Practical Legal Experience Through Prosecutorial Externship

Taylor B

By: Taylor Brown

On October 20 and 21, I had the privilege of working along Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dan Laren as he tried an assault case in Fayette Circuit Court.  Looking back on those two days in Judge Ishmael’s courtroom, I believe that the experience I gathered working alongside Mr. Laren will be just as valuable to my legal career as anything I have learned in my years of reading cases in law school.

One of the first things Mr. Larson told me when I started this externship was that he would have me up and speaking in court soon after I began.  Mr. Laren reiterated this point the first time I met with him.  October 20 showed how serious both men were about this.

Part of the Commonwealth’s case in the trial focused on the damages sustained by the victim.  In order to present this evidence to the jury, the EMT who first responded to the scene was called to testify.  It was my job to conduct the direct examination of the EMT.

While my Litigation Skills class at UK had somewhat prepared me for this moment, nothing could compare to the actual experience of conducting a direct examination in a trial that had real stakes.  It’s one thing to conduct a direct examination on a fellow student in front of a professor and a handful of classmates; it’s quite another to actually do it in front of a real courtroom.

The experience of actually helping to try a case didn’t just end there.  Mr. Laren treated me as though I was his equal throughout the trial.  I was not a clerk; there to run errands for the senior attorney, rather, I was entrusted with key details of every aspect of the trial.  From preparing for the trial by reviewing Grand Jury testimony, to interviewing witnesses, to helping with jury selection; throughout it all, I was involved.  During the actual trial, not only did I conduct the direct examination mentioned above, I also was called on to give insight at every turn.  From analyzing defense objections at the bench to crafting and refining the Commonwealth’s strategy as the trial progressed, I was treated as an equal partner the entire time.

While the hands-on experience was possibly the greatest learning experience I have had in law school, I also got to learn a great deal from simply observing Mr. Laren, his counterpart for the Defense, and Judge Ishmael – not to mention the jury.  It’s one thing to read about something like a hearsay objection in your Evidence casebook, it’s quite another to see how parties respond when hearsay is brought into the record.

Overall, through this experience, and the other numerous active roles I have been given in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, I have learned a lot of “the stuff they don’t teach you in law school.”  You can learn a lot about a car by reading the owner’s manual, but you can’t learn to drive it until you actually are sitting in the driver’s seat with your hand on the wheel and the key in the ignition.  Law school, thus far, has provided me the manual for the practice of law; the prosecutorial externship has me sitting behind the wheel.


Not a very uplifting mural for an area that hopes to develop into a new venue to attract our citizens. It’s a pretty threatening sight, I’d say.

Work is winding down on Lexington’s largest mural, being painted on the side of the Pepper Distillery Warehouse by French muralist MTO as part of the annual PRHBTN street art festival.

PRHBTN is the same group that commissioned the popular mural of President Abraham Lincoln on the back of the Kentucky Theatre, which was painted last fall by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. But the MTO mural has not received as warm an embrace.

The mural depicts a street artist behind bars with red police tape running across it saying, “Caution: Do Not Feed.” The artist’s hands are signing the letters MTO, which has been part of the artist’s signature on other works around the world. But concerns have been raised that the gestures are gang symbols and that the image might attract gang activity.

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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City police shot and killed a hatchet-wielding man on Thursday after he suddenly attacked a group of patrol officers without warning in broad daylight on a busy commercial district in Queens.

At a news conference at a hospital where one officer was being treated for a serious head wound, Police Commissioner William Bratton said that investigators were still trying to confirm the identity of the assailant and determine a motive.

Security videotape and witness accounts appeared to leave no doubt that the man purposely targeted four rookie New York Police Department officers, police said. Moments before the attack, he was seen on a street corner crouching down to pull the hatchet out of backpack before he charged the officers and began swinging the hatchet with a two-handed grip, police said.

Asked if the attack could be related to terrorism, Bratton didn’t rule it out. He cited the fatal shooting of a soldier in Canada earlier this week — what officials there have called a terror attack — as reason for concern.

“This early on, we really cannot say yes or no to that question,” Bratton said.

The attack occurred at about 2 p.m. while the officers were standing together on foot patrol, police said. Without a word, the man swung at an officer who blocked the blow with his arm. Another officer was hit in the back of the head and fell to the ground.

As the man raised the hatchet again, the two uninjured officers drew their weapons and fired several rounds, police said. The bullets killed the assailant and wounded a female bystander, police said.

The officer was in critical but stable condition and was expected to undergo surgery. The woman who was struck by a stray bullet also was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the back.


The scales of justice can handle Howard Hendrix and his domestic disturbance charge, but Florida deputies had problems arresting and transporting the heavy suspect.

At 500 pounds, the 6-foot-tall Hendrix wastoo big to fit into a Volusia Count patrol car.

