So, today is my one year anniversary with the Alaska Public Defender Agency. Some thoughts. First, contrary to public opinion I do not hate all DA's. Quite frankly I don't trust any defense lawyer that says they could never be a DA. I also don't trust any DA that says they could never be a defense lawyer. We are hired guns. Our job is advance the position of the client, regardless of our personal opinion. Sometimes that is easy. Many of the rights that Americans take for granted were argued for by defense lawyers. On the other hand we have had to represent John Wayne Gacy. John Couey. Nazi's and war criminals. Many others who were guilty as hell and arguably deserved to die. But I am damn proud to be a defense lawyer. I have never told the story about how I became a defense lawyer, but one day I will. Every day I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. I represent the poor. The addicted. The mentally ill. Every day I argue for more freedom. More rights. Of our right to be free from unreasonable search. To have a lawyer. To Due Process. To privacy. Sometimes I am frustrated with my job. With the case-load and the pay. With the addicted. The poor. The mentally ill. But what will my legacy be? Will I be one of those who will say I did nothing when the government became one of tyranny and oppression? Who argued for less rights? More police powers? No. And that is why I could never be a District Attorney.


Anonymous said…
Ben, are you the black man wearing overalls? Was that you as a boy and that's how you became a defense attorney?

Just curious,

Jim Crow
Anonymous said…
ummm... I hate to be a pickly lawyer here but in the same post you write "I don't trust any defense lawyer that says they could never be a DA" and then later you say "I could never be a DA". I think you could be a DA and I think you could tell the cops that you're not going to bend the constitution to get a conviction.

By the way, I stand by my argument that you could have a greater affect on liberty as a DA than as a defense lawyer.

Jeremy, that was my point: I really think we should all be capable of being a DA or a defense attorny. But I'm not sure I could be a DA. It was supposed to make a point.
operator101 said…
Ohh... come on Ben... you know, deep down inside that you hate everyone including DAs.
Operator that is more true than you know. My daughter is a notable exception. But I have known great DA's and PD's I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire. The problem I see is that even the best intentioned DA's eventually conclude that the "will of the people" is less freedom. perhaps they phrase it differently like "I need to talk to the officer" but the result is the same. Maybe I should qualify my statement: I COULD be a DA if I was THE DA. Exercise my discretion fully.
Anonymous said…
It's like this, everyone is full of shit. Attorneys are certainly at the top of the list. They blah blah blah about rights and about justice and about blah, blah, and more blah, but when it comes right down to it, most are more involved with their pathetic, petty, little chipping ego, that screeches nonstop. People today aren't interested in truth and the right things, the environment has created a new beast, the ever hungry ego, that will trick even itself at every corner and hide behind selective judgements and good guy badges. It's never the "I" that gets a thorough screening it's always the "you" or "them" that is constantly being torn down, often mocked, and separated. It's all illusion and bullshit, and the snake oil salesmen, i.e. government is the best of all at selling this product. "A sucker is born every minute and most of them live" - P.T. Barnum

That said. The entire D.A., Trooper, local enforcement culture is so beyond the scope of detachment and of such poor self awareness that I don't know where to begin. I loathe the fact that while driving through Kenai or Soldotna that I have to come across one, two, three, four ugly law enforcement cars. How in the hell did it get like this? Who in the hell wants more below average intellect, poorly trained, same look in the eye cops around every turn? This is Alaska, not some Big Ten college town. Most of the folks that come up here came up here to escape having to see an overwhelming police presence. The police force as it is setup today, is gluttonous, out-dated, and almost unnecessary.

I can't wait for the day when it all breaks down and hopefully something new will come about, I doubt it though. Human kind needs a lot of inner work and self discovery before anything "good" can come about. But how do you tell a sleeping man he's sleeping?
Perception is an amazing function and often keeps people so grounded and solid in their beliefs that they will never deconstruct what they've come to know, in fact most don't even know how they came to believe certain things in the first place, Christianity is a perfect example.

As for rights, you know the only right we really have now? The right to be MEDIOCRE. Do not dare to delve from the American status-quo. Do not dare to explore, do not dare to do what's best for you by your own accord, and DO NOT DARE TO HAVE SOME GOD DAMN FUN. Because if you do dare, you have the very real opportunity to be pulled away from your family and friends, your sons, daughters, wives, and husbands. You will have the opportunity to spend hours, days, and years upon years in a cage where your physical freedom is stolen from you in the form of a judgement by these same folks trapped in utter illusion.

