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.

7 comments:

  1. My dear friend Cynthia. Could you also blog about the advantages that some former prosecutors turned defense attorneys have over you pure-bread types?

    ss

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  2. Hi there, my favorite red headed %&*$@! I think it would be a huge public service if we had a forum that identified bad cops and testiliers. Can we do that here?

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  3. I agree that some prosecutors will never, ever be competent defense lawyers. They will never see the State as the enemy, never fear the damage the State can do to their already fragile and damaged clients, never doubt the words of a cop, or doubt the testimony of a complaining witness. They inherently believe that if you are arrested there is a reason for it, and if there is a law, it must be enforced even when it is cruel, senseless or just plain mean to do so.

    I just don't know, other than ostracizing them, what we can do about that. I know some "respected" defense lawyers who are still prosecutors, yet pass as defense lawyers by saying the right thing while they sell their clients down the river. It reminds me about eternal vigilance being needed... naming and shaming seem to be the only tools we have.

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  4. The "advantages some former prosecutors" have over SOME pure bred defense lawyers, somewhat as requested, shall be my blog for the day.

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  5. This guy sounds scary. Generally I think working as a defense attorney is a great education for a prosecutor who is a jerk to defense attorneys. So maybe he will improve with time. Disclosure: I am a PNDL

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  6. He is not a he, but instead a very cold she.

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