The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Law

Notes From the Field: John Kilcommons '19

John Kilcommons '19 interned at the Law Division within the Cook County Circuit Court during the 2018 summer term. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

The Law Division within the Cook County Circuit Court is responsible for taking civil cases that claimed money damages exceeding $50,000 or more. Within my courtroom, my judge, the Honorable Lorna Propes, oversaw multiple trials and even more pre-trial settlement hearings. As an officer of the court, Judge Propes acted as a facilitator of justice according to the laws of Cook County. As a clerk within her court, I was responsible for the intake and production of legal documents spanning from pre-trial motions such as discovery, motions in limone, as well as post-trial motions such as appeals. I coordinated with many lawyers in redistributing many of these legal documents.

Notes From the Field: Sam Gordon '19

Sam Gordon '19 interned at the New Hampshire Supreme Court with Justice James Bassett during the 2018 Summer Term. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and its sole appellate court. Located it Concord, New Hampshire, it is made up of the Chief Justice and four Associate Justices appointed by the governor and Executive Council to serve during “good behavior” until retirement or the age of seventy. The duties of the Supreme Court include correcting errors in trial court proceedings, interpreting case law and statutes and the state and federal constitutions, as well as administration of the lower courts.

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: KARLA ROSAS '20

Karla Rosas '20 interned at the United States Supreme Court in the Office of the Clerk during the 2018 fall term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

This fall, I interned at the United States Supreme Court in the Office of the Clerk. The United States Supreme Court processes about 10,000 petitions per year, yet only one percent of these petitions are granted and heard before the nine Justices.

Class of 2021 First-Year Fellow: Zoe Schwartzman

As a First-Year Fellow, Zoe Schwartzman ’21 interned at the District of Columbia Superior Court under the mentorship of Judge John M. Mott ’81. The following is an excerpt from her final report.

This summer, I worked as a judicial intern at the District of Columbia Superior Court in the Chambers of the Honorable Judge John M. Mott. The DC Superior Court is the trial court for the general jurisdiction of DC and houses many judicial divisions, such as the Civil, Criminal, Domestic Violence, Family Court, Probate, and Tax Divisions. Judge Mott is currently assigned to a Civil II Calendar, on which he handles a variety of civil actions including personal and property torts, vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and landlord tenant cases.

Class of 2021 First-Year Fellow: Michael Nachman

As a First-Year Fellow, Michael Nachman’21 interned at the District of Columbia Superior Court under the mentorship of Jennifer Chandler ’82. The following is an excerpt from his final report.

This summer, I worked as a judicial intern at the District of Colombia Superior Court in the Chambers of the Honorable Judge Berk. Judge Berk was assigned to the felony calendar at the this summer. This job encompasses not only overseeing trials, but also administering arraignments, guilty pleas and preliminary hearings, ruling on motions, deciding pretrial release conditions, and sentencing the convicted.

Notes From the Field: Catherine Rocchi '19

Catherine Rocchi '19 interned at the Crag Law Center, a public interest environmental law firm based in Portland, Oregon, during the 2018 Summer Term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

Crag lawyers provide clients—usually other nonprofits—with free or low-cost legal services in line with the organization’s mission to protect and sustain the Pacific Northwest’s natural legacy. In addition, Crag may supplement these legal services with assistance on campaign strategies, communications, community organizing and media relations.

The Roger S. Aaron '64 Lecture by Rebecca E. Zietlow

Professor of Law and Values at the University of Toledo College of Law, Rebecca Zietlow, spoke at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center during the fall term, delivering the Roger S. Aaron ’64 Lecture. She invoked values and constitutional inspiration, discussing the antislavery movement, reconstruction and individual rights.

Looking back on her career, she said her interest began after she started looking into cases on Congress’s power to enforce the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, issues of freedom, sovereign immunity, equality and citizenship rights.

“I’m really writing about Congress and about politics,” Zietlow said. “The court – especially these days – seems more and more political. It always has been somewhat political, but the politics of the court are behind closed doors, in the confirmation process, in conference. It is coded in the ways they use doctrine. But when it happens on the streets, everyone is very open about it and people are debating some of the most fundamental values of our society.”

Notes From the Field: Angela Potier '21

Angela Potier '21 interned at the New Hampshire Supreme Court during the 2018 Summer Term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

This summer, I interned at the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The court is composed of the Chief Justice and four associate justices. The Supreme Court is responsible for correcting errors in trial court proceedings, interpreting case law and statutes and the state and federal constitutions, and administering the courts.

During my internship, I completed three bench memos (two expository and one persuasive memo that included my own legal analysis), a twelve-page research memo concerning criminal responsibility and constitutional interpretation for a question of first impression in New Hampshire, a sample client letter, and a budgeting memo. In order to complete my assignments, I had to learn how to conduct legal research using Westlaw and state and federal statutes. Legal writing is very different from academic writing with regard to style, but the legal reasoning process will be useful to employ in academic work.

R. Shep Melnick on Why Title IX Has Become So Controversial

R. Shep Melnick, the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics at Boston College, delivered a public lecture titled “Why Has Title IX Become So Controversial?” at the Rockefeller Center this past spring. During his talk, he focused on the purpose of federal regulation in removing institutional barriers to educational opportunity as well as the shifting focus on equality and gender roles, closely addressing issues of gender, sexuality, stereotyping and federal policy.

R. Shep Melnick began studying Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity, for a single chapter in his book on the growing “Civil Rights State” in the United States about nondiscrimination rules encompassing race, sex, disability, age and national origin. The regulatory apparatus operates differently than other programs to establish and enforce nondiscrimination laws, especially concerning the ways in which rules are made and the courts are involved. What he found, however, opened the gateway for a deeper study on the intersection of law, sex, gender politics, and public policy.

Todd Henderson on the Importance of Societal Trust in Human Progress

As part of the Thurlow M. Gordon Lecture 1906 Lecture series, the Rockefeller Center hosted Todd Henderson, the Michael J. Marks Professor of Law and Mark Claster Mamolen Research Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School, who gave a presentation in Rockefeller 003 on the importance of societal trust in human progress and the role of trust-creating institutions.

Henderson introduced his presentation with the assertion that the norm of “stranger danger” ends up being highly limiting since individuals ends up forgoing many potential opportunities. Therefore, Henderson asserted that the cultivation of societal trust is the key to prosperous economies since it allows individuals to be more willing to engage in cooperative endeavors. He then transitioned into an overview of the institutions which have historically been guarantors of societal trust, as well as their pitfalls.

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