PD v. Crim. Defense Firm

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Re: PD v. Crim. Defense Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:11 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:Many of the private attorneys in my jurisdictions are snakes.

That's not just in criminal law. That could go for any type of attorney in the private sector. With the perverse incentives, pricing structure, and competition it's bound to lead to snakes jumping ahead.

You want a clean conscience in the private sector? Go research math and algorithms for a camera filter company. Or go do cancer research. You're in the wrong sector.

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Re: PD v. Crim. Defense Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:01 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
nixy wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:First of all, I acknowledged that everybody has a right to counsel but I personally couldn’t stomach it in my original post and that I, of course, understand it in a macro sense. I actually said good for OP for wanting to get into it because it’s important that somebody does.

Second, I named two very valid reasons why somebody might want to do it—money and believing that they are making a difference (with perhaps a bit of hyperbole to illustrate my point). I said that OP should make his decision on that. This was the whole point of the comment and the thread, but apparently you are too vicariously offended to have noticed that.

Lastly, although it gets a bit away from the point of the thread, your final sentence reads like a religious person who gets upset when an atheist pokes a hole in the notion of god. Don’t just dismiss one person’s opinion by calling it “offensive,” without explaining why it’s inaccurate, or what the poster might have missed. If there is something truly wonderful (that I did not acknowledge) about tricking juries into thinking that rich drunk drivers might not actually have been drunk driving BESIDES money (a valid end in and of itself to many), then please enlighten me. What is it?

Like I said, educate me. I have not been a state court defense attorney. Why would somebody want to do it, aside from the main points I already acknowledged.

You’re making a liar out of me, but since you asked a direct question: Because they believe in the criminal justice system and believe that for it to work everyone gets to/has to hold the government to their burden. Which *isn’t* the same as believing the police are all evil and minorities can do no wrong and the bullshit stereotypes you relied on. I mean, you’re claiming it’s all tricking juries. I’m not going to deny that a lot of defense work involves muddying the waters, but if the government can’t make their case clearly enough the issue isn’t “tricking juries.” It’s inaccurate to dismiss the defense attorney’s job as “tricking juries.” I doubt you’d like it if I characterized prosecution as bludgeoning defendants into taking unfair deals as long as you can count the stat.

Okay so I think that “hold government to its burden” falls into the general true believer camp, which would lean towards PD. I agree that it’s a valid reason to be a defense attorney. I really do; but it’s still a job that I could never do.

That said, I disagree on every other point you made.

To begin, of course the vast majority of times in state low-level court, the defense is trying to use the rules of evidence to trick the jurors into coming to the wrong conclusion. It’s a defense-friendly system, though, so there’s nothing legally or ethically wrong with that.

For example, let’s say deft is charged with 4th OUI and he refused breathalyzer because he has so much experience with being an OUI defendant. With all this info, of course judge defendant prosecutor defense counsel know the guy is guilty as sin, but the defense (lawfully) uses rules of evidence/constitution to exclude the fact that he refused to blow and bifurcate the trial so jury never knows it was his fourth. Now defense tries to convince jury he wasn’t drunk driving and prosecutor tries to convince jury he was. Who’s seeking truth/justice and who’s trying to trick the jury into coming to the incorrect conclusion (again, lawfully)?

Lastly, nobody bludgeons anybody into pleading to anything, particularly not in lower level state court. That’s ridiculous. Prosecutors can’t speak to defendants, and defendants get appointed lawyers (who they don’t pay for) to keep them from being unfairly bludgeoned. Furthermore, in lower level state court, the judicial branch acts as a safeguard to prevent defts from getting overcharged because charges go through them. Finally, prosecutors don’t care about stats; that’s a myth. Even if they did care about stats, those stats would be about jury trial victories; not pleas. Caseloads are just too large and random to know or care.

Sounds like you’re drunk on the kool aid as well. Maybe you should be a PD.

It is clear that you have no actual experience of any kind with how criminal justice actually works in most of this country. Actually, reading this post, I have trouble believing that you have even gone to law school.

For your edification, prosecutors and police routinely talk to criminal defendants without an attorney being present. (Although criminal defendants have a right to counsel, that right must be invoked, and it is quite common to *suggest* that a criminal defendant would be better off just having a friendly conversation.) Sure, there will be a lawyer by the time they actually enter the guilty plea, but at that point the right is pretty much useless.

As for the judicial system, in federal court, there is at least a relatively well established procedure for entering a guilty plea that requires answering yes to a number of questions. But those questions are often asked so quickly (and to a defendant without proper knowledge or context) that they are meaningless. Low level state criminal courts tend to resemble a cattle call more than the platonic ideal system you've seen in movies or, perhaps, read about in some pre-law textbook about the greatness of our constitutional system.

