There were things in that I could relate to, and other things that I couldn't. Overall, I like reading about PD work in other places, and how PDs came to be PDs, and about PD work in general. Which is probably part of the reason why we PDs all read each other's blogs.
Like I said earlier, I couldn't really relate to just falling into a job at the PD's office. Here, as in most places, PD jobs are highly sought after positions. And no one is getting hired here if their response to why they want to be a PD is "because the prosecutor's office isn't hiring." But I'm willing to believe that it might happen some places, at least occasionally.
I can't relate to PDs who aren't good lawyers, who don't really care about their clients, or who are just trying to get experience at the expense of their clients. There are some people who come to the PDs office purely to get trial experience, but I don't think it'd be fair to say that they're doing it without concern for the clients. And there are many PDs who make a lifelong career of it and have a great deal more experience than private practitioners.
One of the issues in the article I found interesting was caring whether or not the prosecutors like you, and ganging up on particular prosecutors. I, personally, don't care if any prosecutors like me. But I do care whether or not my word is good. You don't have to like my personality, you can call me a true believer, but no one should ever have any reason to doubt my honesty. There are lawyers in my office who seem to think it's really important to be friendly with the prosecutor's office or to be liked by them. I have prosecutors that I'm friendlier with, but to me, it's more important to be a zealous advocate than to make friends at the prosecutor's office. I've already got plenty of friends.
I can relate to, and had to smile when I read, the awkward Christmas party where it's just so difficult to mingle. If I'm trying to avoid discussing work, what am I going to say? There's nothing I really can say. And it's so hard not to just start spouting off hypotheticals that involve the prosecutors' mothers accidentally or innocently doing the same exact conduct one of my clients is accused of.
I can absolutely relate to the image of looking at yourself in a suit and thinking, "Lawyer, lawyer, lawyer," and of feeling like an imposter. And then the day comes when you think, "Wow, I am a lawyer. And a good one."
I really like the description of the courtroom:
There are TimeMist boxes mounted behind the state and defense tables, which now and then spurt jets of fruity perfume, discoloring the nicked wooden benches below.While we don't have that in the courtroom, I like the imagery. And we have plenty of courtrooms that could use some time-released air freshener.
I can relate to the first trial. When my supervisor sat next to me and had to whisper almost every word that I then, dutifully, repeated. I wonder now what my client thought of that. We still keep in touch, and I've always thought about asking him, but I know that he doesn't know yet that he was my first trial. Not that he'd mind, given the outcome.
I like the discussion of whether or not to cut the prosecutors a break. Whether to stipulate or make 'em prove it. Of course you make 'em prove it! Every little bit of it. That's what you're there for.
I love this part...
From the defense side, it's easy to despise what seems an air of privilege and hauteur around the opposing table. The young prosecutors believe God is on their side. They relish their power over delinquent kids only slightly their juniors. They possess the sheen of the effortlessly charmed, of straight-A students and future politicians. They aren't driving to work in ratty cars....Because it's true.
Or at least that's how it feels from across the room. It doesn't help that whereas PDs look like ordinary people, by and large, their state attorney counterparts are uncommonly good-looking, the kind that used to make classmates feel weird or fat or gangly. Beating the state becomes sweet on so many levels.
Ganging up on a prosecutor? We can gang up and decide to be tougher on someone in particular, but I don't think it's ever gotten to the point that we've made someone cry. At least, not that we know of. We're more subtle. But, for instance, there's a particular prosecutor who quickly became known in our office for not keeping to her end of negotiated bargains. The result? Not a single lawyer in our office will negotiate anything at all with her. Every single one of her cases goes on a trial track, which means many of them get dismissed because she can't try them all. If only she wasn't known as a liar, she'd probably get pleas in some of those cases. But I don't think it's anything personal, I don't think anyone is out to make her feel like shit, but you're really doing a disservice to all of your clients when you waste your time negotiating something that the other side is going to disregard anyway. That kind of cooperation where we can work together to make things difficult for a prosecutor, and that sharing of knowledge, is just another advantage a public defender might have over a private practitioner.
The point here is, I disagree with the basic premise of the article, which is that the PD job is the lowest of the low, reserved for someone who couldn't beg his way into any other job, and who is just there to make a name for himself. I'd really like to think that after a year or two on the job, even if he hasn't "become a True Believer overnight," he has more respect for the job. And it bothers me that a newspaper would choose to run a story when the subject was that type of PD, who is presumably the minority, rather than highlight the many dedicated PDs who aspired to that position. (Although I really liked Milbarge's analysis of why this particular PD was chosen. And he's probably dead on.) But I do like some of the imagery, some of the issues that are universal to being a young public defender. And I think that makes it worthy of printing and reading the next time you're going to be stuck in court waiting for a while. Because there are a few parts that will make you smile, and at least a few parts that will make you remember why you love the job, even if it's not for everyone.