I'm glad I went into private practice.

So that I can fully appreciated blog posts like this one.

Just imagine... a few months ago, I would've read that, and I would've been stuck thinking "I don't get it."

And now I get it all too clearly.

Honesty Has Its Price

There are similarities and differences between my previous public defender clients and my current private criminal defense clients. There is also sometimes a difference in the way in which I respond to these clients.

For example, every client, rich or poor, wants to know whether their case will get dismissed. Of course, a dismissal is the holy grail of all criminal cases, but I'm still always a little taken aback when clients ask, "Why don't they just dismiss this case?"

I think that I was a little more tell-it-like-it-is with my public defender clients. I don't think I was rude in anyway, but I rarely felt that it was necessary for me to sugar-coat the truth.

So, to a public defender client, I might have responded, "Well, they went through the trouble of investigating you, getting a warrant for you, arresting you, and indicting you. A dismissal isn't going to just come easy now. The most likely way for your case to get dismissed is that the prosecutor finds a big screw up in your case, or if you can give me something good to show the prosecutor. Think about it, look over the paperwork about the case, and we'll see if we can figure something out."

With my private clients, they pay not not to have me explain the sad realities of the justice system, or to brainstorm with them, but to just fix it. And so, I say something like, "Yes, I'd really like to see your case get dismissed too. It's not easy, but I'm working on it."

After my tell-it-like-it-is explanation, most of my public defender clients would respond pretty positively. Some would say "Those cops are lying!" but there were some that said that to everything.

But, after my upbeat-but-vague answer, do you know what the private clients say to me?

"Ok, but how much more would I have to pay you to just case the get dismissed?"
"How much to *you know* just take care of the case?"

As if I'm going to walk over to the D.A. and say "Psst! Here's $20. Can you just dismiss that case? No? $50? Oh, ok, great, thanks."

What, am I going to do that only for you and not for any of my other clients? You don't think the judge is ever going to catch on? "Gee, all of Blonde Justice's cases just get dismissed instantly - she must be really good."

Do you think maybe that might be a little improper? And, if I was going to blow my whole career like that, don't you think I'd do it for a client I actually liked?

Or, don't you think I'd charge you a heck of a lot more?

Heartbreak and Frustration

I recently sat in on a new client interview that another attorney was conducting.

The potential client was a young man, 17 years old. The young man was wearing some kind of fancy polo shirt, probably from Abercrombie. And you could probably sell his jeans and buy a round of drinks for a whole bunch of public defenders. He was already on probation for one offense, had already had one probation violation, and had just been arrested with a new charge.

His father, who accompanied him, has some kind of upper class job and upper class life. Accountant or stock broker or something, if I had to guess. Probably drives a BMW or Mercedes or maybe a Porsche.

But I think Dad was genuinely concerned for his son. There really is a possibility that he could face a probation violation and go to jail, regardless of what happens on the new case. And I also think that Dad was genuinely perplexed about why his son continued to get in trouble.

Finally, the part of the interview came when the attorney talked about the legal fees involved in the case. Dad whipped out his check book and started writing without blinking. And as he wrote out the check, he said quietly to his son, "This is coming out of your allowance."

(Allowance? Really? Do 17 year-olds really get an allowance? I was shocked.)

But I was more shocked when the young man replied to his father, "Fuck you, dad, whatever."

Anyone here think Dad should still be perplexed about why this little brat keeps getting arrested? I can only hope, for his sake, that he's better behaved around his P.O. than around his own father.

But, the more that I thought about, the more I felt really bummed. I can think of so many public defender juvenile clients that I represented who would be elated to have a father who would show up to accompany them to a lawyer's office or to court or maybe just put food on the table, never mind buying them fancy clothes, giving them an allowance, or dropping a few thousand bucks on a lawyer. Maybe a father who could just give them a few bucks for bus fare, so that they wouldn't get arrested for fare evasion in the first place. It wouldn't take much.

