Nell Kirkland, a Senior at Henry Clay High School

nell-kirklandMy name is Nell Kirkland and I am a senior at Henry Clay High School. I am a part of the EBCE program there and have spent the last couple weeks at the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. From my time at the Attorney’s office I have been exposed to different aspects of the criminal justice system, including contacting victims and sitting inside a courtroom to observe a trial.
I am fortunate enough to be able to work with Mrs. Briana Persley, who has taught me the process she goes through when working through a case as a victims advocate. She has taught me to enter information involving the contact with victims and the actions of the defendant so that she can keep track of the status of a defendant and inform the victim of any new updates. Along with office work, I have been able to observe court hearings and arraignments, including a competency hearing. The competency hearing was especially interesting, because I was able to listen on a conference call with a doctor who evaluated the defendant. He listed his
education and experience and discussed the results of his evaluation of the defendant and determined that the defendant in fact was competent enough to stand trial. It was intriguing to see the results of the hearing and see that he will stand trial later on and I hope to be able to observe occurrences like this in the future.

Ireland Coiner, a Senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

ireland-coinerMy name is Ireland Coiner and I am a senior this year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. This is week three of my rotation at the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and I’ve already learned so much from Mrs. Briana Persley. Before I came here, I thought that I had a good idea of how our court system functions. Now, I realize that I had little idea of what the system is like. Contacting victims, visiting court, and shadowing Mrs. Persley has taught me many new things about law and the court system.

Observing court has been my favorite part of my rotation. The first thing that I learned was the difference between District and Circuit Courts. District Courts are the lower courts for misdemeanors while Circuit Courts are for felonies. I have attended arraignments and a competency hearing. The court system is much more complicated than what most people think. Sentencing can be very complicated and time consuming.

Contacting victims is my other favorite part of my rotation. I think that it is amazing to be able to reach out to these people and help them. I have helped Mrs. Persley send emails and call victims. Understanding each case and updating the victim on what is happening is a very rewarding experience. I now have an understanding of what it is like to be a victim’s advocate and it is a career that I can see myself pursuing in the future. Overall, I have already had a great experience here at Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

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