Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

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Kivan
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:33 am

twenty 8 wrote:My state has a serious prison overcrowding problem. This includes the Martha Stewart cupcake facilities. State legislatures are engaged in keeping non-violent offenders out of jail cells.

Granted, in years to come when minor drug offenders are treated differently the overcrowding might be alleviated but until then we’re dealing with serious overcrowding. Doesn’t that factor into your decision on house arrest and negotiating the length of time to be served?


Welcome to my, and just about every other prosecutor's, life.

OUr state department of corrections dictates how long a prisoner sits in prison, regardless of what the Judge "sentenced" him to.

So I can be a big-swinging dick and DEMAND that this meth addict get 10 years in prison. But the state parole and pardons board is gonna let him/her out in 18 months.

So why even waste the ink on the paper when everybody knows what the deal is?

Same goes for just about every "non-violent" offense on the books.

Jaymore
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Jaymore » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:51 pm

15 styx wrote:Since my JA experience hasn’t extended itself to your side of the field, I am asking this out of curiosity. The plea process, how does it really work? Especially when both sides are far apart from seeing things eye-to-eye. Hypothetically, talking white collar, not serial killer.

Have you come up against a situation where you wanted 4 years and they were willing to accept 1 year.... verdict comes back not guilty.... is that something you deal with a lot?


Depends on the judge. Some judges here take a very active role in the pleas. If they don't think it is strict enough, it ain't getting accepted. So the process here is more like, their client wants one year, there is no way the judge would accept anything under three, so we are forced to trial.

Jaymore
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Jaymore » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:51 pm

15 styx wrote:Since my JA experience hasn’t extended itself to your side of the field, I am asking this out of curiosity. The plea process, how does it really work? Especially when both sides are far apart from seeing things eye-to-eye. Hypothetically, talking white collar, not serial killer.

Have you come up against a situation where you wanted 4 years and they were willing to accept 1 year.... verdict comes back not guilty.... is that something you deal with a lot?


Depends on the judge. Some judges here take a very active role in the pleas. If they don't think it is strict enough, it ain't getting accepted. So the process here is more like, their client wants one year, there is no way the judge would accept anything under three, so we are forced to trial.

Jaymore
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Jaymore » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:02 pm

sublime wrote:Kind of back on the topic of "unreasonable" defense attorneys - while a lot of times they can't tell you this, they agree and think that client is being unreasonable, but especially w/ PD's, they don't choose their clients and are essentially stuck with them. And if they refuse to take a plea, even a reasonable one, despite being advised to do so, there is pretty much zero the PD can do about it.


It is more the lack of civility that gets me. Making snarky comments in court, personal attacks in briefs. Talking shit about my officers in plea negotiations.

I've kicked a few out of my office.

Kivan
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:19 pm

Jaymore wrote:It is more the lack of civility that gets me. Making snarky comments in court, personal attacks in briefs. Talking shit about my officers in plea negotiations.

I've kicked a few out of my office.


That is the sign of a bad private lawyer or a very inexperienced PD.

The bad private lawyer really doesn't care that being an asshole WILL NOT get his client a better offer.

The inexperienced PD is still drinking the Kool-Aid and thinks that they are fighting against "The Man" and that the harder they fight, the more "Justice" they'll get for their client.

Jaymore
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Jaymore » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:22 am

Kivan wrote:
Jaymore wrote:It is more the lack of civility that gets me. Making snarky comments in court, personal attacks in briefs. Talking shit about my officers in plea negotiations.

I've kicked a few out of my office.


That is the sign of a bad private lawyer or a very inexperienced PD.

The bad private lawyer really doesn't care that being an asshole WILL NOT get his client a better offer.

The inexperienced PD is still drinking the Kool-Aid and thinks that they are fighting against "The Man" and that the harder they fight, the more "Justice" they'll get for their client.


Its the PDs - the private attorneys are quite amiable and I'm happy to work with them.

Calling a detective that I work with extensively an idiot - in those terms - isn't going to get you in my good graces. It is going to get you shown the door. Rolling your eyes and laughing in my face at my plea offer is bad form as well. Especially when I'm holding a strong hand.

I can only stand the presence of two PDs (I even like/would have a beer with them, actually) - the rest we communicate through email only. Face to face discussion cause setbacks. Like you I would attribute it to the smug "you are the man, I am fighting the man and thus morally superior, everything you do is evil, how could you work to suppress peoples rights" indignant attitude. Its an office full of true believers, and that accomplishes nothing.

