Week 6 - Fireworks, the D.C. Superior Court, and an Immigration Presentation

      Week six was both a great and somewhat chaotic week because of many different activities and events.  On Monday, Bryony and I showed up to the office along with a skeleton crew of the normal staff as several individuals took off Monday for the 4th of July on Tuesday.  We worked the whole day on our immigration and asylum presentation that we would be giving on Tuesday.  Most of the research was complete but we still had to fill in a few holes and put the whole thing into a PowerPoint presentation. After much hemming and hawing over the overall aesthetic of the presentation (choosing colors can be hard), we started to fill in the outline of our presentation.  The presentation started with political views from politicians around the world then moved into the history of immigration and refugee crises, focusing on World War II and the current crisis coming out of Syria and the Middle East.  Next, we summarized the overall state of both migrants and refugees in the world today.  The impact on the European Union followed this section and was then proceeded by the impacts on the United States.  Both of these sections focused on the political and legal impacts on each region. Finally, the presentation finished with an eye towards the future by trying to predict any future political changes as a result of the current crises.  By the end of the day, Bryony and I had finished a large portion of the work but still had some remaining research to complete.

      On Tuesday, it was the 4th of July and there was no work. I went into D.C. around 5pm to catch some of the festivities and eventually settled down on the top steps of the Lincoln Memorial to wait for the fireworks.  About 9pm the fireworks started.  They were being shot from the sides of the reflecting pool and exploded directly above the Washington Monument. It was a truly spectacular display and was well-worth the wait.  Most fireworks presentations I have seen in the past have been relatively small affairs but this was very different.  The whole show lasted for around 20 minutes and the explosions were gigantic, taking up most of the night sky that framed the Washington Monument.  After the display wrapped up I quickly headed to the nearest metro stop, trying in vain to beat the crowds.  In the end it took me about 2 hours to get back to my apartment in Ashville but I had no regrets.

      On the following day, Bryony and I finished out presentation.  The main holes that we had to fill involved looking up various cases from the European Court of Human Rights. We eventually found two main cases that dealt with violations of the European Convention on Human Rights in regards too poor detention centers for immigrants and refugees.  After adding those cases to our presentation and doing further research on the Common European Asylum System, the structure and contents of our impending presentation were complete.  This was a relief as this project had consumed much of our time the past week and now we could move on to the other projects we had pending.

      On Thursday, Bryony and I received an invitation from Judge Greg Mize to sit in on his hearings while he was in Chambers.  We spent the whole day at the D.C. Superior Court. We observed, several hearings on temporary restraining orders, the appointment of a guardian ad litem, and observed Judge Mize reviewing various warrant requests from police officers.  We also got to sit in on a murder trial that was about a week underway.  While I did not quite understand everything that was going on as we jumped in the trial during the middle of a witness testimony, it was still a fascinating experience.  Judge Mize told us that he was going to be in court again in a couple of weeks and invited us back during that period.  Time permitting, I am sure that Bryony and I will take advantage of that opportunity.  Although my focus is not trained on being a trial attorney, I love observing anything in the courtroom setting. I know that I look forward to any opportunity that awaits in the future.

      Finally, at the end of the week, Bryony and I gave our presentation to the office.  I think that it went really well but I am glad that it is now complete.  The rest of the day, I worked on a couple of smaller projects.  I first searched a NCSC database containing various resolutions of the Conference of Chief Justices. I was looking for a specific resolution that authorized a task force or committee regarding foreign lawyers or international law.  After several hours of searching and reading the name and description of every CCJ resolution created, I was unfortunately unable to find the sought-after information.  I sent my results (or lack thereof) to the assigned staff member and moved onto my next project.  This next project involved researching several US-centered statistics institutes as well as one French institute.  This research was for an upcoming project in Morocco where the project director wanted to set up a similar institute or observatory but wanted to look at some models from across the world first.  I started with the U.S. Bureau of Judicial Statistics (BJS) after some time combing over the website and its policy documents began to compile all of the necessary information.  By this time, the work day had wrapped up and I headed back home.  I headed back to Williamsburg one last time before the end of my Internship to meet up with some friends and look after my cats since the sitter was not available this weekend.  Not the most exciting weekend but what are you going to do?