Thursday, December 12, 2013

Money matters man.

You know you're a public defender when the judge releases your defendant prior to sentencing and in your head you're screaming, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO."

Contrary to what some film depictions of us will tell you, we are not all about getting people out as quickly as possible.  That is because most people make deals.  Sometimes those deals are very important.  Say you convince the prosecutor that your client really isn't that bad a guy and to reduce the possible max from life to a decade.  That deal comes all to pieces if your client gets out and then violates the conditions of that release.

Those conditions often consist of simple things, but also difficult things, like:
No driving.
GPS monitoring (which costs a lot of MONEY)
Drug testing (which costs MONEY)

You say to your client, who was just told he is released, "can you afford that?"  OF COURSE I CAN LET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.  Oh.  Well ok.

And then, a week later, back in jail, and a month later, prison.

Sometimes the judge will really screw a client over by saying something like "and your attorney will tell you where to go and what to do, but do it before you go home or I will send you to prison" except now your client is being led away, you have 5 clients left to do, and you're honestly not sure where X is and you think, well, I'll call him later? shit.  shit... there he goes.  Gone.
Except you have no working number for that client and you don't get back to your office till after 5 anyway.

Why didn't you just interrupt the judge and say, "Your honor, I don't know if I will have a chance to tell my client where that is."  Why.  And you know the answer is probably somewhere between getting your client away from the judge before he changes his mind, your confusion, your not wanting to have the judge berate you in front of your 7 clients who rely on you to keep them out of prison and whose faith in you is key to keeping them out, your own dislike of being berated and feeling the fool, and ... seriously you were given a few seconds to respond to this and this guy really wasn't up there on your worries today so where the hell did this come from?  WHY IS THIS MAN SUDDENLY FACING PRISON BECAUSE OF SUCH STUPID THINGS???

You also know that EVERYONE AT JAIL KNOWS WHERE X IS.  And you assume your client will get this information from someone there.  But you are wrong.  Oh lord.  You are sooo wrong.

I guess the message here is assume nothing.  But do you have any idea how exhausting it is to be ready to answer every question and fix every problem on a moment's notice?  This is what I do.  I will not say I do it well.  But I will try.  And when I fail, I will tell the judge it was my fault.  More than that, I dunno man.  I just don't have any great answer for you.


Getting back to the topic-

You know what else is great about money?  You can hire an attorney.

Your private attorney has time to get his paperwork right.  Ok, honestly, I know a lot of private attorneys fail this because I have to handle some cases where rich people want to steal children from poor people, but at least they have the ability.  I, on the other hand, on probably a monthly basis, fuck up an order somehow, and I have no real excuse except that I am an idiot and I am in a rush.  And now bob is in jail an extra day.  But I heart you bob.

Another great thing about paid attorneys- they can confidently fuck a client all to pieces because of a lack of paperwork from the state.  I generally wait for paperwork to show, but it may be that my assistant, who is also the assistant of other attorneys and has other issues, will not get me that paperwork on time but will scan it into our system, and even better, sometimes the assistant will never get the paperwork to me.  And so my system "wait for the physical copy", not a great system I guess, fails.  Can't count on the assistant.  Should I spend an extra hour each day building a system into my phone to remind me to look at certain cases?  Why not.  God knows the public defender sometimes has a good two hours that he spends sitting in court, waiting for three private attorneys to finish their 45 minute summations on their clients' lives in their driving without privileges cases to avoid... a day in jail.

Yeah, it's been one of those days.  You can all go back to whatever it is you do.  I have my rye.  Cheers.

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