Beware of the sincere man - an old proverb was said. Goes right along with these petty, unenlightened, often self-righteous, pious, delusional state agency workers, i.e. OCS, among many, many others.
Again, not the cream of the crop of intelligence and awareness, another group of mediocre, uncritical thinkers where as if you don't fit into their tight, narrow little mold then you must be separated and often set "right". How do these people have any fun? What more is there in life, than love, learning and fun?

Here's a crazy fact of living that these same types of folks work endlessly day and night to fix "right": LIFE IS F*CKING dangerous, get use to it. Why on earth can't even the stupidest of beings understand that, and just live with it. We don't need to have a statue or law or code to combat every little thing that might come up where someone might get hurt. I love the fact that death stalks us around every corner, makes you live in the now and enjoy life. And this type of endless search for the illusion of security and safety is progressive and it never takes time to pause and think critically before proceeding, and certainly NEVER regresses. Once a right is taken away it's a long gone daddy.
Imagine if these people have their way, what the world will look like in 50 years, when our sons and daughters are in their middle ages.
You will need permission, and licenses to do about everything understand the sun. What to cut down a tree in your yard? Nope, need to contact the state arbor service. Let your mind imagine just how far it could go. Little Johnnie boy will have to go out in a full body suit in order to ride his bike, oooh don't want little Johnnie to get an boo bo.

How simple can truly living like a community really be? First and foremost: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!! What's good for me, maybe not good for you, but you ain't me.
Second, you truly must want what's best for individuals and the community as a whole, goes back to what some guy said a while back, "Do unto others, as you'd have them do unto you", that phrase has to be the most misunderstood, misguided, and every "mis" in the English language statement in the history of the world.
Third one most be on an endless quest for self-discovery and connectedness with all others and the environment.
And finally, have a genuine eagerness to learn and explore.
But again more importantly have FUN, FUN, FUN. Remember if you want to have fun your way, always gotta fly under the radar because there are plenty of folks out there that know what's best for you, even better than you do.

Anonymous said…
I heard that in Dillingham, they got a grant from the department of homeland security to install video cameras around the town. So there is like 1 video camera for every 30 people there. the residents complained about it, but the sheriff said terrorists could use dillingham as a port of entry.
Greg May said…
I can see how a DA could say he could never be a PD. Doesn't a DA have an ethical obligation not to proceed where he knows the accused to be innocent? But a PD has no reciprocal obligation. The PD must defend no matter how guilty the accused. I'm not saying DAs always live up to this obligation, only that it is there.

I can also see how a PD could say he would never be a DA . . for the reasons you posted.

I suspect that DAs and PDs are two of the most ideologically motivated categories of attorney there are. Far less of a pure "hired gun" than most, I think.
Jesus anon #1 and I thought I could rant. Nicely done. Beautiful. I'm not sure if you meant to, but you made me agree with almost everything you said. Especially about the OBSCENE number of cops here. I mean what the &^#%? Why do we need 50 cops in a population of 15,000? Anon #2, that is true. The cameras are even in Alaska. Boy, I'm real sure that the cops are concerned about "terrorists" and not a grow operation. Or just plain surveillance. It is coming everywhere. Greg: I think you are right. The criminal lawyers I know ALL feel strongly. DA's think they are "protecting the public". PD's think they are protecting the public from the cops and DA's. Neither are right. Most of the stuff prosecuted has NOTHING to do ith public safety at all. And there is nothing we PD's can do against the tide. Tyranny is coming. Mark my words.
By the way I am surprised that my attempt to be clever has caused confusion. I am fully aware of my contradiction regarding being a DA. I was trying to be dramatic. Damnit people. I guess it didn't come across well "on paper".
Anonymous said…
i have been both a da and a of in Oregon. I had no trouble doing either, however, I have seen many da's that should be put out to pasture and similar pd's. I assure you that both are equally necessary. However, I fully agree that too many things are considered crimes.

As a public defender i most disliked those that refused to help themselves. As a da I hated when the system wouldn't allow people to help themselves.

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