Thursday, February 11, 2010

Orientation Day 2

As always, you can see more pictures at the group's flickr site.

The second day of orientation, we met at 12:45 inside the Supreme Court. Myself, Jenny, Carlos, and Angela got there a little early and apparently the court was still in session and the Great Hall was closed off, so we had to go in through the side handicapped accessible entrance and didn't get to go up the steps that you see in all the movies. We were then escorted to one of the conference rooms by a member of the Supreme Court's police force. We waited there to meet with Elizabeth Papez, a law clerk for Clarence Thomas. She came with a couple of her colleagues and we talked about the types of cases that come before The Supreme Court and the thought process that goes into making the decisions.

We then got a tour of the building by the Curator of the Supreme Court. She showed us the courtroom where they argue cases. It was surprisingly small and the lawyers stand very close to the the justices. The curator gave us a rundown of what all the pictures meant and details such as where the President sits when he visits, and the seats that are designated for guests of the Justices. After that we went to the the Meeting Room for the Supreme Court. In the past it used to be used for meetings with the Justices, but recently it is just used for press conferences, photo ops, and meetings for outside groups. Our last stop was the chambers of Justice Clarence Thomas. It was cool to see go behind the scenes of the Supreme Court and see where the Justices work. We saw that his office was decorated with various college football paraphernalia. Before leaving we got a picture on those famous steps which you can see above.

I was surprised that you don't need a pass or anything to get into a Supreme Court case, instead you just have to be one of the first people in line. For the big cases some people camp out the night before, but for others you can just show up at about 8:30am (They start hearing cases at 9 am).

We then had a little break, a couple of us went to a little deli near the Capitol and Supreme Court to grab a late lunch before we headed back to the CMC office for a "Panel on professionalism and working in Washington."

Giving the presentation were Vanessa Carter and Nick Piatek who were both on the program in the Spring of 2006. Joel Malina from Wexler and Walker was also there. Although Joel didn't go to CMC, he has supervised a Washington Program participant every semester for the last 9 or so years. This semester Meredith is working there. The panel told us what to expect as an intern. We are indeed at the bottom of the totem pole. We were told good strategies for making sure we did substantive work while we were at the office. We were also told the proper way to interact with our bosses. We were also given tips on how to handle our internships along with our classes. It was good to get the perspective of both program alumni and bosses of people who have been on the program.

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