On the Beauty of PDs

Ok, ok, apparently the big topic of the week around the blawgosphere (here, here, and in the comments here) has become "Who is prettier, prosecutors or public defenders?"

I will say, where I work, hands down, the women of the PD's office are prettier. Sure, I'm biased, but so what?

The men? Heh, that's a tough one. I'd say if you like clean-cut guys, the men of the prosecutor's office are probably better looking. If you like someone a little more rough around the edges, you'd have to give the prize to the public defender's office. I generally prefer clean cut guys, but personality counts for a lot with me, and like I said earlier, I have a hard enough time just mingling with prosecutors, nevermind getting over their personality to actually find one of them attractive.

But when I quoted the paragraphs below and said that it's true, I was thinking of something a little different than straight look-at-these-two-groups-of-people-and-tell-me-who-is-prettier. Let's review the quote:
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.

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.
Alright, I thought no one would dispute the first line, that the prosecution has "an air of privilege and hauteur," but maybe that is called into dispute with the car debate. (I love Saabs, by the way.)

But I think that privilege has a lot to do with it. Many of the prosecutors went to ivy league schools. Don't get me wrong, many public defenders did too, but we also have a good public-interest-school contingency.

I think that if we took each prosecutor and each public defender here and put them in the same white t-shirt against the same background and took a Polaroid, and then put those pictures in a amihotornot.com style poll, I think the PDs would win.

But what I thought was true about the assessment is that in the courtroom, the prosecution has a confidence that comes from knowing the judge will never rule against you (and if they do, they won't be a judge much longer), and that you're doing "God's work." (The latter is what I believe their opinion to be, not what my opinion is, obviously.)

Here, they do make more money. And they're much more likely to come from money. So, they have the things that come with money - more expensive haircuts, obviously whitened and orthodontically perfect teeth, nicer suits, and they wear their clothes wrinkle-less, as if they've, as an office, discovered a magical place where you can drop off your clothes (other than their floor), and they'll come back to you not only cleaned but also free of wrinkles. Likewise, their clothes are somehow mysteriously free of stains.

Ok, I'm kidding, but only about that last part. But they do, as a group, dress a bit nicer than the PD's office.

And, let's face it, Tom McKenna can post photos of whoever he wants, but it looks like he left out one very important one - wasn't John F. Kennedy Jr., one of the hottest men in modern history, a prosecutor? After he, like Charley Demosthenous, failed the bar a few times?

I rest my case.


  1. Thought you might be interested, a second part to the FL PD story is up.
    (courtesy of Capital Defense Weekly).

  2. I recently did some volunteer work for the state PD's office in Colorado----public defender women? Hot.:)

  3. The main thing I've noticed in my jurisdiction are style differences between PDs and DAs-- and those style differences are most noticeable between the men.

    Male DAs are, as you noted, clean cut, straight-arrow types. The male PDs let their hair grow a little longer, shave less frequently, and often have an earring. For a while cowboy boots were all the rage among the middle-aged male PDS here.

    As for attitude, I think that prosecutors do often have an annoying "God is on my side" attitude. If you think it's annoying when you are working on the other side of the courtroom, imagine how annoying it can be if you're one of them. You express doubt about a case and your colleagues act like you're in league with the devil.

    BUT that having been said, defense attorneys are quite capable of annoying self-righteousness also. It doesn't take on quite the same straight-arrow form but it's definitely there, in my experience. It's very annoying to be lectured by opposing counsel as to my duties as a prosecutor-- especially when all I've done is make a principled decision that the defense attorney doesn't happen to agree with.

  4. Great closing Blondie...I liked that you brought up JFK Jr. Nice one.

  5. "Many of the prosecutors went to ivy league schools. Don't get me wrong, many public defenders did too, but we also have a good public-interest-school contingency."

    Did a PD really write this? what's up?

  6. What exactly justifies the DA's ppl drawing a larger paycheck than the PD folks? Aren't they both working in the interest of the state?

    When you think about it, (for those who think at all), the prosecutors have a far easier job than the PD. It's just the way it is. PD's have to actually prepare and present an argument after they file a motion in order to prevail. Whereas, it often seems prosecution motions are granted in spite of ill-prepared/ill-presented arguments. Why is that?

    Perhaps prosecutors are just lazier than PD's. They are you know.

  7. Ok, in the world of law schools, there are great schools (ivy league, top tier, whatever you want to call it), middle of the road schools, and lower tier schools. That's a fact. I would say that the prosecutor's office here and the PD's office here have maybe about the same proportion of new hires from these types of schools. Let's say, half from the great schools, about half from the middle of the road schools, and a couple from the lower tier schools. For whatever reason.

