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Friday, December 9, 2011

Better than Viagra

The jury is still out deliberating on the rape case so the attorney I am supposed to be shadowing has someone else in the office going to another court for her.  I meet this guy and he's showing me the ropes, explaining whats going on and what I need to do when I get there in the morning.  We have 3 clients that have been brought over from the jail so we're going to go downstairs to see them.  Trouble begins.

Apparently there is something that works better than Viagra....locking a man up for a little while and then introducing him to his new, young, female attorney.  3 separate clients meant 3 separate holding cells.  When we were talking to one, the other two were super glued to their doors staring out the window.  No hands in sight.  When we were talking to a client he was sitting on the bench in the cell, legs together, hands over his very apparent erect penis.  Sigh.  It's day 7 and I'm already tired of ignoring jail cell erections.

BTW, hung jury. 

I don't know if it was the fact that mom essentially pushed her daughter to get rides and money from this guy, or if it was the lack of evidence that sex of any kind-forced or consensual-had occurred, or if it was the fact that the complaining witness' mom was overly dramatic on the stand while the girl acted like this was just another day in the life, but the jury wasn't buying it.  The charge was Rape 1.  7 members said not guilty, 4 said maybe guilty of rape 2.  I guess the last guy/gal abstained from voting? 4 days of deliberating and they are back to the drawing board.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh happy day

I went to jail today.  It wasn't bad.  The worst part was waiting an hour before going in but once we got the see the client it was smooth sailing.  He was so appreciative it was unreal.  I know that the universe is just setting me up to NOT be prepared for that client that wants me hung since he is not getting a 'great' deal.

Oh happy day.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don't be a baby

My initial career goal was to be an agent for the CIA or FBI.  My 2nd goal-a federal prosecutor.  I love the form and formality and the rules.  With that said, I have a lot of respect for prosecutors.  1 of my 3 legal mentors was a federal prosecutor for 26 years.  1 of my 3 legal mentors is currently a prosecutor.  It is with that respect that I say the prosecutor I saw today was a disgrace to the title.  In the 4 years I spent as a Criminology student, observing trials and interning with the Public Defenders Office, I have never seen such a level of immaturity.  In my 3 years as a law student, I have never seen such a piss poor example of what a good advocate is.  Finally, in the 4 years I have been out of law school I have never been ashamed to be a lawyer...until today.  From the time court was called to order to the time that it was dismissed for the day, if the judge entered a ruling the prosecutor didnt like--he huffed and puffed.  If the judge required the prosecutor to explain his line of questioning or respond to an objection--he huffed and puffed.  LOUDLY. 

Really?

Grow up man.  Put your big boy pants on and lets get on with this.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jury selection

I didn't write yesterday because there was nothing to say.  More of the same-sitting in my office with nothing to do and feeling like I was bugging those that I asked for something.  So I stopped.  I left early for an appointment.  That was the highlight of my day.

Today I sat in on the jury selection of a rape trial.  Before I go any further let me say I believe I am more cut out to be in Federal Court.  I like the routine, the rules, the formality of it all.  State court feels like one big social.  The judge finally graced us with his presence at 9:17 for the start of a 9am jury selection and then walked out again for another 5 minutes before saying a word to anyone.  One of the prosecutors came in wearing red patent leather wedges, black pantyhose, a navy blue skirt, sea blue button down, a black leather jacket and a huge green cup.  Sigh.

The judge then had to explain to the defendant that unless there were extenuating circumstances that he would not allow the defendant to change attorneys on the day of trial in hopes of getting a continuance until after the holidays.  Pretty smart move I think.  Even if it didn't work.

I digress.

So, jury selection.  I have seen it done before.  I have done it before.  I have assisted others in doing it.  But, of course, like everything else at this office--this was different.  The usual things were done, the members get badges so we know who not to speak to.  But when they come in-no one rose.  We got a list of jurors on a seating chart and they were placed in the correct seat but it took SOOOO long.  When the judge asked if the State was ready, the prosecutor spoke from his seat.  The Public Defender stood.  The clerk read the oath as a question but asked the jury to repeat after her (i.e., CLERK: "Do you solemnly swear", JURY: "do you solemnly swear").  Sigh.  The jury was told what the case was about-NEVER seen that before.  The victims name (a minor) was given (remember, this is just the jury POOL, not the ones that have been selected).  The judge asked a series of close-ended 'yes' and 'no' questions, about 20-25 of them.  He did not wait for the jury pool to answer.  I guess this was fine because none of them answered anyway.

State's turn at bat => told the pool they are looking for a 'fair' jury. FAIL.  The state gave a mini-opening statement before his 1st question.  He also asked closed ended questions to which no one in the jury answered.

Defense turn at bat => State objected to the first question and the prosecutor glared at the judge when he overruled his objection.  FAIL.  The PD took the time to explain terms and was careful not to call the victim 'victim' but 'complaining witness.'  He did a very good job but the questions were sometimes confusing. 

There was 1 person that was an attorney and married to an attorney.  No one followed up with her.  I haven't determined if this was a major fail or not.

Jury selection was interesting because it was NOT what I was used to seeing.  I saw some things that I will use again and some things that I will NOT be tolerating when I am up against this particular prosecutor.  All in all a pretty good day.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 1-The start of a public offender

December 1, 2011

I hopped out of bed this morning.  Not because I was startled or even excited.  Today is my first day in the Public Defender's office.  I contemplated NOT taking the job because...well, I'll be honest--I love helping people but helping people has typically led me to jobs where I can barely afford to help myself.  Unfortunately, because we live in a "put-that-on-my-tab" country, the job market is such that I do not have the luxury of turning down jobs.

I digress.

So today begins my 3 year training on becoming an excellent Criminal Defense attorney.  In order to reach that goal I must first become a public offender.  Understand that I do not mean that as a dig to public defenders.  Some of the smartest, most passionate and most dedicated attorneys I know either ARE public defenders, or got their start that way.  The reason I say I am a public offender is because that's essentially how the public seems to view PD's; like they (well, we) are one big offense.  I wish I could fool myself into thinking this was NOT because our society is a two-faced, fickle you-know-what but...well, if the shoe fits Cinderella.  Private criminal defense attorneys seem to be admired.  Public defense attorney-admonished.  It almost feels like the general consensus is-if you can't afford an attorney, you must be guilty.  Maybe not guilty of THIS offense, but you did something.

What's ironic is poverty on any other continent is viewed as a sad state, a project, cause, mission or ministry opportunity.  Most can see a hungry, homeless person on television in Thailand and their hearts go out to them.  Many of these same people see a hungry, homeless person in their downtown area and they cross the street.  Nice move Cinderella.

Again, I digress (I do that a lot, so I apologize in advance)

I was in court shadowing an attorney today and this girl asks her, "are you a real lawyer?"

Wow.

And so begins my journey, I will try to update daily but I make no promises.  SO I guess I'm off to becoming a "Public Offender."  Wish me luck!

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT