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  #1  
Old 09-20-2005, 10:28 AM
BCMeanAsHell BCMeanAsHell is offline
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Default I have had it with my Public Defender! HELP!

Ok this mornijng was the last straw! Here is the scenario

I pled guilty to theft from dependant adult for approx. $50,000. I confessed to the victim because I felt awful, was beginning to make payments to him, family stepped in and pressed charges. I turned myself in to the Public defenders office, got myself on calendar and pled guilty. I have no priors, never been in trouble with the law, I am 49 years old, always held a full time job, have 5 kids the youngest are 6 and 8. We live in another state not California where the crime took place. I went to my probation meeting after the guilty plea so they could evaluate me. My PD didnt have time to go over any of my written statements or the 24 letters of Character I had to give to the PO. So I kinda winged that one on my own. I have been waiting for him to call with info on the probation report since my sentencing trial is on the 23rd and today is the 19th. He said he hadn't recieved it yet, was probably going to get it in the next day or two and he would just meet me in court that day (the 23rd).
I asked him if that was normal procedure that I was under the impression that the PO report HAD to be in his hands at least 6 days prior to sentencing and he said "well, they try and usually I get it about a week befopre hand but dont worry I will have it by sentencing".

I'm sorry, if it is the law that he is required to have it so we have time to go over it then he should be demanding it or putting off the sentencing! But he acted like I was becoming a problem for him because I wanted it now, not the day of sentencing!


Am I wrong here? If I am then I will cool down and not make a fuss, but if I am right I need to do something NOW! I just don't want to jump in there and be wrong.....I have already made a big enough fool out of myself, dont need to add anything else unnecessary.

Any feedback would be appreciated
Thanks for letting me vent
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  #2  
Old 09-20-2005, 12:02 PM
haswtch haswtch is offline
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If he is legally supposed to have it at least six days prior, that would be grounds to request an adjournment. would he do that? will he do anything useful even if he had it? sorry, I'm a cynic. wishin you luck!
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  #3  
Old 10-30-2005, 11:19 PM
rickie rickie is offline
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Default adjournment

what is an adjournment?
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  #4  
Old 10-31-2005, 07:36 AM
laChoola laChoola is offline
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You may be able to request another PD. My friend fired three lazy, disinterested ones before he found one who was willing to put some effort into his case.

Also, I don't know, but if it's permissible for you to talk to the judge yourself, this would be good to do. Don't worry about hurting the lawyer's feelings... he's not working in your best interest. When you talk to the judge, be respectful, clear, and thorough, and have facts to back up what you are saying. Like, get on the 'net and research the statutes or whatever that support your right to have that six day time period.

Another hint... get your butt down to the courthouse and sit in on some other proceedings, so you know what happens, how to speak to a judge, etc. It's a public place, and you have a right to sit in on anything. Also, if you call down there, or if you talk to the court secretary face-to-face, she can tell you what sorts of trials/proceedings they are having on which days. In my experience, this sort of thing takes place in the morning, before the trials start.

