How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

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

Postby MURPH » Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:34 am

I can't imagine a better thread to argue whether prosecutors are racists. There are a lot of people who want to be involved in criminal law who probably think about this. I doubt it will descend into a shitstorm name calling thread on TLS. We are mostly civilized here. There is lots of room for disagreement.

Anonymous User wrote:Good luck keeping your ADA job in Bumbfuck, Alabama. You will stand out like a sore thumb if you're not willing to (1) disproportionately use peremptories on blacks in the venire and (2) come up with pretextual reasons for striking blacks for cause. But don't let this prevent you from following your dreams of being the first Alabama prosecutor to fight against racism-- maybe you can pull a four figure book deal with a local publisher when you get fired. It might even be in the upper four figures if you time your Atticus Finch-like stand with Martin Luther King Jr. Day or, as they've designated it in Alabama, Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


You will likely have enormous discretion to say go or no go on cases in your first year on the job. If you are assigned to misdemeanor cases you will be the attorney in charge of those cases and will decide to go to trial, to negotiate or to drop. If you are not assigned to cases you will probably have even more power to decide, negotiate or drop because you will be assigned to "filing" which sounds boring but is pretty important. The filing person decides which charge is prosecutable based on the facts available after arrest. It is not glamorous but you basically write a short memo saying which facts line up with which element and which are incompatible with higher charges.

You also won't be the first person to be opposed to racism in the country. Or in Alabama. Or most likely in whatever office you are in. Lots of prosecutors want to put criminals in jail. That doesn't make them racist. It means they are normal people. But if you come across racists you can and should call them out on it - which you can do as a defense attorney too. But it is a matter of effectiveness. A defense attorney who calls out racism in the prosecutors office is just a defense attorney. A prosecutor who does so is a whistleblower. Sometimes that makes a difference, but I'll be the first to admit that whistleblowers need more protections.

More importantly and more broadly, if you do not have what it takes to call it like you see it then don't become a prosecutor. Other lawyers do not have a duty that justice shall be done. If you want to argue on behalf of a person then represent individuals. That is what I am doing now. I have no trouble arguing before a judge that my client is not guilty even when I know damn well that my client did something that I find morally wrong. But if you want to demand justice, then you can only do it as a prosecutor. Even a judge can't choose not to prosecute. A defense attorney can't demand that we shouldn't prosecute this case. In our system, the decision to prosecute or not belongs almost solely with the prosecutor. That is an enormous burden or an enormous discretion depending on how you approach it.

If you think that public defense attorneys or defense attorneys broadly are not racist, and you want to surround yourself with non-racists then try defense work. But my experience has been that defense attorneys are pretty much human. They cut deals, negotiate, maintain their reputations, fight, and give up like anyone else does. Most are honorable. Some are shitbags. The system overwhelms the best intentions of most of them, but not always. It is a good life if you can stay true to yourself.

So my position is the same. If you don't want to deal with racist prosecutors, then you should be the prosecutor. If you can be the guy who fights against a system that is flawed and racist and overwhelming, while being true to yourself then do it. Either way it makes no sense to discourage people from becoming prosecutors.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:31 am

MURPH, all I'm going to say is I hope you take your whistleblowing plans and go to the South and become a prosecutor.

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encore1101
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby encore1101 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:08 am

MURPH wrote:I can't imagine a better thread to argue whether prosecutors are racists. There are a lot of people who want to be involved in criminal law who probably think about this. I doubt it will descend into a shitstorm name calling thread on TLS. We are mostly civilized here. There is lots of room for disagreement.



Really? You can't imagine a better thread to discuss this?

So you can't imagine a thread titled "Are prosecutors racist?" or "Should I become a prosecutor?"

No, the thread that discusses HOW to be either a prosecutor OR a Public Defender is clearly the best place to discuss whether a whole cross-section of attorneys are racist. :roll:

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anon sequitur
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby anon sequitur » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:MURPH, all I'm going to say is I hope you take your whistleblowing plans and go to the South and become a prosecutor.


Your continued use of anon posting here is ridiculous and pathetic.

