Senior Bella Nace’s internship widens her knowledge of criminal justice
Written by: Emma Simpson '23
Bella Nace ’23 is a senior criminal justice major at York College of Pennsylvania. She is currently completing an internship with Judge Tom Reilly at the magisterial district court in Spring Grove, PA.
As part of Bella’s internship responsibilities, she helps review cases prior to hearings. She observes the preliminary hearings that take place and discusses them with Judge Reilly after they conclude.
“A typical day at the Spring Grove Magisterial District Court starts with reviewing Judge Reilly's hearing schedule for the day. Once I know what the defendants are being accused of, I look in a book that lists all fines and punishments for crimes in the state of Pennsylvania,” she explains. “I then sit in on the hearing and can discuss the proceeding with the judge after.”
As Bella’s internship is at the magisterial level, the first court one encounters while working with the justice system, she sees hearings for “just about anything.”
“Many cases are civil filings such as landlord and tenant discrepancies, trespassing, or unpaid fines. The rest of the cases I hear are considered criminal cases,” she adds.
Applying classroom knowledge
Bella has been able to apply knowledge gained in several of her York College classes to this internship, including ethics, the judicial process, and case law. “I believe this internship has helped prepare me for my career in criminal justice,” she says. “Working alongside Judge Reilly allows me to utilize the knowledge I have acquired through my time at YCP.”
The class that prepared her the most, she says, was her Criminal Procedure course.
“The class that prepared me best for my internship was Criminal Procedure, taught by Professor Staub. He reviews current laws and statues and how the laws have evolved to what they are today,” she explains. “Since I am currently taking the class, I can draw directly from the lecture and apply it to what I am seeing at my internship.”
Learning from the internship
Familiarity with state and federal laws gained from classes has helped the most through Bella’s internship. “Something that I have learned at my internship that I cannot learn in class is the decorum of the criminal justice system,” she says. “I have learned how those in this profession must take their duties seriously but also take care of themselves both mentally and physically so that they may do their jobs effectively.”
Her favorite part of the internship, she explains, is working with the staff.
“I work between two offices and the women that work in the front offices have made me feel incredibly welcomed,” she says.
After college Bella hopes to work as a courtroom clerk for a period before attending the police academy or going to law school.