other attorneys and law students facilitated the learning process, and made for a gratifying, dynamic, and fun summer experience.

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