This summer I had the privilege of interning for Bucks County (PA) District Attorney Matt Weintraub. While gaining a more nuanced understanding of law enforcement and legal operations, it was also a valuable opportunity to connect with my local community and better understand its strengths and areas of difficulty.
As a political swing state, Pennsylvania has many public offices that, sadly, have become tainted by the brand of ugly, divisive politics that has infected countless elected bodies throughout the United States. D.A Weintraub, though, has defied this trend through a combination of his integrity and ethics, deep experience and expertise, and a dedication to his mission that transcends politics. In addition to witnessing his sincere and effective ability firsthand this summer myself, it has garnered national recognition—he was recently distinguished as “One of the Five Best Prosecutors in the U.S” by the Manhattan Institute. As a head of Groton’s Young Republicans, I hope to emulate Mr. Weintraub’s thoughtful and people-centric approach to leadership and public service.
Housed in a sprawling, red-brick legal complex that rests in the heart of Doylestown (our county seat), the DA’s office oversees three primary areas of law enforcement: criminal prosecution, crime prevention, and victim protection. Through my various duties as an intern, I was able to experience all three and understand their respective significance within the justice system.
Most of my earlier tasks centered around legal paperwork and filing, and I quickly became proficient with tedious processes such as filing bench warrants. Soon though, I was able to sit in courtrooms and watch trials play out—an experience that I found deeply moving and thought-provoking. While DUIs dominated as the most common type of case I watched, I also heard those with heavier charges including violence, narcotics, and sexual assault. This gave me greater insight into specific problems affecting Bucks County, like the opioid epidemic and gun violence.
Watching the lawyers’ oral arguments was an especially interesting aspect of my time in courtrooms. Although of the same profession, there seemed to almost be different species within—while some could be hardline and aggressive, others took a pathos-based approach to appeal to the judge and/or jury’s emotions. Either way, all of the attorneys invested a great deal of time and effort into constructing arguments that framed the case in their direction (and I watched numerous times how a side’s entire, carefully built legal strategy could fall apart in seconds with a single misstatement).
The judges themselves were equally, if not more, interesting than the lawyers. Prior to my internship, I had envisioned them to be somber, icy, and intimidating, donned in their midnight black robes—a prediction that was heavily influenced by their sanctimonious television and film portrayals. Yet what I experienced was entirely different (save for the robes): While they all recognized the gravity of their position, they all expressed a genuine desire to understand both sides of the case and reach the most appropriate solution. They were fair, well-versed, and also understood the community. I can also recall a few times when they made the courtroom crack up with a witty comment or two! At a time when distrust against our judicial system is growing, it was heartening to see the judges’ steadfast commitment to the rule of law.
Thank you to the Bucks County DA’s Office for a wonderful summer!