Internship Spotlight: Judicial Intern at 4th District Court of Appeal

Internship Spotlight: Judicial Intern at 4th District Court of Appeal

For some industrious Cougars, summer vacation is a time to get their feet wet in the working world as interns. As the dog days of summer approach, The College Today will showcase a few of our students’ adventures in various internships across the country.


No man is an island. Everything we do has a greater impact beyond ourselves.

That’s why international business major Jack Dalessio decided to spend his summer working as a judicial intern for the 4th District Court of Appeal, Division One in San Diego, California. With both of his parents working as government attorneys, Dalessio, who is a senior double-minoring in Spanish and economics, wanted to see the intricacies of the legal system for himself.

The College Today caught up with Dalessio to learn more about what it’s like to see the justice system at work, and how this experience is shaping his thoughts on life after he graduates.

Why was an internship with the court system of interest to you?

Law is something I have been exposed to since the day I came into this world, and it is something that is quite challenging. This summer, I really wanted an internship where I would be challenged, and improve my analytical writing ability. The court of appeal seemed like a great opportunity to test myself.

What are the duties of your internship?

I work with a judicial attorney who supervises me and also Justice Patricia Benke, who is responsible for the chambers where I intern. Based on my assignments, I read case records, which are comprised of the reporter’s and clerk’s transcripts and the parties’ briefs. After discussing the issues with my supervisor, I conduct legal research. To do this I have to read both statues and case law, and understand legal precedents. I then write the factual and procedural background of the case and, with the assistance of the research attorney, address, analyze, and resolve – based on the law – the issues in the discussion portion of the case.

What type of legal cases are you involved in as part of your internship?

Our chambers hears and decides both civil and criminal cases. Once a decision is issued by a three-member panel of the court, a party can seek review to the California Supreme Court, which has the discretion to hear the case. My first case involved an assault where the victim and the defendant knew each other and smoked methamphetamine together. My second case involves domestic violence where the defendant threatened to kill his spouse and daughter.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned through this internship?

I did not realize the important role courts of appeal have in our government’s makeup. This internship has confirmed my belief that, while not perfect, our legal system really does work. If somewhere along the line a mistake is made in a trial court, the court of appeal can correct it, ensuring justice is served. It is very important that we, as citizens, believe in our system of justice, and that if someone commits a crime, he or she will be prosecuted subject to due process.

How will this experience shape your goals as you enter your senior year of college?

This internship has really solidified what type of opportunities I will be looking for as I continue on from college. I’m not quite sure the law profession is for me, but there are certain attributes in this profession that I really have enjoyed. I enjoy writing and will look to incorporate that skill somehow into my future profession. Also, it feels really amazing to hopefully make a difference in people’s lives. In this job working with and under Justice Benke, I have had the ability to right wrongs and help make this country’s justice system incrementally better.