JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – So you're fresh out of law school, you get hired as an assistant state attorney (ASA) and after just six months on the job, one of your first big tasks is to prepare a mock trial opening statement that your boss is going to judge.
Surely there were some butterflies inside the historic courtroom at the State Attorney's Office in Downtown Jacksonville on Friday as a group of ASAs took part in the annual competition. The case that they used to prepare their opening statements was an actual homicide case.
No added pressure there.
In the end, Sabrina Marcos was the winner, among the group of about a dozen newly hired ASAs who make up the hiring class of 2018.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson served as one of three senior leadership judges for this competition. After it was over, Nelson offered advice and ways the group could improve.
All of the new ASAs participate in the "Young Prosecutor Intensive," which is a three week program that provides hands-on training, covering all aspects of prosecution.
There are other ways the State Attorney's Office helps its 'newbies' hone their skills, including a jury selection round robin, and a cross-examination clinic.
For the jury selection round robin, half of the new ASAs will play the part of jurors while their peers conduct the jury selection process.
For the cross examination clinic, the advocates have the opportunity to cross examine Chief Assistant Leh Hutton, who plays the role of the defendant.