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Domestic Exchange 1

Domestic Exchange Student Reflections

Autumn James - American University

Autumn James at the CapitolSince my last blog, our class has spoken to more attorneys, individuals in the fields of law and corrections, and even visited the United States Supreme Court. One of our major class discussions has been centered around the death penalty. In fact, our professor has set up a moot court competition in the upcoming weeks on a fictitious capitol case. In preparation for this competition, we have reviewed and studied precedents set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States. I have always been interested in moot court and its difference from mock trial, so I look forward to seeing the outcome of our competition.

Another aspect of the seminar I look forward to, regarding the death penalty, is our upcoming conversation with a former death row inmate. The individual is an African-American male who turned out to be innocent. I am passionate about exposing and correcting the errors within our criminal legal system so this should be an informative conversation.

We have had the pleasure of talking to two individuals involved in politics who were incarcerated for an extended period of time. Listening to their very unique experiences and their new perspectives on not only life, but the criminal justice system has been fascinating. It is not every day that you are able to openly speak to people who were incarcerated for crimes they committed in the capacity of their political careers.

Since all the students in our class—even the two individuals from other countries—want to attend law school in the coming years, our professor decided to hold a class that mimicked a law school class. In short, we were given time to complete a case brief prior to class. During the lecture, the professor asked a series of questions that tested our knowledge and understanding of the case. This style of randomly calling on students to question them about a particular case is known as the Socratic method. It was not until the following class that he gave feedback, which was mostly positive.

As the semester comes to an end, I am able to appreciate my overall experience in the Washington Semester Program. This program is so unique to me because it allows its participants to obtain firsthand experience in their desired fields. For me, working at a small law firm has been nothing short of rewarding.

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