Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Taking the Black

That Game of Thrones show that is so popular has this big chunk of the story about a group of men who take a lifelong vow to go stand on a wall and protect the world from zombies.  They call it taking the black.

Hardly a new concept.  Monks take vows, nuns take vows, you take a vow when you get married.

Hell, they've even had Shoalin Warrior Monks.

Now, I knew this because.. well I thought it was obvious.. but apparently it's new to enough people to have gotten a study done:

Defending criminals is a life vow.

Not that you can't stop.  You can.  But you can't really ever do anything meaningful ever again.

First, because people now hate you because clearly your moral compass is off if you're willing to defend, zealously, someone who is accused of (and lets face it, did) something really horrible.  Hillary Clinton cross examining someone in a rape case is the given example.  How dare she!

So much like the guys in the Thrones show, if you choose to defend criminals in this country, you accept that you have taken a vow.  You choose to stand on the wall and defend an ungrateful (to put it mildly) population from an overreaching (to put it mildly) government.  And you don't get to go on to do anything else, because you have burned your reputation.

Now, the article says Public Defender.

Let me tell you something: if you were really a Public Defender, there's another really good reason you'll never go on to do anything else-

You will know, have been neck deep in the shit, that there is nothing good in public life.  That democracy has become governance by bickering between powerful interest groups.  That nothing you do out there will ever feel as good as walking someone out to freedom after a year of scorched earth litigation.

Also, you will have garnered a few bar complaints, meaning that not even criminal defense law firms will be willing to hire you thanks to bullshit like Avvo.

If you're a law student looking at being a PD because you need a job and it sounds better than pushing paper, don't despair.  You don't have to be a real PD.  We won't hire you to do felonies.  You'll putz around doing first appearances and misdemeanors for years before you touch anything that can burn you.  Not because we care about you, understand, but because you are no PD, and no PD office worth a damn would let you walk into a courtroom with a client's life in your hands.  You have to spend some time being formed before we put you in the furnace to harden.

Besides, Public Defenders aren't made, they're born.  No one takes the black that didn't want to deep in their soul.  So keep your studies ABA.  You can't scare off new recruits better than our job already does.


  1. I think a "true PD" office would not make the distinction between doing felonies and misdemeanors that you do. You do the best for the particular client on the particular job..felony or not..and you don't get all romantic and weepy about YOUR ROLE. That has nothing to do with the client.

    1. Well, because I don't generally assume people are totally ignorant about what they're saying, I'm going to bite: What? Are you saying misdemeanors are equal to felonies? You think any law office would just hand a six count L&L to a new attorney with a DWP case? Look, anon, that's malpractice. There's this whole requirement that you actually know what you're doing before you do it thing we have at law. No office could ethically give a brand new attorney a felony and say "go play." That's insane.
      As for your weird side barb- I don't know any attorney who has no feelings, but I can only imagine they aren't trial attorneys. The courtroom is all about feelings. Yes, PDs tend to wax philosophical and poetic from time to time, after all, that's a good part of how we save our clients. If you don't care to hear it, why are you reading a PD blog?