Law, Public Service & Cherry Blossoms: Final Thoughts on D.C.

Brandon Wong

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Brandon Wong.

Well, here we are. It’s now April 2015, the final month that I’m in our nation’s capital. Rather than recount everything that has happened to me in the past few weeks since my last post, I’d like to reflect on my time here and things that I’ve learned. But first, an obligatory aside about the cherry blossoms.

For the folks at home, Washington, D.C. isn’t just known for scandal, polarization, and drivers that honk their horns as if it were a necessary bodily function. One of the more positive aspects of D.C. is the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. If you’re really interested, you can learn more here. In a nutshell: our friend and ally Japan gave us a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees over one hundred years ago to celebrate our relationship. Every year around this time (for only about two weeks at that!), the trees bare their beautiful pink blossoms and mark the arrival of springtime. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to D.C. annually to take part in the festivities and take selfies with the cherry blossom trees. I’m only half joking about that last part. Fun fact: picking the blossoms of the tree is illegal, so don’t even think about it!

Cherry Blossom Trees by the waterfront. If you squint, you’ll see thousands of tourists.

Cherry Blossom Trees by the waterfront. If you squint, you’ll see thousands of tourists.

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New Adventures, Familiar Faces

Brandon Wong

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Brandon Wong.

I last left off with my plans for attending CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, in Maryland. Boy, was that fun! Out of the 4 days it was around (Wednesday-Saturday), I was present for 3 of them. On Thursday, I got to meet my favorite Senator and presidential hopeful, Rand Paul. Senator Paul holds a special place in my heart because I think he’s trying to take the Republican Party in a slightly different direction, which is what needs to happen if the Grand Old Party ever wants to take back the White House. On Friday, I had the pleasure of attending a reception hosted by James O’Keefe, the conservative film documentarian. For those unfamiliar with Mr. O’Keefe, he is the young man that ventured across the U.S.-Mexico border dressed as Osama bin Laden to bring greater attention to the security of the border. Finally, I spent Saturday volunteering for RAND PAC (Senator Paul’s Political Action Committee) and acquainting myself with some of the exhibitions. One booth was hosting an organization called Right on Crime, a part of the Texas Public Policy Institute that seeks to formulate policies that address the growing problem of criminal justice from a conservative perspective. I’m incredibly interested in the conservative reform movement, so it was great to hear from some of the folks who are out on the front lines getting their voices (and policies) heard by politicians. Overall, I’m happy I was able to attend; CPAC was an excellent experience for a young conservative like myself! Continue reading

Somber Past, Bright Future

Brandon Wong

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Brandon Wong.

The past few weeks have been a little rough. I’ve been trying to shake off a persisting cold, to little avail. On top of that, applying for jobs takes up a great deal of my time, in addition to scholarly pursuits here at the UC Center. Finally, I made an obligatory excursion to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum a few weeks ago. I say “obligatory,” because I believe wholeheartedly that everyone must eventually witness the tragedies of the Holocaust to honor the living and the dead. Reading Elie Weisel’s Night in high school was an emotionally exhausting endeavor, affecting me in a way few books have. However, even books about the Holocaust don’t fully capture the human suffering and cruelty; going to the Museum made that clear to me. One thing about the Museum that really stuck with me was the boxcar they had on display for museum goers to walk through. Of course, eventual victims of the death camps were transported by train in box cars. They were often packed to the brim, allowing very little freedom of movement. Walking through the boxcar sent a chill down my spine and made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Though I was technically alone in the sense that no one was in or around the boxcar with me, I did not feel truly alone. I doubt I’ll ever forget that. Continue reading

Learning about Learning: Education Policy and Washington, D.C.

Brandon Wong

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Brandon Wong.

It’s 1P.M. on January 4th. I walk off my connecting flight from Detroit, Michigan (where it was a harsh 8 degrees) to the Dulles Airport terminals. Despite not having slept for 30 hours, I’m excited and anxious. Three hours later, I finally arrive at the U.C. Washington Center. After unpacking all of my belongings, I think to myself, “Now what?” Little did I know then that my life would pick up the pace in such a short time.

SNOW!

SNOW!

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You Can’t Win ‘Em All, Kid

Brandon Wong

 

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow Brandon Wong.

In my previous blog post, I alluded to a trial that was then in its final stages—namely, the Deputy District Attorney and the Deputy Public Defender’s closing arguments. Given that the trial is now over, I am legally allowed to divulge more details. The civil trial, The People of the State of California v. Norman Morrow, lasted for a total of about ten days. During that time, a bevy of witnesses, both experts and victims, took the stand to testify about Mr. Morrow. To those unfamiliar with the courtroom, I’ll briefly explain the difference between the two types of witnesses. Continue reading

Prosecuting Sexually Violent Predators in Orange County

Brandon Wong

 

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow Brandon Wong.

 

 

It is no secret to my close friends and family that I have wanted to be an intern at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office since high school. Beginning the summer of my junior year, I applied for a summer internship with the DA to no avail. Every year, it was always the same—I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s on my application, yet I never received a response. Having earned the honor of becoming a Matsui Local Government Fellow, I hoped things would be different this time around. Much to my delight, I hoped correctly and was contacted by a Deputy District Attorney to talk about being placed in a unit that typically needs interns: Homicide, Sexual Assault/Sexually Violent Predator, or Fraud. I had hoped to be placed in the Homicide Unit; the Fraud Unit sounded overly legalistic, and I was afraid being placed in the Sexual Assault Unit would cause me to lose faith in my fellow man (and woman). However, I soon learned that Homicide and Fraud were overstaffed, which left only the Sexual Assault Unit. After receiving a cheery welcome email from Deputy District Attorney Nicole Varner, I knew my fears about the Sexual Assault Unit were overblown. Continue reading