Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Use this forum to discuss different legal practice areas with other attorneys.
User avatar
ReasonableNprudent

Bronze
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:12 pm

Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby ReasonableNprudent » Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:36 pm

Attn. Public Defenders:

What advice would you give to someone a month or two out from a start date in a public defender's office?

Is it useful to go over the evidence code for the given state? Brush up on crim pro rules and cases from law school? Read up on the court's local rules? Anything else? None of the above?

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 863
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby objctnyrhnr » Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:26 pm

ReasonableNprudent wrote:Attn. Public Defenders:

What advice would you give to someone a month or two out from a start date in a public defender's office?

Is it useful to go over the evidence code for the given state? Brush up on crim pro rules and cases from law school? Read up on the court's local rules? Anything else? None of the above?


Be nice to the adas. Remember that you are not ending societal inequality against the evil government oppressor—you are both there to do a job, so be cordial even while being adversarial.

User avatar
ReasonableNprudent

Bronze
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:12 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby ReasonableNprudent » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:38 am

objctnyrhnr wrote:
ReasonableNprudent wrote:Attn. Public Defenders:

What advice would you give to someone a month or two out from a start date in a public defender's office?

Is it useful to go over the evidence code for the given state? Brush up on crim pro rules and cases from law school? Read up on the court's local rules? Anything else? None of the above?


Be nice to the adas. Remember that you are not ending societal inequality against the evil government oppressor—you are both there to do a job, so be cordial even while being adversarial.


Duly noted. Thanks.

User avatar
Tanicius

Gold
Posts: 2984
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Tanicius » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:42 pm

Just copying this from a years'-old thread I responded to on Reddit:

1. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will make *huge* mistakes. Peoples' lives *will* get screwed over because of a mistake you made. It's something you will be trained and will learn to guard against, but it *will* happen. The workload, and awful legal position so many of your clients are in, will ensure that one day you screw up and someone goes down hard for it. It's okay. We are the emergency room trauma surgeons of the legal profession. We don't meet many of our clients until their life is already well past crisis mode. In the end there's sometimes only so much we can do, and sometimes the best course of action is to take a risk. Taking the risk is not always going to turn out the best for that client, and unfortunately sometimes you can only learn and better yourself by taking those risks and making mistakes. Remember that your office has your back. Everyone is going through the same struggle in the trenches as you, and they will look out for you. Don't be afraid to admit to your bosses when you've fucked up. They can't help you unless you're honest about it.

2. Defer to the client. Not only will this help you sleep much better at night, but client autonomy is all the ethical rage these days. First of all, if you make your client's decisions your decisions, you will never sleep soundly at night. You'll be stressing constantly about how maybe if you'd just tried to convince a client harder to make a decision you thought was better, they wouldn't have gotten so badly screwed. Cut that temptation out at the root and throw it in the trash. Your clients are not you, and you don't own them or their mistakes. You have a job, and that job is to do what your clients tell you to do or at least accomplish the goal that is closest to what they want out of you. It is better to take a losing case to trial and lose because the client wants to have a trial than it is to waste hours of your time pressuring a client and talking them out of what you think is a horrible decision. It's not your responsibility to convince your clients to stop exercising their constitutional right to be stupid.

3. You have to recognize that impressing your views upon a client can have devastating consequences for the attorney-client relationship, and the public image at large of public defenders. Most of your clients will come in expecting their public defender to talk them into a deal. Don't feed into that. They are people, and they are using a *service*, not a guardian. A guardian decides what's best for someone and acts accordingly; a service provider asks the client what they want and attempts in their power to make it happen. If you find yourself fighting with your clients, you've gone astray of your job duties and ethics. If your client wants you to help them do something that will fuck over their life, it's your ethical duty to help them do that. Want an extreme example? A heroin addict tells you they want to get out of jail so they can go shoot up, even though jail is already providing a good treatment program that is keeping them sober. Don't want to help them get out? Tough shit. They hired you to help them get out so they can fuck themselves over, and if you're not willing to help them do that, then you're in the wrong job.

4. Reputation is king. Everyone has their own different analytical and combative styles. Some are fighters, others are quiet negotiators, and everything in-between. That's all well and good. But if you throw a fit over each and every case without being able to back up your arguments with a willingness to take the prosecutor to court and lose, then you'll just be labeled a whiner who cries wolf all the time. Fighting every single search and seizure just because you like 4th Amendment law will label you a kitchen-sink fighter who doesn't the difference between a good case and a bad case when it hits you in the face. And refusing to do a hearing or trial at your client's urging just because you're worried you'll lose will quickly get you labeled a cherry-picking wet noodle.

