The decision is unanimous: The San Diego State University Judicial Internship Program will begin next semester.
The internship is open to students of all majors. Each intern will be matched to a San Diego area judge in a one-on-one relationship to learn how the judicial system works day-by-day.
The internship was initially aimed at juniors preparing for law school, but Professor E. Walter Miles said the program will be “worked out as it goes along.”
Miles, political science department chairman and pre-law advisor, heard interest from students at last Wednesday’s informational meeting and encouraged them to apply. He said the rules will be shaped as the program develops.
For example, he said the internship could be as valuable to future journalists as to those interested in a law career.
Judge Norman Epstein, a former general counsel for the California State University system and now a California appellate judge in Los Angeles, pitched the idea for the internship to SDSU President Stephen Weber.
After a luncheon on campus Nov. 21 with Epstein, SDSU staff and several San Diego judges, Weber deemed it a “marvelous idea” and acted for immediate implementation, Miles said.
Paul Strand, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, will administer the program.
“(Strand) wants it to be a university-wide program, not just to students in arts and letters,” Miles said.
Miles said the judicial internship program is reminiscent of the past when judges were more involved in their communities outside of the courtroom, when citizens used to be able to turn to county judges for advice. He said the modern political process limits judges’ involvement in the affairs of the community.
The student internship is one way for interested judges to make a great contribution to society, Miles said.
The judicial internship is unique, Miles said, because the judges are more interested in how they can help students than how the students can help them. Interns are not assigned to clerks or lower help but are considered an apprentice to a judge who will explain his actions in the courtroom to the student. The program is essentially a tutorship.
“You’ll feel like a star because the judge is the star in the courtroom,” Miles said.
Those accepted will enroll in Political Science 499, Special Study, or Political Science 495, Internship in Local Politics. Some students may elect to enroll in both courses simultaneously so as to study with a judge and also with a prosecutor or defender, Lyndelle Fairlie, political science professor, said.
Applications are available at the College of Arts and Letters dean’s office in Storm Hall, Room 135 or at the political science department in Nasatir Hall, Room 127.
Completed applications are due on Wednesday.