GCIP Intern Spotlight

 
                            
 
During the summer of 2023, the Troup County State Court Public Defender's Office welcomed two interns for a hands-on experience in the county's legal system. Tayah Buchannon and Xavier Maddox worked alongside Troup County Public Defender Katie Rose Martin to assist with the representation and defense of clients in the state court and magistrate court.
 
Before the internship, Buchannon graduated from Jacksonville State University with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Prior to pursuing post-graduate studies in either law or homeland security, Buchannon's participation in the GCIP with Troup County gave her firsthand legal experience outside the classroom. For Howard University junior Maddox, the internship was an early opportunity to work in the legal field while pursuing a major in political science. Buchannon and Maddox completed their internships separately, allowing them to work one-on-one with the public defender and independently with staff.
 
                  
 
The main responsibility of the internship was assisting attorneys with the representation and defense of clients. The students handled a variety of cases under the purview of the state and magistrate courts, such as misdemeanors, traffic cases, county ordinance violations, and cases involving low-income individuals. Both students worked independently to prepare case files for court, ensuring correct and complete information for the attorneys. Maddox and Buchannon agreed that preparing case files was one of the most significant successes of their respective internships. "Preparing case files was the most significant because it gave me the chance to see what actually goes into a case," Maddox noted.
 
In addition to prepping case files and other court materials, the interns received training in legal research. Since both Maddox and Buchannon are considering a future law career, their early practice with legal research in Troup County will help establish the foundation of their legal knowledge. The interns also worked with the public defender to conduct client meetings in the county office and at the jail. Additionally, they managed cases and supplemental records in online databases.
 
RiverHowever, behind-the-scenes case preparation and research were not where the intern's work ended. Maddox and Buchannon both had the opportunity to observe courtroom action, attending court alongside the public defender and witnessing proceedings such as plea agreements. "My favorite part was being in the courtroom and seeing how it operates," Maddox said.
 
Before their internships, Buchannon and Maddox had a limited understanding of county operations, though they concluded their time with a deeper understanding and appreciation for local government. Summarizing what she learned about county government from the internship, Buchannon said that county government "serves the county by enforcing the law and recording public documents…county government plays a vital role for local citizens." Both students are planning for a law career and said they would consider future jobs with counties. "This internship sparked my interest in becoming a public defender to help those who may be underrepresented," Maddox reflected. Through their participation in the GCIP, not only did Maddox and Buchannon develop their legal skills, but they also developed new interests for a career in county government.

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