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Dayton Docket

Ready For His Close-Up

Christopher Monna was preparing for the commute into New York City on the first day of his internship when he got the call.

“I got dressed in my suit and was ready to hop on the subway and head into Manhattan,” Monna says. “The attorney called me and said, ‘Actually, we’re going Upstate a little bit.’”

On summer break from the University of Dayton School of Law, Monna was excited about the chance to intern in New York City, but even he couldn’t imagine the opportunity he was about to get.

“The attorney said, ‘Do you want to go into the office or do you want to be on TV?’” Monna says.

Monna was headed to a shoot for the Discovery ID show, “A Perfect Murder,” and he wasn’t just going to get to watch, he had a part to play in the scenes that were dramatizations of real court proceedings.

“I played the jury foreman,” Monna says.

Monna’s role was to read the jury’s verdict and then look at the defendant.

Monna says after one proceeding was finished, the courtroom scene would be switched around to match the location of another proceeding. The actors would sometime switch places and be a jury member for one shot and the defendant in the next.

Monna not only got to brush up on his acting skills, he was also able to network with the several attorneys who were there to play roles.

“It was a fun and cool experience and definitely something I plan to do in the future,” Monna says.

When Monna arrived back at UDSL for the Fall semester, he figured that was the end of his star turn.

“I didn’t tell anybody about it,” Monna says.

So he was caught off guard a little when one day he was approached by Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Registrar Shannon Penn.

“I was turning in an exam and Dean Penn said, ‘Mr. Monna, I have a question for you,’” Monna recalls. “My heart sank. I thought I was in trouble.”

But actually, she wanted to know more about Monna’s foray into acting.

“She said she heard my voice and turned around and saw me on TV,” Monna says. “She asked if it was really me.”

Some fellow law students also recognized Monna while watching the show and asked him about his experience.

But Monna says he took away more from his internship than just an acting credit.

He now has a better idea of what he wants to do after law school.

Monna says he wants to work in the area of criminal justice reform, and just like with his acting, he hopes his efforts go beyond what happens in a single case in a courtroom.

“I can’t help but notice the problems Americans face when dealing with the criminal justice system,” Monna says. “The system is broken. Now is the time it can actually be fixed, and I am confident change is not only feasible, but approaching.”

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