MURPH, in my experience (which is only in two jurisdictions in one purple state), the ADA's working general district court don't have much if any discretion at all, because policy is set by the elected DA. I gather they have more for serious cases in circuit court, but ultimately, an ADA has to answer to her boss, who has to answer to the voters. It seems to me that a lone ADA trying to buck the system is going to have a hard time keeping their job,

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:51 am

What I want this thread to avoid is a lot of mud-slinging across the DA/PD divide, which, frankly, is what anon seemed to be doing by inserting discussion of the racism of southern prosecutors out of the blue. I don't think comments like "if you want to go to bumfuck ENJOY THE RACISM" are helpful or productive here because "prosecutors suck/no they don't" is not a productive conversation. (And I agree that anon isn't strictly necessary for such comments and will start outing them.)

I do think MURPH answered with a lot of class, in the sense of making the discussion as productive as possible and not descending into mud-slinging. But encore is right that this thread is about how to become a PD/DA, not whether someone should become one; it's also already pretty long and unwieldy. I'm not going to say none of this discussion is relevant, but I also don't want this thread to meander too far from its purpose.

But keep in mind that "prosecutors suck/defense attorneys suck" is not its purpose, and posting without provocation about how terrible prosecutors are in a thread where people come looking for info on how to become prosecutors is not cool.

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

Postby gmail » Fri Nov 28, 2014 5:14 pm

'How to become a prosecutor' inevitably includes critical assessments of the work that goes on in various prosecutor offices. Getting and keeping a job with the Manhattan DA is different than Shelby County. Seems relevant to me. And discussions about racism shouldn't be limited to '_______ IS RACIST' threads.

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

Postby Displeased » Fri Nov 28, 2014 5:30 pm

If you want to stop racism, fix (perceived or actual) racism in the system, or really try to solve any problem in the justice system, being a PD or a prosecutor is NOT the way to do it. Join a non-profit if you want to crusade against racism.

If you are a PD, you represent an actual living and breathing human being. That human being needs a good attorney, not a whistleblower or a crusader.

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encore1101
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby encore1101 » Fri Nov 28, 2014 5:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:'How to become a prosecutor' inevitably includes critical assessments of the work that goes on in various prosecutor offices. Getting and keeping a job with the Manhattan DA is different than Shelby County. Seems relevant to me. And discussions about racism shouldn't be limited to '_______ IS RACIST' threads.


If anything you've posted is "inevitable," its only because you've shoehorned it in as a tangential matter.

For example, in this thread, someone asked how to become a prosecutor, even if it was for some rural city or county. The unfortunate label they used to describe the rural nature was "Bumfuck, Alabama," which, despite what you may think, is not a real town. Instead "Bumfuck" is colloquy to refer to any low-population or rural area (source: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bumfuck).

Far from being "inevitable," you then posted:
If you're keen on becoming an ADA in Bumbfuck, Alamaba it helps to be white, like 97.5% of your fellow DAs, instead of black, like 26% of your fellow Alabamans. And make sure you're okay with all this.


See how that's tangential that is? Rather than being inevitable (since we managed to go nearly 160 pages of this topic without the topic of racism come up), you've shoehorned it in when someone referenced Alabama, not for any discussions of racism, but rather, of ruralism. Certainly, if someone had actually posted something along the lines of "Should I become a prosecutor or PD to lessen racism?" that may lend credence to your "cause," but even then, the majority of posters on this thread give a balanced discussion of racism as it pertains to their particular field and area. On the other hand, you seem to be speaking with an agenda in mind.

And discussions about racism shouldn't be limited to '_______ IS RACIST' threads.


Actually, yes, discussions of whether a particular office, industry, or profession is racist should be limited to threads which address and ask that. I don't know of any limits on the number of threads that this forum can handle. Create your own thread to talk about prosecutorial racism.

By your own admission, you're here to "argue whether prosecutors are racist." This isn't the thread for an argument. This is a thread for information for job seekers.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:20 pm

Posted this in the DA offices thread but any info/experience on whether criminal defense clinics help or hurt applications to DA offices? Thanks.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Posted this in the DA offices thread but any info/experience on whether criminal defense clinics help or hurt applications to DA offices? Thanks.


not at all. i know several people at good DA offices (BxDA, DANY, BkDA) who worked in cdc's.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Posted this in the DA offices thread but any info/experience on whether criminal defense clinics help or hurt applications to DA offices? Thanks.


not at all. i know several people at good DA offices (BxDA, DANY, BkDA) who worked in cdc's.