    But there's also schools that are well known in their region for public interest. Maybe in the grand scheme of things, they come up low in rankings. But, they're well known in their area for producing excellent lawyers in their practice - namely public interest or criminal defense. The PD's office will hire a great number of their hires from these schools. Now, rankings-wise, these schools may fall in the middle or lower tiers, but it's not of much concern to the PD's office because they know that this school produces well-qualified attorneys. These schools may be cheap, like state schools, or they may be as expensive as other middle or top tier schools.

    A prosecutor, or even an outsider, unfamiliar with this, may look at it say "Ok, this prosecutor went to Harvard Law, and this public defender went to whatever local state school, obviously the public defender is smarter." But, I think that many, if not most, practicing lawyers in the area would tell you that it's not necessarily true.

    I guess what I'm saying is that while the PD's office hires it's fair share of ivy league grads, they realize that there are other things that make you qualified to be a good public defender - such as your passion or commitment to the clients or the work.

    In the PD's office, I think it's less about where you went to school. I could point out the ten best lawyers in my office, and, quite frankly, I have no idea where any of them went to law school. It's never even occurred to me to ask.

    On the other hand, if I went to most of my prosecutor colleagues and asked them, "Who are the ten best lawyers in your office?" I think I'd get a response like, "Well, there's Joe, he went to Harvard Law School, and there's Mary, she went to Stanford..." I know that because that's how they often introduce themselves and each other.

    I hope this makes sense. I'm not saying that prosecutors as a group are smarter (in fact, I think you have to be smarter to be a good PD). But, what I'm saying is that there's less emphasis on where you went to school in PD hiring.

  8. Ooops, I meant to say:

    A prosecutor, or even an outsider, unfamiliar with this, may look at it say "Ok, this prosecutor went to Harvard Law, and this public defender went to whatever local state school, obviously the prosecutor is smarter." But, I think that many, if not most, practicing lawyers in the area would tell you that it's not necessarily true.

  9. I think that anonymous's point about whether PDs have a harder job than DAs is worth a whole post in itself. I've spent most of my career on the DA side of the fence; when I did a defense case recently, it just felt so refreshing to just have to worry about poking holes in the DAs case.

    My personal opinion is that it's like comparing apples and oranges. In many ways, DAs have to have their act together a lot more because they have to try to make sure they have a solid case, get all the witnesses there and prepped. On the other hand, PDs have to worry about jury prejudices, the vulnerability of their clients who often choose to plead guilty out of fear of the consequences if they don't, and issue spotting.

    I found being a prosecutor stressful because I felt my reputation was on the line with each case I brought. If it was an overzealous or wrongful prosecution, that said a lot about ME whereas everyone knows that a defense attorney's job is to defend her client no matter what.

  10. I think Happy Feminist is absolutely right in that what prosecutors and defenders do just can't be compared. It's just different. One or the other certainly might be harder emotionally for different people.

    And about the education thing, many students pick "lower tier" school for precisely the reasons you said; that they turn out better lawyers in particular fields. I know I chose my school because I wanted to be interested in my fellow students. But I think PDs often know that, and don't just depend on the ranking of the school for their evaluation of the individual.

    Besides, it's PD instinct to cheer for the underdog.

  11. In the sole trial for which I was jury participant (my only qualification to even comment on this topic), both PD attorneys (one woman, one man) were better looking than the sole prosecutor (who was a man). I would even describe the female PD as "hot", but in a way that did not detract at all from her credibility. (The court clerk, now that was another story.) The PDs were as well-dressed, but certainly didn't seem as slick or polished in their mannerisms. I sincerely hope this didn't impact the verdict; but while I was not consciously aware of it impacting me, I cannot help but wonder on what subconscious level that plays.

    Of course, it might be a disadvantage in the minds of some jurors - we've all seen the well-dressed, polished "weasel" character whom we disliked at first glance. Our PD didn't give me that impression, though. He was too nerdy-looking for that.

  12. I love SAABs (and BMWs) too. You run "SAAB" as a search term on my blawg and you'll see.

    Anyway, this DA-PD thing thread is fascininating for several reasons. I will say that the female DA I beat in the "background" video from 1998 was and probably still is a highly attractive woman; we used to quaff beers and play with her kid back in the Day.

    Here's my take on the whole thing:

    I think you guys will get a kick out of my recent post where I discuss the glorification of cop and DA shows, while giving PD's none of the same respect:


    I ask the question:

    Where are the shows that celebrate people like me whipping that young prosecutor butt, as you can read about here and see in the "background" video (at my website?)

    Well there aren't any, and there won't be any. Instead we watch these police shows that repeatedly depict Bill of Rights violations of First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment Rights, so that we are desensitized to such violations when they occur in real life.

    Y'all know it's true.

  13. @LegalSchmegal I want also to be public defender like you..