17 November 2005

Moments in the Life of a Criminal Defense Attorney

1) Chatting with an officer while waiting for a case I mention that I usually walk my dogs about midnight every night. The officer tells me I might not want to do that because someone got robbed in my apartment complex's parking lot last week. A couple days later I run across the officer who was the first responder (who also lives in my apartment complex). I ask him what happened.
Well, I was asleep in my apartment and I heard someone in the parking lot yelling for the police. My first thought is you've got to be kidding me! I think that someone had a fender bender. I get up and throw my uniform on and go outside. There's a lady in the parking lot who they had just tried to rob.
Apparently, a couple guys tried to jump in the lady's car but she put it in reverse and almost ran one of them over.
I couldn't believe it. My car was sitting right there and everything and they still did it. Not that I should be surprised - it's the same spot where they robbed that other guy two weeks ago.
You've got to be kidding me. I moved out of Richmond to get away from that stuff. I comment to the officer that I imagine it happened over by his building because it is the last one in the complex and they could make an easy get away.
Yeah, but when they ran away they ran through the pool area (the center of the entire complex) and jumped into a car they had waiting over by your building.
Wonderful. Well, at least it explains why there have been police patrols through our parking lots so much lately. I've actually had a couple cars start to follow me until they realized that I was walking the dogs (or, more accurately, being walked by the dogs).

2) Overheard discussion:
Attorney: You can tell Judge Smith was never a criminal defense attorney.

Lawyer: Why?

Attorney: Because he says things at trial like: "I realize you're preserving your argument for the appellate court and I'm happy to let you make a record but I'm ruling against you."

Lawyer: *chuckle*

Attorney: Yeah. I feel like asking him if he's read any opinions from the Court of Appeals lately.
[note] The undercurrent here is the perception by the defense bar that if you're going to win you need to win in the trial court. Only a judge with a prosecutorial background (or perhaps civil) would think that you were trying to set things up so you could win later in the appellate courts.

3) Former Client hired a "paid attorney" to represent him on a show cause. I had represented him on a prior show cause and got his time resuspended but he thought he needed better this time. I'm in the lockup area talking to a client whom I still represent and he starts waving like crazy at me through the glass. A little surprised to see him (he was on the street all the time I was dealing with him) I ask the deputy to get him out. He wants to tell me what happened: "He got me a year. I paid him all that money and he got me a year." etc. I listen for a couple minutes and say some words of sympathy before excusing myself. I can't say the "paid lawyer" did a bad job. Given the facts and the judge that was the probable outcome from the beginning whether I handled it or he did. And, to be honest, I can't generate a whole lot of sympathy because I think (without knowing) that the reason he hired the "paid lawyer" the day before he was supposed to go to court represented by me was to buy himself another month of freedom before getting sentenced (paid lawyer could not be in court on one day's notice). Still, I gotta admit that I find it interesting that he wanted to chat with me about the results.

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