Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"fair" is a four-letter word

My first trial turned into my first plea. Not too shocking as the prosecutor promised to attempt to impose the suspended sentence my client had from almost 2 years ago.

But seriously, there was no crime committed, and I haven't just drank the kool-aid. If not for my client's record (which is really not that bad), the prosecutor said he would have just dismissed the charges. If not for the record, the officer on the scene probably would not have manufactured this charge in the first place. If only the prohibition on using propensity arguments and unfair prejudice applied outside the courtroom!

It's funny that the only question people tend to ask public defenders is how we defend "criminals" and still sleep at night. Just once I would like to be asked how we deal with innocent people being convicted. That seems to be the more substantial issue.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

too many firsts

I really do love being a lawyer. I love helping people. I love challenging myself. I love the human dynamics that blossom in front of me. I do not love, however, the steep learning curve I'm currently climbing (or perhaps falling down). My first client turned into the first client I couldn't get in touch with till the last minute which turned into my first client with suspended jail time and suspended fines just waiting to be imposed which turned into my first client that didn't actually do what he is charged with which has now turned into my very first trial. Tomorrow morning. It makes me want to crawl under my desk and pretend the whole world doesn't exist.

It also doesn't help that I have the best mentor for my first year. I mean, he's great. Been here longer than just about everyone--pushing 2 decades as a PD. Which is great because he knows everything, but it also sucks because he knows everything. This afternoon when I showed him my directs and crosses for tomorrow, he looked at me and said things like "just have fun with it" and "just talk normally." And I'm not even going to tell you about his facial expressions as he read them. First, under no deranged perspective could I have fun tomorrow. If I make it through without going into shock, I'll consider it a success. Second, I was just talking normally!! Am I that displaced from real life? I thought I was still a normal person, but maybe, while I wasn't paying attention, I turned into one of "those" lawyers. Dear God, please let it not be so.

So, really. It's hugely unfair for me to be compared with one of the state's best PDs for my first trial. Seriously. Unfair.