Post 1: Legal Life Against Crimes in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office-SIU-AFU

The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office (MDAO) serves the largest county in New England. It prosecutes more than 39,000 cases a year divided among 12 district courts, 4 juvenile courts, and 2 superior courts across 54 diverse cities and towns. Its core mission is to protect and serve the people who work, live and raise their families in Middlesex County. Interns work directly with Assistant District Attorneys, Victim Witness Advocates, Paralegals and others to pursue this mission through exhaustive investigations, unassailable prosecutions and compassionate victim advocacy.

MDAO can be generally divided into five units: Appeals & Training Bureau, Child Protection Unit, Elder & Disabled Unit, Homicide & Unsolved, and Special Investigations Unit. I was assigned to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU)-Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU). This unit deals with asset forfeiture, which is a powerful tool used by the Commonwealth against criminals and criminal organizations to seize their ill-gotten gains or their assets connected to criminal activities. AFU is a part of SIU, which investigates and prosecutes organized crime such as public integrity, corruption, cybercrimes, and drug trafficking.

My major tasks for the summer are to: (1) Draft legal writings such as complaints, motions to dismiss, motions for default judgment, oppositions to motion to vacate, and draft and respond to discovery requests; (2) Reconcile/audit data through DA’s office files, MDAO’s data management system, and Mass Trial Court Website; (3) Conduct research, draft and update 50-state-survey on asset forfeiture; (4) Assist trial attorneys with casefile storage, trial preparation, and general administrative support; (5) Request, track and update receipt of case-related documents; and (6) Review reports and evidence, i.e. 911 calls, turret tapes, video recordings, and jail calls.

Sometimes, other units in the DA’s office would “borrow” me for other projects, such as jail call monitoring and translation. In addition, as a non-legal intern, I have also done two mock trials for legal interns, one time as a witness and the other as a juror. What’s more is that all the interns in the office, no matter legal interns or non-legal interns, will receive training on a regular base. So far, I have received training in Asset Forfeiture, Victim-Witness Advocacy, Children’s Protection, Juvenile Prosecution, Reflections on Policing, and Appeals Court Training in selecting cases, drafting and finalizing opinions, and selecting judicial clerks.

Among all of what I do, my favorite part so far is to do forfeiture intakes. Each intake includes a police report, and each report contains the narrative of the story. It is interesting to read those stories (a large portion of them are of drug dealers), some exciting and some terrifying. I am shocked by what people have done and what people could do when I see the list of the crimes they committed based on the defendants’ criminal history. I feel sad and heartbroken when I see stories such as child abuse. However, I know my sad feelings will not stop or prevent these things from happening. All I can do is keep doing what I am doing, including but not limited to what’s listed above.  I believe that every single step matters in serving better justice.

-Carrie Sheng ’20

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