Friday, January 03, 2014

Top Ten Things I Learned as a Public Defender / Criminal Defense Attorney

Given what I just wrote in my last post, I was reminded of the last two years I spent at Legal Aid Society in Westchester County, NY.  I thought it might be fun to see if I could come up with the top ten things I learned while working there.  Here is the result of my musings, and I hope you enjoy them.

Top Ten Things I Learned as a Public Defender / Criminal Defense Attorney

10. If I decide to break the law, don’t take a selfie of me doing it.
9. As bad as my life may seem at times, at least I’m not in state prison for an indeterminate sentence of seven to fifteen years.
8. Criminal defense attorneys make more trips to the county jail than the clients they are charged to represent.
7. I am not defending a guilty client’s actions; I am affording him or her the Constitutional right to a fair proceeding and a fair trial, as we are ALL entitled to that.  So stop asking, "Oh my gosh, how could you represent HIM!?"
6. The new word ‘conversate’, which most of my clients wished to do with me, as in, "Hey Mr. Mann, I needs to conversate with you about my case!"
5. The new phrase ‘Shiht man, I needs me a paid lawyer, yo!’ to which I would always reply, "I actually am a paid lawyer, except you're not the one paying me."
4. Most repeat offenders recommit crimes because life on the inside is easier than life on the outside; when you have a rap sheet a mile long, it’s pretty hard to get a job, so what do you do? Go back to what you know: selling drugs, robbing people, and burglary.  Jail and prison alone, I have learned, is not the answer.
3. Happiness is a warm gun.  Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot.  (This has nothing to do with my job at legal aid, but I always wanted to make a reference to this Beatles song, and I figured this is my golden opportunity!)
2. Trials RARELY happen.  Most people plea long before a case even gets to trial: this benefits both the clients and the DA’s office: the clients who get a better deal by pleaing up front to a lesser included charge, and the DA’s office by avoiding the hassle, time, and expense of going through with a trial.
1. If I decide to break the law and DO decide to take a selfie of me doing it, my gosh, please don’t then post it on Facebook!

Oh, and as a bonus, do you know what the # 1 defense always is?  It's the SODDI defense.  SODDI?  It stands for "Some Other Dude Did It!"  :D

No comments: