Spotlight on 2012 Grantee, Vinuta Purushottam Naik

Vinuta Purushottam Naik is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia as an undergraduate. This past summer she worked at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office


Why did you choose law school, and why USF in particular?
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter addressed my University community and encouraged everyone to stand up for those who are voiceless and to help marginalized individuals.  I had always wanted to help marginalized people and her message inspired me to go to law school to pursue a career as a public defender.  I chose USF because of their commitment to public interest law and the various resources they offered their students.


What kind of work did you do this summer or what type of projects did you work on?
This past summer I worked part time with the Collaborative Courts in Drug Court and part time with a felony litigation attorney. For Drug Court, I worked on memos to the Drug Court judge highlighting effective evidence-based practices that would benefit our clients.  I also worked on a project to find out where clients with immigrant holds (ICE holds) were being detained for purposes of reporting back to the local court.  In addition, I updated all the client files so that we would have an electronic database that we could work off of.


Working with the felony attorney involved more trial preparation.  I transcribed client interviews, attended a case conference where we discussed strategies and theories to develop our defense, and wrote a 995 motion to dismiss counts of an indictment.  I researched case law to support the motion and to exclude some evidence.  I also attended preliminary hearings and took notes so that I could help better assist my attorney with the case. In addition, I discussed cases with my attorney so that we were able to develop theories together for her preparation of the cases.


What do you find most inspiring about the work you are doing or the organization you are working for?

The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office works with indigent clients who are minorities, immigrants, homeless, and/or mentally ill.  From personal and work experiences, I understand clients’ needs and desire to be heard.  I have always striven to ensure that every client and individual I work with is treated as an individual so that their voice is heard. I wish to zealously represent my clients and ensure their rights are enforced.  I chose to work for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office because the attorneys always strive to treat everyone with the utmost respect and dignity while thoroughly representing the clients.


What would you like to do following law school?

I would love to work as a Public Defender helping defend indigent and marginalized individuals.

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