"Lawyer: An individual whose principal role is to protect his clients from others of his profession."-Anonymous

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Month In...

Well, it has certainly been a while since I've last posted...I will certainly try and do better. I've officially been a Public Defender for a whole month now. I can say it is certainly different than what I expected. But I guess a great deal of it is getting used to the Adult side of the things. I'm so used to doing bench trials, so it will really be different to get in front of a jury. Now, I've come close on the juvenile side to getting a jury trial ...but they always settled prior to voire dire.

So next week will be my first official jury trial and it will be a felony trial...so I've been gearing up for it.

Everyone is really friendly, helpful and cordial, I think I'm going to like it. I've already picked up cases from the Domestic, Serious Traffic and Community Court calendars. So far the most interesting of clients are from the Community Court calendar which consists of mostly homeless persons, who are picked up for such low level offenses trespassing, loitering, consumption, public urination, etc....

Well I picked up this one client (who looks like a dingy yet lovable Kris Kringle), and can cuss like none other( mostly in reference to the police men who pick him up from his corner), I mean he takes cursing to an elevated art form....Ya gotta love it...and I don't cuss (well, not generally speaking that is...)

Any how, the city attorney's office has labeled him a habitual offender and the judge sets bail at $150.00, which of course my client can't afford... I discuss the City Attorney's offer to settle the case, and he's not interested at all, I explain to him his trial rights and assure him that I'd demand a speedy trial for him, because he shouldn't have to sit in jail just because he couldn't afford the bail...but in fact he's been through this before, countless times. He looked at me dead in my eyes and told me something that blew me away... he said..."Look, this is a whole lot better than being on the streets." I hadn't even considered such a thing...My whole focus was getting him out and he didn't even want it. It was the first time, in a unfortunate long time that I realized that I couldn't even relate. It really hit home for me, the magnitude of it all...seeing someone voluntarily, readily and willingly give up their freedom in exchange for three meals, a bed/shower, and continuous shelter. I went home that night and every night thereafter, thankful for all that I take for granted. It has been yet another lesson one of my clients have taught me. "Thanks Kris."