da vs pd

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bruinfan10

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Re: da vs pd

Postby bruinfan10 » Thu May 19, 2016 11:59 am

Yukos wrote:If you can't tell immediately whether you'd rather be a prosecutor or a PD you should probably be neither. But definitely don't be a PD.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 19, 2016 2:20 pm

In case you were asking about prestige outside of exit options, neither side is particularly prestigious. I thought I'd be "showering" in dat prestige, as one commenter said, when I became an AUSA. In reality, 90% of the population lumps all lawyer positions together in their minds. My job actually torpedoed me with a couple of shitlib dates when they found out what I did for a living.

Do it because you enjoy it. Nobody else in the real world will be impressed by any position you get in criminal law.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 20, 2016 9:49 am

Borhas wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I assume by "prestige" we're really talking about exit options, as some of the more serious posts here have implied. Do those exit options vary based on whether we're talking about trial-level PD work or appellate PD work? My uninformed guess would have been that PDs who do appeals would be seen as somewhat more "prestigious" than those who do trials (and thus would have a greater variety of exit options). Is there any truth to that?


I don't know a ton about this, but I really doubt that criminal appeals (whether prosecution or defense) has any decent exit options. The big plus for DA/PD practice is the trial experience which can carry over well to small time litigation, but criminal law itself is not very transferable outside of that. If you are doing criminal appeals you are basically specializing in two things that don't transfer well to private sector. I mean, sure you can write well and know the appellate process, but I don't think there is any decent market for specialized appellate writers who mostly know crim law.

I would personally not recommend going into appeals on either side if you can avoid it. If you are DA appellate you are responding to a lot of hopeless defense appeals and if you are defense you are writing a lot of hopeless appeals. Every now and then there are good issues I guess. But the bulk of the work would be boring compared to trial lawyering. On the other hand, the hours are way better and you don't have to deal with people, so it can be a good fit for some people.


Thanks for the response. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? It'd be great to hear from someone with direct experience.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 20, 2016 10:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Borhas wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I assume by "prestige" we're really talking about exit options, as some of the more serious posts here have implied. Do those exit options vary based on whether we're talking about trial-level PD work or appellate PD work? My uninformed guess would have been that PDs who do appeals would be seen as somewhat more "prestigious" than those who do trials (and thus would have a greater variety of exit options). Is there any truth to that?


I don't know a ton about this, but I really doubt that criminal appeals (whether prosecution or defense) has any decent exit options. The big plus for DA/PD practice is the trial experience which can carry over well to small time litigation, but criminal law itself is not very transferable outside of that. If you are doing criminal appeals you are basically specializing in two things that don't transfer well to private sector. I mean, sure you can write well and know the appellate process, but I don't think there is any decent market for specialized appellate writers who mostly know crim law.

I would personally not recommend going into appeals on either side if you can avoid it. If you are DA appellate you are responding to a lot of hopeless defense appeals and if you are defense you are writing a lot of hopeless appeals. Every now and then there are good issues I guess. But the bulk of the work would be boring compared to trial lawyering. On the other hand, the hours are way better and you don't have to deal with people, so it can be a good fit for some people.


Thanks for the response. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? It'd be great to hear from someone with direct experience.


I spent the last year in the appellate division of a DA office and am now clerking. The judge I'm clerking for looked at my appellate experience pretty favorably, since I was exposed to the common issues that arise on appeal, but I generally agree with the above anon's post. Exit options are probably lower for an criminal appellate attorney, but I don't think it is that bad--at the end of the day, you are still dealing with everything that happened at the trial level and can see where attorneys "fucked up." My appeals work allowed me to learn and know the law much better than my colleagues in trial divisions. I worked both trial and appellate divisions and although the appellate work is more desk-ridden, I wouldn't consider it to be much more boring: I did oral arguments in the appellate courts pretty frequently which was cool. A lot of the criminal appeals are mundane and aren't very thought-provoking--but I think that's transferable to trial work as well. I dealt with some pretty mundane things in the courtroom.