Ditto for Miami SAO

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:29 pm

I want to be a prosecutor in a certain area of my home state (Texas). However, there aren't currently any openings at my first choice county or any of the surrounding ones.

I'm networking like crazy and trying to meet with loads of people, but I'm not doing anything right now. My post-bar gig ended this week. I might have an opportunity to be an unpaid intern where I worked last summer (doesn't hire entry-level people), but I wouldn't be able to speak on the record/do any actual LAWYERING. I would get paid a stipend through my school that would cover most of my expenses. My parents are able to provide financial support if I need it and are encouraging me to wait for the right opportunity.

I guess my question is, what are the best things I can be doing right now to get me to the job? It kind of seems like if you aren't being a prosecutor, you aren't gaining much relevant experience. I don't want to rush into a position in rural Texas but I'm very stressed about not finding ANYTHING.

ETA: I'm licensed in Texas.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I want to be a prosecutor in a certain area of my home state (Texas). However, there aren't currently any openings at my first choice county or any of the surrounding ones.

I'm networking like crazy and trying to meet with loads of people, but I'm not doing anything right now. My post-bar gig ended this week. I might have an opportunity to be an unpaid intern where I worked last summer (doesn't hire entry-level people), but I wouldn't be able to speak on the record/do any actual LAWYERING. I would get paid a stipend through my school that would cover most of my expenses. My parents are able to provide financial support if I need it and are encouraging me to wait for the right opportunity.

I guess my question is, what are the best things I can be doing right now to get me to the job? It kind of seems like if you aren't being a prosecutor, you aren't gaining much relevant experience. I don't want to rush into a position in rural Texas but I'm very stressed about not finding ANYTHING.

ETA: I'm licensed in Texas.


Is there any government positions where you can get trial-like experience? or some crim law firms that you could intern that would let you get meaningful experience? I would try to be building up some courtroom or crim law related skills

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Posted this in the DA offices thread but any info/experience on whether criminal defense clinics help or hurt applications to DA offices? Thanks.


Not in the New York offices, no. I don't know about other cities. I actually worked for a defense clinic my 2nd year and ended up getting offers at three of the New York offices. I don't even remember getting pressed on it all that much either. It was more common for them to ask me whether I'd applied to Legal Aid during the overall "where else have you applied?" questioning.

In fact, it can generally be turned into a positive for you as an applicant. Some of the NY offices will see you as more well-rounded and less likely to make a stupid / bad decision because you're unable to see the other side of things.

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

Postby gdane » Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:01 pm

Prosecution offices want trial experience, trial experience, and more trial experience. Plain and simple. Moot court, trial team, certified legal intern courtroom experience. prosecution offices aren't looking for gung ho true believers like public defenders offices do. maybe there are a few exceptions, but the general rule is the above.

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

Postby MURPH » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Is there any government positions where you can get trial-like experience? or some crim law firms that you could intern that would let you get meaningful experience? I would try to be building up some courtroom or crim law related skills


There are lots of post grad volunteer prosecutors in Cali. Los Angeles, Long Beach, Marin County all have unpaid DA type positions where you get experience.
I sat second chair in trials in LA City Attorney and did a couple of infraction stuff with another attorney in the room during my 2L summer.

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

Postby Displeased » Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:54 pm

There's a PD job opening in Fairfax, VA right now. Check the Virginia Jobs site. Just posting it because several people earlier in this thread were interested in that office.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby adil91 » Wed Dec 31, 2014 11:06 pm

Would it help to go to a school like Northeastern ,which offers externship opportunities during the fall and spring ,for PD positions? That's 6 more months of internship experience than law schools that don't have this externship program.

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

Postby Tanicius » Thu Jan 01, 2015 3:10 am

adil91 wrote:Would it help to go to a school like Northeastern ,which offers externship opportunities during the fall and spring ,for PD positions? That's 6 more months of internship experience than law schools that don't have this externship program.


