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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Intern Spotlight: Whitney Magnuson

December 12, 2014

Whitney Magnuson is one of NCVLI’s Legal Externs for the Fall of 2014 and is in her third year at Lewis & Clark School of Law.  She told us a little about her experience as an intern at NCVLI.

What did you know about victims’ rights before working at NCVLI?

I took Professor Beloof’s Crime Victims Seminar last spring, so I was familiar with the fundamentals of victims’ rights before externing at NCVLI, and curious as to how the burgeoning area of law was developing on a practical level. Working at NCVLI helped supplement my knowledge with hands-on experience.  

What have you learned while working at NCVLI?

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to complete quite a few interesting research and writing projects along with more run-of-the-mill tasks like drafting case summaries and preparing sample pleadings. Specifically, I completed assignments involving the importance of redacting victims’ personal information from electronically accessible court records, the permissibility of involuntarily administering anti-psychotics to otherwise incapacitated defendants, and the controversy of using diversion programs in domestic violence cases - among many other interesting topics!

What did you do while working at NCVLI?

Beyond the aforementioned research and writing assignments, which included drafting letters to judges, memos, and pleadings, I conducted intakes, which involved contacting victims and/or victim advocates about their legal issues and formulating appropriate responses. I was also able to attend staff meetings and participate in the webinars hosted by NCVLI.

How has working at NCVLI impacted you?

I came to NCVLI in part to explore the advantages and disadvantages of working in the nonprofit world. The conversations I had with the NCVLI attorneys about their career choices and working in the private versus public sectors provided a great deal of food-for-thought. Ultimately, the relationships established and conversations enabled by my semester-long externship were the greatest benefit of my time with the organization.

What did you like most about working at NCVLI?

I loved working in a laid-back and close-knit office environment with people who were so passionate about their occupation. The attorneys at NCVLI are top-notch. They have high standards, but are simultaneously very encouraging, patient and friendly. Those factors made it easy to look forward to going to “work” for the day.

Was there anything you didn’t like about working at NCVLI?

Because recourse for victims has been established both constitutionally and statutorily, and many of the rights afforded victims are (or at least seem) very clear,  I was surprised by the unnecessary hurdles created by judges and prosecutors in the pursuance of victims’ rights. Consequently, it often felt like we had to reinvent the wheel. The resistance from the legal community is seemingly due in large part to confusion, misapprehension, and misunderstanding about the role of victims in the criminal justice system, which was at times frustrating.