Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Long, Rambling Return to Blogging

Has it really been over a month since I last posted? I guess it has. In that time, I tried an interminable child sex abuse case that resulted in a split verdict of guilty of one count and not guilty of the other, which, objectively, was a huge victory, but didn't feel that way as I watched the mother of my client dissolve into tears throughout the judge's announcement of his verdict. In the middle of the trial, I went on a little vacation, which was really lovely, but now feels like forever ago, in that I am just as overwhelmed with work and exhausted as I was the day I left. Then, I tried a little misdemeanor minor in possession of alcohol case that I had no hope of winning but almost did on a completely random technicality, but none of that ended up mattering, as my client, who has been an alcoholic since he was probably about 10, was ordered shipped off to the juvenile institution for almost a year, without a single parent or family member there because none of them can be bothered to give a damn. And then, this Monday, I tried a burglary case that actually involved four felony counts because of the two cars stolen and the going back to the house a second time to steal one of them after wrecking out the other one, and the only evidence--literally, the ONLY evidence--against my client was the testimony of a co-defendant who was refusing to name the alleged third person involved (which would categorically not be enough to convict in the State of Texas, but is enough here in blue-state Washington), and the stakes couldn't have been higher after my client turned down the misdemeanor offer from the prosecutor who knew he had a weak case (aren't those always the absolute hardest offers to advise your client about???). And somehow, the star witness accomplice guy managed to perjure himself during the prosecutor's direct exam, and I forced him to admit said perjury during my cross-exam, and then he refused to answer my question as to who the third person he told the police officer he would never name and would take the fall for was, and then the judge granted my motion to strike the lying, withholding witness's testimony in its entirety, leaving the prosecuto with no evidence against my client, forcing him to dismiss with prejudice in the middle of trial. And it was an awesome, thrilling moment of victory, that I felt the need to bask in for the rest of the day, because you so rarely get such awesome, thrilling moments in this job, and then, the next day, I get dragged right back down because I have to try a case that is most likely a complete loser. And throughout all of this, I'm putting out this fire here and that fire there, handling probation violations, and motions, and kids who won't go to school, and kids who keep running away, and pleading out a bunch of other kids, including one whose mother is dead and whose dad is in prison, and he was so horribly sexually abused that he has had to have multiple surgeries to repair the physical injuries from the abuse, but whose legal guardians are so "fed up" with his inability to control his anger that the kid heard the "dad" on the phone with a friend saying he just wished the kid was dead, said "dad" also having told me that he doesn't believe the kid is properly being held accountable, and that I shouldn't even bother to tell him about the consequences of convictions becuase he knows about convictions, being a four-time convicted felon himself. Oh, and yeah, Veronica Mars got cancelled, so that was just the icing on the cake. And that, in a nutshell, is what's been happening the past month.

How's everyone else doing?

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Blogger Ben said...

Sounds like one hell of a month. You PDs are under-appreciated for all the work you do. Glad to have you back in the blogosphere!

5/24/2007 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're back, too, because you and I have the same job! That's an excellent story about the auto theft (I have that EXACT same fact pattern with one of my kids, and in Arizona, as in Washington, that testimony is enough). It doesn't help that there was a picture up on myspace of my kid in the stolen car.

It would be easier to do this job if we didn't spend so much time chasing down kids who have run away, or kids who won't go to school, wouldn't it? Thank god for summer!!!!

5/24/2007 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, one more thing. My car-theft-kid's judge is a person who goes to demonstrations at executions-- IN SUPPORT OF the execution.

5/24/2007 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Gideon said...

Hey, hey! Welcome back :) Missed you around these parts.

5/24/2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger Wrongfully Accused! said...

So tell me something. Being a neophyte into this criminal justice system business....Do you consider public defenders (overall) more passionate about their cause giving their all into providing a due process and proper defense in a trial or appeals then their high dollar counterparts who seem more into the retainer than the work of good lawyering? After having a front row seat on watching a trial be stonewalled, railroaded into a guilty verdict by shannigans in high gear by the prosecution and an inferior, low budget defense how do we know who to trust? Something tells me the P.D. is doing a better job than most attorneys who make a game on extracting $$$ with little effort in return. Sorry to sound so jaded! Do visit:

5/25/2007 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know lazy PDs and I know lazy private lawyers. I think it's hard to make generalizations.

I'm a PD. If I needed a defense attorney, and could afford to pay for one, I'd go interview a bunch and see which one came off as passionate. You can tell. Just ask, "why do you do this job?"

5/25/2007 5:52 PM  
Blogger 123txpublicdefender123 said...

Yeah, I agree. There are good and bad in both. If you're not indigent, you shouldn't be utilizing the public defender's office, but if you are one of the marginally indigent--where you would qualify for a PD, but could get friends and family resources together to hire a lawyer--it's worth it to see if you can hire a private lawyer with a good reputation for zealous, effective advocacy. I am never offended when a client decides to hire a private lawyer, although I do feel bad for clients sometimes when I see who they've hired.

5/29/2007 7:43 AM  
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2/21/2008 5:37 PM  
Blogger A Voice of Sanity said...

(which would categorically not be enough to convict in the State of Texas, but is enough here in blue-state Washington)

Blue state? You jest. After over 25 year of observation I think of it as "Golden state" Washington - as in those who have the gold make the rules here.

6/14/2008 6:18 PM  
Blogger A Voice of Sanity said...

(if you) could get friends and family resources together to hire a lawyer--it's worth it to see if you can hire a private lawyer with a good reputation for zealous, effective advocacy.

The state spent $11 million to convict Scott Peterson - and ran a 5 month 'grinder' trial to bury his defense. How do you compete with that? I believe that unless you have O J money, let the PD defend the case - spend your money on good investigators who are cheaper and far more cost effective.

6/14/2008 6:22 PM  
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