My Summer Work Experience at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Victim Impact Program

09-19-17

By Johnanthony Alaimo, 3L

Johnanthony Alaimo, 3L

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to clerk at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in Compton. There, I worked with the Victim Impact Program, which is designed to prosecute felonies whose victims are especially vulnerable, such as the elderly, children, and those suffering from domestic abuse.

Since I was young, I’ve had a sense of civic duty. I’m a first-generation American; my parents and grandparents emigrated to the United States in the 1960s to escape the problems facing post-war Italy. They started a new life in Brooklyn, New York and came to love their community. I went to college and ultimately UCI Law to pursue a career in public service and in turn contribute to my community. I feel that community should be about embracing one another, and that nobody should have to feel victimized in their own home.

I was excited when I started in Compton in January 2017 despite entering with almost no court experience, let alone criminal experience. However, I was lucky to have an extremely supportive office that is insistent on giving its law clerks an outstanding, complete, inspiring experience. By clerking at the Los Angeles County DA’s office, the largest prosecutorial office in the nation, you jump right into the thick of things. You are immediately assigned memos, motions, and, if certified, you’re given the chance to prepare and conduct your own felony preliminary hearings. I had never encountered a lot of the work I received - 995s, Serna, joinder - these were all foreign concepts to me. But my co-workers always made me feel welcome to ask any questions, and I was able sharpen my legal research skills and have a certifiable, impactful work product. I also developed strong professional relationships; I still work closely with my former supervisor.

One of the most exciting assignments was arguing a 995 motion, which is a defense motion that moves to dismiss all charges because the judge at the preliminary hearing did not have any facts to support the defendant to be held to answer. The judge went so far to compliment me in court, telling me that my motion was very well written, which was incredible to hear. After the argument, which we won, my supervising attorney told me I had done great – and that I had a “natural talent” in arguing. Arguing this motion was an incredible confidence boost – I have felt in the past as though I struggled with public speaking – but successfully arguing a motion and being complimented by a judge and my supervisor was inspiring.

Overall, clerking at the district attorney’s office was an incredibly rewarding experience. It afforded me practical skills necessary to be successful, and reinforced in me the desire to pursue this area of the law.