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How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 4:23 pm
by gaddockteeg
Random question/thought. Prosecutors (DAs, AGs, AUSAs) often run dozens or even 100s of cases at once. How do ya'll take vacation? Like take a week or 2 off for Xmas or wahtever. I imagine it must be hard to line up breaks on all your cases at once. Is it just a matter of planning ahead?

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 4:24 pm
by sublime
In my experience, state prosecutors are largely fungible for what they do most of the time. They can also get stays, or somebody else can plead out the dude who got caught with a bag of coke.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 4:30 pm
by elendinel
Well I'm not an ADA but I'm in a field and have interned in other fields where a docket of hundreds of cases is common. 80% of it is planning ahead and either doing as much of the work for those dates as possible in advance, and maybe 20% would be asking people early in advance for coverage and making sure your supervisors know well in advance that you won't be available so that they can also make sure nothing falls through while you're out.

Good relationships with your co-workers and supervisors are usually key.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 4:34 pm
by White Dwarf
When you are scheduling the next appearance date on a case you can just tell the judge "I'm not available on x days", and (assuming you aren't too close to timing out) it's typically not an issue. I've even heard ADAs tell the judge that they'll be on vacation a certain week and have to schedule around it.

Either way, a lot of places assign misdemeanor ADAs certain days of the week to be in court and they handle the in-court stuff (announcing ready, turning over discovery, making plea offers, etc.) for every case that's scheduled for a given day (most of which they've personally done zero work on). It's mostly just a matter of getting your work done in advance.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:01 pm
by Anonymous User
I'm a law clerk at the state criminal trial court level. Our prosecutors/PDs are assigned in 2-3 person teams to each judge, and while they individually handle cases, they can (and do) often cover for each other's cases if one of them is out. Court appearances are always conflict-checked with both sides before something is officially scheduled, and if indeed something comes up, it can either get pushed back by the court or a colleague can handle it.

That said, we just had a PD go on a 6-week leave of absence to go travel abroad, and the court got TONS of calls from his clients asking about the status of their cases/why they weren't hearing anything. Another lawyer was just hospitalized for a week, so all of their cases had to get postponed, which is a nightmare when it involves getting defendants notice of a date change. So it can cause issues.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:26 pm
by Anonymous User
Former state prosecutor here in a major city. It was much easier for me to take vacation as a prosecutor then it is for me in biglaw. Colleagues at the state were much more willing to help you cover when you're out. The only exception was as a prosecutor you knew you needed to be in court on your scheduled trials.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:37 pm
by gaddockteeg
Got it. So what does help you cover mean? Does that mean they'll write the reply brief that you were supposed to write?

If you have a 100+ cases don't you basically have something due to the court every other day?

edit: sorry, this was more in reference to the 1 person teams rather than 2-3 person teams ya'll mentioned.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 7:24 pm
by Bluem_11
I worked for an ADA as a summer once and when they were telling me about vacations, generally as some said here, stays were granted if needed by the judges, and their fellow ADA's could cover.

The bigger problem I think some of them faced were accumulating vacation days. Unlike at firms where your vacation days are what you make it for good or bad, as govt employees they have to build up days and some states are not very kind there. My ADA didn't take a vacation for 2 years and she only built up like 25 days which may seem nice to some of those grinding the biglaw life, but not for those on an ADA salary.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 7:58 pm
by Civilservant
Prosecutors and indigent defense take vacation like anyone else, try not to schedule stuff during that time, and have people cover. It's cool when you're in an office with people at the same stage in life, for times when you have to trade off maternity/paternity time. Typically it is a situation where it is I will cover your stuff if you cover mine later.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:11 pm
by Anonymous User
AUSA here. Based on my office, you schedule appearances around vacations (so either tell the court ahead of time you're unavailable on your vacation dates, or move to continue if something you have to be present for - trial, substantive motion hearing - gets scheduled without consultation). For a lot of that stuff there's consultation ahead of time so you just say you're not available on given dates. If you have a zillion vacations and they're all conflicting with reasonable dates it might be an issue, but usually this works out.

For routine stuff (initial appearance, lots of COPs and SEs) you can just have a colleague cover. I usually carry a caseload of about 65 or so and you do have a lot of appearances but many are very routine. Anyone can cover a COP and most SEs unless the case is especially complex (and a complex SE is something you'd move to continue). (My office is huge and people cover for each other all the time.)

If something happens like you get a motion to suppress filed so your response is due smack in the middle of your vacation you either write it before you leave or ask for an extension (or I suppose write it on your vacation but fuck that). Extensions are usually fine unless it's something like a motion to suppress on the eve of trial, but you wouldn't be going on vacation on the eve of trial. You wouldn't ask a colleague to do that for you, unless they were co-counsel and had the time to write it.

