Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Should I put him on the stand?

Always have to second guess a jury's response to a defendant's testimony. Obviously, if you can get an aquittal, then it was the right decision. However, if you get a guilty verdict and your client testified (with your approval and his/her criminal background doesn't do too much damage), then you have to wonder, wonder, wonder...if you made the right decision in agreeing to let your client testify. The reality is that of course, it is always the client's ultimate decision....but those in my field know that we have an awful lot of input on that decision. I still wonder about one particular case, about a year ago...if he should have testified, to which I agreed heartily. He is serving a 10 year/85% parole disqualifer term. I wonder.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oh...more work, cutting staples and no promotions

Yea, forgot to add....more cases, more work but they are taking away our staplers and hole punchers and rubber bands as part of budget cuts. Oh, no promotions, either. But please, pile on more work, I really can handle more than the 251 cases I have already.

Jail visits and bail hearings

I have too many clients incarcerated. I saw two young men today, neither of which has any type of prior record. Nevertheless, being in the wrong place at the wrong time will get you indicted for a second degree crime in this town, which earns you a no "10%" bail. Because these young men can't afford bail, they will, in all likelihood, sit in the county jail until the prosecutor gets around to securing (as they always do...its so one sided) an indictment from the grand jury. This can take up to.....wait, there really is no time limit, is there??? Can take up to over a year to get an indictment issued. In the meantime, my guys sit in jail unable to make bail and I am unable to move the case forward without an indictment. Hate that. Over and out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My First Blog - Life of a PD on a daily basis!

Well, thought I'd give blogging a try because us public defenders get such a bad rap. A woman in court actually referred to her attorney as her "public offender". How many times have I had a client ask me: "Are you an attorney or a public defender"? I think alot of this bad rap is based on the my cousin vinny movie where the pd was portrayed as a stuttering moron. Here's the real scoop: I was in private practice for about 15 years when I joined the pd's office about three years ago. I've never met such a bright and devoted and hardworking set of attorneys in my life...dealing with what I believe the most important thing in life is...personal liberty. Our job is to protect and help our folks from arbitrary, capricious and sometimes just plain mean and undeserving actions by the prosecutorial ilk.

Today I saw a client in jail. She has seven kids. I represent her on a superior court matter (shoplifting) and found out today that a municipal court judge threw her in jail based on unpaid fines...about 750 bucks from some prior minor offense. She doesn't even get her arraignment date until mid-January. For fines! Unreal. Some folks are not lucky enough or fortunate enough to have any $$ or any source to borrow it from. Imagine being thrown in the can and locked up from mid-November through mid-January because you can't come up with 10% of $750 bucks. Granted, she pled guilty in superior court for shoplifting, but she shoplifted children's clothing from walmart for her kids. Is this Jean Valjean of 2008 stealing the loaf of bread? Its heartbreaking.

Another client pled out to possession of cds (weed) which was his first "felony" (called "crime" where I practice) in order to take the rap for his illegal immigrant best friend to whom I think the weed truly belonged to. Had his best friend illegal immigrant pled out, back to Afghanistan for him. I disagreed with his decision, made that clear, but his friendship was more important to him. Hmmm.

These are some of the folks we represent. They are human beings, with familys of their own, with feelings and thoughts. They are not hardened criminals. They are people and we shouldn't forget them.

Well thats only 2 of about 10,000 things I did today. Welcome to my world!