So, I had one of those "public defender" days today. Unless you have been a public defender, you will not know what I am talking about. Even private defense counsel don't know what it is like, although it is close. One of those days where you realize that the "justice" system is corrupt. Rigged against your client. Designed to screw your client. Where you watch the DA's do whatever they want and never get called on it. Knowing that if you pulled the same stunt the judge would do everything he or she could to see you disbarred. Watch judges do whatever they want, which, for some reason, is always what the State wants. I guess I have written about this before, but I had one of those days where I wanted desperately, frantically to do anything else. I am tired of trying to hold back the tide of tyranny. I am tired of trying to save those who don't want to be saved. I am so tired of the double standard that exists between the Defense and the State. I am tired of watching those who are responsible for ensuring justice is delivered scrape and bow before the State. Looking like a deer in the headlights when I cite controlling law that might conceivably help the Defense. It was the same in BC when I was a lawyer there. Worse in California. Disappointing in Alaska. I'm going to tell this to my little girl: do anything but be a lawyer. Anything. Because this job will suck that smile right off that pretty face.



Comments

operator101.com said…
Ben, prosecutors have these days too. When the judge makes off the cuff rulings based on how poorly he played golf over the weekend. When defense attorneys make claims in opening, the judge refuses to give curative instruction or sanction the defense and then the defense atty never proves his opening statement. Then the judge finds a mitigated sentence for no reason, one that the defense didn't even request b/c it was totally bogus.

A defense atty lies to the court, to the jury, to his client. A defense atty takes a client's money and does NOTHING for him then tries to get out of the case.

Or, none of your witnesses show-up for trial and you're stuck with a thumb up your butt, slowly turning in a circle. It hurts. It hurts a lot.
Long Time PD said…
That may be true, operator101, but what's the bad day ratio for PDs vs. DAs? Maybe 10 to 1?

Nevertheless, something always comes along to perk you back up again. Just wait for it and keep chugging along until then.
TexPD4Parity said…
I've been doing this for over 20 years with less than 4.5 years to retirement (assuming I make it that long). People ask me if I'll still practice after I retire. I seriously doubt it. My bag of patience for those "public defender" days is really running low.

After so many years, I can see both sides-the frustrations of PDs AND the ADAs. As for those lawyers who bail out after not getting paid? Guess who inherits THAT case.The system can screw either side arbitrarily and capriciously. I often feel like the presumption of innocence is treated like an affirmative by the bench. And then there's the ritual screwing around with the statutes by the legislature every two years. And the annual budget insult where we ask for resources to actually perform our jobs on more than a shoestring and end up getting held to higher and higher expectations with no new resources.

Frankly, I wouldn't advise this as a life long career for anyone and I hope none of my kids decide to become lawyers.

So endeth the rant...
TexPD4Parity said…
CORRECTION:I often feel like the presumption of innocence is treated like an affirmative defense by the bench.

Need more coffee....
N.M. pub def said…
Alaska, there's two kinds of "tired" - that from having an extremely bad day and that which comes from being worn/burnt out after years filled with many bad days. If you've recently celebrated your one year anniversary then you've still got a lot of ass kicking left in you. After 15 years, like everybody, I've got war stories: have literally saved a few lives. When a DA gets me down, I look at them and think to myself "You want to go there? Fine. You don't know what I've got inside if you really want to go the distance." Sounds, like you've got it too. Pace yourself, pick your battles (some of the best advice I've ever received from my old mentor.)

N.M. death penalty P.D
NM I have been practicing as a criminal lawyer for almost 10 years. Just one year in AK. Yes I have plenty of ass kicking left in me. But I do notice that these days seems to come more often now. TexPD: Amen. Operator, I am sure that you guys have sucky days too. But I've never been a DA so I don't know how it feels. I bet it is different when you have a real life person getting screwed instead of the "state".
operator101.com said…
PDA in AK, we've got REAL LIFE PERSONS too who get screwed. They're called victims. And no, I'm not taking some 'Victim's Right's' position like I work for Office of Victim's Rights b/c that is such an extreme it hurts when I think about it. I'm talking about those victims who b/c of some drug addiction, past conviction for crime of dishonesty, mental illness, etc that gets dragged into court and discredited DESPITE the fact that they've been beaten/raped/abused.

The State is NOT some all-knowing wizard behind the screen; it's made-up of the same people that you defend, their neihbors, their sisters, brothers, etc... Those are the people that I worry about getting screwed. I don't worry about me or the police or my colleagues when it comes to this problem. I worry about others.
Operator, I was hoping you would bring up the "victim" card. Prosecutors always do. But the real fact, as we BOTH know, is that many, if not most, defendants, commit victimless crimes. Unless you want to consider society as a while a "victim". But I am talking about a real life victim. Of those cases that have a victim, how many are actually tried? Of those MAYBE 1% of cases that are tried and have a victim, how often does the defense win? I see REAL people every day who are screwed by judges and DA's. I bet you don't see more than a handful of people a year "screwed" by the Defense. Which really means that you failed in your burden or your cops acted illegally. I worry about society too. But to equate the 1 in a 1000 (and I'm being VERY generous here) "wrongful" acquittal or even wrong treatment of a witness with the travesty that goes on every day, is just plain wrong. And I think we both know it.
bill said…
Ben:
I don’t know what frustrate s me more:
The DAs who will argue a position they know is wrong, hoping that since the judge is just another prosecutor will rule in her favor;
OR the judges who don’t care about the law, and just want to make sure defendants get convicted;
OR the judges, who just don’t know the law;
OR the judges, who believe anything that comes out of the cops’ mouth;
OR the prosecutors, who lie to the court, hide evidence, don’t turn over Brady material
OR…
Bill

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