5. Reputation also extends to honesty and frankness. Obviously, don't disclose privilege and tell the court something that should have stayed in confidence. But being less than honest with a prosecutor about your chances of winning something, or exaggerating the witnesses you have, or lying about the reason a client missed a court hearing... It's impossible to prove you've lied 99.5% of the time in all of these things, but the moment you get caught with your pants down, or hell even caught with an appearance of impropriety... Your credibility with the prosecutors and courts will go down 100x as fast as it took to build it up. Simply. Do not. Lie. Ever. If the answer to a question is horribly embarrassing and exposes you to getting yelled at by a judge, or exposing your client to criminal consequences... Well, think wisely about whether you should say anything at all in those circumstances, and if you have to say something, then make it nothing other than the truth so help you God. People get used to fudging the truth, and over the course of months or years they find themselves lying a regular basis, and it'll only be a matter of time until they get caught and ruined.

6. Talk to your clients as much as possible. When time is permitted, always call them back. I try to impose a 24-hour limit on call-back time myself. If you have a client in the local jail, visit them as often as you reasonably can. Client contact works wonders for the attorney-client relationship. Just shooting the shit with clients down on their luck and facing a dumptruck full of prison time will make them trust you. Clients who have urgent matters needing your attention will very quickly hate you if you don't keep in touch with them.

7. On the other hand, about time... Your calendar is YOUR calendar. Don't let the prosecutor or judge boss you around on it. If you have a conflict, just tell them you're "unavailable." It's not their business what else you're doing. You're unavailable, sir. Period. Public defenders have a lot of leverage in the criminal justice system -- not legal leverage, but administrative leverage. The moment public defenders stop functioning, the whole system grinds to a halt. Use that to your advantage. Sorry your honor, but I don't have time that day. Keeping an organized calendar is crucial for your sanity and effectiveness as an attorney. Nobody controls it except you. If you forget that fact and start letting opposing counsel or the judge control and wreck your calendar, you will find yourself drowning in a case load you can't keep abreast of.

8. Prepare yourself for failure. A LOT of failure. You will have never failed at anything as much as you're going to fail at this job. Again, we're trauma surgeons. We break bones to save the heart or the brain. A lot of the times our patients are gonna die on us mid-operation. You're going to be doing very dangerous surgeries that have less than a 10% success rating. Feel absolutely free to cry and bitch and moan about all the losing you're about to do, but remember that it's not your fault. It's just the way the system is for so many of our clients. Many of the clients will personally hold you accountable -- just let them. It's not your job to convince them you're a good lawyer or a caring lawyer. It's just your job to try to help them. And often you'll find that trying and failing is actually seen in their eyes as winning their case. Hopefully you too will also come to understand what "winning" really means in this job. If you've given it a few years and nothing feels like winning unless you get a full acquittal on all charges, then you might need to re-evaluate how worthwhile you're finding the job. My inclination, though, is that you find you love it.

9. Failure is actually what makes you invincible. The public defenders that are respected the most are the ones who will happily take a total slam-dunk guilty-on-all-charges case to trial just because the client is mad and wants a trial. Prosecutors give way better deals to the lawyers who aren't afraid of losing because they know the lawyer is willing to put his money where his mouth is and tie both sides up in an agonizing trial. The prosecutors have no power over a lawyer in that position. Don't be a dick, of course. Charm and etiquette go long ways too. But when the metal meets the floor, don't be afraid of losing. You will actually win a lot more that way. This last point kind of melds with the others. You just reach a point of detachment from the daily goings-on of your work, where you're not particularly bothered by the things you see anymore. In private you might be a wreck, and you should always care about your clients. But if you present yourself as someone willing to put up with all the blood and guts of this job, you'll develop a reputation of fierceness and competence that the other lawyers aspire to.

User avatar
ReasonableNprudent

Bronze
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:12 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby ReasonableNprudent » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:36 am

Tanicius wrote:Just copying this from a years'-old thread I responded to on Reddit: ... ... ...


Awesome. Thanks for this!

