So, there is one thing I have to bitch about. In Alaska, the Public Defender Agency makes us pay our own bar dues. I believe the Department of Law had the same policy for DA's. I have never heard of this anywhere else. It certainly was not true even in (my hated) California. It is especially bad because State law says that Public Defender cannot have a practice on the side. I hear the Alaska State Bar just raised its dues to $500. So now I have to come up with $500. Total bullshit. One of the supposed benefits of being a government worker is not being out of pocket just to work. I wonder how much it would cost the Agency to pay the dues? Maybe $50,000. Out of budget of millions. It is hard to come up with $500. Especially as J now wants a third kid. My old roommate Matt Finnegan in Ukiah CA is running for District Attorney. Maybe I should go work for him. Bah. $500 my ass. I am pissed!!!!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Jebus, you are a cheap basterd. One minute you claim AK PD's are paid so well, next minute you don't like paying your "union" dues.Bitch, bitch, bitch. You should go be a DA after the way you railed on your renter with substance abuse problems.Wonder if your renter was/is a PD Client????
Yeah. I railed on my renter because he caused about $7000 in damage. Yup bitch. You betcha ass clown. You betcha.
The State wouldn't even have to come up with any money; just pass an amendment to the statute that says we can't practice on the side. Add in that while we work for the State as a PD (or a DA), we don't have to pay bar dues. Of couse, the non-state attorneys would probably have to make up the difference in the bar's budget out of its dues...
Don't forget that a big chunk of bar dues go to fee disputes and other issues that we have nothing to do with, so private lawyers should pay more. I get why we can't practice criminal law on the side but if the State passes a law that says we can ONLY work for the State, why am I paying my own bar dues?
Anonymous said…
I don't like the idea of public defenders being able to practice on the side. If I needed a PD, and he or she had paying clients too, whose case do you think the attorney would spend more time on? That's not fair to clients. It would be nice to have our bar dues paid, but I'm glad that the agency's priority is on travel, experts, our conference, etc. (And how long have you worked for the PD? This isn't a new policy. You could have budgeted for it.)
Anonymous said…
Ben,

You're off the mark here. I can see not having PD's pay the same amount of bar dues, but you'd also have to cut ALSC folks the same break, and law clerks and pretty soon you're watering down the pool of paying folks dramatically. Solo practitioners in this state aren't shedding any tears for you...most are making less than experienced PDs, without the paid vacation, holidays and benes. So stop complaining and make a budget...$41 a month.

Second, you seriously underestimate the ethical implications of PDs having a side practice. First, in small towns (and they're all small here) it would cause conflicts galore that would hamstring the agency. The other issue--that you brilliantly illustrate yourself--is that you want a PD to be able to represent the dregs of society with absolute passion. That passion is undercut if the PD is worried about decreased revenue at his side practice because he's representing a child molester.
I think PDs should be able to practice civil law on the side. I've seen it work before and it doesn't seem to be a problem. Indeed, given a PD's caseload, they usually have little time to do much other than really quick and simple matters. And there's plenty of supervision out there to ensure that PD clients are getting enough attention.
I am NOT saying that we should have a practice on the side. I agree with the last two comments. But my point is this: in every other jurisdiction that I know of both DA's and PD's get their bar dues paid for precisely BECAUSE we cannot have a practice on the side. Of course I should put money aside. I should also drink more water and eat more leafy greens. But at the end of a pay period, that $40 goes to milk and diapers. That doesn't change the fact that this is something the State should pick up. If we are bound to the State, the State should bind us. Ask around...see if any other (state or county employees) public defenders ANYWHERE pay their own bar dues.
Anonymous said…
I disagree, NPD. Civil law would not be any better. There's no such thing as a "small" case, especially to a client, and especially, especially to a paying client.

Having a side civil practice would incur significant insurance, administrative and accounting expenses, even if it could be performed effectively on top of a full PD caseload. So I don't see any PD actually making much money on those "small" civil cases after the bills are paid. And they would be inherently distracted from their PD job...why would the agency OK that?

