Meet Aili Obandja, our new intern. Aili is from Windhoek, Namibia, which is in southern Africa. Namibia is home to the world’s oldest desert as well as the world’s second largest canyon. It is also the first country to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution. Aili is married and has a three-year-old girl named after New York-based fashion designer Alexander Wang’s niece, Aila. Aili is fluent in three languages but also speaks and understands three others at an intermediate level. She plans to encourage her daughter to be multilingual, as Aila shows an interest in Spanish, Russian and Mandarin.
Aili previously worked as a public prosecutor at a magistrate court. Magistrate courts are Namibia’s lower courts. As a prosecutor, Aili handled all criminal dockets in her district from inception. Upon receipt of a docket, she would determine if there was sufficient evidence. If there was sufficient evidence, Aili would place the matter on the roll, and the accused would appear in court for the first appearance. In the event there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, Aili would either make a nolle prosequi entry or direct the investigating officer to acquire further evidence.
Aili dealt with a range of offenses including murder, rape, all forms of assault (battery), stock theft, traffic offenses, possession of dependence-producing substances and possession of potentially dangerous dependence-producing substances. She represented the state at trial where the magistrate court had jurisdiction in the matter at hand. Aili was also responsible for subpoenas, preparing state witnesses for trial, preparing warrants necessary in having accused persons mentally evaluated. She handled all bail applications as well as child and spousal maintenance. In the event the parties failed to come to an agreement, Aili would represent the complainant in maintenance court.
Aili remembers telling herself when she was 11 years old that she would grow up to be a lawyer. She has always been intrigued by human behavior and the study of criminology. When she has the time, she watches crime documentaries mostly for evidentiary value and investigative techniques, but also as a window to identifying criminal patterns. Aili gravitates more towards the fields of criminal law and forensic medicine. She is set on being a criminal defense attorney. Aili’s plans for the future are to become an admitted legal practitioner in the United States. Aili one day hopes to join the men and women who fight endlessly for the freedom of wrongfully convicted defendants.
Coming to the United States, Aili noticed several differences between the two countries. Two of those differences were how often people spit everywhere all the time and refillable drinks. Unlike here, in Namibia, it is considered rude for young people to call older people by their first names. Aili would not be able to address anyone that she works with on a first name basis unless they were her peers. Aili wants to get rid of the misconception about Africa being a country. Aili misses the convenience of hailing a taxi as soon as she steps outside and being able to pay under $1 for a ride. Aili loves the fact that nothing is beyond the realm of possibility in the United States. She loves how information is readily available and accessible more often than not.
The United States and Namibia both labor under the adversarial system; however, the law is, for the most part, codified in the former while it is uncodified in the latter. There is neither a distinction between federal law and state law nor between a felony and a misdemeanor in Namibia. There are no small claims courts, and plea bargaining is also not recognized in Namibia. Namibia’s legal system is a hybrid system made up of Roman-Dutch law, English common law and African customary law.