I certainly wouldn't go so far as to not recommend anyone to do appellate work. You get exposed to nearly every facet of criminal law, whereas trial attorneys usually only focus on specific areas of the law. I found that I preferred oral argument to the trial stuff like opening/closing/examining witnesses. It's a thankless job, you never have to deal with witnesses, victims, defendants, etc which can be a good thing sometimes. Yeah it's true that most people don't think of appeals when thinking abiut what DAs/PDs do, but I certainly became a better attorney from it.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 20, 2016 10:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:DA's office. As a prosecutor, you're a LEO and an attorney vested with the power of the State. Most get badges, and enjoy extremely lax concealed carry laws, such as within NYC. And although you're not within the same chain of command as the Police Dept., you are nonetheless viewed as a superior officer by cops who walk the beat - no matter how green you are. (Just don't go off trying to throw your "2LT" weight around to a "Sergeant Major".) Your status is similarly reflected by laypeople due to popular TV shows such as Law and Order.


Is it true that NYC ADAs are allowed to carry concealed pistols?

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 20, 2016 10:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Borhas wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I assume by "prestige" we're really talking about exit options, as some of the more serious posts here have implied. Do those exit options vary based on whether we're talking about trial-level PD work or appellate PD work? My uninformed guess would have been that PDs who do appeals would be seen as somewhat more "prestigious" than those who do trials (and thus would have a greater variety of exit options). Is there any truth to that?


I don't know a ton about this, but I really doubt that criminal appeals (whether prosecution or defense) has any decent exit options. The big plus for DA/PD practice is the trial experience which can carry over well to small time litigation, but criminal law itself is not very transferable outside of that. If you are doing criminal appeals you are basically specializing in two things that don't transfer well to private sector. I mean, sure you can write well and know the appellate process, but I don't think there is any decent market for specialized appellate writers who mostly know crim law.

I would personally not recommend going into appeals on either side if you can avoid it. If you are DA appellate you are responding to a lot of hopeless defense appeals and if you are defense you are writing a lot of hopeless appeals. Every now and then there are good issues I guess. But the bulk of the work would be boring compared to trial lawyering. On the other hand, the hours are way better and you don't have to deal with people, so it can be a good fit for some people.


Thanks for the response. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? It'd be great to hear from someone with direct experience.



I'm an ADA in an NYC office, Appeals bureau, so just speaking anecdotally--

Several of our ADAs have gone on to become law clerks for the judges sitting in supreme court. One is going to be a clerk in the Court of Appeals. One of our ADAs left this past year to become a judge. Another ADA left (before I arrived) to work at the NY AG's office doing policy work. I do agree, however, that a criminal law appellate lawyer is less marketable than a trial lawyer, because it is a niche within a niche. It may preclude you from some litigation firms (but even litigations firms would want some sort of appellate division, I'd imagine), but like the above-poster indicated, doing appellate work is a sure way to show employers that you know how to write, research, and make arguments, which are indispensable tools.

I don't personally think Appeals work is more boring than trial work, but it depends on what you enjoy doing. I actually enjoy formulating arguments, writing, dissecting a trial record, researching nuanced issues, etc., so I find it interesting. It's interesting looking at a court record or a trial folder from a case that's decades old and trying to piece together what happened, or why this attorney did this, etc.

Whenever I visit my friends in criminal court, they always seem like they're playing an endless game of keep-up or catch-up. I guess it's not boring, but it also doesn't seem very fun. Trial attorneys are in court more often, but outside of trials and hearings, how "fun" is asking for adjournments, or giving status updates to the court? Or filling in fields so your doc processing program can spit out an omnibus motion response? There's mundane tasks in trial work as well. In contrast, oral arguments for appeals is more like what I imagined "lawyering" to be -- persuasion, putting forth legal and factual arguments, and responding to your adversary's. There's certainly mundane work involved in Appeals, too, don't get me wrong.

There are a lot of "hopeless" briefs and motions, but the bulk of them get assigned to the paralegals, interns, and junior (> 6 months) ADAs.

The hours are definitely better. I work out an hour to 1.5 hours every day, with no problems, and I leave by 5 every day.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 20, 2016 10:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Borhas wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I assume by "prestige" we're really talking about exit options, as some of the more serious posts here have implied. Do those exit options vary based on whether we're talking about trial-level PD work or appellate PD work? My uninformed guess would have been that PDs who do appeals would be seen as somewhat more "prestigious" than those who do trials (and thus would have a greater variety of exit options). Is there any truth to that?


