Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thinking about getting qualified to defend death penalty cases.  It's a scary thought.  Have to do a couple of murder trials as second chair in order to get qualified.  Have been assigned two.  One is really bothering me. A dead child.  And the attorney that is lead counsel?  I admire that attorney so much, I'm as so afraid of letting them down.  Think I already did.  Thought I had review all the discovery, but missed some and gave them misinformation.  I've apologized and will continue to try to do my best.  Am I doing the right thing?  I just don't know...

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Not Guilty Client

We shall see tomorrow. I won't say he's innocent. Did some very questionable things. Some very stupid thing. But can the state prove it?

I don't think so.

I don't like defending people charged with trying to molest kids. But it comes with the job, as you all know. But he did NOT do what the state has charged him with.

I only hope that I can get a jury to make a very fine distinction.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to defend the defenseless?

I've had more than my share in the last ten years. Clients without a defense. But the attitude that, "If they are going to charge me, they are going to spend the money for a trial." I get that they are entitled to a trial. I get it more than most people. That's why I do what I do. But how can you provide a defense when they don't give you a damn thing to work with??

And the "trial tax." It's unfortunate, but true. I know my client, charged with two first degree misdemeanors, is going to get two years in the county jail if he is convicted. And I don't see how he won't be. I don't have a damn thing to work with.

Jury picked and sworn. Today, I get a call that he is trying to hire a private attorney, for a case scheduled for trial. Tomorrow. If I get a continuance. Nice try. Not flying with the judge.

If I use the opening I'm planning, affectionately called the "Desperation Opening," the jury knows I don't have a damn thing to work with. How is that effective? I could waive. That's not effective either. Talk about a rock and a hard place.

This sucks. At least he has six months in already.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do I Want a New Job??

Not really a new job. Just a different location. All my family is in another state. I live in Florida. I keep looking, keep applying. Everything tells me to stay put. Except my family. I love them. I hate missing the big events. I've never been to a birthday party of my siblings' children. I always have Christmas, but that is about it for the year. And it sucks!

The System Does Work

Wow!!! A loooong time since my last post.

New office, new clients. I've been reassigned to a smaller office, only two attorneys. Luckily, I was able to take a good friend with me. The secretaries are great, unbelievable actually. They seem to know what to do before I tell them. Which is very refreshing!

New clients. New to me, but not the office. My secretaries have been there for years, having grown up in the county. It's interesting to hear the stories that lead up my current representation.

My first jury trial in almost three years. Not that I chose that, but doing juvenile and mental health cases, things just worked out that way.

While I have issues with my state attorney, I have to give him props. He's young. He's inexperienced. He did some work with a questionable defense attorney. But! It is the first time that I have ever received a "Notice of Production of Favorable Evidence." A witness, 12 years old, that says my client didn't start the incident that led to his battery charge.

My client, a local "transient," well know to law enforcement. A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, unmedicated for six months. But well aware of his rights, the players, the situation. With a history of acting out, talking to himself, making threatening statements without provocation. He sat patiently, quietly and attentive throughout the trial.

ALL the evidence came out. Thanks to the ethical prosecutor that disclosed the new information. And my client was found not guilty. He walked out of the court room with a quiet, quite unexpected "thank you."

This young, inexperienced state attorney gave my client the fairest trial I've been part of in ten years. And the system worked. And I like my new county.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The mother from Hell...

I had something happen today that I have never encountered.

"Ma'am, do you have kids?" "No, I don't." "Well, that would explain why you just don't understand."


I've been a juvenile PD for 8 years, and I don't understand? Just because you don't like the fact that I represent your child, and have to abide by his wishes rather than yours? Because you want him to get drug treatment, not be on probation? Because you called the cops on him when you found pot in his backpack, and thought the cops wouldn't write a report? Are you f***ing kidding me??? What the hell did you think would happen?

And to say that I am not helping your child because I am listening to what he wants, rather than what you want? I realize you are the parent, and what I do in no way affects what you feel you need to do as a parent. Do what you have to do. If he needs drug treatment, by all means, get it for him!

But I am HIS lawyer. "But he's a minor!" SO WHAT?? He still has rights, all the rights you would have had the tables been turned, he found your pot and called the cops. He has the right to an attorney, one that listens to his desires, one that protects his rights, one that focuses on him, not what somebody else wants to happen.

Don't tell me I don't understand. I probably understand better than you do. You have one child that you are dealing with. I have dealt with thousands over the years. You don't have to have children to feel like a parent. I feel like a parent all the time. And I pay more attention to these kids than most parents do. And care more about what happens to them. Maybe you are the exception, rather than the rule. GREAT!!! Maybe I won't see your child again. But I doubt it. Considering you had him arrested before for pot, and didn't get him treatment then. It's not my fault. Maybe you should stop for a minute and ask yourself why he thinks smoking pot is okay. Is it a short-coming on your part?

Maybe this is a little harsh, and if so, I apologize. But don't tell me I don't understand.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A very uncommon occurance...

I handle both juvenile and felony cases. Juvenile, because I absolutely love it. Felony, because I'm the senior attorney in the office. Very often the paths cross. Too often. Either I have parents of my juveniles in felony court, sometimes with the same charges. Or I have juveniles filed as adults. Either way, it is too often.

But the other day, I had an unusual occurrence. I was in felony court that day, covering a few cases. As I was headed back to court after lunch, I was approached, in the elevator, by a young man, not more than 18. He asked if I recognized him. He looked familiar but I couldn't give his face a name. He told me his name, and I immediately remembered him, but it had been a few years. I mentioned that it had been a while, and he informed me he had stayed out of trouble since I represented him in juvenile court. Naturally, I was curious...."Why are you in court today?" I was surprised at his response. "My dad is in trouble...again."

I thanked my lucky stars that this young man wasn't one of my clients, or that of one my colleagues. And I had to ask, "What changed?" His response? "I did."

Obviously that made me feel good. But searching for that elusive compliment that PD's so rarely get, I asked the next question. "Did I have anything to do with the change?" And expecting the normal response of "No, I just realized I didn't want to live that life anymore," I continued to walk to the courtroom. Imagine my surprised when he said "Yes." I stopped. Turned. Look him right in the eye. And asked, "Really?" He confirmed his answer. And said that I convinced him that he did not wanted to follow the road his father was. His father, who was never able to make the appointments in my office because he was in jail. His father who was now being sent to prison. Again.

I don't know what I said. But I hope the same words eventually come out of my mouth again. To another child, another young mind, about to be lost to the system.