Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

McChurch interns at prosecutor’s office

Aug 10, 2018
Photo by: David Hotle Shane McChurch is working as an intern at the Washington County Attorney’s office, assisting in the proecution of misdemeanor crimes.

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Shane McChurch has one year left in the University of Iowa College of Law before he can take his bar exam and become an attorney. Until then he is helping prosecute cases in Washington County.

McChurch works full time for Washington County, handling misdemeanor cases for the county attorney’s office. The program is sponsored through the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, with that office paying half the wage. He explained as long as he has a supervising attorney in the office, he is fully licensed to represent the state in criminal cases. While he is returing to school in the fall, the county Board of Supervisors recently allowed county attorney John Gish to offer him a part-time job where he will work for the office two days a week.

Growing up in Altoona, he attended Southeast Polk High School, graduating in 2010. He earned a degree in psychology from the University of Iowa before going home to work in his family’s maintenance business. During this time he decided to go to law school. Going into his fourth and final year, he is director of the trial advocacy board in the school. He believes his experience with simulating trials gave him a good foundation before coming to Washington County.

Since being in Washington County he has mostly tried simple misdemeanors such as traffic offenses or violations of city ordinances.


How did you decided to work in Washington over the summer?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I got to law school. I interned for a federal judge in Des Moines and got to rub shoulders with the people prosecuting cases in the United States Attorney’s Office there. I decided I wanted to be a prosecutor. Last semester I interned in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Davenport, which is federal prosecution and I noticed there was an opportunity to work as a prosecutor here in Washington County, which is close to where I live in Johnson County. I interviewed with John and it seemed like a good fit for me. He is a good attorney and he had taught me a lot. I decided to take the job.


Once you get out of law school, what are your plans for the future?

I would like to be a prosecutor so the experience I’m getting here is useful in that regard. I intend to apply for assistant county attorney positions across whatever multicounty area I end up in. My girlfriend is a pharmacist and so wherever she ends up getting a job I will probably go too. She will be the one bringing in the big bucks. Long-term, I think federal prosecution. It takes a long time to get into a position like that. I guess we’ll see.


Since you have been working in Washington County, what do you think?

I like it a lot. Over my lunch break I get the opportunity to walk around town and go eat at JP’s. I think this seems like a great place to live. I would love to end up in a place like this.


What made you decide to pursue prosecution?

It is a good opportunity to try cases, which is what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to try cases going to law school, but I didn’t know how I wanted to do that. Also the opportunity to do justice and protect the community from those who would do it harm is a worthwhile pursuit.


What have you learned since you have been working here?

I guess I just acquired a lot of practical skills about how to bring a case to trial and everything that happens behind the scenes that the public might not see on a daily basis. Trying cases myself has been very informative.


What is it like going to law school?

I don’t think I’m alone in saying law school is very challenging. I struggled quite a bit in my first year. They kind of put you through the wringer to make sure you are up to snuff. The first year was very hard. I feel I hit my stride the second year and figured out what I was doing and why I was there. By then you know how to study and how to read a case. I think if you can make it through the first year in one piece you are probably good to go through law school. The first year was very challenging.


What are some of your hobbies?

I don’t look like it, but I like to lift weights. I spend a decent amount of time in the gym. I play the drums and have since I was 11 or 12. I like to spend time with my girlfriend and pets. I have a dog and a cat. The dog is very large so he is a handful.

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