By: Elizabeth Hughes ’24
I would like to express a huge amount of gratitude to Francis and Cindy Letro for their generous donation to the University at Buffalo School of Law, which allowed me to receive the 2022 School of Law Public Interest Fellowship. Donors such as the Letros make it possible for students like me to explore and pursue opportunities in public interest. I spent my summer interning at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in the Case Advisory Bureau. As a Long Island native, it was very meaningful to work in the community where I was born and raised.
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to observe many proceedings including arraignments, Dunaway and Huntley hearings, and assault and contempt trials. I learned a great deal observing how the prosecutors prepared for and conducted themselves in court. Further, I had the opportunity to assist with grand jury preparations, conduct a great deal of research on key issues such as probable cause, youthful offender laws, and new investigative techniques to ensure justice keeps pace with the evolution of technology.
Although I was placed in the case advisory bureau, I was afforded the opportunity to learn about all the other bureaus which comprise the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office through sessions led by Assistant District Attorneys from each respective bureau. I was also given the opportunity to tour the Suffolk County Police Department Emergency Services Unit, the Suffolk County Crime Lab, and the Suffolk County Jail. During the last week of the program all of the interns were paired up, and we participated in a mock suppression hearing. This hearing centered around a hypothetical DWI case and included every feature of a real case, including body cam footage. I spent a good deal of time preparing for this hearing and received a lot of help from my assigned mentor. I conducted the hearing in front of my Deputy Bureau Chief, who acted as the judge, and Assistant District Attorneys who acted as my witnesses in an actual courtroom. This hearing provided me with an opportunity to pull together all of my experiences throughout the summer and translate it into a tangible experience. Each one of these unique experiences provided me with a deeper understanding of how the District Attorney’s Office functions, and allowed me to apply many of the skills I learned throughout my first year of law school to practical use in the workplace.
Throughout all the experiences I had this summer, the most meaningful part was the time I spent with the people in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. My fellow interns were all Long Island natives as well, but from different schools and educational backgrounds. Our diverse educational backgrounds allowed us to contribute in meaningful ways and help each other out, while we all connected as Long Island natives. Further, I was surrounded by young, enthusiastic prosecutors who were eager to share their knowledge and experience with us.
I want to thank Francis and Cindy Letro again, and everyone in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office for an incredible summer experience.
Name: Elizabeth Hughes ’24
Name of Fellowship: School of Law Public Interest Fellowship
Placement: Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Location: Hauppauge, NY
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “I was surrounded by young, enthusiastic prosecutors who were eager to share their knowledge and experience with us.”