All these things require negotiating with opposing counsel but in criminal land, you see the same attorneys over and over again and most people are not going to be a dick to you over vacation dates without some good case-related reason. And if an attorney is going to be a dick about vacation dates for no good reason, the courts aren't usually that impressed.

The big thing is that you have to decide that you're going to take a vacation on whatever dates, and then schedule around that. I initially fell into the pattern of saying "Case X is going to trial and set for June, I'll go on vacation sometime in July," then in May Case X gets pushed back to August, so you decide you'll go after trial, and then it gets pushed back to October, etc. Next thing you know it's next April and you still haven't gone on vacation.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:15 pm
by Anonymous User
Oh, and generally nothing major happens the week before/of/after Christmas. Judges and def attorneys don't want to do anything then either. You can take a week off then easily if you have leave. Two weeks might be tough. The people I know who've taken two week vacations usually just plan for some random other part of the year and arrange it well in advance.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:41 pm
by mds79
Random question/thought. Prosecutors (DAs, AGs, AUSAs) often run dozens or even 100s of cases at once. How do ya'll take vacation? Like take a week or 2 off for Xmas or wahtever. I imagine it must be hard to line up breaks on all your cases at once. Is it just a matter of planning ahead?


I'm clerking in a state criminal trial court that functions much like the one described by the anon above (3-4 DA's assigned to our courtroom). It's actually pretty easy for the DA's to take vacation; as elendinel noted, it's mostly planning ahead and making sure your colleagues are aware of your absence. Also, the court has quite a few vacation breaks; for example, we're closed the entire week of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our DA's tend to schedule their vacations accordingly.

gaddockteeg wrote:Got it. So what does help you cover mean? Does that mean they'll write the reply brief that you were supposed to write?

If you have a 100+ cases don't you basically have something due to the court every other day?


Help you cover means another DA will stand up in court when a case on your docket is called and do whatever needs to be done (set a new date, make a sentencing argument, argue bond, etc.). Even in a single-DA courtroom their office would send someone to cover if necessary. Presumably you'd get any briefs filed before your vacation, or hand it over to someone in the office to write.

Also, you're wildly overestimating the amount of written work trial DA's do, gaddockteeg :D

When we set a motions hearing my judge generally gives the parties 21 days from that date to file motions. There's no requirement that anyone file anything, and I'd estimate that 60-70% of cases don't get motions filed at all (usually because the PD and DA are negotiating a plea agreement). Even when motions are filed, most are boilerplate cut-and-paste templates with the defendant's name changed - stuff like requests for notice or motions to preserve evidence. There may be something more substantial if there's a good suppression argument, but that's more uncommon that you might think.

Postconviction motions practice is probably much closer to what you might be thinking of, but most PD's would only have a handful of clients with valid claims, and DA's are only required to respond to postconviction motions on a court's order in my jurisdiction.

TL;DR: Even if a DA has a 100+ cases on their docket, they only file written motions on a small percentage of them.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Sat May 20, 2017 8:25 am
by Anonymous User
Former state attorney, current AUSA. I'll just echo the same thing everyone else has said. Lots of pre-planning. I also jokingly told me defense lawyers if my phone rings for some bullshit during the week I was off, there would be some problems.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Sat May 20, 2017 10:09 am
by Anonymous User
NYC prosecutor here.

To echo people in this thread, the planning bit is spot on. You have a rough idea of what your motion schedule is going to be like and you can either schedule your calendar calls around your vacation, or ask an office mate to just stand on the case for you "People are not ready for trial at this time, the assigned is on vacation until the XX, People request this case be adjourned until X/X/XX and only X days be charged against [speedy trial time]."

What I haven't seen here is that for week long vacations (or longer), people typically take them either around Christmas time or the last two weeks of August. That's because it's when all the court officers and judges take their vacations and there isn't a lot of court parts available to even appear in. Everyone knows this happens, and everyone tends to schedule around it.

Re: How do prosecutors take vacation?

Posted: Sat May 20, 2017 11:43 am
by morrissey
Smaller market prosecutor here, pretty much echoing what others have said. If we need to take a vacation that is longer than a day or two, judges here will sign orders of protections for given dates so long as you aren't just using the order to finagle your way out of a trial date or something. We don't have terms of court every week here and we know in advance which weeks are court weeks v. non court weeks, so planning vacations on non court weeks is pretty easy. Missing days on a non court week wouldn't require much help from others in the office, maybe just moving a couple files from point A to point B or checking your mailbox for anything important that might arrive, but that's about it. Generally just filling out a leave request with enough notice is all you need to take vacation time. However, like someone said above, accruing vacation days works differently for government than biglaw. We earn X hours of leave for each week we work, but all of that can roll over year to year up to like a month and a half off (which obviously cannot be taken all at once, but which is still nice to have). Feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions.