Susan Zuiderveen is a third-year Cooley student serving on an externship. This is the fifth post in Susan’s series.
I just finished observing my first murder trial. I was very excited and looking forward to seeing the trial and learning everything I could. I expected to fill my notebook with all the things I didn’t know or things to research. I did take notes on the great questions asked and the different styles I observed from the two attorneys. But the most exciting thing I took away was that I already know how to do so much of what I observed in the trial.
The trial was complicated with many players involved and many witnesses called to testify. When there were witnesses that didn’t remember details from six months ago, the prosecutor when through the process of refreshing their memory. It was the exact process I learned and practiced in my trial skills class.
There were also several pieces of evidence that were admitted in this trial. I watched intently as the attorneys laid the foundation for each piece and admitted them as evidence for the jury to consider. Again, both parts of a trial I have practiced repeatedly in my trial skills class. Even when I watched the attorneys move the podium to face the jury during their opening and closing arguments and then move it back when a witness was testifying, I wrote down “attorneys moved the podium like I learned in class.”
I went into the trial expecting to write down everything I didn’t know. But instead, I walked out at the end with the confidence that I already know how to do so many aspects of a trial, even a complicated murder trial. I encourage everyone to sit in a courtroom and watch trials you may be interested in. You will be amazed at how much you have learned and how confident and well prepared you will feel!