Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Well, that's different: A lot of unusual news releases and publications cross our desks every day, but this is a first: a 2009 calendar featuring lawyers and clients with the Public Defender's Office.
Example: March features Deputy Public Defender Matthew Rosen, leather briefcase in hand, striding through the Hall of Justice after a sentencing. Above his photograph is "Excellence. We strive for personal and professional excellence. We recognize and reward exceptional performance."
The calendar also serves as the 2008 annual report, with statistics sprinkled throughout. The month of March again proves useful, telling us the office's felony unit handled 10,835 cases in 2008 and completed 64 jury trials with a 44 percent success rate...
Its a very cool idea that I think could even raise a few bucks for some cash strapped offices (I know there are plenty out there!). Obviously you're not going to be able to pay for a new employee or anything by selling a few calendars BUT I know a few offices where Public Defenders are forced to pay for office supplies and courtroom exhibits out of their OWN POCKETS!
In all seriousness, I don't think the San Francisco PD's office charges for their calendars and from looking at it, it doesn't seem like they are something that would generate a lot of interest from the general public BUT I do think that we need to find other methods of generating funds for our offices.
District Attorney offices seem to get a lot of federal and state funding from grants but are there any PD offices that have successfully applied for grants in the past?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Words from a Public Defender (in this case a PD Intern) posted in a blog on Myspace.Com started a shit storm. Since I don't have permission to reprint the entire story on Law.Com and I don't have $1500.00 floating around freely in my bank accounts to reprint the story, I'll post just a snippet of the story and link here:
A MySpace blog entry written by a former intern in the San Francisco public defender's office has prompted the superior court and Public Defender Jeff Adachi to look into whether a lawyer in Adachi's office was once told to keep Asians off a jury.
"I got to listen in on a conference regarding jury selection," she wrote. "My bosses gave the following advice to the lawyer … don't pick any Asian jurors, because (and I quote): 'Asians don't drink, they love Jesus, and they're creeped out by everything.'"
It's stories like this that scare the shit out of me and one of the reasons I stopped writing as much about the cases and trials that I work on (really...it wasn't just laziness).
My own flexible blawging rules generally require that I wait for a few weeks and sometimes even months to pass before blawging vague details about cases and investigations that have already closed in the hopes that whatever I write can still be somewhat interesting.
I understand that there are a lot of issues with the linked story (Racism, potential breach of attorney-client confidentiality, blawging about work in a legal office/work...just to name a few) above and after I've had a few hours of sleep to think about it, I might be willing to address them.
I WILL say that I don't care what factors an attorney uses in picking a juror...Now, I'm saying that as a PD Investigator who has sometimes been called in to consult with attorney's in selecting jurors during Voir Dire. Not that I'm such an incredible judge of character...some attorney's just like a little hand holding.
Why don't I care about the factors considered in picking a juror? I don't think I've ever met a Public Defender whose only goal wasn't to seat the best 12 jurors they believe would give our clients their best shot at getting a fair trial.
I understand, and have experienced racial discrimination in my life. I understand that it has no place in our society, let alone our courtrooms....but...I can't help but wonder if it should matter why some jurors don't get seated, if it means that by including them, there is a small chance you might be getting someone with a built-in potential bias against your client?
Saturday, January 10, 2009
We had been talking about some attorneys in our offices who happened to have well known (connected) or famous criminal defense fathers that seem to exude a certain sense of entitlement and expect respect just for carrying their fathers last names. We both agreed that it was unfair but that yes, it would be nice to have been spawned from celebrity. We then started talking about other friends and co-workers who practice law and decided that most attorney's we knew have a lot of serious, personal issues...The conversation went something like this:
Public Defender Chick: Yeah, so James just doesn't want to admit his drinking problem even after the big drama at the Christmas party.
Me: Really? Wow...drunkenly dropping your pants to your ankles, spilling beer on your co-workers and prancing around the dance floor in front of your supervisors doesn't automatically get you into AA or a free meeting with a supervisor?
