Junior criminology major and pre-law studies minor Alex Zimmer is a legal intern at the state attorney’s office at the courthouse in Bartow, Florida.
Zimmer interns in the special projects unit of the state attorney’s office and works with many “odds and ends” cases. Her daily duties include legal research, trial preparations and going to court to observe hearings and trials. She finds cases that support the argument she wants to make in court to convince the judge to rule in her team’s favor.
She said she has to sign a lot of contracts for confidentiality and do a lot of training before going in and doing security clearance. Zimmer looks forward to any opportunity to go to court and watch trials.
“I’ve matured a lot doing it [the internship] because it’s a lot of really serious work, and we’re held to pretty high standards,” Zimmer said. “It’s people’s real lives that are affected so I kind of ‘grew up’ because I realized that these are real people and it’s not just a job.”
Majority of the cases Zimmer works with deal with children in some way. She said finds it fulfilling to know that she is helping these children who have been exploited and by no fault of their own, even if it is in a small way by being an intern. For Zimmer, helping to bring justice in any way is the reason she enjoys about her internship.
The most difficult part of the internship for Zimmer has been seeing children being involved in trial cases because of decisions adults made.
“They [the children] are innocent in the purest sense of the word,” Zimmer said. “There is nothing that they could have done that could have possibly brought that situation on them.”
Zimmer said she felt that she made the biggest impact on a case that involved a man who was sentenced to prison for traveling to meet a minor with criminal intent. He wanted to get his sentence mitigated (release before planned time) because he had a medical condition.
Zimmer wrote a memo and did research to argue why he should remain in prison and the attorney she works with gave it to the judge who ruled in their favor.
Zimmer is considering attending law school after graduation and is looking into a job in the field she is interning in as well as pursuing a career in law enforcement.