Lange (l) got courtroom experience alongside Assistant DA Brandy Davidson (center) and Defense Attorney Karli Kennell (r).
“I didn’t realize what it takes to get a case to court and what goes on behind the scenes,” said Lange. “You have to be very professional. You have to know what you are going to be talking about, and you have to be polite and courteous to everyone.”
Lange was immersed in the day-to-day duties of a district attorney’s office during his Summer internship in Austin County, writing letters to defendants, victims, attorneys and judges; reviewing case files; and filing judgments in court cases. In his spare time, he got to sit in court watching felony and misdemeanor cases, and he will get to witness other steps in the criminal justice process, whether riding with police, helping out with a shift at the jail, or visiting the local probation office.
Lange (l) got real life lessons from Austin County DA Travis J. Koehn (center) and Defense Attorney Calvin Garvie (r).“It’s a valuable experience in any profession, whether you become a lawyer, a paralegal or a victim services coordinator,” said Austin County District Attorney Travis J. Koehn. “No matter what kind of career you choose, you have the opportunity to grow. You don’t necessarily learn as much in law school or in college as you do the real world. It allows you to network and to see if this is what you really want to do.”
Austin County is a small Texas county of about 28,000 people and is located adjacent to the Houston metropolitan area. The district attorney’s office handles about 200 felony indictments and about 750 misdemeanor cases each year with its staff of three attorneys. The offenses include anything from misdemeanor marijuana possession all the way up to capital murder.
Lange has gotten to sit in on a misdemeanor assault trial and other capital murder court hearings to watch how lawyers operate. In the process, he has learned you have to communicate with all kinds of people.
Intern Logan Lane (l)confers with Legal Assistants Iris Cheshire (center) and SHSU Alumna Kasey Wickel ('07) in an Austin County courtroom.
You have to learn to communicate with others, not just the people in the office,” said Lange. “You have to be able to talk to defendants, police officers, lawyers and judges.”
He also is becoming familiar with the legal documents used in the office.
“He’s doing a lot of paralegal work, and he is doing a good job at it,” said Koehn.
Assistant District Attorney Brandy Davidson said internships provide a glimpse of the many job opportunities available in the legal field.
“After interning at the DA’s Office, you may want to go out and be a prosecutor,” said Davidson. “It will give you a real taste one way or another if that’s what you want to do. Maybe you will go into a different type of law. It is an opportunity to see if it’s what you want.”
Lange hopes to attend law school following graduation.The Austin County District Attorney’s Office is one of more than 200 internships offered at the College of Criminal Justice. Students work full-time for a semester and can earn nine credits toward their degree. It also provides the experience needed to get a foot in the door for their first job after graduation.
Lange said he would recommend internships to students. “It’s a good building block,” he said.
Lange said he has learned a lot from his studies at the College as well as employees at the Austin County District Attorney’s Office.
“Sam Houston State University has a wide variety of instructors with diverse backgrounds,” said Lange. “I have taken classes from other District Attorneys…They all taught me something.”