I don't know a ton about this, but I really doubt that criminal appeals (whether prosecution or defense) has any decent exit options. The big plus for DA/PD practice is the trial experience which can carry over well to small time litigation, but criminal law itself is not very transferable outside of that. If you are doing criminal appeals you are basically specializing in two things that don't transfer well to private sector. I mean, sure you can write well and know the appellate process, but I don't think there is any decent market for specialized appellate writers who mostly know crim law.

I would personally not recommend going into appeals on either side if you can avoid it. If you are DA appellate you are responding to a lot of hopeless defense appeals and if you are defense you are writing a lot of hopeless appeals. Every now and then there are good issues I guess. But the bulk of the work would be boring compared to trial lawyering. On the other hand, the hours are way better and you don't have to deal with people, so it can be a good fit for some people.


Thanks for the response. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? It'd be great to hear from someone with direct experience.


I actually start in one the NYC DA offices in appeals this fall.

I initially had the same mentality as Borhas going into it, with the exception that PD Appeals would be cooler because it requires more creative lawyering than "we should give the trial court great deference...".

However, I've since asked around and upon reconsideration it's a pretty sweet gig. Everyone I've ever worked with, while interning in trial bureaus, is jealous of me.

Firstly, the appellate lawyers, within the DA offices, are highly regarded. They are considered to be completely knowledgeable in all aspects of NY Penal Law, Procedure, and Evidence. The truth is, we are just better researchers. I am certain that an effective appellate lawyer can be successful across all aspects of law and disagree with Borhas that it is somewhat of a double niche. Consider appellate judges, you could have a panel of judges in front of you who has never set foot inside of a criminal court room (and their fresh out of law school clerks) deciding a focused, nuanced, "had to be there", facet of criminal law.

Secondly, I've heard it looks good if you want to eventually transfer to an executive bureau within your (or another similarly situated) office. In Appeals you see a wide range of "crime types" and how cases unfold; you also have to consider, and argue, policy on a regular basis, while staying in line with your office's general goals. Many cases each year require some executive guidance and you can't help but get involved. Of course at that level you are in a world of politics, but that's what I heard.

Thirdly, the people I worked with were all between their 3rd and 6th year. Most were considering exit options and whether they wanted to stay. I was told that if you want to find a job after, and presumably are at that low-mid level, it is an unofficial requirement that you have worked on at least one appeal. NYC ADAs have a reputation for being terrible legal writers. From first-hand experience I've seen a lot of (misdemeanors, mind you) cases unnecessarily dismissed because of poor motions (inapplicable boiler-plate, not researched adequately, no distinguishing from opposing cases, etc.).

Finally, it is so much easier to transfer from Appeals to Trial, if you don't like it, than Trial to Appeals. Because of the regular hours (and above), so many people want in. I've talked to other ADAs who started in Appeals and ended up in Trial, and they said it was not a problem at all. You are not nearly as pigeonholed as you think. You don't start Trials at the bottom, and because of the first point, everyone thinks you are more the expert at criminal practice than you actually are.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby fauxpsych » Fri May 20, 2016 1:01 pm

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 21, 2016 12:46 am

bruinfan10 wrote:
Yukos wrote:If you can't tell immediately whether you'd rather be a prosecutor or a PD you should probably be neither. But definitely don't be a PD.

Honestly don't really agree with this, in part because there are at least 4 people in my office who used to do defense who now prosecute, and they were pretty darn committed to defense until they weren't any more. I think people can want to work in criminal law and not know which side is more congenial to them until they try it. I do think the PD job is harder - you have to have very different people skills to be a PD than a DA; you have to be willing to stand up in court and make potentially ridiculous arguments because they're all you have; heck, you have to go into jails to visit clients. The flip side is that PDs have a lot more freedom to try whatever arguments and see what flies - prosecutors have a whole lot of ethical obligations that defense attorneys don't and aren't going to get dinged for. Or was as already said,
Borhas wrote:A good DA is fair, a good PD is strongly partisan.

I also actually think if you want to try criminal law out in school, a defense clinic or internship is probably a really good way to see what works for you without shutting doors - it is often easier to go from defense to prosecution than the other side.

(I will point out I also know tons of former prosecutors who have become criminal defense attorneys, but private is quite a bit different from PD, so the comparison is a little less clear.)

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 22, 2016 12:08 am

Clerked for PD office for 3 years. Currently an ADA.