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seespotrun
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby seespotrun » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:41 am

Sounds like you're a classic power trip.

Kivan
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:53 am

Jaymore wrote:
Its the PDs - the private attorneys are quite amiable and I'm happy to work with them.

Calling a detective that I work with extensively an idiot - in those terms - isn't going to get you in my good graces. It is going to get you shown the door. Rolling your eyes and laughing in my face at my plea offer is bad form as well. Especially when I'm holding a strong hand.

I can only stand the presence of two PDs (I even like/would have a beer with them, actually) - the rest we communicate through email only. Face to face discussion cause setbacks. Like you I would attribute it to the smug "you are the man, I am fighting the man and thus morally superior, everything you do is evil, how could you work to suppress peoples rights" indignant attitude. Its an office full of true believers, and that accomplishes nothing.


The funny part is that when their client gets the book thrown at them they will inevitably play the victim and say, "SEE! THIS IS WHY THE SYSTEM IS SO CORRUPT! ALL THEY WANT TO DO IS LOCK UP THE POOR MINORITIES!"

I find that the older PD's who have been in private practice before coming to the PD office are much more professional and practical. If the case is a loser, then they'll try to get the best deal possible for their client and not try to grandstand. If the case has SOME MERIT, then they'll talk to you like an adult and try to work something out. Push come to shove, they'll let you know upfront that it's gonna be a trial.

The rookies really do believe they are the second-coming of Clarence Darrow and that this Motion to Suppress is going to EXPOSE the Criminal Justice System for the farce that it is. . . .just ignore the fact that the client had 2 ounces of weed and a 2 guns on him, that's just a coincidence.

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15 styx
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby 15 styx » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:09 pm

From your posts I am assuming you often deal with drug charges and minor/medium offenses. What happens when a case hits the bigs (newspaper headlines, TV coverage) and there are real dollars in play? Do you get to handle those cases or are certain major cases handed off to the state attorney? I suspect that the minute you have to face a large firm with a dozen associates assigned to the case, the dynamics must change.

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MarkinKansasCity
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby MarkinKansasCity » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:14 pm

15 styx wrote:From your posts I am assuming you often deal with drug charges and minor/medium offenses. What happens when a case hits the bigs (newspaper headlines, TV coverage) and there are real dollars in play? Do you get to handle those cases or are certain major cases handed off to the state attorney? I suspect that the minute you have to face a large firm with a dozen associates assigned to the case, the dynamics must change.


Kivan wrote:"large firm attorney" vs. "public defender" = large firm attorney getting his ass whupped up and down that courtroom.

For all the shit that people talk about PD's, I'd take them over some law firm attorney any day of the week. Unless that private lawyer DOES criminal law on a regular basis, I wouldn't trust my freedom with them.

"But--but--he graduated from HYSP and has done work with the innocence project!"

IDGAF! He is an outsider which means he does not know the Judge, court reporter, bailiff, and a couple of prosecutors. He will not get the client a better deal than the PD who deals with these same people day in and day out.

Kivan
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:39 pm

15 styx wrote:From your posts I am assuming you often deal with drug charges and minor/medium offenses. What happens when a case hits the bigs (newspaper headlines, TV coverage) and there are real dollars in play? Do you get to handle those cases or are certain major cases handed off to the state attorney? I suspect that the minute you have to face a large firm with a dozen associates assigned to the case, the dynamics must change.


"large firm doing criminal law" ???

Is this some kind of internet meme that I'm not aware of?

Large firms don't do criminal law because:

a: It's not prestigious

b: You don't make real money by handling nickle and dime drug cases

c: There aren't enough Murders and Child Molestors with the MONEY/RESOURCES to pay for a private lawyer to justify having a full-time Criminal practice with multiple associates.

In regards to cases that hit the "newspaper" that's just about every felony case in my jurisdiction. Our newspaper/TV/etc are very good about being ON THE SCENE when the police show up to a crime and will report the who/what/when/where for every crime. There will typically be a 4-6 month lag between the time it was REPORTED and by the time I get the file on my desk.

We don't hand off "major cases" to the State's Attorney. They don't even get involved in *MOST* criminal offense unless it involves money/human trafficking/politicians. In regards to the politicians, there most be some special circumstance or else they'll leave it to the respective State Prosecutor.

This whole idea of the BIG BAD STATE ATTORNEY'S OFFICE taking over cases from us woefully inexperienced county/city-level prosecutors is really Law & Order Fantasy material. I've prosecuted and/or tried: Murders, Rapists, Child Molesters involve multiple victims in OTHER STATES, and even Bank Robberies.

