Second Chances at a Fair Trial
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This summer I worked at the Law Offices of Cliff Gardner, a private law firm assisting mostly death penalty inmates with direct appeals and habeas corpus petitions. As part of my internship, I was able to assist attorneys with legal research, record review, and sit in on meetings to discuss issues with case records and strategies for upcoming cases. I was also able to visit San Francisco’s San Quentin Penitentiary and go to death row to visit with a client. Through this internship I was able to network with interns and attorneys at events with several other organizations such as the California Appellate Project, the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, and the Office of the State Public Defender. The law office I worked in, as well as these other organizations, are dedicated to helping people in prison and on death row to make sure they were tried fairly in California. Many of these people were tried unfairly the first time and have been marginalized and ignored by the state of California. In addition, many of the clients these organizations help have little to no funds to pay their legal fees which means some cases are taken pro bono or are not taken and these clients are left on death row until these organizations have the funds to take their case. While working at this law firm, I had the incredible opportunity of meeting many of the people fighting injustice in the criminal justice system in California and was able to really understand the importance of what it means to have a fair trial in this country. I have always known that I want to go into law in the future but this internship helped me to form a goal of going into criminal justice reform.