Bingo_Bongo

New
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:25 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Bingo_Bongo » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:37 pm

Also, not to scare you too much, but you may consider changing your name on social media. You're going to be dealing with a lot of nuts, and some of them will find you on social media and try to friend you. I had an (older guy) I arraigned for a DUI try to add me on facebook the same night. It was awkward and I changed my name after that. I wasn't even his attorney, I was the prosecutor who made him his offer and was dealing with him before he was represented. I've heard of other attorneys having similar experiences

That's one of those things nobody ever tells you that you might consider doing before you have to awkardly explain how you keep your work and professional life separate, while making the weird friendless guy you're supposed to have a fiduciary relationship with feel bad

User avatar
ReasonableNprudent

Bronze
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:12 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby ReasonableNprudent » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:57 am

Bingo_Bongo wrote:Also, not to scare you too much, but you may consider changing your name on social media. You're going to be dealing with a lot of nuts, and some of them will find you on social media and try to friend you. I had an (older guy) I arraigned for a DUI try to add me on facebook the same night. It was awkward and I changed my name after that. I wasn't even his attorney, I was the prosecutor who made him his offer and was dealing with him before he was represented. I've heard of other attorneys having similar experiences

That's one of those things nobody ever tells you that you might consider doing before you have to awkardly explain how you keep your work and professional life separate, while making the weird friendless guy you're supposed to have a fiduciary relationship with feel bad


Ah, yes. Good idea. I've actually thought this might be smart. Would you still keep a linkedin profile?

Bingo_Bongo

New
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:25 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Bingo_Bongo » Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:36 pm

ReasonableNprudent wrote:
Bingo_Bongo wrote:Also, not to scare you too much, but you may consider changing your name on social media. You're going to be dealing with a lot of nuts, and some of them will find you on social media and try to friend you. I had an (older guy) I arraigned for a DUI try to add me on facebook the same night. It was awkward and I changed my name after that. I wasn't even his attorney, I was the prosecutor who made him his offer and was dealing with him before he was represented. I've heard of other attorneys having similar experiences

That's one of those things nobody ever tells you that you might consider doing before you have to awkardly explain how you keep your work and professional life separate, while making the weird friendless guy you're supposed to have a fiduciary relationship with feel bad


Ah, yes. Good idea. I've actually thought this might be smart. Would you still keep a linkedin profile?


Yeah, the LinkedIn profile is probably fine. But facebook/instagram are the two things I've changed (use your middle name as your last name or something like that). Not everyone changes their name, and not everyone has a problem, but it does happen just enough that if you just want to avoid that potential awkward moment with a client (or client's family) it might be worth it. You can also be guaranteed that even if they're not adding you, a good chunk of your clients will definitely be snooping on your social media profiles to see what type of person you are.

FND

New
Posts: 99
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby FND » Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:21 pm

Bingo_Bongo wrote:Also, not to scare you too much, but you may consider changing your name on social media

check your privacy settings. Make sure you can't easily be found.

On that note, check your clients' social media accounts - you don't want to be surprised by the incriminating evidence they've posted. DONT tell your clients to delete their posts, that could be destruction of evidence. Just be aware of it. (on the flip side, also check out social media postings of witnesses, accusers, victims, etc. you never know when you might find something useful)

That prior post gave a lot of great tips. I'll just add that no client is worth your sanity or your license. You're wading in muck, don't let the shit get to you. Also, your clients will lie to you.

criminaltheory

Bronze
Posts: 194
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby criminaltheory » Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:32 pm

Welcome to the team!

User avatar
Tanicius

Gold
Posts: 2984
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Tanicius » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:07 am

FND wrote:
Bingo_Bongo wrote:Also, not to scare you too much, but you may consider changing your name on social media

check your privacy settings. Make sure you can't easily be found.

On that note, check your clients' social media accounts - you don't want to be surprised by the incriminating evidence they've posted. DONT tell your clients to delete their posts, that could be destruction of evidence. Just be aware of it. (on the flip side, also check out social media postings of witnesses, accusers, victims, etc. you never know when you might find something useful)

That prior post gave a lot of great tips. I'll just add that no client is worth your sanity or your license. You're wading in muck, don't let the shit get to you. Also, your clients will lie to you.


This goes quite overboard. Protecting oneself from their own clients goes *waaaaaaay* down to the bottom of a list of hundreds of other more important things to think about before starting this job. It's not particularly important that you protect your social media identity from clients. Your clients are not dangerous to you, and the idea that they are is an unhealthy mindset to bring to the table.

A better piece of advice would be that if you find yourself angry at your clients on a regular basis, that can be a red flag for a lot of different things. Sometimes it means you're getting too stressed and may need to inform friends, colleagues or managers so you can talk problems out. Not everyone knows if the job is for them until they do it. Some people do innocently find themselves ragging on their clients all the time, and that's probably a sign that they would do better at a different job. The job is not everyone, and I say that as non-judgmentally as possible. It's just a fact. If you find out it's not for you, then that's okay. But on the whole, you'll probably do fine. Most people are able to process the issues they deal with in this job as long as they are open with others and not unrealistic about their own selves and their feelings.

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 863
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:05 pm

Tanicius wrote:
FND wrote:
Bingo_Bongo wrote:Also, not to scare you too much, but you may consider changing your name on social media

check your privacy settings. Make sure you can't easily be found.

On that note, check your clients' social media accounts - you don't want to be surprised by the incriminating evidence they've posted. DONT tell your clients to delete their posts, that could be destruction of evidence. Just be aware of it. (on the flip side, also check out social media postings of witnesses, accusers, victims, etc. you never know when you might find something useful)

That prior post gave a lot of great tips. I'll just add that no client is worth your sanity or your license. You're wading in muck, don't let the shit get to you. Also, your clients will lie to you.


This goes quite overboard. Protecting oneself from their own clients goes *waaaaaaay* down to the bottom of a list of hundreds of other more important things to think about before starting this job. It's not particularly important that you protect your social media identity from clients. Your clients are not dangerous to you, and the idea that they are is an unhealthy mindset to bring to the table.

A better piece of advice would be that if you find yourself angry at your clients on a regular basis, that can be a red flag for a lot of different things. Sometimes it means you're getting too stressed and may need to inform friends, colleagues or managers so you can talk problems out. Not everyone knows if the job is for them until they do it. Some people do innocently find themselves ragging on their clients all the time, and that's probably a sign that they would do better at a different job. The job is not everyone, and I say that as non-judgmentally as possible. It's just a fact. If you find out it's not for you, then that's okay. But on the whole, you'll probably do fine. Most people are able to process the issues they deal with in this job as long as they are open with others and not unrealistic about their own selves and their feelings.


Says the attorney who’s never had to withdraw from a case after experiencing a client saying (and heaven forbid doing) really terrifying/inappropriate shit to them.

FND

New
Posts: 99
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby FND » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:33 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:Says the attorney who’s never had to withdraw from a case after experiencing a client saying (and heaven forbid doing) really terrifying/inappropriate shit to them.

Just wait until he/she gets a sovereign citizen as a client

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 863
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:35 pm

FND wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:Says the attorney who’s never had to withdraw from a case after experiencing a client saying (and heaven forbid doing) really terrifying/inappropriate shit to them.

Just wait until he/she gets a sovereign citizen as a client


I thought those geniuses were all pro se? Wasn’t that part of their thing?

User avatar
Tanicius

Gold
Posts: 2984
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Tanicius » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:31 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:
Says the attorney who’s never had to withdraw from a case after experiencing a client saying (and heaven forbid doing) really terrifying/inappropriate shit to them.


You would be wrong.

Sometimes clients do that. Sometimes customers and clients do that in virtually every service-related job. Making it a highlighted issue that young PDs need to be concerned about is blowing it out of proportion. This is not a dangerous job, and treating it like one will quickly cause you to develop issues that are at odds with representing the clients. If you find yourself being regularly concerned with protecting yourself from clients, that's not normal and would be a good time to reflect, talk to higher ups, figure out if this is going to be a long-term hang-up.

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 863
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:39 pm

Tanicius wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:
Says the attorney who’s never had to withdraw from a case after experiencing a client saying (and heaven forbid doing) really terrifying/inappropriate shit to them.


You would be wrong.

Sometimes clients do that. Sometimes customers and clients do that in virtually every service-related job. Making it a highlighted issue that young PDs need to be concerned about is blowing it out of proportion. This is not a dangerous job, and treating it like one will quickly cause you to develop issues that are at odds with representing the clients. If you find yourself being regularly concerned with protecting yourself from clients, that's not normal and would be a good time to reflect, talk to higher ups, figure out if this is going to be a long-term hang-up.