I actually like it when my name is in our local newspaper for a case that I've handled.

Anonymous User
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:17 pm

15 styx wrote:From your posts I am assuming you often deal with drug charges and minor/medium offenses. What happens when a case hits the bigs (newspaper headlines, TV coverage) and there are real dollars in play? Do you get to handle those cases or are certain major cases handed off to the state attorney? I suspect that the minute you have to face a large firm with a dozen associates assigned to the case, the dynamics must change.

Yeah, large firms don't take state criminal cases, let alone put a dozen associates on them. It's just not how it works.

If you're looking at federal prosecution, either you get a team of AUSAs from the white collar unit handling it, or maybe it gets taken over by main justice or antitrust or something, depending on what the case is. But then, the major cases are what they do, so nothing would really change.

Kivan
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
If you're looking at federal prosecution, either you get a team of AUSAs from the white collar unit handling it, or maybe it gets taken over by main justice or antitrust or something, depending on what the case is. But then, the major cases are what they do, so nothing would really change.


Even then, the Defense firm has 1 PARTNER (a former AUSA) and 1 ASSOCIATE handling the case. By handling, I mean "hold the defendant's hand and walk him to the US Attorney's Office and cooperate with the investigation and snitch on his other co-defendants and pay restitution before sentencing"

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Displeased
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Displeased » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:58 pm


Speaking as a public defender, I don't know where he's getting the "countless hours haggling" from. This idea that plea negotiations are elaborate back and forth negotiations that take hours is just nonsense,


This actually highlights a very common misconception that defense attorneys have regarding their cases. They assume that THEIR CASE is the ONLY CASE that the Prosecutor has to deal with for that particular trial calendar.

"Your Honor! I called the Prosecutor and he never responded to my call or my e-mail regarding this case!"

PD's only deal with Prosecutors, so they never have to worry about multiple private lawyers calling/e-mailing them about other cases. If a PD has 50 cases on a calendar, then that Prosecutor has the same 50 ON TOP OF every other Private Defense Attorney who has a case.


PDs tend to have higher caseloads than prosecutors, as well as having less support staff, so I'm not sure what you're saying here. I very sincerely doubt that defense attorneys think you only have one case on the calender. Maybe some new private attorney

I do have a question for Kivan. What is discovery like in your jurisdiction, and how would discovery work in your ideal world?

???

- Police gives me evidence
- I give you evidence
- I don't get your question.


Sounds like you have open discovery. You've never heard of a jurisdiction where the prosecutor doesn't hand over all the evidence? Jurisdictions that limit the defense to strictly Brady material? If not, you might want to look up Harry Connick Sr.

Kivan
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:15 pm

Displeased wrote:
PDs tend to have higher caseloads than prosecutors, as well as having less support staff, so I'm not sure what you're saying here.


Bullshit.

Unless the PD is defending against a MULTIPLE PROSECUTION OFFICES, then there case count will not be higher than the Prosecution office that DRAFTED THE INDICTMENT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Sounds like you have open discovery. You've never heard of a jurisdiction where the prosecutor doesn't hand over all the evidence? Jurisdictions that limit the defense to strictly Brady material? If not, you might want to look up Harry Connick Sr.


???

By the very nature of Brady any evidence that is exculpatory is subject to being turned over or made available to the defense attorney.

Good luck arguing to the Judge that this piece of evidence you plan on using in trial doesn't fall within the ambient of Brady. Especially since I have to turn over anything that is in the custody/control/possession of anybody on my team (e.g., police, investigators, crime labs)

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15 styx
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby 15 styx » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:31 pm

Kivan wrote:
15 styx wrote:From your posts I am assuming you often deal with drug charges and minor/medium offenses. What happens when a case hits the bigs (newspaper headlines, TV coverage) and there are real dollars in play? Do you get to handle those cases or are certain major cases handed off to the state attorney? I suspect that the minute you have to face a large firm with a dozen associates assigned to the case, the dynamics must change.


"large firm doing criminal law" ???

Is this some kind of internet meme that I'm not aware of?

Large firms don't do criminal law because:

a: It's not prestigious

b: You don't make real money by handling nickle and dime drug cases

c: There aren't enough Murders and Child Molestors with the MONEY/RESOURCES to pay for a private lawyer to justify having a full-time Criminal practice with multiple associates.

In regards to cases that hit the "newspaper" that's just about every felony case in my jurisdiction. Our newspaper/TV/etc are very good about being ON THE SCENE when the police show up to a crime and will report the who/what/when/where for every crime. There will typically be a 4-6 month lag between the time it was REPORTED and by the time I get the file on my desk.

We don't hand off "major cases" to the State's Attorney. They don't even get involved in *MOST* criminal offense unless it involves money/human trafficking/politicians. In regards to the politicians, there most be some special circumstance or else they'll leave it to the respective State Prosecutor.

This whole idea of the BIG BAD STATE ATTORNEY'S OFFICE taking over cases from us woefully inexperienced county/city-level prosecutors is really Law & Order Fantasy material. I've prosecuted and/or tried: Murders, Rapists, Child Molesters involve multiple victims in OTHER STATES, and even Bank Robberies.

I actually like it when my name is in our local newspaper for a case that I've handled.

As to clarify my earlier posts. I am a JA at a firm serving a clientele some would generally characterize as élite. We engage in a number of practice areas but we rarely handle criminal. I was (marginally) brought into a criminal case regarding a high profile matter. The state attorney has already weighed in through the media/press. This is my first rodeo regarding going head to head with the state but our lead attorney has been up against the prosecutor’s office before and fared very well.

If the prosecutor’s office paid more, I’d love to work there….so for me this case is a stimulating learning experience, to say the least.

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Kronk
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kronk » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:41 pm

my q:

how do you sleep at night, how do you look yourself in the mirror every morning, etc.

Jaymore
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Jaymore » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:37 pm

15 styx wrote:From your posts I am assuming you often deal with drug charges and minor/medium offenses. What happens when a case hits the bigs (newspaper headlines, TV coverage) and there are real dollars in play? Do you get to handle those cases or are certain major cases handed off to the state attorney? I suspect that the minute you have to face a large firm with a dozen associates assigned to the case, the dynamics must change.


(a) My first trial - two months out of law school BTW - was an A&B against the son of a prominent local citizen. Substantial news coverage, both TV and newspaper. Reporters waving microphones in my face as I left the court. In fact, every one the jury trials I've done, I've been on the nightly news for.

I did get all sorts of shit from the media for dismissing a case against a public servant - I guess the city council was plotting to remove her from office. When I dismissed the case they got pissed and sicced the media on me. Really I had no choice as it was an example of the police fucking up and arresting her for something they shouldn't have.

I don't know about other jurisdictions, but we don't let the media or politics dictate how we try cases. Which I like.

(b) I'd rather face a large firm with a dozen associates that the public defender. The PD has experience - in some cases ten plus years of jury trials. Give me some dude who hasn't been in front of a jury since mock trial.

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gobucks101
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby gobucks101 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:39 pm

Kronk wrote:my q:

how do you sleep at night, how do you look yourself in the mirror every morning, etc.


With my Urban Meijer cardboard cutout

Kivan
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:18 pm

Jaymore wrote:I did get all sorts of shit from the media for dismissing a case against a public servant - I guess the city council was plotting to remove her from office. When I dismissed the case they got pissed and sicced the media on me. Really I had no choice as it was an example of the police fucking up and arresting her for something they shouldn't have.
.


Did your Elected Official have your back?

The media typically goes to mine for any kind of quote or comment. What's funny is that we never respond unless it is a MAJOR case and it's already been resolved.

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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Jaymore » Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:12 pm

Kivan wrote:
Jaymore wrote:I did get all sorts of shit from the media for dismissing a case against a public servant - I guess the city council was plotting to remove her from office. When I dismissed the case they got pissed and sicced the media on me. Really I had no choice as it was an example of the police fucking up and arresting her for something they shouldn't have.
.


Did your Elected Official have your back?

The media typically goes to mine for any kind of quote or comment. What's funny is that we never respond unless it is a MAJOR case and it's already been resolved.


No, at the time it was an lame-duck interim who didn't want to do anything, as our guy had left/retired office. Luckily, the people that mattered (judges and other attorneys) knew what the deal was.

I also made a statement to the media defending myself, parroting my motion to dismiss pretty much word for word. Which I got a minor scolding for.

The new guy has had my back though, so I'm happy.
Last edited by Jaymore on Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Jaymore
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Jaymore » Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:16 pm

[quote="Displeased"]

PDs tend to have higher caseloads than prosecutors, as well as having less support staff, so I'm not sure what you're saying here.

[quote]

The DAs office has more cases than the PD. The DA tries almost all criminal cases (except those the AG/Feds take), while the PD is limited to a subset of those cases, where the client is indigent. Now, in my jurisdiction, there are a few more ADAs than PDs, so it balances out.

