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Kings County Courts internship program will lead to better lawyering

Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister

July 30, 2018 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Deborah Dowling. Photo courtesy of Kings County Courts
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Students Join Profession at Time of Historic Legal Tumult

It’s generally assumed that a judge’s best work is performed when wielding the gavel or formulating an opinion in a challenging case.

But these are extremely different times for the legal profession and the law, and judges have an ongoing duty to protect the rule of law, which is under lethal assault.

One way to protect the law is to share its wisdom with those who would be judges, lawyers or enlightened laypeople.

It’s important to note that some leaders in Brooklyn have managed to go far beyond their usual activities in this regard — for example, those who are behind our own Kings County Courts Student Employment and Internship Program. It is a vital “nuts and bolts” program that was founded back in 1989 by the late Izetta Johnson.

This internship program defies current trends that aim to undervalue legal research and lawyering by pushing that big red “easy” button. Technology is a gift in so many ways, but it takes away the opportunity to physically see and feel a new case.  

(Many lawyers here will recall the need for a wheeled library carousel to carry a dozen heavy New York reports when they had to shepardize their first case. Today, it’s easy — and much less memorable. Is this good or bad? The jury’s out on this one; at least we hope it is!)

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Justice Wade Inspired Intern to Become Lawyer

A case in point cited for the program’s recent orientation was related by Justice Carolyn Wade. It dealt with Kei Ng, whom she employed as an intern starting in the summer of 2014. Watching and working with Justice Wade, Ng finished college, law school and, after earning his degree, joined Justice Wade’s staff.

Hon. Deborah Dowling, who proudly noted that the program was the only one of its type in the U.S., handled the program and had some choice words for Criminal Court Administrative Justice Matt D’Emic, who is regarded as a premier speaker on the CLE election circuit.

“I know you’ll have a good summer here. You’re here to learn what you like and don’t like. It’s a family and we’re happy to have you with us,” Hon. D’Emic told the assemblage.

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Rule of Law Mandates Politics Be Put Aside

Whether one is Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, all attorneys swear to uphold the law and help contribute to a climate that is supportive of that fabled phrase “and justice for all.”

This writer, for one, thinks that in addition to conspiring with “enemies abroad” there is a calculated agenda underway to virtually destroy the FBI and to eviscerate our entire intelligence apparatus (so do most people in these agencies).

One would hope that when this almost unbelievable crisis is over and wrongdoings are recognized, those in Congress who have stood by to have immigrants referred to as “rapists and murderers” or callously watched as children were ripped from their parents who were sacrificing their freedom to take part in the “American Dream” will be held accountable, hopefully at the polls.

Ideally, an even more severe fate must await those in Congress — particularly U.S. Rep Devin Nunes whose shady, unpatriotic doings have crippled the House Intelligence Committee and served the anti-American agenda of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Young people in their teens like the interns in the Kings County program are seeing as vicious and unconscionable an attack on the rule of law in at least the last 150 years.  That’s why this program — and others like it — plays such a crucial role as this crisis plays out.

Teenagers are enduring the worst examples in memory of this president’s insidious and likely traitorous agenda — on Twitter and elsewhere. Maybe there should also be courses outlining the character and style of men like Dwight Eisenhower, the Bushes and — darn right — Barack Obama.

President Richard Nixon’s famous parting line, uttered to a press corps gathering after losing a California primary election (“You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”), serves to remind us that disqualified presidents bow to public opinion and quit office before their terms expire. But his situation was different. Nixon was patriotic and served in the Navy during World War II. This president’s limited scope views patriots solely as football players.

Meanwhile, we should be thankful for the invaluable contributions of those mentioned above, including, but not limited to, Program Chair Charmaine Johnson, Justice Robin Sheares, and Criminal and Civil Court Clerks Daniel Allesandro and Charles Small, respectively.


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