In regards to picking which side you want to go, its all going to come down to personality. Many prosecutors in my office started off as PDs and just couldn't defend people who committed crimes, especially crimes with victims. One PD I know very well always tells me how he feels odd crossing a victim when everyone in the courtroom knows the guy did it due to overwhelming evidence and he is essentially trying to make the witness look like a liar or at least confused while fully knowing his guy did it. Some scenarios to consider when deciding which side to take:

1. Defendant confesses to kidnapping girl, physical evidence overwhelming, video, etc.. He will not give up the location of the girl, who may be dying. Police beat him into it. Confession is deemed involuntary/miranda wasn't given/ etc. Which side do you wanna argue?

2. Officer pulls over defendant based on suspicion of DUI because she crossed the center line with her tires once. Car reeks of alcohol, defendant can't stand straight or speak, blows a .400. Defendant is challenging the stop due to lack of reasonable suspicion based on wheels crossing center line ONCE not enough for a valid stop. Which side do you wanna argue?

3. Officers inspect a suspicious car in area neighbor reports. While at scene, they see defendant walking towards them, neighbor tells police thats the guy who drove the car. Upon seeing cops, defendant turns around and walks away. Police stop him, ask him what he is doing, and ask if he has drugs on him. He says no, they search him and find 50 bags of heroin on him. He later confesses to selling that heroin to kids on playground. Defendant challenges search. Case law states walking away from cops when you see them does not = reasonable suspicion. What side do you wanna argue?

I can keep going on and on with these but you get the idea. The 2 latter examples were actually my cases. I'm not quite high up the food chain for the first one. Personality will dictate this, but usually you're going to fall hard on one side or another. I gave you examples with legit constitutional issues. Its much easier to simply say "You have a rapist on the stand who 5 young girls, confessed to everything, multiple witnesses, etc. but you have to defend him at trial somehow. You cool with that?"

Finally, having seen both offices, I think it is SUBSTANTIALLY easier to be a PD. The PD is expected to lose. The PD has no case to put on. The PD has no witnesses to gather 95% of the time, just needs to make sure the defendant arrives for trial. The PD can make all the stupid arguments they want. The PD can take anything to trial without getting yelled at by the judge because "Well judge, my client has a right to a trial and he wants one." ends the conversation. The only thing that is more difficult about the PD, is that they go to the prisons and talk to the defendants who are not always happy with the services, or expect them to somehow magically get them off when the evidence is overwhelming, or dont understand sentencing guidelines and want probation on everything, etc. while the DA works with officers who are on their side. If a DA has an 80% conviction rate, they will be fired. If a PD has a 20% acquittal rate, they will be deemed a God among men. ADAs get destroyed by judges for plea deals, for taking low level cases to trial, for not offering lower deals than what the ADA wants but what the judge deems "fair", for not being ready with 12 witnesses on June 17th @ 10 am, for any continuance, etc etc etc.. PDs have a "Thats what the defendant wants" argument to everything. I've seen defendants be openly disrespectful to PDs, which is sad, especially because a PD can wipe the floor in trial with just about every new-ish civil attorney in the state but still get labelled as "fake" attorneys. But with that said, its a small price to pay for all the other advantages they get IMO.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby poweradezero » Sun May 22, 2016 5:29 am

What did u mean by the pd wiping the floor with new civil attorney?

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 22, 2016 9:30 am

poweradezero wrote:What did u mean by the pd wiping the floor with new civil attorney?


Most civil attorneys look down on PDs. Defendants ask for "real lawyers" when they are represented by PDs. Its disgraceful. A PD has more trial experience than 99% of civil attorneys. These low level junior associates barely know what evidence is, and wouldn't know how to do a trial if their life depended on it. There are attorneys who have practiced 10 years and have never seen the inside of a courtroom. Or maybe argued some motions here and there but never actually went to trial. Laypeople believe being a lawyer is about going to trial. While thats far from true, if a PD went to trial against ANY young civil attorney, the sheer lack of experience by that civil attorney would show quickly. I would take a PD with 2 years of experience over a civil attorney with 4 years experience any day at trial.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby gmail » Sun May 22, 2016 10:42 am

bruinfan10 wrote:
Yukos wrote:If you can't tell immediately whether you'd rather be a prosecutor or a PD you should probably be neither. But definitely don't be a PD.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby gmail » Sun May 22, 2016 10:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:3. Officers inspect a suspicious car in area neighbor reports. While at scene, they see defendant walking towards them, neighbor tells police thats the guy who drove the car. Upon seeing cops, defendant turns around and walks away. Police stop him, ask him what he is doing, and ask if he has drugs on him. He says no, they search him and find 50 bags of heroin on him. He later confesses to selling that heroin to kids on playground. Defendant challenges search. Case law states walking away from cops when you see them does not = reasonable suspicion. What side do you wanna argue?


there's really good case law for the prosecution on this issue if youre willing to cite stuff from East Germany

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Borhas » Sun May 22, 2016 2:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Clerked for PD office for 3 years. Currently an ADA.

