LAWRENCE – Erin Slinker Tomasic can now personally attest to the importance of KU Law Professor Dennis Prater’s Evidence course.
The third-year law student and Criminal Prosecution Clinic intern recently finished her first trial with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The proceedings resulted in the convictions of two men charged with selling heroin that caused the deaths of users. The complex trial stretched from Nov. 23 to Dec. 16 in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.
The real-world clinical experience helped Slinker Tomasic apply what she’s been absorbing in Green Hall classrooms.
“I have learned a lot about law, and this clinic allowed me to put together what I have learned from several courses, including Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Trial Advocacy and Professional Responsibility,” she said.
Through the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, students assist prosecutors in virtually all phases of the criminal justice process, including criminal trials and appeals. Slinker Tomasic has been an intern with the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City, Kan., since August. She typically works on briefs and motions. For this case, however, she conducted a direct examination of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent focusing on surveillance videos of a heroin distribution house.
“My first ‘real’ legal experience made me realize how important Professor Prater’s Evidence court is to any student planning to litigate,” Slinker Tomasic said.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom commended Slinker Tomasic, among other attorneys and law enforcement agencies, for her work on the case in a news release about the verdict. Although she reports to Assistant U.S. Attorney Leon Patton, L’83, Slinker Tomasic worked on this trial with Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken, L’96, who had been her Trial Advocacy instructor at KU Law the previous spring.
“The students participating in the Prosecution Clinic are hard workers who have taken all the requisite classroom courses to ready themselves for real-life experience in the courtroom,” said Professor Suzanne Valdez, director of the clinic. “With the support of talented prosecutors who mentor and supervise our students, the clinic gives interns like Erin amazing opportunities to bridge the gap between the classroom and the practice of law.”
Slinker Tomasic said she took the clinic because she had observed several federal prosecutors while interning with Chief Judge Kathryn Vratil, L’75, and Judge John Lungstrum, L’70, at the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.
“I noticed that there were several impressive and strong women in the office, and I wanted to learn from them,” she said. “Ms. McCracken, who was my Trial Advocacy instructor, taught me a great deal during the course. It was an amazing experience to watch my teacher work.”
“This clinic has been the most valuable aspect of my education during my time at law school.”