Title 17

Chesperito writes:


How do you keep from socking DAs in the face on a daily basis?

Oooh, that's a tough question.

I guess it depends on the day, and the particular DA.

Some days I'm able to tell myself, "Hey, he's a lawyer, I'm a lawyer, it's nothing personal."

Some days I fantasize about doing mean things, but ultimately restrain myself.

In the past month or two, there's been a new crop of know-it-all snot nose little DAs.

Another PD in my office had a brilliant idea, which I've been utilizing now and then. Basically, the goal is to make them feel dumb, and it involves citing imaginary law.

The prosecutor says something crazy like, "For this serious crime, we recommend the maximum term of imprisonment."

Then I say something like, "What?! Judge! Imprisonment? That doesn't even comply with Title 17 of the Sentencing Regulations..." (You may have to change this slightly to fit your jurisdiction - what is important, though, is that there be no such thing.)

The Prosecutor starts furiously flipping through the criminal code (there isn't a book called "the sentencing regulations.")

"Judge! Now the prosecutor is going to try to respond by citing the criminal code?!? Your honor knows that this is not in Title 17 of the Sentencing Regulations."

And, without a doubt, the right judge will say, "Miss Justice, you're correct that this is not in 'Title 17' of the 'Sentencing Regulations.'" (Because even the judges don't like the little know-it-all new prosecutors.)

All the while, that little know-it-all new prosecutor is helplessly flipping through any available book and looking around, scared, a deer caught in the headlights.

"Well, judge, I guess if the prosecutor wants to wrap this up today, we'd accept community service. Otherwise we'll have to ask for the remedies spelled out by the legislature..."

Believe me, it's fun. If you have a judge you can play this with, you should definitely give it a try.

And, perhaps most impressively, that prosecutor will continue to defer to you for a long time to come. Or, at least a few weeks.


  1. My father taught me that trick when I was 17 and newley enlisted in the Navy. He was career Army (E8) and the only advice he gave me about surving the military was that whenever some mid level NCO or JR. Officer started giving me some grief about some nonsense to just make up some rule/regulation/law/UCMJRegulation and quote it to him. Then just walk away.

    It really worked. It never once backfired on me.

  2. Some judges will actually go along with this? That's awesome. None of the judges I'v been in front of would (I don't think... well, maybe one or two).

  3. You need to save the trick for the snot-noses, and with a sympathetic Judge (those exist?) - the DA's that are d*cks will run up the 'candor to the tribunal' flag on you.

    On a lighter note, our DA's assignments have been shuffled, and Janet and I are up against...
    A new DA (who still makes new DA mistakes BUT is self-confident enough to know a good case from a bad case and plea it accordingly)and...
    A really new DA. (Who Janet made cry the last time they were in the same hearing

  4. Baaahaaa! You make me *almost* want to be a criminal defense attorney to play. Although I bet I can twist it and try it in my own area of practice. I don't think I can get it to fly in front of a judge although I've never thought to try.... Hmmm....

  5. Our judges here probably would yell at you if you tried it here. The best way to deal with the newbies is really the same way you deal with the older, unreasonable prosecutors. Try the case. Especially in misdemeanors. The other thing I've done is sit in the courtroom and see what the pro se guys who plea straight up to the judge get. Then when the newbie wants my guy to plea to some sentence that is more than what the pro ses got, I point that out. Then I tell them I want better, or I'll try. While I may not win, they (being new) will make some mistake (like not proving jurisdiction) that could lead to dissmissal.

  6. Hysterical. Not a criminal lawyer, but the judges I appear before would send me right down the river for trying to trick my opposing counsel. Too bad, because I like your approach!

  7. Bwwaahh! Most of my Judges would love that- but only if the poor little DA was being a twit. My ex husband was a prosecutor in the same town where I practice so I like to bring up their little "bonding rituals," "Oh, John, have they taken you to the confrence and made you play Butt quarters yet?" freaks them out worrying about Butt Quarters.

  8. Butt quarters? Is that like when you become a member of the Supreme Court and they make you hold a cherry in your butt cheeks and run an obstacle course and drop the cherry in a beer (which you then subsequently drink?) I wonder how Alito did on that one.