SHERIDAN — Curious to learn more after earning a championship win with Sheridan High School’s We the People team, Liam Brown reached out to Judge Shelley Cundiff asking for an internship. After a summer of seeing the guts and glory of the judicial system, Brown went back to complete a year-long internship through Sheridan High School.
Brown’s We the People unit researched both national and international judicial systems. Brown wanted to learn more and gain real-world exposure in hopes of securing his thoughts about possibly going into law.
The internship started casually last summer. Brown came into circuit court and helped the clerks create and organize files, and he sat in during court hearings.
With the start of the school year, Brown made the internship official through the school’s established internship program. SHS internship coordinator Heidi Richins helps connect students with community partners. Most students, Brown said, intern at Sheridan Memorial Hospital because it’s an already-established partnership. He’s the first one in the program to intern with the judicial system.
“A lot of that credit goes to Liam,” Richins said. “He was well prepared; he presented himself very well, very well spoken, and he was willing to actually knock on the door so he could talk to Judge Cundiff and say, ‘Are you willing?’ It speaks highly of him.”
Seeing the defendants attending trial changed Brown’s perspective about the system. He realized no person attending court is “the classic, stone-cold criminal.”
“From an outside perspective, it’s pretty easy to judge them,” Brown said.
“It’s really interesting when you actually hear their testimony; everyone has a story and you can really empathize with almost everybody who comes through here.”
His chats with judges, attorneys and clerks after trials and hearings proved most beneficial for him in learning about the judicial system.
“I really get a very thorough perspective on (the judicial system),” Brown said.
Brown appreciates the holistic view he receives by participating in each step in the judicial process, from filing to sentencing.
“Learning about the background of the case is really interesting,” Brown said. “When you’re watching it go on real-time, you don’t know what’s all behind it. Talking to Judge Cundiff illuminates a lot of things.”
At the end of it all, the paperwork and busy schedules add uncertainty to Brown’s future endeavors. Still, he appreciates the process.
“A very small part of it is being in court and arguing for your client,” Brown said. “But I still think it’s really interesting and it’s valuable for the community.”
Regardless of career path, the high school senior gained valuable insights into one of the nation’s branches of government.