So, I am back from my annual Public Defender Conference. My fifth. I learned some things. New law. That maybe some of the conclusions about where our lives are going are correct. For example, the most important thing is that some of the lawyers I work with think I should not have this blog. At all. Apparently there is a feeling that everytime I am less than enthusiastic about my life, that 'negativity' is imputed to the Agency. In fact, I got my ass chewed. I have made this clear before, but it is time to do so again. First, I do not speak for the Alaska Public Defender Agency. Neither formally nor informally. I am a peon. My views are, I am sure, quite different than every other lawyer in the Agency. I write this blog for personal reasons in my own time. It is fully protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. And the times I am frustrated by the difficult job of being a public defender have nothing to do with my employer. I am careful not to write about specific cases (State v. Eacker being an exception, given the media coverage). There are those in the Agency who think I should vet the comments more carefully. I have struggled over this. With the very recent exception of 'banning' kotzkop, an unusually abrasive reader, I have let all comments stand, even when they are calling me a douche. I took this position last night when I was being challenged for having this blog at all: I am consistent. I am proud of being a public defender. I am proud of Alaska. I am proud of where I work. Yes, I have bitched about the Tier 4 benefits but those are State wide, not local to the Agency. Besides I am not the only State of Alaska employee who thinks Tier 4 sucks. I consistently maintain that this Agency is probably the best of its kind in the country. When people say things in comments I will not censor. I will challenge. For some reason, this blog annoys some of those who I work with. Let's be honest: it is not that big of a deal. I am not undermining the Agency or our constitutional mission to protect and preserve, among others, the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution. To put it bluntly I am not that important. I am not that brilliant that my life could gut the 6th Amendment. My writing is simply not that stunning such as to render the Agency impotent. Besides, I care about this job and what I do. I would hope that my clients would agree. If pictures of my kids and fishing adventures are somehow putting that mission in jeopardy, we have bigger problems. So once again I remind my readers that this blog is about me. My views, my life and my family. If you don't like it, don't read it. Don't take it as a formal sanction on any State of Alaska position. In fact, please take it as the opposite. I am free member of American society who is fully protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article One Section 5 of the Alaska Constitution. God bless America for that fact. Everyone got it clear? I will not stop writing. Because freedom don't come free. And public defenders, more than anyone, should know that.

Comments

Justin T. said…
Freedom isn't free
No there's a hefty fuckin' fee
And if you don't throw in your buck O five, who will?
I will throw in a buck ten.
Justin T. said…
That's only a buck 0 five American though.

BURN!
Hence the need to throw in more. Nice.
Anonymous said…
Hear, Hear. I cannot believe a public defender wanted you to shut up, smile sweetly, and tell everyone how great work is. This is a difficult, thankless and dirty job with few resources and, with Tier 4, even fewer benefits.
I would agree with all that except I would add that, to my memory, I can't think of a single time that I really needed something where the Agency said no. That is a rare treat indeed in today's world and one of the reasons I am most proud of the Agency.
Anonymous said…
Well, I will have to admit that when I first started reading your blog I was very surprised that they allowed it. But the more I have read, and after your arguement tonight, I have to say that I think it is cool. I think that it is awesome that someone like you will stand up and say what they believe. Good work! I wish there were more people like you in this country.
Anonymous said…
I am a lawyer in AK and former PD. I like your blog and I think you have a right to write it.
Well thanks for the supportive comments. Quite refreshing for me. For the record, I wasn't 'told' by the higher ups that I could not write it. I just learned that there are some who wish I wouldn't. There is a sense that our world and our lives should be shrouded and secret. I obviously disagree. And I encourage those who disagree with me to tell me.
Dan said…
I'll agree with you that the Alaska PDA (and OPA) is, bar none, the best public defender agency in the country. Having a unified public defender agency throughout our state (coupled with a statewide conflict public defender agency OPA) only helps to create a ridiculously high quality of criminal defense. I've said before and I'll continue to say it; the most dedicated and hardest working criminal defense attorneys in Alaska work for the PDA and OPA.

That said, Ben, you're crazy to continue with your rants on this blog. You're rapidly on your way to become a punchline. Perhaps some self-censoring is a wise path.
Dan: I appreciate your comments. My rants are generally directed towards the police. I can see how that would lead you to say that I am "crazy". Nah...I think I'll just be me. People either care for it or they don't. And what is the punchline? Here is a PD who thinks that the police are out of control? I can't see how that hurts me. If I mentioned particular cases or cops or DA's or judges that would be bad news I agree.
By the way we should have connected for that drink. My fault. If I had told you WHY that last rant was on this blog, I think even you would have been livid. For what it is worth, you will have to trust my judgment.
Ben,

Never stop writing your blog. I can’t believe the higher-ups complaining. (Well, actually, I do believe it. But, you know what I mean.) The Agency is turning, or has turned, into the man.

Bill
tiny tim said…
First of all: I had no idea so many people read this blog. No matter what anyone says about it, they can't take away from the fact that the read it!
Secondly: Have you seen this?:
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/10/08/supreme-court-charter-right-lawyer-interview.html
Anonymous said…
Dude....your a little bit bi-polar.
Anonymous said…
I first started reading your blog only about a year ago when I had a longing to return to public defender work and a hankering to move to Alaska. I have very much enjoyed your blog, and I do not believe that it in any way holds your agency in a bad light. On the contrary, your blog prompted me to apply to your agency. Of course, your agency did not hire me. But that is probably for the best, as I did return to PD work in my own state, where the benefits include a traditional pension. :)

Hang in there. Your blog is great.

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