Fearless Sam heads to the US to work on death row appeals

It may not be for the faint-hearted, but one BPP University Law School student has spoken of the ‘incredible experience’ he had whilst working on death row appeals in America.

Sam Smart has just returned from a remarkable placement in Mississippi with the Office of Capital Post Conviction Counsel after he secured the experience through charity Amicus having found out about its work on death row.

During his three-month stint in the unforgiving conditions, Sam came face-to-face with men chained from their waists to ankles and facing the death penalty.

Yet the South Londoner interviewed them with poise, confidence and assurance which saw him make a strong impact in the US state.

“I’ve not found it difficult at all to remain impartial whilst working on death row appeals, it’s been an incredible experience,” said Sam who has returned to the UK to study the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at BPP University’s Holborn site in London.

“You’ve got to be fearless in those situations regardless of your own prejudices. It was not my place to judge those people. I was simply there to represent them.”

Sam’s placement duties included conducting countless interviews with mitigation witnesses as well as reading endless transcripts, medical records and trial evidence.

And the intensity of such a role could be overwhelming for some, however, Sam insisted that balance and keeping a cool head were key to success.

“You’ve got to be driven in that line of work because there’s so much to do,” said the 31-year-old who also achieved the Graduate Diploma in Law with BPP University last year.

“But you shouldn’t get lost in the research. I was there to do a job to the best of my ability and I really enjoyed the challenge. I am very proud of the work I put into those appeals.”

Sam now hopes his BPTC studies will help him towards becoming a barrister in a mixed civil practice.

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