In regards to picking which side you want to go, its all going to come down to personality. Many prosecutors in my office started off as PDs and just couldn't defend people who committed crimes, especially crimes with victims. One PD I know very well always tells me how he feels odd crossing a victim when everyone in the courtroom knows the guy did it due to overwhelming evidence and he is essentially trying to make the witness look like a liar or at least confused while fully knowing his guy did it. Some scenarios to consider when deciding which side to take:

1. Defendant confesses to kidnapping girl, physical evidence overwhelming, video, etc.. He will not give up the location of the girl, who may be dying. Police beat him into it. Confession is deemed involuntary/miranda wasn't given/ etc. Which side do you wanna argue?

2. Officer pulls over defendant based on suspicion of DUI because she crossed the center line with her tires once. Car reeks of alcohol, defendant can't stand straight or speak, blows a .400. Defendant is challenging the stop due to lack of reasonable suspicion based on wheels crossing center line ONCE not enough for a valid stop. Which side do you wanna argue?

3. Officers inspect a suspicious car in area neighbor reports. While at scene, they see defendant walking towards them, neighbor tells police thats the guy who drove the car. Upon seeing cops, defendant turns around and walks away. Police stop him, ask him what he is doing, and ask if he has drugs on him. He says no, they search him and find 50 bags of heroin on him. He later confesses to selling that heroin to kids on playground. Defendant challenges search. Case law states walking away from cops when you see them does not = reasonable suspicion. What side do you wanna argue?

I can keep going on and on with these but you get the idea. The 2 latter examples were actually my cases. I'm not quite high up the food chain for the first one. Personality will dictate this, but usually you're going to fall hard on one side or another. I gave you examples with legit constitutional issues. Its much easier to simply say "You have a rapist on the stand who 5 young girls, confessed to everything, multiple witnesses, etc. but you have to defend him at trial somehow. You cool with that?"

Finally, having seen both offices, I think it is SUBSTANTIALLY easier to be a PD. The PD is expected to lose. The PD has no case to put on. The PD has no witnesses to gather 95% of the time, just needs to make sure the defendant arrives for trial. The PD can make all the stupid arguments they want. The PD can take anything to trial without getting yelled at by the judge because "Well judge, my client has a right to a trial and he wants one." ends the conversation. The only thing that is more difficult about the PD, is that they go to the prisons and talk to the defendants who are not always happy with the services, or expect them to somehow magically get them off when the evidence is overwhelming, or dont understand sentencing guidelines and want probation on everything, etc. while the DA works with officers who are on their side. If a DA has an 80% conviction rate, they will be fired. If a PD has a 20% acquittal rate, they will be deemed a God among men. ADAs get destroyed by judges for plea deals, for taking low level cases to trial, for not offering lower deals than what the ADA wants but what the judge deems "fair", for not being ready with 12 witnesses on June 17th @ 10 am, for any continuance, etc etc etc.. PDs have a "Thats what the defendant wants" argument to everything. I've seen defendants be openly disrespectful to PDs, which is sad, especially because a PD can wipe the floor in trial with just about every new-ish civil attorney in the state but still get labelled as "fake" attorneys. But with that said, its a small price to pay for all the other advantages they get IMO.


I want to qualify my comments by saying that a lot of the practical issues will vary widely by jurisdiction, so YMMV

as far as advantages:

1) DA's don't have to go out and serve subpoenas, and most witnesses are law enforcement anyway. Yes, DA's tend to have witness problems more often than defense but it's not something that will effect the day to day life of a DA because they have DA investigators go out and serve subpoenas. A line DA is not going to be reprimanded for witnesses who fail to honor their subpoenas (because what the hell is he supposed to do about it). They will either get a continuance or the case will get dropped. Decently funded PD's have their investigators serve subpoenas as well but sometimes PD's don't have staff to regularly do that sort of thing.