I have prosecuted several years, fedclerked, done biglaw, and am an adjunct professor at the local ttt.

I am confident that I have tried more cases, worked with more prosecutors, more small-time defense lawyers, and spent more time in the type of courts (in terms of level—not federal, not courts that try murders, but low level state courts) that OP would being going into than anybody else on this thread...possibly than everybody else on this thread combined.

I was struggling to understand where all of these crazy-sounding ideas were coming from. For example, prosecutors in my jurisdiction at this level certainly don’t keep stats on pleas. The caseload is too large and it’s not favored to get the plea or conviction at all costs. I did, personally, keep my jury trial stats (making up less than 5% of the cases I prosecuted), but did so in my own head and would never broadcast my stats because, I swear, in my office it wouldn’t get looked upon favorably. In my jurisdiction at this level, charging decisions are primarily made between police and clerk magistrates before the cases even get to prosecutors. There is no bludgeoning. In fact, prosecutors would rather try to cases to get the experience (even if they’ll be NGs) than get the pleas. To say otherwise (in my jurisdiction) is asinine. Nobody from the prosecutors office talks to defts...ever. Finally, plea colloquys can take 30-40 minutes where judges ask defts if they understand after every single question and then ask their attorneys to confirm it. It’s kind of painful to sit through, but of course important...particularly if there’s a motion for new trial or issue with plea on appeal.

So again, I find myself wondering why we have such different ideas and then it hit me. I prosecuted in an intensely blue state where there is a decent amount of anti prosecutor and pro defense sentiment. A long line of democratic governors and judges who get appointed has resulted in a shitton of former defense attorneys on the bench and often screwing prosecutors in every possible way they can (including literally refusing to sentence defts after lower level felony convictions; I kid you not).

Everything you and other disagreeing posters describe sound like stuff that occurs in red states (or at least purple) where police shoot innocent black people and where there’s far less “cure crime by giving defendants hugs” sentiment (again, hyperbole). I am confident that that what you all describe is not the experience of anybody in my jurisdiction—prosecutors, defendants, defense attorney, and judges.

So maybe before people accuse me of having no experience in the area, they should think about how experience in a variety of courts in a variety of states might differ. Just a thought.

I'm the one you're responding to here. Fair enough. If everything you say is true, then it sounds like you practiced in one of those unicorn jurisdictions where the state constitution, state statutes, and/or the state supreme court have leveled the playing field somewhat between the government and the defense. That being said, the vast majority of state courts (certainly including but definitely not exclusively in red/purple states) do not operate this way. I do not have nearly as much as experience as you've claimed, but I have worked on criminal cases in a few different states and in a few federal districts and have yet to see things operate this way. (Maaaaybe Massachusetts superior court.)

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Re: PD v. Crim. Defense Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:39 pm

OP, I wanted to be a PD straight out of law school but unfortunately was not selected.

I went into private practice with a well known solo practioner - the work was incredibly rewarding and I was doing complex and hands on legal issues, with supervision and support, that many of me peers were not even close to touching a couple months out of law school.

With that being said, I find it hard to move up much going into private practice so early. Many judges and law professors have a couple of ADA or PD work under their belt. I never desired to stay in private practice or open up my own practice so the moving forward process is challenging. So you have to consider long term goals as well.

Good luck!

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Re: PD v. Crim. Defense Firm

Postby Tanicius » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:06 pm

There is no bludgeoning.

Can't speak for this poster's incredibly unusual experience as they've described it, but in my fairly normal blue state city jurisdiction, most people plead guilty because: (a) they're stuck in jail and it's the only way out soon; (b) they're out of custody but can't keep coming back to court and taking the time out of their lives for a trial (usually the lower-level misdemeanor cases where this happens, but it sometimes happens on felonies too); or (c) the punishment they will get if they lose just makes the prospect of a trial too risky.

It's pretty safe to say that A, B and C is much more common all over the country and in all types jurisdictions, big, small, conservative and liberal alike than what the other poster is talking about. Not even a close call.

As for the motives at play in being a defense attorney, people haven't really talked about one of the big ones. Sure, upholding constitutional rights and giving people a fair shake is a big part of it. But the other big part of it is recognizing that prison just isn't a good thing in the vast majority of cases, including a lot of violent offenses. There's just too many people in prison in America, and you're doing important work keeping people out of prison, particularly in a lot of the cases where the defendants are dead-to-rights guilty. It can come off as true-believer-ish to a lot of Americans, but that's largely because America has a warped view of the value of prison. Outside the States it's not a radical idea.

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