How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 8:17 pm

seatown12 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Side-note: Six out of the nine paid defense attorneys I know are former prosecutors, so the personality differences can't be too strong.

There's a pretty big ideological difference between private defense attorneys, many of whom were prosecutors, and PDs.

PDs and DAs are not enemies, and I don't think anyone is saying either side is "immoral" or making any kind of judgement, but my value system is pretty different from that of a person who would become a DA.

Veyron wrote:How does knowing Spanish help? Tons of people speak it and most Latinos now speak English or have kids who do.

what are you serious?


Yes. My impression is that Spanish is no longer that marketable. If you think otherwise, I would love to hear why.

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Borhas
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Borhas » Fri May 13, 2011 8:41 pm

basically two factors 1) lots of people still don't speak Spanish and English 2) lawyer-client communication is significantly enhanced when you speak the same language


say you're a PD and you're client is an immigrant, maybe illegal, might be in a gang... would you ask him to bring in his kids to translate his story when he's been charged with a felony? You serious?

also, interpreters suck as a general rule

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 8:43 pm

Borhas wrote:you're a PD and you're client is an immigrant, maybe illegal, might be in a gang... and you would ask him to bring in his kids to translate his story when he's been charged with a felony? You serious?

also, interpreters suck as a general rule


Yes, intepreters do suck. However that scenario happens every day. Maybe its not ideal but its become fairly common place.

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Borhas
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Borhas » Fri May 13, 2011 8:44 pm

it wouldn't common place if more lawyers spoke Spanish

that's my point

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 8:49 pm

Borhas wrote:it wouldn't common place if more lawyers spoke Spanish

that's my point


I didn't say its not desirable, I just said it isn't marketable as in, its not a skill that employers tend to pay a premium for or that makes or breaks hiring decisions.

seatown12
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby seatown12 » Fri May 13, 2011 9:12 pm

Law school GPA doesn't make or break these hiring decisions either but everyone's busting their ass anyway; learning Spanish is comparably beneficial and requires significantly less effort.

More importantly, having a working knowledge of Spanish will make it easier for you to do your job and represent your clients to the best of your ability, which should be the #1 concern anyway.

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 9:14 pm

seatown12 wrote:Law school GPA doesn't make or break these hiring decisions either but everyone's busting their ass anyway; learning Spanish is comparably beneficial and requires significantly less effort.

More importantly, having a working knowledge of Spanish will make it easier for you to do your job and represent your clients to the best of your ability, which should be the #1 concern anyway.


Ok, if this is realy true, how can one leverage Spanish speaking ability into a crim def job (assuming decent school/grade combo)?

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby seatown12 » Fri May 13, 2011 9:28 pm

Defense jobs are all about how well you rep the client. If you can communicate with clients in their language and some other guy can't, you will be the preferred applicant. To be honest I don't really see how you can disagree with this.

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vanwinkle
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri May 13, 2011 9:51 pm

Veyron wrote:
seatown12 wrote:Law school GPA doesn't make or break these hiring decisions either but everyone's busting their ass anyway; learning Spanish is comparably beneficial and requires significantly less effort.

More importantly, having a working knowledge of Spanish will make it easier for you to do your job and represent your clients to the best of your ability, which should be the #1 concern anyway.

Ok, if this is realy true, how can one leverage Spanish speaking ability into a crim def job (assuming decent school/grade combo)?

By putting it on your resume.

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 9:56 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
Veyron wrote:
seatown12 wrote:Law school GPA doesn't make or break these hiring decisions either but everyone's busting their ass anyway; learning Spanish is comparably beneficial and requires significantly less effort.

More importantly, having a working knowledge of Spanish will make it easier for you to do your job and represent your clients to the best of your ability, which should be the #1 concern anyway.

Ok, if this is realy true, how can one leverage Spanish speaking ability into a crim def job (assuming decent school/grade combo)?

By putting it on your resume.


:roll:

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Borhas
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Borhas » Fri May 13, 2011 10:21 pm

Veyron wrote:
Borhas wrote:it wouldn't common place if more lawyers spoke Spanish

that's my point


I didn't say its not desirable, I just said it isn't marketable as in, its not a skill that employers tend to pay a premium for or that makes or breaks hiring decisions.


why not? and how do you know?

and what premium are you talking about? They aren't going to pay Spanish speakers more (well actually some offices will, but that's more a state government policy... but it's almost a trivial amount anyway) They're just more likely to hire them.

