Along the way, Binford decided a Juris Doctor degree from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law would help him meet the career goals he had developed: to protect the community and serve the public. He recently came one step closer toward that achievement, when the College's Clinical Program awarded him the Truman R. Young Jr. Prosecutorial Fellowship for 2010-2011.
The fellowship is named for Young, a decorated combat pilot and prosecutor killed in 1982 in a mid-air collision while piloting a National Guard plane. The program was established by his friends and colleagues in conjunction with the Arizona Prosecuting Attorney's Advisory Council and the College of Law.
Binford, a second-year law student, will work in four prosecuting offices during the year-long fellowship, at the city of Phoenix Prosecutor's Office, Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Arizona Attorney General's Office and U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona. He already has experience working with judges and prosecutors, having externed for California Court of Appeals Judge Richard Mosk and for U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia, and clerking in the Department of Justice's Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Being able to contribute to actual cases and helping people has been very rewarding," he said. "The practical experience really helps you understand what you've learned in class."
Kory Langhofer, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, supervised Binford during his clerkship in the office.
"I was deeply impressed by his work ethic and commitment to justice," Langhofer said. "I believe he has a very bright future ahead of him in public service, and the Truman Young Fellowship is a well-deserved step forward in his career as a public servant."
Binford, who will work in the Phoenix prosecutor's office this summer, says he is looking forward to getting started.
"It's a great opportunity to see every level of prosecution in Arizona, city, county, state and federal, and it will be beneficial for me to see the difference between how the agencies are managed," he said. "The learning experience will be incredible, but I also think I'll meet people and build relationships in the prosecution community that I can look to when I need advice in the future as a young prosecutor."
As a teacher and a law student, Binford has kept his eye on the future. He is president of Wills for Heroes, in which students help attorneys prepare wills, living wills, and powers of attorney for first responders in Arizona, and curriculum director of the Youth Mentoring Board, which coordinates and unifies various youth outreach programs. Binford is vice president of the Consumer Advocacy Protection Program, which supports Community Legal Services' programs, including the Justice Bus, which provides pro bono services to communities outside the Phoenix area. He also is a Student Ambassador, and a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association's Mentoring Program.
"It's important to set an example for undergraduates and high school students and to show them they can be successful if they work hard," he said.