The solution was to summon a prisoner transport van to haul Hendrix to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on Sunday, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Before that, Hendrix, 45, of Apopka, Florida, used his size to resist arrest in other ways.

Hendrix sat down on the floor and challenged officers to move him. He also allegedly kicked a deputy in the leg, according to police documents obtained by the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The dispute began when Hendrix’ girlfriend told deputies that during an argument he had cornered her in the garage and slapped her shoulder and face, poked her in the chest, and spit her in the face, according to He allegedly punched a hole in her wall too.

When deputies arrived, Hendrix had showered and was naked.

Investigators said he smelled of alcohol, and had glassy eyes and slurred speech, reports.

Hendrix was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief, resisting an officer without violence, battery causing bodily harm and driving under the influence, according to the Miami Herald.

He is being held on $5,000 bond.



New records contradict the Obama administration’s assurances to Congress and the public that the 2,200 people it freed from immigration jails last year to save money had only minor criminal records.

The records, obtained by USA TODAY, show immigration officials released some undocumented immigrants who had faced far more serious criminal charges, including people charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.

The release sparked a furor in Congress. Republican lawmakers accused the Obama administration of setting dangerous criminals free. In response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had released “low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal records,” a claim the administration repeated to the public and to members of Congress.

The new records, including spreadsheets and hundreds of pages of e-mails, offer the most detailed information yet about the people ICE freed as it prepared for steep, across-the-government spending cuts in February 2013. They show that although two-thirds of the people who were freed had no criminal records, several had been arrested or convicted on charges more severe than the administration had disclosed.



A North Carolina man exchanged fire with three home invaders after they tried to rob his house and rape his granddaughter, reports the Fayetteville Observer.

At his Lumberton home on Monday, Kenneth Byrd, 67, was approached by an individual claiming to have car problems. When Byrd invited the man into his home, he was rushed by two additional assailants wearing black clothes and ski masks.

The home invaders — all three brandishing handguns — corralled Byrd, his wife Judy and their 19-year-old granddaughter and demanded money and other valuables from the family safe.

Byrd initially complied with their demands, but when the men began to beat Judy and attempted to rape his granddaughter, he grabbed a hidden firearm and let loose a flurry of shots at the assailants.

After a brief firefight, Byrd drove the men from his home but not before receiving several gunshot wounds.

Major Anthony Thompson of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office identified two assailants as Brandon Carver Stephens, 28, and Jamar Hawkins, 17. Authorities at McLeod Medical Center in Dillon, S.C. alerted the Sheriff’s office after the two sought treatment for multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities found Jamie Faison, 20, — the third assailant — dead in Byrd’s stolen Cadillac, some six miles from the Byrd residence.

The three are also linked to several other home invasions in the area.


aspen dan

Our Superstars Prosecutor Aspen Carlisle and Dan Laren just completed a jury trial in which the bad guy was convicted of Burglary 1st Degree and Domestic Assault. The jury sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Coming Soon to American DA Live


On American DA Live we will be discussing the topic of Domestic Violence.  October is Domestic Violence awareness month and we will have Teri Faragher, the director of the Domestic Violence prevention board (DVPB), as our guest. We will also have Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Kathy Phillips who specializes in the prosecution of domestic violence cases and victim’s advocate Robin Anderson who deals with cases pertaining to the same issues.  We will be talking about a serious cases dealing with Domestic Violence, CW vs. Alejandro Garcia.  Discussions about how our community responds to these issues and how this is a timely topic based on national publicity of the NFL scandals.

Alejandro Garcia was charged with two counts of Assault 1st Degree of two female victims.  The defendant was asleep in bed with his girlfriend and awoke and started to stab the victim multiple times.  The victim’s sister was asleep on the couch and woke to her sister screaming, she ran in to see what was happening. She tried to run for help and the defendant starting stabbing her also severely injuring her.  Both female victims lay where they were until the defendant left the apartment.  When he left one of the victims called 911 and while on the phone the defendant tried to enter back in the apartment but fled before the police arrived on the scene.

This case went to trial in October of 2013 and after one day of testimony the defendant decided he wanted to plead guilty.  On October 3rd the defendant plead to two counts of Assault 1st Degree a recommendation of 20 years on each count to run Consecutively.  On November 1st, 2013 the defendant Alejandro Garcia was sentenced to 20 years on each and the Judge ran them Consecutively for a total of 40 years in prison.  Due to some complications from the assault one of the victims later passed away in early August 2014.

Defendant: Alejandro Garcia

Defendant: Alejandro Garcia

DVPB director: Terry Faragher

DVPB Director: Terry Faragher


Prosecutor: Kathy Phillips

Prosecutor: Kathy Phillips

Victim's Advocate: Robin Anderson

Victim’s Advocate: Robin Anderson

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