2) Having to make stupid arguments regularly is not a plus. I mean sure, the judge is less likely to scold you for arguing some things, but as a DA you generally aren't required to make stupid arguments. To do that on a regular basis with a straight face can be tolling. As a DA you should almost never have to make a stupid argument. I think that is a big advantage for DA's. Most people become PD's to serve justice in someway, so they are ingrained with some sense of fairness, but sometimes you have to argue for manifestly unfair things because you have to be partisan. I personally don't like that part of the job. Generally DA's make stupid arguments if they are a) stupid b) have an axe to grind c) can get away with it because the judge is prosecution friendly or d) are pushed to do it by the elected DA.

3) The conviction rate thing varies widely by jurisdiction. I know DA's that have less than 50% conviction rates in my jurisdiction that somehow avoid getting fired. Most PD's here are also above 20% acquittal rate... not to brag too much (just a little) but after 20 jury trials my acquittal rate is right about 50%. But, that's because the DA's office here pushes more cases to trial than they should, a more mainstream office would probably have 80%+ conviction rate. But that's also how it should be. However, you are definitely right that there is more pressure to win for a DA than a PD (unless your client is factually innocent anyway).

4) Defending people who hate you, and who you may dislike is also a negative. As a PD you can't pick your clients. As a DA you could (unless you're veto'd by your boss) pick your cases by dismissing those you don't like. Some truly evil shit comes through every now and then (more like example 1 than 2 and 3) and you have to figure out a way to defend that in front of a jury. That shit is hard, not just intellectually but emotionally. BUT, I will concede that lots of DA offices will NOT give discretion to dismiss (at least not without possibility of reprimand) to their line deputies. I think prosecuting a case that shouldn't be prosecuted is just as bad/draining as defending actually evil cases.

5) DA's are right to be criticized for giving bad plea deals (most of the time). A plea deal is bad if the judge is likely to give the same or lesser sentence. If you are offering probation with jail to a client that will get probation even if they lose, then yes that is a bad plea offer and you should feel bad for offering it. (This applies to cases where there isn't mandatory sentencing aggravator) But again, sometimes line DA's are pushed to give bad plea offers because the elected DA wants to appear tougher on crime than the last guy.

6) Lastly, having to repeatedly tell people that they are going to prison for relatively stupid shit is also very emotionally tolling. It's not some minor thing on the side, advising clients is as big of a part of the job as hearings in court. I think you undervalue the magnitude of this disadvantage.


Anyway, here are what I view as advantages that PD work has over DA work

1) You get to be more creative. The DA's case is like a castle. You have to find a weakness and exploit it to the maximum to breach it. Weirdly enough, it takes more creativity to breach that castle than to build it. Mostly because the cops do a lot of the building for the DA. This is the essence of why it is easier to prosecute a typical case than to defend a typical case. (Alternatively, you can view this as a disadvantage because you can prosecute any case without much creativity, so that's easier)

2) As a PD you have more control over your own cases than DA's. Line DA's must usually prosecute within guidelines set up by the elected DA or otherwise be reprimanded by his chief deputies. PD offices are less hierarchical, so as a DA you have more bureaucracy to worry about. (Alternatively, if you are struggling to learn how to defend you may not have as much guidance and training as you may want, so the looser style may be a disadvantage at some points).

3) Sometimes you clients are very appreciative and kind. As a DA you won't even have clients, at least not in any real sense. (Alternatively, a good number, maybe even most, won't care for the work you've done for them).
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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 22, 2016 2:53 pm

Borhas wrote:2) Having to make stupid arguments regularly is not a plus. I mean sure, the judge is less likely to scold you for arguing some things, but as a DA you generally aren't required to make stupid arguments. To do that on a regular basis with a straight face can be tolling. As a DA you should almost never have to make a stupid argument. I think that is a big advantage for DA's. Most people become PD's to serve justice in someway, so they are ingrained with some sense of fairness, but sometimes you have to argue for manifestly unfair things because you have to be partisan. I personally don't like that part of the job. Generally DA's make stupid arguments if they are a) stupid b) have an axe to grind c) can get away with it because the judge is prosecution friendly or d) are pushed to do it by the elected DA.

