Ethan McCullough ’21

Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, New York, NY

Like many others, my summer internship pivoted to online because of Covid-19. Originally, I planned to work in the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in New York, which is a subsect of the New York City Districts Attorney’s Office that focuses on major narcotics crime. Due to the pandemic and the lack of active court cases, the internship moved to a remote model and acted almost as a class focusing on criminal law, trial practice, and narcotics law specific to New York. While many ADAs helped, the internship was led by Phil Gary who is the head of legal training for the office. He was tremendously attentive and dedicated during the internship and I owe him my thanks.

We were assigned lengthy readings from our criminal law books and then discussed different legal philosophies at our daily ‘classes.’ After the crash course in legal training, we began to learn about the specifics of narcotics crimes in New York City and how the office investigates and prosecutes them. Various ADAs presented on topics like heroin mills, pill mills, gun crime, and cocaine packaging. We also learned about alternative incarceration programs, trial practices, and how to draft various legal documents. However, my favorite lecture was given by the head of gang prosecution in New York, Nigel Farinha. Nigel talked to us about his prosecution of the famous rapper, Bobby Schmurda, and fellow gang members. Nigel was a captivating speaker and it was very interesting to have him walk us through a high-profile case from start to finish and see how a case comes together. Furthermore, Nigel got us thinking about larger issues in the criminal justice system and helped us think about how to fix a broken system as well as broken communities.

During the last few weeks of my internship, we began prepping for our mock trial. We drafted criminal court complaints and conducted a mock grand jury hearing, jury selection, and trial. Various NY ADAs volunteered as witnesses and jury members and advised us on how to go about our cases. This was a very informative experience and served as a great finale to the internship. It was very impressive to see just how far we had come during our eight-week program.

As a mathematics major, I found the analytical and step-by-step thinking of math very valuable and applicable in the legal world, particularly in criminal and trial law. I have always had an interest in going to law school and working in law enforcement and this internship confirmed my interest. I want to thank the Estate of George Mead for making this summer possible; it was very rewarding and a truly valuable educational experience.