Almost all law schools allow you to extern full-time for at least one semester. Many offer two semesters.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby adonai » Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:31 pm

Tanicius wrote:
adil91 wrote:Would it help to go to a school like Northeastern ,which offers externship opportunities during the fall and spring ,for PD positions? That's 6 more months of internship experience than law schools that don't have this externship program.


Almost all law schools allow you to extern full-time for at least one semester. Many offer two semesters.

Yup, and some schools limiting you to one or two full time extern semesters have an exception where you can do a second/third if you have a good reason. For my school, I just said I want to be more "practice ready" and they said yes. That seems to be the law school motto these days anyway so they'll eat that up.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:07 pm

Still digging through on the search feature but does anybody have specific advice for Alameda PD? Specifically, re: what they're looking for and ask about in summer intern interviews. Thanks.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby pdwannabe » Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:00 am

What's a typical starting salary at a state public defender's office if you get hired straight out of law school? and how much would you expect to lose to taxes/loan repayment?

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

Postby Tanicius » Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:56 am

pdwannabe wrote:What's a typical starting salary at a state public defender's office if you get hired straight out of law school? and how much would you expect to lose to taxes/loan repayment?


It can waffle a few tens of thousands bucks depending on the office. I've seen some offices start at 35k in the South, offices in the Northeast start at 40, some offices elsewhere start at 55, and a few are north of 60. You're probably losing a third of that income to taxes. If you are personally paying your loans instead of an LRAP program, AFAIK those loan payments are tax deductible. On the Income-Based-Repayment plan for my quarter-of-a-million dollars loan sum, I (or my LRAP) am required to pay about $450 a month. If I weren't relying on the 10-year forgiveness provision of PSLF, that would be a stupidly low amount of money to pay each month because I don't think it even really covers interest growth each year.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:55 pm

Tanicius wrote:
pdwannabe wrote:What's a typical starting salary at a state public defender's office if you get hired straight out of law school? and how much would you expect to lose to taxes/loan repayment?


It can waffle a few tens of thousands bucks depending on the office. I've seen some offices start at 35k in the South, offices in the Northeast start at 40, some offices elsewhere start at 55, and a few are north of 60. You're probably losing a third of that income to taxes. If you are personally paying your loans instead of an LRAP program, AFAIK those loan payments are tax deductible. On the Income-Based-Repayment plan for my quarter-of-a-million dollars loan sum, I (or my LRAP) am required to pay about $450 a month. If I weren't relying on the 10-year forgiveness provision of PSLF, that would be a stupidly low amount of money to pay each month because I don't think it even really covers interest growth each year.


Just to clarify Tanicius's post, the interest you pay on your student loan is tax deductible (not the entire payment), but that starts phasing out at $60k income, and at $75k income, you get no tax deductions for the interest payments. This assumes your filing as a single person, and the maximum deduction in 2013 was $2,500 for interest paid towards student loans. The other joint filer numbers are here: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch04.html

The salary you can/will make varies vastly between different offices. At a local PD's office in Boston, you'll make about $40k /year starting. Whereas, in San Fransisco, you'll start at $98,500. The amount you'll see in increases varies vastly between offices as well. Generally speaking, you'll see large increases earlier in your career in federally funded offices (PDS, San Diego FPD, etc.) and in a lot of offices in Cali. NALP has information about typical PD salaries here: http://www.nalp.org/july14research

The payments with a $35-60k /year salary are much lower on PAYE. They're probably closer to $300 /month. Also, if you're planning to do PLSF, you can drastically reduce your student loans by deferring the maximum contribution possible into your employer's 401(k) equivalent plan (it's currently $18k /year in 2015) and having your loan payments be calculated through your AGI (although, this takes a year to take effect, since you certify the current year with your past year's tax return and the loan servicer will use gross income, rather than AGI, if you submit paycheck stubs for calculation of your payments). If you wind up at a PDs office that pays something like $40k /year and you contribute $18k /year towards your 401(k) equivalent plan, your payments will be $0 per month, and each of those "payments" count towards PLSF. (Although, the negative to this is that you have to live off $20k /year gross, which is doable in the middle of nowhere areas of the south, but not very practical in a place like Boston).

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

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Jan 13, 2015 4:01 pm

Will I be grilled for volunteering at the Innocence Project by DAs?




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