This semester I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jennifer Karpowicz-Bland at the Dare County District Attorney’s Office. Jennifer is one of two Assistant District Attorneys for Dare County along with Jeff Cruden. Jennifer and Jeff both work to gather evidence for cases, write plea bargains, and try cases for Dare County.
The Dare County Justice Center holds District Court on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and Superior Court once a month. I had the opportunity to sit in and watch both Superior and District court in Dare County and once in Elizabeth City. In court, a judge will hear a case presented by Jennifer or Jeff, then, most of the time, the client will plead guilty. However, when a client pleads not guilty, the case will go to a trail. In a trial, a jury is picked, the attorneys give opening statements, present evidence, and end with closing statements.
My role as their intern was to first research cases, and second, write summaries for cases. There were four main cases that I researched this semester. The first case I researched concerned the death of a woman who overdosed on fentanyl-laced heroin. The dealer of the heroin is being charged with second-degree murder, a charge that has recently been used to convict drug dealers. When researching a case, I would use LexisNexis, a legal researching tool, to find examples of other second-degree murder cases pertaining to drug overdoses in North Carolina. I also researched Rule 412, or the Rape-Shield Statute, animal abandonment laws, and perjury cases. In addition to research, I wrote summaries outlining the main facts of cases. My summaries were used as a tool in Court in order to brief the judge on the main facts or evidence in the case. Some of the summaries I wrote included a shaken baby case, drug paraphernalia, felony larceny, and shrimping in a closed area.
Overall, I have loved this internship. I cannot speak highly enough of Jennifer and Jeff as they both have taught me a tremendous amount about legal terminology, trying cases, and gathering evidence. Jennifer has also been a huge help in giving me advice for applying to law school, taking the LSAT, and exactly what goes into becoming a lawyer. This internship has been an extremely positive experience and I can’t thank Jennifer, Jeff, and Corey enough for providing me with this special opportunity.