I spent the rest of the day thinking these thoughts. Like some kind of Criminal Defense Lawyer Robin Hood. Like, maybe Wealthy Dad's money would've been better spent supporting The Fresh Air Fund and making his spoiled son get a job.

Or maybe Dad could've paid me the kids allowance a year ago and I could've taken this little ingrate on a jail visit and show him what his father is trying to help him avoid. My own little Blonde Justice Scared Straight program.

But mostly I just feel kind of sad and frustrated.

Finally Carbonara

Guess what I made for dinner the other night.

Sanchovilla's Pasta Carbonara recipe.

Yummy yummy.

Don't ever try to tell me this isn't a full service blog.

Simply the Best

I was tagged by Brad Parker at Where's Travis McGee?. In exchange for being named one of his top 10 blogs, I now have to post my own top 10 faves here. And then, those named are supposed to post their top 10 faves in a similar fashion. But, no pressure. I won't be offended if you're too busy or never get around to it - that happens to me all the time.

So here they are, 10 faves...

9 girls:

Woman of the Law
- You'll see that some of my favorite bloggers aren't the most frequent posters. But that doesn't stop me from checking on them, almost every day. Reading WOTL is like reading about my life, except with a much more love life.

Angry Pregnant Lawyer
- APL cracks me up. This is a good one.

LJC FYI - Both LJC and the next on the list, Not Martha, are super popular, so I'm not really expecting any sort of reciprocity. But I love LJC's photography, and craftiness, and dog!

Not Martha - Crafty and resourceful. That's what I like in a blogger.

Not Guilty - Ok, so she never ever posts anymore. That's ok, I understand, she's got two babies. It doesn't stop me from checking all the time, hoping for an update.

Tea House Blossom - The THB is a funny and hip urban lawyer. I can relate to that.

Will Work For Favorable Dicta
- Another one who never posts. But I had to hope that maybe a mention here would get E Spat back to her keyboard.

Frolics and Detours
- Another public defender girl! I love that.

Leslie's Omnibus - Lots of cute little tidbits. And I was her inspiration to start blogging. Can't say I'm not flattered.

And 1 boy:

Tales of a PD Investigator
- What can I say? Sanchovilla is the man. Got to respect your PD investigators.

Death By Rodrigo

When I was a kid, I loved Reading Rainbow. Remember the part, at the end, when LeVar Burton said, "But you don't have to take my word for it..." and then kids reviewed books they had read? I always thought, "I'm so much smarter than these kids. I could totally do better reviews..." But you don't have to take my word for it.

Death By Rodrigo is a really funny wry look at the world of criminal defense. The book is described as "Janet Evanovich meets My Cousin Vinny," so I knew the book was going to be good.

Junne, the main character and narrator of the novel, is a real city gritty criminal defense lawyer. As a former cop, he knows all the tricks, even though he acknowledges that he doesn't have a lot of book smarts. But he knows people, he knows what's going on around him, and this is what makes him a good criminal defense lawyer.

I can relate to that.

Junne and his partner Mickie not only work with, but also learn the code of, pimps and prostitutes, drug lords and judges. Eventually, though, they find themselves in over their heads (I can relate to that too, but not like this) and know it's going to take them more than just book smarts to dig themselves out. And Junne tries to deal with a secret that I wouldn't even think of revealing here.

The book is funny and engaging. I'll warn you before you read it that the writing style is very, you know, casual, as its all coming from the point of view of this rough and tumble ex-cop lawyer. But if you read this blog, then I'm sure you can deal with improper grammar.

I recommend Death By Rodrigo as a good fun read and a light-hearted look into the seedy underbelly of criminal defense. Da-dunh-dunh!

The Regular Season Comes to a Close

You say you gave up on the fantasy baseball season months ago, because you're a sore loser? Or you lost your password? Well, I added the standings to the Blawgers Baseball blog. So, check that out.