I'm the anon above who said it can be hard to know which side you'd be good at until you try it. I think this^ is a huge part of the emotional difference between defense and prosecution. I actually probably respect the defense side more, in some ways, but I realized that temperamentally I would just be really really bad at the making stupid arguments with a straight face thing. I think that's absolutely what you have to do in defense, but I don't get any pleasure out of it (which I think some people can). Similarly, a lot of defense argument seems to be based on trying to confuse the jury - which again is often the best defense you have and what you have to do, and again, some people are going to really enjoy that. I personally suck at it. Defense folks also seem to have to make the same kinds of arguments over and over again at sentencings that really aren't going to make a difference, which gets old. (Granted, the prosecution kind of has to do the same thing - judges sentence how they're going to sentence and most of the time the parties' arguments don't seem to make any difference - but prosecutors aren't standing up next to the person who's going to prison.)

1) You get to be more creative. The DA's case is like a castle. You have to find a weakness and exploit it to the maximum to breach it. Weirdly enough, it takes more creativity to breach that castle than to build it. Mostly because the cops do a lot of the building for the DA. This is the essence of why it is easier to prosecute a typical case than to defend a typical case. (Alternatively, you can view this as a disadvantage because you can prosecute any case without much creativity, so that's easier)

Yeah, I have had lots of former PDs tell me this, and I think it makes sense. For me, this made prosecution the more logical side, because I am (shockingly) a rule-follower and it's easier to make sure I'm prosecuting the case as it's supposed to be done, as the office wants it done, as it has generally been done before, than try to come up with some new angle to attack the case. But for a lot of people it would make the defense side more appealing, and some of my former PD colleagues say they still miss that element of their old jobs.

And I should make clear I'm not saying either one of these sides is better/worse. For me, it really does boil down to what I personally am better at doing and feel more comfortable doing. You definitely can find pleasure/interest/whatever in either side, but it's not just about "I want to defend people/hold the state to its burden" v. "I want to enforce the laws." (It can be, I guess, again based on your temperament; if the idea of one side or the other makes you want to puke, yeah, don't try that side. But I think a lot of people can go into criminal law without necessarily knowing which side works better for them, just that they want to be part of the criminal justice system.)

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 22, 2016 6:12 pm

I've never worked as a prosecutor, but to me the worst part about PD work was having to follow through with a shitty argument, and not being able to admit the law is squarely against you. I remember doing research on tough points of law, and really enjoying finally finding some case law that was really on point and would control the case. But as a PD, your job doesn't end when you figure out the "right" answer, it's when you find the best answer for your client. Unfortunately, the best answer for your client is so very often to obfuscate, make disingenuous distinctions and comparisons. It was a big part of the reason I decided to leave PD work. It's one thing when the facts are against you, it's another thing (to me) when the law is against you and you have to pretend it's not.

There's that old saying: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts into the table. When the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. When neither are on your side, pound the table. Some people are really, really good at pounding the table, and when I realized that I was not one of them, I knew that being a PD was not for me.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun May 22, 2016 10:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've never worked as a prosecutor, but to me the worst part about PD work was having to follow through with a shitty argument, and not being able to admit the law is squarely against you. I remember doing research on tough points of law, and really enjoying finally finding some case law that was really on point and would control the case. But as a PD, your job doesn't end when you figure out the "right" answer, it's when you find the best answer for your client. Unfortunately, the best answer for your client is so very often to obfuscate, make disingenuous distinctions and comparisons. It was a big part of the reason I decided to leave PD work. It's one thing when the facts are against you, it's another thing (to me) when the law is against you and you have to pretend it's not.

There's that old saying: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts into the table. When the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. When neither are on your side, pound the table. Some people are really, really good at pounding the table, and when I realized that I was not one of them, I knew that being a PD was not for me.

You are basically describing being any lawyer who has clients.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 22, 2016 10:17 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I've never worked as a prosecutor, but to me the worst part about PD work was having to follow through with a shitty argument, and not being able to admit the law is squarely against you. I remember doing research on tough points of law, and really enjoying finally finding some case law that was really on point and would control the case. But as a PD, your job doesn't end when you figure out the "right" answer, it's when you find the best answer for your client. Unfortunately, the best answer for your client is so very often to obfuscate, make disingenuous distinctions and comparisons. It was a big part of the reason I decided to leave PD work. It's one thing when the facts are against you, it's another thing (to me) when the law is against you and you have to pretend it's not.
iviivl
There's that old saying: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts into the table. When the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. When neither are on your side, pound the table. Some people are really, really good at pounding the table, and when I realized that I was not one of them, I knew that being a PD was not for me.

