Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies

I have worked with a lot of prosecutors in my years as a public defender. This is an adversary system, and so, naturally, there have been a lot of arguments, butting heads, and sometimes, some heated exchanges. I get mad at them for sometimes being stubborn, unreasonable, vindictive, rude, and stupid. But the great majority of the time, we work well together. They are usually professional, honest, and courteous. That's why it really pissed me off today when the prosecutor on one of my cases today lied to me and stabbed me in the back. My client was on probation and had some violations. The probation officer was recommending that he be sent to "SAFP," which is a long-term, intensive inpatient drug treatment program that is part of the state prison system. There is a very long wait to get into this program, and my client would have to sit in jail while he waited. My client wanted to be ordered into a less intensive community inpatient program instead. So, we set it for a hearing in front of the judge. I had tried for about a week to get the prosecutor to agree to my client's request, but she wouldn't budge. Fine. That's her decision. But before we had the hearing today, I specificially asked her if she was going to ask the judge to send my client to SAFP or to revoke him. My client was looking at two to ten years in prison if he were revoked. Regardless of what the prosecutor asks for, the judge has the full discretion to modify or revoke my client's probation--so she could decide to revoke him and send him to prison even if the prosecutor didn't request it. But it still matters whether the prosecutor requests it or not, and I wanted to know what she was going to do. She told me that she was not requesting revocation, and would only ask for the judge to order the defendant into SAFP. So, we do the hearing. After my client and a family member testified, I argued that he should be permitted to enroll in the community inpatient program. The prosecutor, who gets the last word, then forcefully argues that the defendant should be revoked. I couldn't believe it. Nothing had come out in the hearing that was new to her, or that could have changed her mind. She just stabbed me in the back. Thankfully, the judge chose not to revoke my client (although she did order him to SAFP). Still, that was completely unprofessional and unnecessary, and I can't figure out what she thought she was accomplishing by hiding the ball from me in this situation. All she accomplished was making sure I understood that she was not to be trusted.


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2/24/2010 10:18 AM  

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