Yes some drunk guy muttering that a bartender a slut who should come home with him over his nachos is exactly the same thing as the guy who’s already done 5 years in state for mayhem telling his appointed PD that he wants to wear her skin during the convo right before his arraignment for indecent assault and battery

Look I’m not saying OP shouldn’t be a PD or anything but you made a blanket statement earlier telling OP that as a PD there’s no way his otherwise-dangerous clients would be dangerous to him/her and I’m just saying that’s absolutely not a blanket rule. There will absolutely be times when OPs most terrifying clients do or say terrifying things that are directed at OP. That’s a fact and a reality of the job. As it now sounds like you’ve experienced something similar, I just don’t really understand how you could take the position you’re taking about dangerous clients never being dangerous to their appointed attorneys. That’s all I’m saying.

crownjd

New
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:39 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby crownjd » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:05 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:
ReasonableNprudent wrote:Attn. Public Defenders:

What advice would you give to someone a month or two out from a start date in a public defender's office?

Is it useful to go over the evidence code for the given state? Brush up on crim pro rules and cases from law school? Read up on the court's local rules? Anything else? None of the above?


Be nice to the adas. Remember that you are not ending societal inequality against the evil government oppressor—you are both there to do a job, so be cordial even while being adversarial.


I would 100% disagree with this. I AM trying to end societal inequality! By any means necessary.

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 863
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:17 pm

crownjd wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:
ReasonableNprudent wrote:Attn. Public Defenders:

What advice would you give to someone a month or two out from a start date in a public defender's office?

Is it useful to go over the evidence code for the given state? Brush up on crim pro rules and cases from law school? Read up on the court's local rules? Anything else? None of the above?


Be nice to the adas. Remember that you are not ending societal inequality against the evil government oppressor—you are both there to do a job, so be cordial even while being adversarial.


I would 100% disagree with this. I AM trying to end societal inequality! By any means necessary.


Fine be mean to the adas and see how it goes.

nixy

Silver
Posts: 1069
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby nixy » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:50 pm

I mean the OP is probably best off treating the ADAs according to the culture of their office, regardless of what the ADAs would prefer.

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 863
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:46 pm

nixy wrote:I mean the OP is probably best off treating the ADAs according to the culture of their office, regardless of what the ADAs would prefer.


So you’re saying that if OPs fellow PDs are douches to the adas, OP should be also? I’m not saying date them I’m just saying be cordial and don’t treat them like OP is an angel and they’re Satan’s minions. That’s all

nixy

Silver
Posts: 1069
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby nixy » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:10 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:
nixy wrote:I mean the OP is probably best off treating the ADAs according to the culture of their office, regardless of what the ADAs would prefer.


So you’re saying that if OPs fellow PDs are douches to the adas, OP should be also? I’m not saying date them I’m just saying be cordial and don’t treat them like OP is an angel and they’re Satan’s minions. That’s all

Yeah, I am saying that. They work for the PD office and if that’s how their office approaches things, it’s to their benefit to make their office happy, not the ADAs.

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 863
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:35 pm

nixy wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:
nixy wrote:I mean the OP is probably best off treating the ADAs according to the culture of their office, regardless of what the ADAs would prefer.


So you’re saying that if OPs fellow PDs are douches to the adas, OP should be also? I’m not saying date them I’m just saying be cordial and don’t treat them like OP is an angel and they’re Satan’s minions. That’s all

Yeah, I am saying that. They work for the PD office and if that’s how their office approaches things, it’s to their benefit to make their office happy, not the ADAs.


I hear you but my initial point was for OP to establish cordial (and credible) working relationships with the adas in order for OP, as a Pd, to make Op’s Life easier in the long run. If you thought I was saying that for the benefit of some hypothetical ada, I must have been unclear—not what I meant.

User avatar
Tanicius

Gold
Posts: 2984
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Tanicius » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:05 pm

Look I’m not saying OP shouldn’t be a PD or anything but you made a blanket statement earlier telling OP that as a PD there’s no way his otherwise-dangerous clients would be dangerous to him/her


I did not say that. That's not a reasonable interpretation of what I did say.

What I said was a generality about the relative safety of the job, and that's an objective fact. Dangerous things happen to us rarely enough that safety is not a concern that you have to prepare for in this job.