It's ok to admit you were wrong, it means you learned something... that is something to embrace :)

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 10:47 pm

Borhas wrote:
Veyron wrote:
Borhas wrote:it wouldn't common place if more lawyers spoke Spanish

that's my point


I didn't say its not desirable, I just said it isn't marketable as in, its not a skill that employers tend to pay a premium for or that makes or breaks hiring decisions.


why not? and how do you know?


I guess you're right, its not like I speak Spanish or have applied for any public interest jobs or anything.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby A'nold » Sat May 14, 2011 2:38 am

Holly: From what I've gathered you should definitely try to get some criminal law experience before your 3L year if you want to keep that option open. I'm not saying that you couldn't get a PD or ADA position w/out some experience b/f leaving law school, but from what I understand it is loads more difficult. Basically, the idea of PD as a fallback option left the legal world long ago (I'm not saying this is what you were thinking, but that's actually how it used to be for a lot of people b/f the over saturation of the legal market). They want to see that you have a true interest and would be willing to put in the long hours and take the pay cut that comes with working for the public.

As for my thoughts about the moral opposition issue:

Most PD's and ADA's are actually pretty friendly with each other. When both sides are doing their jobs correctly, both sides are moral. However, while a PD can act immoral by doing things like not turning over incriminating evidence, etc., it is very difficult for a PD to be truly "evil." This is b/c the most harm he/she can usually do is to "get a guilty person off." A prosecutor, on the other hand, can truly do evil if he/she cuts corners, ignores ethical rules, looks out only for himself and will do whatever it takes to "win." A prosecutor has a larger moral responsibility to be honest with the other side and to be honest with himself about his true motives, actions, etc. It is a very important position where you can absolutely ruin people's lives.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Tanicius » Sat May 14, 2011 2:42 am

Veyron wrote:
seatown12 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Side-note: Six out of the nine paid defense attorneys I know are former prosecutors, so the personality differences can't be too strong.

There's a pretty big ideological difference between private defense attorneys, many of whom were prosecutors, and PDs.

PDs and DAs are not enemies, and I don't think anyone is saying either side is "immoral" or making any kind of judgement, but my value system is pretty different from that of a person who would become a DA.

Veyron wrote:How does knowing Spanish help? Tons of people speak it and most Latinos now speak English or have kids who do.

what are you serious?


Yes. My impression is that Spanish is no longer that marketable. If you think otherwise, I would love to hear why.



Your impression is wrong. Father's a public defender, he can't speak a lick of Spanish and deals with Spanish-speaking clients at least 20% of the time he's with clients. Needs a translator every single time this happens. He says that if his office could hire anyone (of course they can't cause of budget cuts) the first person he'd hire in the blink of an eye would be anyone with even a tidbit of Spanish under their belt. Fluent Spanish speakers? He'd probably cry and thank the gods.

Oh, and in case anyone mistakenly believes this issue only exists in border states... My father practices in suburban Minnesota.

Edit: This does come with the caveat that we're talking about attorneys with client relationships. Spanish skills aren't as important for prosecutors because they don't need to communicate with clients on a face-to-face basis. Both sides often deal with cases involving Spanish-speaking people, but being able to speak Spanish doesn't help a prosecutor during trial unless you're the paid translator, which a prosecutor would not be.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat May 14, 2011 10:17 am

A'nold wrote:As for my thoughts about the moral opposition issue:

Most PD's and ADA's are actually pretty friendly with each other. When both sides are doing their jobs correctly, both sides are moral. However, while a PD can act immoral by doing things like not turning over incriminating evidence, etc., it is very difficult for a PD to be truly "evil." This is b/c the most harm he/she can usually do is to "get a guilty person off." A prosecutor, on the other hand, can truly do evil if he/she cuts corners, ignores ethical rules, looks out only for himself and will do whatever it takes to "win." A prosecutor has a larger moral responsibility to be honest with the other side and to be honest with himself about his true motives, actions, etc. It is a very important position where you can absolutely ruin people's lives.

:?

This is not at all what I meant by morally opposed. I mean that from their own internal points of view they're on opposite sides of a moral divide.

I got a tour of the entire criminal justice system in one of the New York boroughs, given to me by a PD. He happened to mention that one of the writers of the show Raising the Bar was a former PD there, and he thinks that has something to do with how realistic a portrayal it is (relative to other legal dramas at least). His perspective was that it pretty well represents the job and the people who do it, except for the part at the end where the PDs and ADAs get together and talk things out over drinks at the end of the day, which "never happens".

There's a moment from the TV show that I think illustrates my point better than any real-life example I've seen. After a long trial process, the jury deadlocks and there's a mistrial, which is a sort of victory for the PD. His client wasn't convicted, he convinced at least one juror his client was not guilty, and he's convinced this means his client should be let off the hook. He goes to talk to the DA, who offers his client something light (a year, or probation, or something like that) to avoid another trial. The PD says something like, "for once can't you do the right thing?" The DA gets really angry, tells him he's always been doing the right thing, and tells him to prepare for a retrial.

That's what I mean. They both have their own, opposite views on what "the right thing" is. The PDs will believe and assume the best about their clients, fight for their innocence, fight for leniency and help instead of long sentences when they are guilty, and often view the system as excessively cold and retributive. Prosecutors believe their police detectives and the victims, fight for the highest conviction rates, and seek the longest possible sentences because doing so keeps dangerous people off the streets longer and sends a tough deterrence message.

And both sides look for people who think like them. We live in an adversarial system, you need people who very strongly believe your side is the right side to give the best representation. In many places, PD offices get so many applicants that they can screen them easily by discarding any with prosecutorial experience, and still have enough candidates left over.

I know there are places where the two sides at least get along, and it varies a lot based on where you are. In some places, PD offices were created out of thin air, and the only experienced criminal attorneys available in the state were prosecutors, so the offices were built by former prosecutors and that led to the two sides getting along better. But then look at a place like like New York where PD services were provided by an entrenched legal aid organization, run by people who believe they're fighting societal inequality and injustice with every single case they handle.

It's easier to switch from PD to prosecutor than vice versa. Prosecutors often believe it's easy to want to join their side, especially since there's usually more money and respect involved. PDs, on the other hand, know their side involves a lot of disrespect, low pay, and losing often, and they really want people who believe in the mission strongly enough that they'll stick through that.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Verity » Sat May 14, 2011 3:28 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
A'nold wrote:As for my thoughts about the moral opposition issue:

Most PD's and ADA's are actually pretty friendly with each other. When both sides are doing their jobs correctly, both sides are moral. However, while a PD can act immoral by doing things like not turning over incriminating evidence, etc., it is very difficult for a PD to be truly "evil." This is b/c the most harm he/she can usually do is to "get a guilty person off." A prosecutor, on the other hand, can truly do evil if he/she cuts corners, ignores ethical rules, looks out only for himself and will do whatever it takes to "win." A prosecutor has a larger moral responsibility to be honest with the other side and to be honest with himself about his true motives, actions, etc. It is a very important position where you can absolutely ruin people's lives.

:?

This is not at all what I meant by morally opposed. I mean that from their own internal points of view they're on opposite sides of a moral divide.

I got a tour of the entire criminal justice system in one of the New York boroughs, given to me by a PD. He happened to mention that one of the writers of the show Raising the Bar was a former PD there, and he thinks that has something to do with how realistic a portrayal it is (relative to other legal dramas at least). His perspective was that it pretty well represents the job and the people who do it, except for the part at the end where the PDs and ADAs get together and talk things out over drinks at the end of the day, which "never happens".

There's a moment from the TV show that I think illustrates my point better than any real-life example I've seen. After a long trial process, the jury deadlocks and there's a mistrial, which is a sort of victory for the PD. His client wasn't convicted, he convinced at least one juror his client was not guilty, and he's convinced this means his client should be let off the hook. He goes to talk to the DA, who offers his client something light (a year, or probation, or something like that) to avoid another trial. The PD says something like, "for once can't you do the right thing?" The DA gets really angry, tells him he's always been doing the right thing, and tells him to prepare for a retrial.

That's what I mean. They both have their own, opposite views on what "the right thing" is. The PDs will believe and assume the best about their clients, fight for their innocence, fight for leniency and help instead of long sentences when they are guilty, and often view the system as excessively cold and retributive. Prosecutors believe their police detectives and the victims, fight for the highest conviction rates, and seek the longest possible sentences because doing so keeps dangerous people off the streets longer and sends a tough deterrence message.

And both sides look for people who think like them. We live in an adversarial system, you need people who very strongly believe your side is the right side to give the best representation. In many places, PD offices get so many applicants that they can screen them easily by discarding any with prosecutorial experience, and still have enough candidates left over.

I know there are places where the two sides at least get along, and it varies a lot based on where you are. In some places, PD offices were created out of thin air, and the only experienced criminal attorneys available in the state were prosecutors, so the offices were built by former prosecutors and that led to the two sides getting along better. But then look at a place like like New York where PD services were provided by an entrenched legal aid organization, run by people who believe they're fighting societal inequality and injustice with every single case they handle.

It's easier to switch from PD to prosecutor than vice versa. Prosecutors often believe it's easy to want to join their side, especially since there's usually more money and respect involved. PDs, on the other hand, know their side involves a lot of disrespect, low pay, and losing often, and they really want people who believe in the mission strongly enough that they'll stick through that.




I don't doubt that this is true, I just think it's absurd. Passion, in such a case, makes sense when you want to do your job well; but it's hypocritical for anyone on either side, on the one hand, to believe in the American legal system, and then have this type of condescending attitude toward colleagues on the other. Can't they see the big picture? Who cares what side you're on? You're just playing one of four (including the judge and jury) necessary roles to complete the process. I sort of read "adversarial" in its most technical sense, without the trappings of arrogance and condescension that unfortunately exist in real life.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby seatown12 » Sat May 14, 2011 3:54 pm

Verity wrote:I don't doubt that this is true, I just think it's absurd. Passion, in such a case, makes sense when you want to do your job well; but it's hypocritical for anyone on either side, on the one hand, to believe in the American legal system, and then have this type of condescending attitude toward colleagues on the other. Can't they see the big picture? Who cares what side you're on? You're just playing one of four (including the judge and jury) necessary roles to complete the process. I sort of read "adversarial" in its most technical sense, without the trappings of arrogance and condescension that unfortunately exist in real life.


Maybe if the other roles were played by robots your stance would be realistic. The reality is that your adversarial opponent is a human being and fallible. When your client, who is also a human being, is being overcharged, or not getting a fair deal, or whatever, it makes perfect sense to have a negative response toward the person representing the other side. Also I doubt many people working in the criminal system see themselves as "just playing a necessary role to complete the process."

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat May 14, 2011 4:03 pm

seatown12 wrote:Maybe if the other roles were played by robots your stance would be realistic. The reality is that your adversarial opponent is a human being and fallible. When your client, who is also a human being, is being overcharged, or not getting a fair deal, or whatever, it makes perfect sense to have a negative response toward the person representing the other side. Also I doubt many people working in the criminal system see themselves as "just playing a necessary role to complete the process."

Human beings are wired to be adversarial entities. People have loyalties to causes, beliefs, and other people. Not only that, but passion actually keeps people going and makes them better at what they do; purpose gives them a reason to keep giving their best. Dedicated people make better advocates than dispassionate people. The side effect of that is that their passion gets focused against the other side, which is working against the interest of their clients and their principles.

A lot of PDs that I've met believe that the police and prosecution are not only fallible but misguided and even corrupt. I think those beliefs make them better PDs, because it gives them much more reason to fight and hunt for a way to help their client. It's harder to passionately defend your client's interests if you just accept that the prosecutor may be right about him.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby sundance95 » Sat May 14, 2011 4:29 pm

I'm interested in this subject. So, if I'm understanding correctly, if you are gunning for a DA/PD one would want to:

1) Take crim & trial ad courses
2) Intern @ a DA/PD office, preferably at one you'd like to work in
3) Clerk at a trial level court

Am I missing anything?

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vanwinkle
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat May 14, 2011 4:49 pm

sundance95 wrote:I'm interested in this subject. So, if I'm understanding correctly, if you are gunning for a DA/PD one would want to:

1) Take crim & trial ad courses
2) Intern @ a DA/PD office, preferably at one you'd like to work in
3) Clerk at a trial level court

Am I missing anything?

That's the basics, I think. I would say multiple internships if possible. If you intern in more than one office, it shows your interest in the field and gives you more connections for future job hunting.

If you can do it, trial ad or moot court competitions could also be good because 1) they help you practice speaking and arguing and 2) they show employers you're working on those things.

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leobowski
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby leobowski » Sat May 14, 2011 7:11 pm

sundance95 wrote:I'm interested in this subject. So, if I'm understanding correctly, if you are gunning for a DA/PD one would want to:

1) Take crim & trial ad courses
2) Intern @ a DA/PD office, preferably at one you'd like to work in
3) Clerk at a trial level court

Am I missing anything?


