Saturday, March 03, 2012

End of one career: I am no longer a PD

It's just the beginning really.

These last seven years, I've been a Public Defender. Since 2005:

I started just in time to see a freshly arrested Brian Nichols walk past me in the jail.
Spent time in two different PD systems.
Had misdemeanor and felony jury trials, won some of each, lost some of each.
Got people time-served. Got people life in prison.
Represented some innocent people, some misguided people, some not so innocent people.

I was so enthusiastic about this blog when I started. I love that I will have the posts here to remind me of how I started practicing law and finding my way around a courthouse. I will miss my co-workers, really my work family. I will miss the camaraderie of all of us "fighting from the bottom" together. Instead of being together against the world, I will be alone against the world... more like my clients now. I will miss my appreciative clients who had nothing, knew no better, and had nobody to help but me. I will not miss my case-load of 300 clients. I will not miss announcing ready on 70 cases on one trial calendar. I will not miss judges who call on the PD to appear at their beck-and-call with no consideration for anything but their own whims and schedules. Though I have no illusions that I will be treated any better by the bench.

I have 30 days left to finish up my work as a PD. Two trial calendars. 224 current clients. Two trial partners to support for my remaining time. Two more paychecks before I have an income of $0.00.

Special thanks to my beautiful wife for all the spreadsheets helping me transition into the world of private practice. Her support has been the only thing that got me through sometimes. My favorite story of her support is her literally supporting me after my 30th birthday party. I stood in the bathtub, bleeding from ridiculous cuts and scrapes, she was wiping me off and cleaning me up, scrubbing the grit from my skin. I was teeter-tottering on unsteady legs. She stood by my side, held me up and kept me from falling. I was in tears. I told her simply, "I appreciate you. I have you, but my clients... they have nothing. Nobody to support them. They have nothing, but I have you." Then, I collapsed into bed, pathetic and 30 years and one day old.

I guess they had me, not really nothing. Now, they don't have me, but someone younger will take my place. Someone with fresh-out-of-law-school energy, a desire to stick it to the man, a constitutional passion, a fresh perspective. I have not lost these things, but I don't wear them on my sleeve. I have tempered and focused them, I hope for the better. Time will tell I suppose.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Not to take anything away from you..."

When you insult someone's character, integrity and intelligence, I feel you should own up to the insult. Don't follow up with "not to take anything away from you," because that's exactly what you meant to do. Rather, follow up with, "not that it's your fault you lazy piece of shit."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Latest Trial - Not Guilty

I only have time for a short post, but I just got a jury verdict: Not guilty on all counts: Possession of Cocaine with intent to distribute; Possession of Ex. with intent to distribute.

Yay, I need a nap!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Have a happy holiday... preparing for trial

We just got notice that we will be on trial the week of Jan. 3rd. So, enjoy New Years... at the office. Have a fun Christmas... at the office. The office gives us an extra paid week off around the holidays, but now it looks like I won't be using that. I can't even bank it for later.


Monday, November 01, 2010

A rough day

Today started out as a typical run-of-the-mill day. I got to a quiet office before most of the other attorneys. I finished up some paperwork leftover from Friday. I got ready for my 9:30 appointment who never showed up and didn't call. Pretty much standard for any day as a PD. Then, something unusual: my 9:30 called around 11:00 and said she would like to reschedule. I should have gone home in shock. Instead, I agreed to reschedule for 2:00. On the call she demanded discovery. That should have been my first clue....

At 2:15 my 9:20/2:00 showed up for her appointment(s). For some reason she brought a friend and also her 19 month old daughter. I've spoken to this client before on the phone and she is constantly yelling at her baby. I specifically scheduled this appointment rather than talking to her on the phone because she can't go more than 90 seconds without screaming into the phone at her baby. It's a constant barrage of "SIT DOWN!!!," "GET OFF THAT!!!" and "I'M ABOUT TO SMACK YOU!!" I scheduled this appointment with the words, "is there a time we can meet without anyone else to interrupt us?" Turns out the answer is no.

So, back to 2:15: client, baby and friend walk in and baby is screaming. I could hear it from the lobby, and had already made the connection that this was awaiting me. Sadly, there was nothing I could do. All three of them sat down in my office and it was several minutes before I could say word one. All I could do was sit and wait for baby to calm down and accept her mother's tootsie roll as solace... which it wasn't. My co-worker came in and offered some crackers which would have been a big help, except that my client almost immediately smacked the baby for not accepting the crackers fast enough... or maybe because of baby's attitude... or maybe just to smack her, I don't know, nor can I begin to know why... So, I politely asked baby and client's friend to wait in the lobby. Client's friend declined and said, "this isn't even my baby." Fair enough, not your baby, who cares. Co-worker to the rescue again: "I have some play puppies she can play with while you're in your meeting." Good, time to talk to the client. If only it were so simple....

Client's biggest issue with her stabbing case: the police report lists the wrong color car. That's going to blow the case wide open. Great. This is going to go so well!! 2nd biggest issue: She already gave her statement to another public defender, so she isn't about to tell it again. I tried everything to get her to tell me, "what happened that night?" Nothing doing. No answers. If I was going to represent her, I would have to magically figure out what happened, what her perspective was, and who was lying. No problem. Not at all interested in contributing to her own defense. I even told her, "it's not me who will go to prison, it's you. So if you want to defend this case with no preparation, that's fine with me." This did not phase her at all.

I was able to explain a jury trial, but that's about it. She really wanted to file a motion to suppress, but I don't know what she wanted to suppress. In the end, I had to force her to leave the office. Not in a nice way, but in a way that prompted her to ask for my supervisor. The only redeeming part of the day was a supervisor talking to her and not only backing me up, but chastising her for her behavior in our office. She was told by multiple people that she had to leave... several times.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

New assignment

Fresh off the heels of my last trial victory, I've moved courtrooms. Every once and a while they have us rotate through different judges and I was selected this time. I'd been in one place for a year and a half, so the move was not unexpected. It's always a little work to get situated in a new place, so I'm expecting things to be hectic for a little while and then to settle into a groove.

I had a good experience in the courtroom that I'm leaving. The judge was more than fair and let us try cases however we wanted. For those reasons, I'll miss it. Though, I don't know much about my new assignment. I hear it is not too different, though a bit more predictable.

Whatever happens, I'll still be fighting on the same side....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Winning feels good

Despite the lack of decent clothing (see previous) I got a not-guilty on my last trial. It was short, but tiring, and it felt good. Facing a life sentence, but he walked out of jail a free man. He's heading to technical school to be a mechanic and said he's done hanging with the wrong crowd. I hope that's true because they really set him up for some serious stuff....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

There has to be a better way.

I just spent too long picking out clothing for two clients who are going to be in court for trial tomorrow. Some things that annoyed me (even more than the last time I picked out clothing):

One of our clothing racks had collapsed, leaving heaps of suits, belts, ties and jackets all over the floor.

None of the suits are marked with sizes, so you have to try it on yourself, or guess at the size.

We only have a few pairs of shoes, and most of them are all the same size.

Everything is outdated and out of style.

These guys may be in jail, but they should at least have their basic dignity in court....

Friday, April 16, 2010


I had a client die in the local jail. I only found out because the Medical Examiner called me to see if I knew of any next of kin. I didn't really know this client, except that it was a mental health case, suicide watch....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wasted client

I have a client who is trashed out of his mind and he keeps calling me up this afternoon. He keeps trying to tell me how I just told him to call back.... no, I didn't tell you that sir. He also denies drinking when I ask about it. Dude, stop calling me!!