Kieran Babra ’23 started his mornings this summer by settling into the wooden seats at the Worcester courthouse and watching trials. He became fascinated by the legal dance that unfolds in the courtroom, glued to every word as prosecutors questioned witnesses on the stand.
“It’s like what you see on TV, just much less dramatic,” says Babra, a double major in geography and political science who just completed an internship in the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. He worked in the domestic violence unit under Assistant District Attorney Molly Madaio.
Babra spent many afternoons handling witness summonses and reviewing video evidence in search of details that could be important in a case. If a defendant was accused of drunken driving, he’d scan booking videos recorded at the police station, looking for signs of slurred words or lack of coordination. Babra would forward his findings to a supervisor.
Observing courtroom proceedings exposed Babra to the extensive research, strategizing, and charisma that go into being a trial attorney. He started his internship by watching the latter part of a murder trial, in which a jury found the defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2014 fatal stabbing of her fiancé. Then, Babra tracked another trial from opening statements to verdict. In that case, a man was found guilty of murder in the stabbing death of his former girlfriend. Babra studied the way prosecutors framed questions for people on the witness stand.
“I think the way they question witnesses is super interesting. You want to build a story for the jury and let them figure things out for themselves. You slowly whittle away at the truth,” he said. “You see how much preparation goes into trial. Each prosecutor has a binder and follows it to a ‘T.’”
Babra had been curious about law school but wasn’t ready to commit. Now he feels a step closer to planning a legal career.
“This helped me solidify my thoughts,” he says. “I feel more likely to pursue law now, though I’m not sure I want to go into criminal justice.”
Babra plans to further explore his interests before applying to law school to determine what area of the law seems like the best fit. His courthouse mentors have urged him to be methodical with his choices.
“Speaking to attorneys in the courthouse who have been through the law school process, I can tell law school is a lot of work, but it seems rewarding,” he says. “I think some of the most valuable lessons were in talking with the assistant district attorneys. They gave really good advice and encouraged me to take a step back, slow down, and not rush into a decision.”
Babra found that the critical thinking and writing skills he developed at Clark were essential to completing work inside the courthouse. He’s benefitted from the way political science professors draw on current events to teach their courses and has enjoyed urban geography classes with professors Asha Best and Mark Davidson.
The Washington, D.C. native grew up internationally, graduating from high school at the International School Bangkok in Thailand. He chose Clark because he was looking for a smaller school in an urban area. Spending his summer downtown at the courthouse made Worcester seem more like home.
“This is my first summer in Worcester and I feel more that I’m part of the city now,” he says.
Babra received a ClarkCONNECT Summer Internship Award from Clark’s Career Connections Center.