Other helpful things:
1) Relevant clinics
2) Relevant publications
3) Other public service, including volunteering.
4) Moot court

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Verity
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Verity » Sat May 14, 2011 7:13 pm

seatown12 wrote:Maybe if the other roles were played by robots your stance would be realistic. The reality is that your adversarial opponent is a human being and fallible. When your client, who is also a human being, is being overcharged, or not getting a fair deal, or whatever, it makes perfect sense to have a negative response toward the person representing the other side. Also I doubt many people working in the criminal system see themselves as "just playing a necessary role to complete the process."


Which is why I made the more nuanced acknowledgment that there are shady characters and unfortunate techniques used on both sides. It makes sense to be upset about that; it makes no sense for, let's say, a PD to assume that because someone is a prosecutor you should be morally opposed to that prosecutor ipso facto, and vice versa.

vanwinkle wrote:Human beings are wired to be adversarial entities. People have loyalties to causes, beliefs, and other people. Not only that, but passion actually keeps people going and makes them better at what they do; purpose gives them a reason to keep giving their best. Dedicated people make better advocates than dispassionate people. The side effect of that is that their passion gets focused against the other side, which is working against the interest of their clients and their principles.

A lot of PDs that I've met believe that the police and prosecution are not only fallible but misguided and even corrupt. I think those beliefs make them better PDs, because it gives them much more reason to fight and hunt for a way to help their client. It's harder to passionately defend your client's interests if you just accept that the prosecutor may be right about him.



It's childish.

And who said "just accept that the prosecutor may be right about him?" I don't know why you have to virtually swear off collegiality in order to do your job effectively. This kind of mindset is unsophisticated, even foolish.

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A'nold
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby A'nold » Sat May 14, 2011 7:41 pm

Verity wrote:
seatown12 wrote:Maybe if the other roles were played by robots your stance would be realistic. The reality is that your adversarial opponent is a human being and fallible. When your client, who is also a human being, is being overcharged, or not getting a fair deal, or whatever, it makes perfect sense to have a negative response toward the person representing the other side. Also I doubt many people working in the criminal system see themselves as "just playing a necessary role to complete the process."


Which is why I made the more nuanced acknowledgment that there are shady characters and unfortunate techniques used on both sides. It makes sense to be upset about that; it makes no sense for, let's say, a PD to assume that because someone is a prosecutor you should be morally opposed to that prosecutor ipso facto, and vice versa.

vanwinkle wrote:Human beings are wired to be adversarial entities. People have loyalties to causes, beliefs, and other people. Not only that, but passion actually keeps people going and makes them better at what they do; purpose gives them a reason to keep giving their best. Dedicated people make better advocates than dispassionate people. The side effect of that is that their passion gets focused against the other side, which is working against the interest of their clients and their principles.

A lot of PDs that I've met believe that the police and prosecution are not only fallible but misguided and even corrupt. I think those beliefs make them better PDs, because it gives them much more reason to fight and hunt for a way to help their client. It's harder to passionately defend your client's interests if you just accept that the prosecutor may be right about him.



It's childish.

And who said "just accept that the prosecutor may be right about him?" I don't know why you have to virtually swear off collegiality in order to do your job effectively. This kind of mindset is unsophisticated, even foolish.

+1. If it really takes make believing that your client is being overcharged and that police and prosecutors are inherently corrupt, then becoming a PD obviously isn't for me. I am a realist and can see when prosecutors are being jerks AND when people are dangerous and need to be prosecuted...... :?

Edit: I have noticed that many PD types at my school are very militant and closed minded about the system. However, there are many that seem to be pretty level headed. I understand that being a vigorous advocate is essential for a PD for obvious reasons but do they really have to buy into a way of thinking that may go against reason?

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sundance95
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby sundance95 » Sat May 14, 2011 8:37 pm

leobowski wrote:
sundance95 wrote:I'm interested in this subject. So, if I'm understanding correctly, if you are gunning for a DA/PD one would want to:

1) Take crim & trial ad courses
2) Intern @ a DA/PD office, preferably at one you'd like to work in
3) Clerk at a trial level court

Am I missing anything?


Other helpful things:
1) Relevant clinics
2) Relevant publications
3) Other public service, including volunteering.
4) Moot court

TYVM

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vanwinkle
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat May 14, 2011 8:50 pm

A'nold wrote:Edit: I have noticed that many PD types at my school are very militant and closed minded about the system. However, there are many that seem to be pretty level headed. I understand that being a vigorous advocate is essential for a PD for obvious reasons but do they really have to buy into a way of thinking that may go against reason?

I don't think you have to be "militant" or "closed minded", but I do think you have to at least be obviously on the same side of the line that they are.

Also, this varies depending on where you're working. Some PD offices are more collegial than others...




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