You are basically describing being any lawyer who has clients.

Except civil clients don't have the right to take just anything to trial - it will get kicked long before that at summary judgment or MTD stage. Defendants get to take that shit to trial, no matter how pointless. I get that lawyers are always serving others and having to negotiate between their clients' wishes and what the law actually says, but I think that's still really different in the criminal system than civil. At least you can bill your civil client directly for every pointless, frivolous thing they make you do.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Borhas » Mon May 23, 2016 12:44 pm

Defendant's don't take cases to trial, the prosecution does. It's been a while since I had civil procedure but I seem to recall that as long as a plaintiff goes past summary judgment they get to have a trial, the judge can't force them to reach a settlement. Likewise the prosecution can get a trial (unless the defendant pleads guilty open) if they make it past prelim (on felonies). You are contrasting the defendant in a criminal case to the plaintiff in civil cases.
Last edited by Borhas on Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby kaysta » Mon May 23, 2016 10:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:DA's office. As a prosecutor, you're a LEO and an attorney vested with the power of the State. Most get badges, and enjoy extremely lax concealed carry laws, such as within NYC. And although you're not within the same chain of command as the Police Dept., you are nonetheless viewed as a superior officer by cops who walk the beat - no matter how green you are. (Just don't go off trying to throw your "2LT" weight around to a "Sergeant Major".) Your status is similarly reflected by laypeople due to popular TV shows such as Law and Order.


Is it true that NYC ADAs are allowed to carry concealed pistols?


nvm
Last edited by kaysta on Tue May 24, 2016 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 23, 2016 11:59 pm

Borhas wrote:Defendant's don't take cases to trial, the prosecution does. It's been a while since I had civil procedure but I seem to recall that as long as a plaintiff goes past summary judgment they get to have a trial, the judge can't force them to reach a settlement. Likewise the prosecution can get a trial (unless the defendant pleads guilty open) if they make it past prelim (on felonies). You are contrasting the defendant in a criminal case to the plaintiff in civil cases.

Yeah, that's true, if you think of PH and summary judgment as analogous. I tend not to think they are, because tons of cases get resolved at summary judgment, and at least where I practice, PH is a pretty low bar (so my sense is that many many more cases make it past PH than make it past summary judgment). But you're right that I'm comparing criminal defendants with civil plaintiffs, mostly because they're the ones that have the right to a trial, I guess. The prosecution doesn't have the "right" to a trial in the same way the defendant does - if the defendant decides to plead they can't say no, you have to go to trial. (The prosecution decides whether there's a case/charges, but not whether there's going to be a trial.)

I could be missing something basic though.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2016 12:18 am

.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2016 12:48 am

kaysta wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:DA's office. As a prosecutor, you're a LEO and an attorney vested with the power of the State. Most get badges, and enjoy extremely lax concealed carry laws, such as within NYC. And although you're not within the same chain of command as the Police Dept., you are nonetheless viewed as a superior officer by cops who walk the beat - no matter how green you are. (Just don't go off trying to throw your "2LT" weight around to a "Sergeant Major".) Your status is similarly reflected by laypeople due to popular TV shows such as Law and Order.


Is it true that NYC ADAs are allowed to carry concealed pistols?


guessing that was a joke, but you can get out of traffic violations and the like by flashing your ID, I've seen it occur


Same anon. Not a joke lol. I'll be at the Brooklyn DA next fall, but I'm from a state where getting a pistol permit is really easy. I heard getting one in NYC is nearly impossible.

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Re: da vs pd

Postby kaysta » Tue May 24, 2016 11:38 am

Is it true that NYC ADAs are allowed to carry concealed pistols?

guessing that was a joke, but you can get out of traffic violations and the like by flashing your ID, I've seen it occur

Same anon. Not a joke lol. I'll be at the Brooklyn DA next fall, but I'm from a state where getting a pistol permit is really easy. I heard getting one in NYC is nearly impossible.


:mrgreen: ya heard right, son. Best leave the pistol at home.
I think maybe like 80 years ago ADAs carried firearms. nah, cops are cops, lawyers are lawyers.



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