My Spring Internship at D.C. Witness

As my internship is coming to an end I realize that I have learned a lot about the court system, become a better writer and feel more prepared to potentially be a witness in court if my future job required it of me. 

I also realized how long and drawn out court cases are and very inefficient. This was all made worse due to the pandemic and limited access to courtrooms. It is disheartening to see defendants held in jail for years before they have had a trial. Seems counterintuitive to the right to a speedy trial. 

Overall the court cases and the data retrieval I worked on for firearms and number of homicides was very interesting and informative. Learning the legal lingo, steps involved in a criminal process from the presentments, preliminary hearings and various status hearings, submitting a guilty plea and sentencing and just generally how the various parties interact with each other. Attending court was very enlightening and I did not realize the plethora of information available to the public regarding criminal proceedings.

Regarding the more administrative aspects of the internship, I had some difficulty with getting my assignments either at all or on time. There were a few mishaps where I wasn’t included on the assignment emails or I was not given an assignment at all. In these instances I reached out to the scheduler to correct the error.  At times this did create frustration on my part because it made planning my day difficult. But beyond these few issues I felt very supported by the team and able to communicate freely. Krystin Roehl, specifically was very professional, succinct and clear with her instructions and when I made errors she walked me through the issues and I learned from her feedback.

I would definitely recommend this internship to other people interested in the court system, journalism and/or policy change. 

Alaina Provenza was a D.C. Witness intern in the Spring of 2021.