18 May 2004

A Week in the Life of a Criminal Defense Attorney

Monday: In the morning I go to court to continue a client's driving on a suspended license case so that he can try to get his license squared away before his trial date. In the afternoon one of my clients comes to court with a letter from an attorney he has hired to replace me, so the judge allows me to withdraw from the case. Another client has his felony larceny reduced to a misdemeanor and is sentenced to 12 months with 10 months suspended. He's already served more time than that so he's happy.

Tuesday: In the morning I have a preliminary hearing set for a felony DUI. The guy hasn't been in contact with me since I saw him at the jail a couple months back (after people make bond this often happens). I think I see him in the gallery and I call his name. The guy gets up, and we start to walk toward one another. Then he turns slightly and walks past me to go speak to another attorney. So I think he must not be my client; then about 15 minutes later the other attorney walks up to me and tells me that she has been hired to represent the Defendant. When the judge comes to the bench he orders the substitution. Then I go off and do a couple bond hearings. Bond hearings are done during pre-trials (in Va. Defendants have a pretrial date on which the judge makes sure they know of what they are charged and determines whether or not they shall have a court appointed attorney). While I'm sitting there waiting for my case a Defendant is brought from the cells and just as the judge assigns another attorney he blurts out, "Can Mr. Lammers represent me?" Judge: "Do you know Mr. Lammers?" Defendant: "No, but I've heard about him." The judges goes ahead and assigns the Defendant the original attorney but I gotta admit my head swelled a little. I still don't know how the guy heard of me.

Wednesday: As I open my apartment door to leave for work one of my dogs bolts through. Since my landlords frown on letting your dog run around the parking lot all day I spend the next 45 minutes chasing Spot. So I finally catch the dog and get him put away. I head off to court and arrive 45 minutes late, but nobody even notices because it is the middle of a big traffic docket. I get my client a continuance so he can try to get his license back before he goes to trial for his driving on a suspended license charge. In the afternoon I have two appointments but only one shows.

Thursday: In the morning I go to court for a client charged with not keeping his sexual offender registration up to date. When I go talk to the Trooper involved, before I can suggest anything the Trooper tells me that my client has gotten it all squared away and he thinks this should be reduced to a misdemeanor and my client given all suspended time. The prosecutor still balks but eventually he agrees to it. In the afternoon I go off to federal court because my client has gotten a superceding (more serious) indictment because he did not agree to the prosecutor's offered plea. I sent a letter to the client telling this was coming but apparently it takes more than 5 days for mail to get from Richmond to Orange County (2 hours down the road). So I have to explain what's going on before the arraignment; luckily I got there 40 minutes early.

Friday: I go into the office and spend the whole doggone day writing a petition for appeal (part of which is here)

Not the most exciting week but they all can't be fun-filled adventures.

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