“There is video of the incident from CNN and other news sites, and in the video you can see me,” Jorgensen said. “I was that close.”
Jorgensen was working as a law clerk last summer at the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy in Lincoln, Neb., when he got the chance to sit in on a trial with his supervisor.
During the trial, the defendant suddenly yelled then slashed his neck several times with a pen that was lying on a nearby desk. An ambulance rushed him from the courthouse to a hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries—and the video of the incident went viral.
“I learned a lot over the summer and gained valuable criminal law experience, but that is the thing that will always stick with me about this clerkship,” Jorgensen said. “It taught me that you can never really know what will happen in the courtroom. As an attorney, you have to be prepared for anything.”
At the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, Jorgensen worked on death penalty and first-degree murder cases, writing memos and conducting research. He also attended client interviews and sat in on hearings.
Much of Jorgensen's work involved compiling a list of every death penalty sentencing in Nebraska since 1975, the mitigating factors and all the facts surrounding each case, and their final outcomes. There were approximately 39 people on the final list.
“Some of the reading was gruesome, but I put a lot of time and effort into making sure I was thorough,” Jorgensen said. “The finished project is something the NCPA can use for reference for years to come, and I am responsible for providing that to them.”
Growing up, Jorgensen saw his mother, a public defender, in court and knew he wanted to be a lawyer. WVU Law offered him a scholarship to offset his student loan, so he left Nebraska and came to West Virginia for law school.
After his summer back home in Nebraska, Jorgensen returned to WVU Law more confident and with a broader knowledge of criminal law and legal research, he said.
Jorgensen is unsure at this point if he will continue towards a career in criminal law after graduation, but he has another summer to figure out what path he will take in the law.
“Your first year internship is not indicative of what you are going to be as a lawyer. Whatever you do, just make sure you work hard and do your best and that you make the most of your growing professional network so you can get some great references going forward in your career,” he said. “I was not confident I would succeed through law school after my 1L year, but my work with NCPA showed me that being a lawyer is what I want to do, and I am capable of achieving that goal.”