March 7, 2011
The six McGeorge students working for the U.S. Attorney's Office Misdemeanor Unit this academic year are racking up impressive victories in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, which have been drawing media attention.
The latest victory for the students came in a four-day jury trial conducted by Catherine Chyi and Bob Sweetin that ended on March 3, 2011, with a guilty verdict on four counts against a man who cut down more than 35 trees in the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge and poured gravel on the land. Several newspapers and radio-TV outlets reported on the case.
In February, Heather Thomas helped convict a woman who collected her dead mother's Social Security benefits. Last year, Mike Wheable handled a similar several case, in addition to winning conviction of a man who used a fake Purple Heart to claim veteran's status and receive free health benefits. Matt De Moura and Wheable recently won a two-day jury trial against a woman who was convicted of assaulting a mail carrier, swiping some mail and rifling through it to look for her mother's unemployment check.
The third-year students work 20 hours a week on the 11th floor of the Robert T. Matsui U.S. Courthouse in the downtown Sacramento.
"As a certified law student, I get to prosecute misdemeanors on behalf of the federal government and make regular courtroom appearances before magistrate judges including arraignments, suppression hearings, evidentiary hearings, and trials," Colin Scott said. "Not many other jobs in law school offer you that kind of experience."
"Our office has been very impressed with the abilities and commitment of the McGeorge students that participate in the program," supervising assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Stegman said. "These misdemeanor prosecutors ably handle all aspects of their cases, from filing of charges to trials and sentencings. They even handle their own appeals to the district courts. And they are extremely professional."