Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What some PNDL have over defense lawyers who have never prosecuted - as requested by a PNDL

Mr. Shellist asked that I discuss what PNDL have over defense lawyers. First, I must admit I have never been a prosecutor - never applied to be one - never really wanted to be one. Of course like most who have suffered from crime, I have thought how much fun it would be to put some jerk in the pokey - but that is about as far as my desire in that area went.

I also have a very different training than most defense lawyer. I am very lucky to have worked for and with other well-known and respected defense lawyers for 12 years. I learned so much that is difficult to learn without someone showing you the ropes (which is why the mentor program is good IF and that is a big IF - the mentor actually shows how to prepare for trial. It does not do much good to just watch the trial whether from the defense table or the audience. )

So, I guess we are really considering PNDL who never work for defense lawyers and comparing them to neophyte defense lawyers who went out & hung their shingle without working for others.

Let's see - PNDLs have their connections in the DA's office - at least for a while. They can probably get appointments easier at least in the misdemeanor courts in which they worked IF they were nice people and got along with all - meaning they didn't plug up the docket by making ridiculous offers. They know the "tricks" better. They know who the snakes are -those who agree with the "Canadian" way of thinking, or base a decision on whether to dismiss a bad case on the ability of the lawyer on the case rather than on what is right. They know the cops better - who makes a better liar, uh I mean witness,and who is a bad witness so it ups the chance of winning at trial for the defense. (This comment is particularly pointed at DWI task force officers and many of the narcs.)

In general (meaning this doesn't apply to any particular person, nor does each thing apply across the board - if the reader gets angry reading this, then my guess is that it applies to them): PNDLs don't know (1) the law - they never had to really learn it as an ADA because they just "called appellate" (of course, many defense lawyers don't bother to read it so they don't know it either) or they just knew what it took to convict [Hence the saying of court prosecutors - "I'm in sales, not service" meaning that if a case gets reversed they don't really care - they got the conviction; (2) how to prepare a case from the defense side, especially when the client doesn't have money but isn't indigent so the resources are severely limited while PNDLs are accustomed to trained investigators who do much of their witness hunting & info gathering; and (3) how to handle a lying witness - anyone who has prosecuted a DWI with a task force officer knows they are sponsoring a witness who will tell at least several little white ones - come on - they could just copy the offense reports & change the name on it for the most part. I could be mean & say that they know different tones in which to ask "What happened next?" - a joke amongst defense lawyers with prosecutors.

So, I'll leave it to the PNDLs to comment on what it is they think they have over, say me. And, while I reponded to Mr. Shellist, I must also say I have never had a case against him and do not know the manner of his practice. I will also say that he seems to have a personality similar to mine and so - I'm looking forward to comments.

Until the next time . . .

Friday, February 20, 2009

Prosecutors becoming defense lawyers (PNDL)

This ought to stir the pot. I'll be a bit less specific than I was on HCCLA's site a while back, but my feelings surrounding the same general subject haven't changed. My experience today just reinforced my thoughts. My first appearance on a new case & I see a former prosecutor who is now a defense lawyer - not by choice I'm told (and I certainly believe given the attitude I've always seen exhibited by PNDL1 - prosecutor now defense lawyer 1 - this specific PNDL.) Of many prosecutors who have become defense lawyers recently, this particular change is, to say the least, shocking. My experience with PNDL1 is nothing but bad - no, it is BAD (all caps). I know for a fact that Brady (exculpatory) information was not disclosed dispite a specific request in a case I tried. (Interestingly, 3 prosecutors had their hands on it and never turned it over - that is another story itself.) My thought on PNDL1 was definitely career ADA - natural born killer, or if ousted, PNDL1 would become a civil lawyer. So, given some of my recent HCCLA comments in which I was extolled to "give a chance" to the PNDLs (and some, like Murray, I have never doubted. In fact, I tried a case against him many moons ago & thought he would soon be a defense lawyer - I was years off unfortunately for the defense.) But I digress. At the urging of some fellow long time or only been defense lawyer (LTers), I thought I'd be open-minded, listen (while taking notes - we still aren't getting copies of offense reports as promised - another story) & watch. It didn't take 10 minutes for PNDL1 to come out of the holderover where prisoners are kept & loudly bad mouth client's claim of innocence for all to hear, and expound upon why it just couldn't be true. When the blabbering continued, I moved across the room trying to avoid the confrontation I wanted to start about the "defense" being provided by PNDL1. I'll keep this short, as I plan to do with all my blogs, but I'll share this - my client noticed & heard, & talked to me about how bothered he was by the blabbering, asked if PNDL1 was a prosecutor, and expressed his appreciation of my feelings about the kind of representation PNDL1 will be giving to current and future clients. There are just some people who CAN'T defend - not that they could not do a great job because they have years of experience & training - but the mindset is WRONG. So, what can be done? I put this out for discussion & comments because I have suggestions but would like to hear the thoughts of others.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blogs are read - a lot!

I am amazed by the number of people who read my blog. This leads me to believe that each of us has the opportunity to make a difference in a life - the life of anyone who reads our posts. I had several people ask me when I was going to start sharing my true thoughts (& knowledge) as I frequently do on HCCLA's listserver. Soon. I want people to know what it is really like to represent a person accused of an offense - whether they are guilty or not guilty. (Innocence has NOTHING to do with criminal law despite the jury charge the judge continue to use which is incorrect and they know it. Okay there - I've found my next topic. Jury charges are misleading.) I want lay people to understand what an accused feels - because in many cases, I feel right along with them (which is good, and bad - another topic.) I think I'll keep my blogs short & to the point. I have lots of topics I am thinking of now, if I can just keep people off my back, I'll put to computer what I think - on important topics. One thing for certain, you'll find, if you don't already know, that when I say what is on my mind - sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but it is always honest. I swear.

Monday, February 16, 2009

First blog

My first blog. I don't really understand how to do it but I have enjoyed blogs by other attorneys such as Murray Newman, Paul Kennedy, & Mark Bennett. Mark has really made his website useful not only to lay persons, but also to attorneys. I hope to share information in my future blogs that will help people. I will say I am proud of the number of people who have joined The Houston Area Women's Center based on my invitations on my Facebook. I shared private information to obtain others' interest, and I am not completely disappointed. (I'm hoping that additional invitees will join as they have the opportunity to look at their invitations, and that it is just a matter of timing - that they have not joined thus far because they have not seen the invite & not because a lack of concern.) If you have questions, or comments, let know. If you have a subject that interests you that I may be able to post about, let me know. (If you want to help me set up my blog properly, I'll definitely take some advice.) So there, the end of my first blog.