Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

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Anonymous User
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Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:29 am

I have seen in a few posts that it is very difficult to work in the DA's office with a criminal record. I really would like to start in the public defender's office and eventually either move into the DAs office or to the Federal PD's office. Even before that however, I was wondering if anyone knew whether a criminal record (misdemeanor for petite theft) would bar me from working as a PD? By the time I graduate and start working as an attorney it would have been 8+ years since the conviction which happened in my freshman year of college. I live in a very liberal state (assuming I end up practicing in this state).

mrcourt123
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby mrcourt123 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:47 am

Actually, you're in luck. A criminal record is a prerequisite for working in the PD's office!

Anonymous User
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:48 am

Haha, very funny.

But seriously, does anyone know?

pasteurizedmilk
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:50 am

vanwinkle's teeny tiny e-peen has prevented this post from remaining.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Lonagan
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby Lonagan » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:Probably the legal job where a criminal record matters the least.


Probably not true.

Anonymous User
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:05 pm

Lonagan wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Probably the legal job where a criminal record matters the least.


Probably not true.

Yeah I agree. I would think that it would be a bit hypocritical of them to just not accept ANYONE with a criminal record. On the other hand, the job requires excellent ethics and enormous responsibility...

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vanwinkle
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Actually, you're in luck. A criminal record is a prerequisite for working in the PD's office!

Anonymous User wrote:Probably the legal job where a criminal record matters the least.

Didn't need to be anonymous.

Anonymous User
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:28 pm

As someone who's interned with multiple PDs I have some advice to give that may be relevant:

1) I have never heard of a PD's office doing a criminal background check. For an example, I went and pulled up a job posting for a position in New York City (here: http://www.legal-aid.org/media/139196/staff%20attorney-city%20wide.pdf) and it doesn't mention a criminal background check, just admission to the bar. I believe you just have to pass the bar, which will perform a criminal background check as part of C&F and make sure you're ethically fit to serve.

This may be different in some cities, or for federal PDs, but that's the general impression I have. As long as you can pass the bar, you should be fine.

2) Do not think that DA and PD are interchangeable jobs. I just had a conversation with a federal public defender yesterday about this; PD offices are the last place where they really care what you did prior to coming there, and what they care about is why you want to do defense work if you were/want to be a prosecutor. Notice that NYC job posting lists "commitment to indigent defense" in the requirements; that's pretty serious, and working for a DA's office can be an immediate disqualifier.

The culture varies by location. There are places in the south that have lacked public defense institutions, and in order to get experienced attorneys to build them recently, they've just had to take DAs, so their offices are more friendly to this kind of interchange. In places where PD offices have been up and running for a long time and they're proud of their work, often they'll immediately discard your resume when they see a DA's office on it. They can find someone just as qualified who doesn't want to play for the other team, and they know it.

TheFriendlyBarber
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby TheFriendlyBarber » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:a criminal record (misdemeanor for petite theft)


You robbed Andy Pettitte? If so, good luck landing a PD job in NYC! If not, drop the "e."

That said, so long as the Bar is OK with it, the PD's office will be as well.

Anonymous User
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:As someone who's interned with multiple PDs I have some advice to give that may be relevant:

1) I have never heard of a PD's office doing a criminal background check. For an example, I went and pulled up a job posting for a position in New York City (here: http://www.legal-aid.org/media/139196/staff%20attorney-city%20wide.pdf) and it doesn't mention a criminal background check, just admission to the bar. I believe you just have to pass the bar, which will perform a criminal background check as part of C&F and make sure you're ethically fit to serve.

This may be different in some cities, or for federal PDs, but that's the general impression I have. As long as you can pass the bar, you should be fine.

2) Do not think that DA and PD are interchangeable jobs. I just had a conversation with a federal public defender yesterday about this; PD offices are the last place where they really care what you did prior to coming there, and what they care about is why you want to do defense work if you were/want to be a prosecutor. Notice that NYC job posting lists "commitment to indigent defense" in the requirements; that's pretty serious, and working for a DA's office can be an immediate disqualifier.

The culture varies by location. There are places in the south that have lacked public defense institutions, and in order to get experienced attorneys to build them recently, they've just had to take DAs, so their offices are more friendly to this kind of interchange. In places where PD offices have been up and running for a long time and they're proud of their work, often they'll immediately discard your resume when they see a DA's office on it. They can find someone just as qualified who doesn't want to play for the other team, and they know it.

thank you for this post. I know that PD and DA are not interchangeable. I have a much bigger interest in being a PD/working in the federal PD's office. The only reason I listed DA is because I know a few ADAs who started as PDs. That being said, I have nothing against the DAs office but my own politics and values often do not align too well with the politics of DAs so I would not pursue an internship in the DAs office.

Anyway, thanks again. I have consulted with other people and it seems as long as I am honest about my conviction (and I have been) I should be okay with the bar.

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Lawlcat
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby Lawlcat » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:51 pm

I think that it depends on what sorts of offenses are reflected in the record. That said, to turn on my own slight pro-PD bias, PDs recognize that a lot of people get screwed by the justice system, whether it be a false conviction, selective enforcement, or institutionally stigmatizing people as "criminals" for trivial offenses. It depends on the crime, but I'm pretty sure this will help you.

pasteurizedmilk
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:18 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Actually, you're in luck. A criminal record is a prerequisite for working in the PD's office!

Anonymous User wrote:Probably the legal job where a criminal record matters the least.

Didn't need to be anonymous.


INTERNET POWER!!!!!! :lol:

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vanwinkle
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Re: Become a Public Defender with Criminal Record?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:19 pm

pasteurizedmilk wrote:vanwinkle's teeny tiny e-peen has prevented this post from remaining.

pasteurizedmilk wrote:INTERNET POWER!!!!!! :lol:

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=130748




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