Civil cases would cause conflicts at the same rate as criminal, so that problem would still exist.
As I said, I don't disagree. I don't WANT to be a civil lawyer. But bar dues are NOT a personal expense that I should have to pay. They are employment related. Since State law says I can ONLY work for the State, the State should pay them. Again, I would love to hear from any PD, anywhere, who has to pay their own bar dues......anyone?
There are plenty of "small" cases out there, meaning cases that take less time, investigation, and research than others. You are being purposefully argumentative and/or obtuse by taking my comments to mean those clients are somehow less important. You know that's not what I meant and that is obvious to everyone on this list.

The fact of the matter is that, as a former PD, workload levels were cyclical; meaning there were heavy, stressful times and times where there isn't a whole lot to do. In those times, a PD could absolutely take care of one of those "small" time dedication cases. And in some jurisdictions, this has worked out just fine.
Ben's a little frustrated that his conversation has been co-opted! Ben, I have worked as a PD in three different jurisdictions. The only place I've see PDs pay bar dues is in Alaska. Happy?
By the way, if any of you are those Anchorage PD cunts, then I KNOW you have plenty of disposable time given the fact that, during a two week period, not ONE of you were in that gigantic office of yours at three p.m. And I know exactly where you fuckers were...out getting coffee together! I think you can fit in some civil practice under those terribly onerous conditions.
Anonymous said…
Dude. Did you check our board? That's when we have the most court. It's worse on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when we often have hearings in 2 or 3 courtrooms at the same time.
Bullshit. You crybabies did less work with more people than anyone else in the entire state of alaska. It is well-documented.
Jesus...this has gotten off track. I'm a little surprised that any PD takes the position that we should pay our own dues. But oh well.
Dan said…
Northern PD is so correct:

"Bullshit. You crybabies did less work with more people than anyone else in the entire state of alaska. It is well-documented."


Why the hell do you think every single PD trial in Anchorage has TWO FREAKING PDs working it? Stupid little MCA cases with TWO FREAKING PUBLIC DEFENDERS? It's a quantifiable fact - Anchorage PDs do almost NOTHING. 50% are always out of the office by 3pm and 75% of you show up at 9:30am.

You make PDs in the rest of the State look BAD.

And you know what? It's pathetic. You've got some really good attorneys in the Anchorage office. All the private attorneys in town know that office has become a JOKE.
Holy Christ. All I did was bitch about the $500.
Anonymous said…
Uhhhh, Dan? I hope you don't aspire to anything higher than assistant municipal dog catcher, because the whole bar reads these comments and knows who you are. NPD is no longer a PD and you're a DA. You two clowns are not going to get Alaska's PDs to turn on each other, sparked by your incendiary trolling. We may bitch about each other, but we hang tight, from Kotzebue to Ketchikan...and including Anchorage.
News flash...EVERYONE knows this about Anchorage. We used to laugh about how many people you have and how little work you actually accomplish. This isn't dividing PDs among themselves. It's wishing that Anchorage didn't suck up all of the scant resources which might be used to pay bar dues. It's wishing that instead of Anchorage PDs doing 20 misdo cases per attorney, they do the 120 plus the rest of us did. As an office during my two years in Alaska, you did fewer total trials in a given year than Fairbanks, a far smaller city. How could that possibly be? And then, to add insult to injury, the vast majority of awards at the PD conference were given to Anchorage PDs for shit like filing a real good suppression motion, which, although it didn't resolve the case, was real good. Screw you. And if you think Dan is dividing PDs you are sadly mistaken and as clueless about the attitude of the rest of the state as we suspected.
Anonymous said…
Ben--"Northern" Public Defender, who is neither northern nor a pd, says everyone at the Anchorage PD sucks and that "everyone" knows and that it is "well documented". This is your blog...is that true?
Justin T. said…
I think the most logical option for you, Ben, is to become a male prostitute. Just a few johns, cover the bar dues and maybe some nice clothes every now and then. It's not degrading.



It's not degrading.
Why the fuck would you put him in that position, you fucking hack? Especially after you threatened Dan the DA with political excommunication? You practice law? Shit, you gotta be crazy or stupid. Why not instead try to change this attitude rather than cry to ben for protection and see about changing this anchorage-centrist agency..."what do YOU think, ben"....please.
Anonymous said…
Ben?
As I've said, crybabies.
Oh yeah. Like I am getting into this..especially with anonymous requests. No. Clearly I have my thoughts but I am sure as fuck not sharing them here....no matter what I say it will be wrong. All I want is my bar dues paid.
Anonymous said…
This is good.....Legislative audit, is the only way to get an accurate accounting of resource deployment. The PD's have never done their required OMB reports. Bush Alaska has been suffering for many years. Time for an audit.
Anonymous said…
Ben just illustrated for all of us why PDs shouldn't take outside work. He wants to back up his buddy NPD's inflammatory statements about "documentation" that we Anchorage attorneys are so, so lazy, but fears Anchorage. So his conflicting interests paralyze him and both arguments falter. Feel free to jump in from CA, "N"PD.
Ummmm.. no. I am not afraid of Anchorage. But I sure am hell am not going to talk about resource allocation in this setting. I dance with the one that brought me. Any concerns that I MAY have are private. Besides I think the Agency does a kick ass job and I'm sure as hell not going to bitch about it. That is not being 'afraid' of Anchorage.
Dan said…
Anonymous, while I value anonymity (I can't stand the Federalist Society, but I do love the Federalist Papers) I do not aspire to be some assistant municipal dog catcher. I am not, and have not been, afraid to voice my opinions in public through the use of my own name. Until you are able to personally attack me through the use of your own name instead of hiding behind the coward's cloak (in the manner of comments on Ben Adams' blog and not in the aforementioned Federalist Papers manner) of anonymity I will believe that you are really nothing more than a garden variety childish punk.

I have been reading and commentating on Ben's block for about two years now and communicating with Ben (your coworker) for almost as long, I don't think that qualifies as "trolling" as you so put it (my behavior) in your post. Anonymous posting calling people names does, however, fall under the "trolling" definition. So, if you want to be an adult, come out from underneath your bridge and sign your name. We can then go have a beer together where we can agree that our employer (Dept of Law in my case, Dept of Administration in your case I believe) sucks and should pay our bar dues.
Dan said…
One more thing. I wrote in my first comment (more or less) that allocating two Public Defenders to an MCA case was stupid. Two Public Defenders in an Unclassified or A or B felony case, or even a complex C felony is NOT stupid. I think that's a good idea. Especially if one of the attorneys has had prior trial success against that particular prosecutor, previously represented the defendant in other matters, or has had success with similar fact patterns.

Two rather excellent PDs did that this week.

While not successful with the jury, I only heard great things about their legal approach and advocacy in court. Personally, I can't wait until I get a trial against either one.
Damnit all. Let's change the subject. I am NOT going to say anything bad about the Agency. Do I sometimes have concerns? Yes. But I take them to Doug Moody. Up. Not down. Remember Saving Private Ryan? Sure I bitch but not to you. Not here. Time for a new post........
Anonymous said…
public defenders in texas (though few and far between) pay their own bar dues. Eg. State Counsel for Offenders. (I used to work there).
Anonymous said…
This is a first. Ben will not bi tch about the PDA. Go back and read a few hundred of Ben's bitchings about how the State, PDA has screwed him. If it were not for his complaining this blog would be 50% less garbage. Happy Holidays to all the Happy and Unhappy posters.
Yup. And there is a big old difference between pissed at public policy decisions (such as not paying bar dues) and being baited into saying something like lawyers in Anchorage are lazy or the Agency doesn't distribute resources properly. Have I bitched? Well, duh....but you have never, ever, ever seen me bitch about this things in all these comments and you never will. Once again, senor anonymous, ass clown, you are wrong.
Justin T. said…
George Bush doesn't care about black public defenders.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I am not going to tolerate people commenting on my specific cases on this blog. That is unacceptable.

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