Yes some drunk guy muttering that a bartender a slut who should come home with him over his nachos is exactly the same thing as the guy who’s already done 5 years in state for mayhem telling his appointed PD that he wants to wear her skin during the convo right before his arraignment for indecent assault and battery


It is significantly more likely that a bar tender will not only be threatened with harm on their job than a public defender will, but that the bar tender will be harmed by their clientele than it is for a public defender. When you make a relative non-issue into a priority that you lead with in your advice, that sets a tone for new people in the job. It's toxic and unfair to our clients.

Bingo_Bongo

New
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:25 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Bingo_Bongo » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:49 pm

Tanicius wrote:
FND wrote:
Bingo_Bongo wrote:Also, not to scare you too much, but you may consider changing your name on social media

check your privacy settings. Make sure you can't easily be found.

On that note, check your clients' social media accounts - you don't want to be surprised by the incriminating evidence they've posted. DONT tell your clients to delete their posts, that could be destruction of evidence. Just be aware of it. (on the flip side, also check out social media postings of witnesses, accusers, victims, etc. you never know when you might find something useful)

That prior post gave a lot of great tips. I'll just add that no client is worth your sanity or your license. You're wading in muck, don't let the shit get to you. Also, your clients will lie to you.


This goes quite overboard. Protecting oneself from their own clients goes *waaaaaaay* down to the bottom of a list of hundreds of other more important things to think about before starting this job. It's not particularly important that you protect your social media identity from clients. Your clients are not dangerous to you, and the idea that they are is an unhealthy mindset to bring to the table.

A better piece of advice would be that if you find yourself angry at your clients on a regular basis, that can be a red flag for a lot of different things. Sometimes it means you're getting too stressed and may need to inform friends, colleagues or managers so you can talk problems out. Not everyone knows if the job is for them until they do it. Some people do innocently find themselves ragging on their clients all the time, and that's probably a sign that they would do better at a different job. The job is not everyone, and I say that as non-judgmentally as possible. It's just a fact. If you find out it's not for you, then that's okay. But on the whole, you'll probably do fine. Most people are able to process the issues they deal with in this job as long as they are open with others and not unrealistic about their own selves and their feelings.


I know this is now two weeks old, and I don't like bumping old posts, but I haven't been on here in two weeks and just saw this.

I generally agree with you. 99.9% of a PD's clients will be just fine. It's that 0.1% that might be worth putting a little advanced thought into. When you're dealing with as many criminals as PDs deal with, you're bound to get a few who are a little more unhinged or dangerous from the general populace every now of then. And yes, some will blame their appointed attorney for everything that doesn't go their way in their case.

There's an attorney I know whose car was tagged by the defendant's gang -- at the attorney's home. That type of stuff does happen. While nowhere close to that, at a suppression motion I once personally witnessed a gang defendant make low-key threats to his attorney after he lost the motion. He called him the "public pretender" (a favorite; you'll hear that a lot), and said something along the lines of "I just hope for everyone's sake this starts to go better."

But again, most of a PD's clients are fine. That doesn't mean it's not worth it to think about some of this stuff in advance. It doesn't take much effort at all to change your facebook/instagram name if you don't want clients cyberstalking you. Even the non-weird ones will do that. Most people want to look into their attorney. But, if you don't mind (a lot of people don't), it certainly not a top thing you have to tackle before you start working there. I agree with that. I just brought it up because it's not something a lot of people think of in advance

Bla Bla Bla Blah

Bronze
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:01 pm

Re: Attn Public Defenders: What advice would you give to a noob?

Postby Bla Bla Bla Blah » Tue May 07, 2019 4:20 am

Honestly, the only thing that I wish I would have reviewed a bit more was court room procedures, especially laying a foundation for evidence in open court. It's one thing to know the evidence code. It's quite another to feel natural asking to approach, correctly authenticating, submitting into evidence, etc. Following proper courtroom procedure will be huge for you. Also, cross exams are easy because you can lead. But prep on how to develop your directs. You just want to be confident in all the steps you are taking once you are in open court. Second guessing yourself while you figure it out ain't the path you want to take.

Outside of that, get ready for happy hours at least once a week with people who have morbid senses of humor... have to if you're going to be a public defender. And remember that losing well is often a win, so pat yourself on the back for those sometimes.



Return to “Discussion of Practice Areas?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests