John's post on State Jails and drug decriminalization, once again, caught the attention of Mr. Grits. There was another post on that very website that linked to this defense lawyers blog containing a post by an alleged prosecutor.
What do you think? Any rules or suggestions you would add?
11. Don't show me photos of the defendant's kids. He had those kids when he committed the crime and he didn't think about them then.
12. Don't bring me a letter from the defendant's pastor. Out-on-bond conversions mean about as much as a jailhouse conversion.
13. Don't bring me a letter from the defendant's grandma. Really.
14. Don't think it will work to engage in a philosophical debate about the goals of the criminal justice system. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.
15. (This probably falls under #10 of "Rudeness") Don't make an appointment for 1:30 and then breeze in at 2:30 without calling.
16. Strive to make an appointment with me, instead of "just dropping in" and expecting me to provide discovery and discuss the case for several hours.
17. Try to not respond with every plea offer I make with the phrase "How about 12.44"? It should be evident that if my offer bottom line is 45 years TDC on a child molester that I will not be considering 12.44.
18. Do not tell me that I should agree to a reduced bond or fine because of all the money the defendant had to pay you.
19. Never start a plea negotiation by telling me what they always do in some other county.
20. Never tell me how to do my job based on your experience as a prosecutor.
If you have proof that the defendant is innocent, provide it early in the process. Medical records. An alibi. Bank records. Whatever. Prosecutors exonerate more people than any Innocence Project has ever touched. We do so through dismissals, no bills and downgraded charges.
21. Don't expect that being a banjo player will get you off the hook.
22. Exit Only.
A banjo is a deadly weapon.
If you need a reset because your client hasn't fully paid his fee, just say so. Don't make up lies and excuses.
Do not take my exhibits during trial. You had plenty of time to make your own copy of the photographs. If you want to admit something into evidence, admit your own stuff.
Acknowledge a reasonable offer when it is made. Your client may or may not accept it, but acknowledge that the prosecutor has fairly evaluated the case. (Same for prosecutors who get a counter-offer that is reasonable.)
[QUOTE]Originally posted by John Greenwood:
18. Do not tell me that I should agree to a reduced bond or fine because of all the money the defendant had to pay you.[QUOTE]
18a. Please also do not tell me that if your client bonds out he will use much of your fee money for a bond, and thus you need a massive reduction or a PR bond, particularly on a violent criminal.
Greg's Agg Sexual Assault of a Child case Rule: Please don't tell me the 5-12 year old victim is a hussy and a slut and that the victim was asking for it. It actually goes over worse with me than it would with a jury, and you know you'd never say those things in front of 12 good and decent people.
Know and understand the law of parties and how it applies to your client's situation.
When telling me what your client will plead to, please do not preface that with a reference to your client's cadre of jailhouse lawyers and how they are telling him to threaten a greivance against you. I won't feel sorry for you because there are plenty of prosecutor jobs out there if you don't like being a defense attorney.
Don't have the domestic violence victim come write out a rehearsed affidavit of non-prosecution. I've seen those before and know what's behind it. Will you really feel OK when he kills her?
Do not stand up in front of a jury and ask for a copy of the witnesses statement/report like you have never seen it before when our office has an open file policy and you made a copy of our file months ago.
Don't expect me to pick up the slack or cover for you when you've screwed something up with your client. I know you're busy, I know things fall through the cracks, I've been in your chair, too. But I also think you need to be a big boy and clear up problems with your client, not coming whining to me for a continuance (or a better deal) because it solves the problem of something you already guaranteed to your client and can't deliver without my help, or of something you should've done for him already and didn't. "Professional" courtesy means your behaving like a professional in your provision of services to your client, not my covering your mistakes when you don't.
Whatever you do, do not come to me in an agg sexual assault or indecency case and tell me that despite what your client may have done, the child still loves him and considers him her (fill in the blank, daddy, uncle, granddad, etc), and can't we do a pre trial diversion so we don't destroy the rest of their relationship. After all, all he did is (fill in the blank, fondle, penetrate with finger, only once, etc.)
So pre-trial diversion on Agg Sex Assault of a Child is bad? Whoooops!
Very good. I would only add that I would ask them not to have the look of surprise on their face if the offense report is tendered and ask the judge for a few moments to read it, when I've already given a copy to you months ago.
Years ago, I began responding to these Gaskin requests by stating on the record that he had a copy of the offense report and that I gave them that copy on whatever date it was, which I noted on my file. I don't think the jury often catches what is going on, but the judge knows. Every now and then, a juror remarks to me that they thought it was tricky for him to do that and act like he had not seen it.
Don't go over an assistant's head to the boss unless you have a really good reason for doing so. Otherwise, you've not only made the assistant mad but you've also made the boss mad.
Stated in the converse, when you seek to appeal a decision of an ADA to the DA, please come with a coherent argument about why an exception to a policy should be made. Appealing to friendship is not a good play.
I don't mind hearing from a defense attorney who has a specific point to make, provides strong documentation (e.g., medical records, a psychiatric exam, etc.) and is professional about making the request. Plea bargaining policies are not written in stone but they should have principled exceptions.
Most of the time, I ask the defense attorney, "Why do you think the prosecutor's offer is unreasonable." If the answer is, "Well, it's not unreasonable, but my client won't take it," then there is no principled basis for making an exception. After all, a big part of my job is to support the policy when it is fairly applied.
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