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Brooklyn courts continue summer internship tradition

July 5, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On Wednesday, the Kings County Courts kicked off its summer internship program, which stretches back 28 years. Pictured from left: Charmaine Johnson, Hon. Deborah A. Dowling, Hon. Delores Thomas, Hon. Matthew D’Emic, Charles Small, Daniel Alessandrino and Major Michael Losi. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Kings County Courts continued a tradition that goes back 28 years as it kicked off its annual Student Employment and Internship Program with an orientation program at the Supreme Court at 320 Jay St. in Downtown Brooklyn on Wednesday.

“We’re welcoming you into our court family, which really is a family here,” said Justice Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge for the Criminal Term. “I know that you are going to be a very important part of our family. I hope that you have a great experience in the courthouse.”

The summer internship program was started in 1989 by Izetta Johnson. Today, it is continued by Charmaine Johnson and it has grown to include more than 40 local high school and college students who participate in nearly every aspect at the courthouse.

Wednesday’s orientation gave students an opportunity to sign up for different tasks and meet some of the judges, clerks and other court staff as students were welcomed by Justice D’Emic; Hon. Deborah A. Dowling; Hon. Delores Thomas; Daniel Alessandrino, chief clerk for Criminal Matters; Charles Small, chief clerk for Civil Matters; Major Michael Losi; and Alaya Gaddy, life safety director.

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“Make sure you take the time to network, not just with the court staff, but with each other as well,” Alessandrino said. “Here you’ll make friendships that will carry on into college and beyond.”

“Today you begin a process of equipping yourself with two very important tools,” said Small. “This will give you good experience — which is the first thing jobs look for — and second, it will help you to figure out what you want to do in life whether or not that is to continue in the justice system.”

Over the next two months, the students will participate in the day-to-day tasks of the courthouse, but their program is also filled with events like the mock trial and the annual interns versus court officers basketball game. The court officers have never lost that annual game, but Losi admitted that it’s not as easy as they make it look.

“Charmaine told you that we usually win the basketball game, but she doesn’t tell you that it takes us a week to recover,” Losi said.

One by one, everyone involved introduced themselves and offered words of advice. Justice Deborah Dowling spoke about how valuable the experience will be and how much they’ll learn, but stressed that it is important for the students to try to enjoy themselves as well. Justice Thomas said that it is important for the students to learn to think critically.

We want you to have an enjoyable experience and we want you get the most you can out of this,” Dowling said. “Get in and do everything that you can, learn, but also enjoy it.”

“I’ve been in the system for over 20 years and I think this internship gets better with each passing year,” Thomas said. “I’m really pleased to see so many diverse students that represent the fabric of New York.”


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