Far and wide: Three spif-fy summers

This year, Summer Public Interest Funding enabled HLS students to explore public service in 27 states and 35 countries around the world. More than $1.8 million Summer Public Interest Funding was awarded to 373 students this summer. Here’s a look at what four students did with their summer funding:

Anna Fecker and Michael Admirand
Law Office of Rob McDuff
Jackson, Miss.

 							 					Michael Admirand ’10 and Anna Fecker ’10 spent their summer on death row in Mississippi and wandering through backwoods towns of the Delta. The 2Ls worked with Rob McDuff ’80, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney in Jackson. They interviewed clients and clients’ families, and researched and drafted memos in preparation for trials. So many of their clients, says Admirand, “were cursed with poor lawyering at the beginning of their trial.” After reviewing cases that had gone before the Mississippi Supreme Court, they discovered a potentially meritorious appeal issue and drafted a cert petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fecker: “The number one thing that [this experience] showed me is the absolute importance that everyone in the criminal justice system have integrity about their role. And that extends from the prosecutor to the judge to the defense attorney. When any one of those players is not given the resources and is not working with the best interest of the community and of the victim and of the defendant in mind, then there are so many possibilities for failure. … I think that the system must be fair for the entire system to work —especially in the extremes, when there’s a possibility for the death penalty on the table.”

Admirand: “For me, it’s just a really transformative experience to go to death row and to see these clients, to talk with them and put faces and stories to what’s going on in the Mississippi justice system. … [This experience] has confirmed and enhanced everything I’ve wanted to do.”

Hagan Scotten
Department of Justice
National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section
Washington, D.C.

Before coming to HLS, Hagan Scotten ’10 spent nine years in the U.S. Army and served three tours in Iraq as a Special Forces officer. During his service, he worked with the Iraqi National Counterterrorism Force to investigate and pursue insurgent leaders. This past summer, he worked on counterterrorism issues as a legal intern for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

“It was useful to have been an officer in the Army and, in particular, Special Forces officer coming here. I did some work that touched fairly close on things I had done over there, and that was useful, literally, from the point of view of recognizing names and places and understanding the dynamics of some of the bad guy groups in Iraq. … I’m researching an area of law where there just doesn’t seem to be much law. You can sort of understand how in some areas, the law is very well-developed and very complex, and so to figure that out, you need to get all the nuances right. But there are the alternate areas where it’s an issue that just isn’t often addressed. And that’s proving to be a more interesting challenge, but sort of a very different type of just digging and digging and digging and not finding anything. You don’t want to say there’s nothing there when there is something there. So it’s like proving a negative. … There are a couple of guys I’m working with here who are working on things like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the protection of classified information. There isn’t anybody who knows more about the Classified Information Protection Act than a couple of the attorneys here I got a chance to work with, and that was neat.”

Madison Kitchens
Institute for Justice
Washington, D.C.

A libertarian, Madison Kitchens ’10 became active in conservative political organizations as a Duke undergraduate. This summer, he worked at the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties firm, on one case dealing with free speech and another focused on eminent domain issues.

“In Swift v. Clarksville Property Rights Coalition, we are representing a group of private property rights advocates in Tennessee who were sued by a city councilman and developer for libel. The suit stems from an advertisement the group placed in the local newspaper that criticized a redevelopment plan for using eminent domain and abusing the power of government to benefit private developers. It’s been a rewarding experience to help vindicate the rights of concerned citizens in the face of those who seek to silence their political speech via retaliatory lawsuits aimed at intimidation. … From the very beginning of this clerkship, I was able to craft the direction of a lot of the litigation, to bounce ideas off the attorneys who were really open to hearing a new and fresh perspective on matters. So the hands-on experience has certainly been a welcome treat here. And I’ve been able to participate in a broad swath of legal issues, anything from the larger scope of law, whether it be defamation law or eminent domain law, to very complex civil procedures.”