But the prosecutor has the initiative, as they are on "offense". So I think we work harder on individual cases.

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Displeased
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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Displeased » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:42 pm

Jaymore wrote:
Displeased wrote:
PDs tend to have higher caseloads than prosecutors, as well as having less support staff, so I'm not sure what you're saying here.



The DAs office has more cases than the PD. The DA tries almost all criminal cases (except those the AG/Feds take), while the PD is limited to a subset of those cases, where the client is indigent. Now, in my jurisdiction, there are a few more ADAs than PDs, so it balances out.

But the prosecutor has the initiative, as they are on "offense". So I think we work harder on individual cases.


Bad phrasing, I meant on an individual basis. An individual assistant public defender probably has more cases than an individual assistant district attorney. I know that's factually true in my jurisdiction, where there are 2.5 prosecutors for every public defender.

In my neck of the woods, the DA (we call them CWAs, or Commonwealth Attorneys) DOESN'T try almost all criminal cases. Many misdemeanors are "prosecuted" by the police or by civilian complaint, though they are defended by public defenders or court appointed attorneys. I've seen some jurisdictions where CWAs try every driving while suspended case, I've seen jurisdictions where they only get involved in DUIs and felonies.

I do think DAs work harder on individual cases, tearing down a case is much easier than building one. Of course, DAs almost always have the facts on their side, so maybe it balances out.

Kivan wrote:
???

By the very nature of Brady any evidence that is exculpatory is subject to being turned over or made available to the defense attorney.

Good luck arguing to the Judge that this piece of evidence you plan on using in trial doesn't fall within the ambient of Brady. Especially since I have to turn over anything that is in the custody/control/possession of anybody on my team (e.g., police, investigators, crime labs)


So you give the defense every police report, every witness statement, every piece of possible evidence in your possession? That is wonderful, and most definitely not the case in my (and many other) jurisdictions.

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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Kivan » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:49 pm

Displeased wrote:
So you give the defense every police report, every witness statement, every piece of possible evidence in your possession? That is wonderful, and most definitely not the case in my (and many other) jurisdictions.


What bizzaro world do you practice in where the Prosecutor can REFUSE to turn over a witnesses' statement or a police report and then call that same officer/witness to testify on the stand?

???

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Re: Real Life Prosecutor - Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:57 pm

Displeased wrote:
Jaymore wrote:
Displeased wrote:
PDs tend to have higher caseloads than prosecutors, as well as having less support staff, so I'm not sure what you're saying here.



The DAs office has more cases than the PD. The DA tries almost all criminal cases (except those the AG/Feds take), while the PD is limited to a subset of those cases, where the client is indigent. Now, in my jurisdiction, there are a few more ADAs than PDs, so it balances out.

But the prosecutor has the initiative, as they are on "offense". So I think we work harder on individual cases.


Bad phrasing, I meant on an individual basis. An individual assistant public defender probably has more cases than an individual assistant district attorney. I know that's factually true in my jurisdiction, where there are 2.5 prosecutors for every public defender.

In my neck of the woods, the DA (we call them CWAs, or Commonwealth Attorneys) DOESN'T try almost all criminal cases. Many misdemeanors are "prosecuted" by the police or by civilian complaint, though they are defended by public defenders or court appointed attorneys. I've seen some jurisdictions where CWAs try every driving while suspended case, I've seen jurisdictions where they only get involved in DUIs and felonies.

I do think DAs work harder on individual cases, tearing down a case is much easier than building one. Of course, DAs almost always have the facts on their side, so maybe it balances out.

Kivan wrote:
???

By the very nature of Brady any evidence that is exculpatory is subject to being turned over or made available to the defense attorney.

Good luck arguing to the Judge that this piece of evidence you plan on using in trial doesn't fall within the ambient of Brady. Especially since I have to turn over anything that is in the custody/control/possession of anybody on my team (e.g., police, investigators, crime labs)


So you give the defense every police report, every witness statement, every piece of possible evidence in your possession? That is wonderful, and most definitely not the case in my (and many other) jurisdictions.


I think your jurisdiction is unusual. I'm a prosecutor in a major city and at no point in time has my PD ever had more cases than me. When I was handling minor felonies I was carrying a caseload of 150+ and my PD was carrying less than 40. I think I'm carrying like 70 now and my PD is carrying 8.

And ditto to what Kivian said, I've got to turn over everything. I really think your jurisdiction is an anomaly. I don't know any prosecutor in any of the jurisdictions i've got friends in who have less cases than the PD.




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