ambivalent imbroglio home

« Another song about the rain | Main | Conviction? Oh, that's clever. »

February 25, 2006

What a week! A.k.a.: What she said!

Isn't Saturday morning grand? The start of any day is a moment of possibility—you never know what might happen that day, right? But Saturday morning is possibility times two, or maybe three, or maybe twenty, because it's the start of two days during which maybe, just maybe, you'll finally have time to do all those things that have been building up on the fringes of your to-do list for the last week. Possibility. It's a wonderful thing.

This Saturday morning is especially great because the past week was so damned packed with stress and busy.

I wasn't the only one with a week like this. But while the busyness of the week made it seem long to Kristine, all that action made the week fly by for me. And it really was a whirlwind of a week. Monday I prepared for trial, which turned into a motions hearing, which turned into a “motions denied!” and a plea. I thought that was a pretty bad day. I mean, it felt crappy, even though it was a good day in terms of all I learned.

Then there was Wednesday—yet another rough day in court. But again, I wasn't the only one — Energy Spatula summarized both our Wednesdays perfectly: Your Honor, as it turns out, I am a moron. I apologize. Deeply.

What made my Wednesday so rough was a combination of the sort of lack-of-confidence hangover from Tuesday and the fact that the client I've worked for all year, my very first client ever, refused to talk to me. That wasn't really new—he hasn't really been talking to me for about two months now, which has made representing him kind of difficult. But during that time, he was pronounced incompetent to stand trial so I just had to tell myself that he didn't like me because he didn't really understand what was going on.

On Wednesday my client was found competent and he was pretty clear about the fact that he did not want me to represent him anymore. He said he didn't want any student—he wanted a real lawyer. So, faced with a client who wouldn't talk to me and in fact accused me of actively working to keep him locked up, I moved to withdraw as his assigned counsel. I was sort of prepared for the judge to at least have a little discussion about this motion to at least test out my client's certainty that he did not want me as his counsel, but that didn't happen. Instead, without a blink the judge granted my motion, called out an attorney who was waiting for her matters to be called, and appointed her as my now former client's representative right there on the spot. Just like that, bing bang, I was minus one client.

I still don't know what to think of that. It sucked because it shook my confidence further even though I know I did everything I could for that client and there's no rational reason he would not want me to represent him. In fact, I was able to get some great results for this client previously, such as getting him released on his own recognizance after his first, second, and third charges, winning a probable cause hearing that my supervisor assumed was not winnable, and negotiating a plea offer that would have had him out of jail last November w/barely more than time served if only we'd been able to make it through the plea colloquy. So I know I didn't fail this client, but still, it sucks that he doesn't understand that.

Then there's the fact that the judge that granted the withdrawal w/out hesitation was the same judge who denied my motions so profoundly the day before, so I had to wonder whether she also questioned my competence—either based on my performance the previous day, or on the fact that I was making the motion at all. Was she disgusted w/me that I would just throw up my hands and give up on a tough client? Is that what I did?

Always the second-guessing. But it just seemed that if he felt like I was his enemy and didn't want to work with me, it would be better for him in the long run to work with someone he likes or trusts or at least doesn't actively dislike. I want what he wants—for him to be free and out of the criminal system as soon as possible. It just seemed like getting him new counsel was going to be the best way to achieve that for him.

But Wednesday wasn't finished with me yet. I also had a simple set date that turned a little sketchy. After the preliminary hearing where the judge barely found probable cause, I thought we were just going to set a date for trial. But no, that would be two easy. Instead the two attorneys for the codefendants wanted to set a status date to possibly accept plea offers, and doubtless those plea offers would include their clients making statements against my client, which means if they take pleas and I don't, my client could get screwed. Awesome. Thanks, guys. I know you've gotta do what's best for your clients, but if it's good for your clients to plea guilty to crimes the government is just not going to be able to prove then I'm a monkey's uncle. Grr.

Thursday was all about making a zillion phone calls and investigating the above case, as well as preparing for Friday in court. Friday was not that big a deal. I had two matters that should have taken about 5 minutes each, which meant I was in court from 9:00 a.m. to about 3 p.m. So yeah, pretty typical.

In all, it was an action-packed and stressful week, but as I've said before, I learned tons of good lessons and nothing really bad happened to my clients as a result of my learning experiences so it's all going to work out, I think. Still, I'm so glad it's Saturday!

p.s.: I know if you're a public defender or other trial attorney reading this you're probably thinking, “quit yer whining.” I know the day-to-day life of the full-time public defender is packed with much more of this kind of thing and I'd better get used to it. So this isn't whining; this is me getting used to it.

Posted February 25, 2006 11:28 AM | 3L crimlaw

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

good job! doing all that, and finding the time to write about it on top of it all.

you're going to be awesome.

also, if that dumb client wants a "real" lawyer, then let him have one. he doesn't know that he'll get lost in the suffle, while you'll do a better job. his loss.

Posted by: monica at March 2, 2006 06:25 PM

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.