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GIVING BACK

April Pitzen, 2013 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award, interned at the WI State Public Defender - Investigation.

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the Office of the State Public Defender in Madison. Public defenders provide counsel for indigent clients (both juvenile and adults) who are in need of legal representation for a variety of offenses.

My role as an investigative intern meant that I was primarily responsible for gathering information to assist the attorneys with their cases. To do this, I would begin each case by reading through all of the police reports, which allowed me to familiarize myself with the incident. Next, I would try to verify the information and statements listed in the police reports by interviewing the victims and witnesses, and occasionally, the client. This often proved to be rather difficult because in order to interview people, I would have to locate them first, and I quickly found that the contact information provided in police reports is often outdated and no longer correct.

After each interview, I would compile my notes into a formal investigation report, which the attorney would then use to supplement his or her case. I was also responsible for acquiring additional information requested by the attorney, such as 911 audio recordings, police photographs, and police contact sheets. I also had the chance to draft and serve multiple subpoenas, as well as sit in on the court proceedings for cases that I worked on.

Towards the end of my internship, I was given the opportunity to tour other agencies, including Mendota Mental Health Institute and Waupun Correctional Institute. These experiences enabled me to immerse myself in the criminal justice system and helped to confirm my belief that this is the correct field for me.

This internship at the Office of the State Public Defender has provided me with an incredible amount of knowledge and has helped me develop many skills that I'm positive will transfer to any career that I may have in the future, and for that, I am so grateful.

Lastly, I would like to thank the family of Audrey J. Harris for supporting my summer internship experience and helping alleviate the financial costs that come with attaining a higher education. I look forward to giving back to the community through my future contributions in the field.