Public Defender Chick: Ummm, No.
Me: Good to know.Yeah, this was just the start to my weekend, it only got better from there.
Public Defender Chick: Well, Sasha...that DA in misdo's didn't get fired for being drunk in court last month, so I'm guessing alcohol isn't considered a real deterrent to practicing law around here.
Me: You know, I think half the attorney's in those courtrooms would get the boot if they were forced to take a piss test. I've decided attorney's in this town have some serious issues...actually, they are some downright serious freaks.
Public Defender Chick: Okay. Thanks jackass...I'm an attorney.
Me: No, No you're cool. You're just a Public Defender.
Public Defender Chick: You're such an ass.
Me: That's why you love me?
Public Defender Chick: No. Its not.
Me: You big kidder! You're kidding right?
Public Defender Chick: (total silence)
Friday, January 09, 2009
The BIG thing that I'm wanting to do is open up the blog to a few other Guest PDI Blawgers. I already have one PD Investigator from the great state of Wisconsin signed up to help but I'm hoping I can get a few more people to help out. I'm still going to be posting (more regularly I hope) but I've seen other sites with guest blawgers do really well mainly because the sites are able to keep things fresh and interesting with different points of few.
What I'm looking for in new Guest Blawgers:
1.You MUST be a Public Defender Investigator in a Public Defender Office somewhere in the world. You can be a contract investigator with a Public Defender office but a good portion of you work should come from Public Defense involving indigent clients.Thats its really, nothing much else is required. Thats not asking too much is it? I just want to freshen things up and if things don't work out with more investigators blogging, then I'll just go back to lil ole me...typing in the cold, dark morning. If you're interested, email me at Sancho@REMOVETHISBEFOREEMAILINGpdiblog.com. I can give you a PDIblog.com email address if you choose to keep things anonymous or even if you just want to have an email address from the site...its up to you.
2. You must be willing to write about investigative tips, stories (personal or work related) you have rolling around in your head. You don't need to blog every single day (although you're more than welcome to!) but you must also be willing to be somewhat involved with at least one post a week.
Anyhoot, I have a great new post (if I say so myself) I've been working on involving some MORE Myspace Investigation tips and info, but I'm waiting to hear back from the California Public Defenders Association for their permission to reprint a great article they had in a recent CA Defender magazine involving Myspace and related discovery issues for defense teams. Good read if you have the magazine and if you don't, I'll hopefully be able to help out by providing the article here...or at least portions of it.
Whew. I need a nappy.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
There are A LOT of law students that apply for these slave positions in our office, and we're usually only able to take in 5 to 6 law clerks. Most of these nice folks are people whose only hope is to work in a PD office representing the indigent. They don't want glamor, they don't want fame, they want to work for the people. These are my kind of people.
For the most part, I like many of these law clerks and go out of my way to help them out when needed and explain how we (investigators) might be able to help them out on certain cases. I even help out the law clerks who just want courtroom experience and can't stand our clients or our office mainly because they weren't able to get in with the District Attorney's office. I don't help them out as much, mainly because they're usually condescending assholes.
Yeah that's right, I said it. Assholes.
Bar results came out a few weeks ago and two of the law clerks who busted their asses and stressed out for weeks after taking the bar...disappeared. These were two of the potential True Believers. They took off for local watering holes on the Friday afternoon that results came out to pound down a few margaritas and beers with friends and co-workers...and were never seen again.
On Monday morning, any sign that they existed in our offices were wiped away. From somewhere , up wherever management make their decisions, they received a phone call that said, "The shit in your desk is in a box, come in early Monday and take it away because we don't need you around anymore." Or something like that.
I understand that this is a weeding out process, but do you need to even wonder who successfully passed the bar? Yup. The people who don't give a shit about our clients and will quit in a couple of years after they've got plenty of trial experience under their belt.
There has to be a better way to keep the true believers because this is how we end up with an office full of assholes.