DON'T RELY ON THE PD!!! YOU MUST TAKE YOUR DEFENSE INTO YOUR OWN HANDS. (within reason). You have a lot at stake. Be assertive. (but not rude)
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  #5  
Old 11-26-2005, 12:12 PM
dortalia2005 dortalia2005 is offline
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be very aware of your other options of having a new attorney. my husband had a pd that could have helped him tremedously if he would have asked the witness if she could identify him he was also to use me for a wittness all of this he said that he would do. he led us to believe he would defend my husband. he asked none of the questions at trial didn't introduce some very important evidence and did not call me as the witness. We tried to fire him before the final trial date and was told that unless we have a new atty by 1:00 p then he would be our atty. now my husband is doing an 8 year sentence for filing a false police report of a vehicle theft. They ienhanced the crime because he wanted to testifiy in his own behalf and was told they would introduce his priors if he did. The public defender didn't even bring the initial police report that would have also shown that the wittness was a liar. well with you i am giving you this as an example of a pa that begins to think that you are a problem. unfortunately no matter what happens to you he/she still gets paid i don't see very much effort being put fourth. Good luck to you.
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Old 11-26-2005, 01:02 PM
haswtch haswtch is offline
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Adjournment=postponed, rescheduled
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  #7  
Old 12-15-2005, 08:34 PM
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Can you fire your federal appointed attorney too? How would you go about this? My man has been in for three months and hasnt even gotten his own discovery mateials or anything yet and his lawyer is constantly getting caught in lies by either him or myself. We are fed up but aren't sure how to get rid of him.
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:11 PM
Gryphon Gryphon is offline
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There is a commonly held misperception that a criminal defendant can "fire" their appointed lawyer. This is simply not the case, unless the defendant plans to represent themselves (BAD idea!) An indigent defendant doesn't have the right to select their attorney. One of the disadvantages with having a public defender is that you have no idea who'll be handling the case; and since the office represents you and not a particular attorney, you may be seeing more than one lawyer as the cases moves through the system.
However...
There is a right to be represented in a competent way. A defendant can ask a Judge to have a hearing regrading whether representation is "competent". In CA, that's called a Marsden hearing, and it can be done in writing or by oral motion and testimony. The attorney will be called on to respond, and certain otherwise confidential communications might be revealed to the Judge. That's why the transcript of the hearing is sealed and teh courtroom is cleared. This keeps the DA from being able to use testimony at a Marden hearing against the defendant.
Disagreements regarding tactics, not liking your attorney's advice to take a deal, and not having an attorney who "believe's in you" are the most common reasons defendants say they want a new lawyer; and none of these reasons are grounds to show that the lawyer is incompetent.
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  #9  
Old 12-16-2005, 02:30 PM
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Thank you Gryphon. We have been trying to find out how to go about this for awhile. It's not just a few little problems with my mans attorney. He lies about when he's coming to see him not just once or twice but consistently. We have a difficult time getting in touch with him. He hasnt brought one single page of discovery to my man in three months but keeps stating that he "has it all printed up and ready to take to him" he refuses to file any motions on my mans behalf he stated that he "spoke with the US Attorney about wether to file the motions and she advised him not to." Isnt she the enemy here? Whos side is he on anyways? As a result of all this my man has been locked up for 3 months and hasnt seen a shred of evidence as to why. We cant even get him to file for a bond hearing. Can we file our own motions even though he has counsel? Sorry for all the questions but I'm at the end of my rope....
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:35 PM
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I think you are probably asking the wrong questions. There's a good chance that the problem isn't that the work wasn't done. The real question is likely to be "WHY wasn't the work done." Attorneys don't get and keep Federal Defender jobs by being incompetent lazy-ass bastards. You are probably in an information void, and the attorney is acting in his client's best interests. You just can't see thta because he can't or won't give you a legal education as the case unfolds. I'll try to offer a little behind the scenes insight.

"He lies about when he's coming to see him not just once or twice but consistently. We have a difficult time getting in touch with him." Yep, the life of a Public Defender. It's probably not a lie, though. He never knows for certain when he'll actually get to be in the office. That's becasue he handles a heap of cases, and it's hard to say what ends up going to trial. Also, cases have to be "triaged", so emergencies come 1st. Try this: have the client write a letter and see if he gets a reply.
Public Defenders seldom have the time to go visit clients unless there's a specific reason to do so.
Also, there could be a number of reasons tha teth attorney doesn't want to , or can't talk to you. Have the client make the contact and ask the questions.

"He hasnt brought one single page of discovery to my man in three months but keeps stating that he "has it all printed up and ready to take to him" " The rules regarding defendant access to police reports varies from state to state. There's a rule that the defense gets a copy, but no hard and fast rule that eth defendant recieves one. Lots of Public Defender offices don't have the capacity to be a copy shop, they don't have teh staff. I usually try to make them available, but most times I've already gone over the reports with my client so they know the evidence they'll be facing at trial. If the police reports are redundant or not obviously useful to the defendant, then it is a low priority thing to get done. Try this: have teh client write to teh attorney, remind him that he still needs teh reports, and ask if the attorney has an investigator who can drop it at the jail, or perhaps it could be mailed.

"he refuses to file any motions on my mans behalf "...which would probably be the correct thing to do if there isn't a motion to file that holds water. For instance, I often hear grips about failing to file a discovery motion, but wher eteh DA has complied and there's a standing order requiring compliance; there's usually no need to do the motion. Search motions aren't useful if there wasn't an arguably bad search. Things like Miranda violations involving the admissablity of evidence can't generally be brought before trial, and have to be heard and decided by the trial judge.

"he stated that he "spoke with the US Attorney about wether to file the motions and she advised him not to." Isnt she the enemy here? Whos side is he on anyways? " The US attorney is indeed trying to put the defendant in a cage. However, pissing her off by filing BS motions wouldn't be a good idea if the case is in negotiation phase. If the motions are arguable (but not with certainty winnable), then having the motion heard might be playing a valuable card for negotiations that's now lost. It sounds like there's an understanding that if the card gets played and the defense loses, bad things will happen to the pretrial offer. It's not only likely, it's a certainty that the defense attorney is forgoing bringing a motion as a tactical decision; not to try to make the prosecutor's life more hassle-free. You can forget about any conspiracy theories you might have, that's not how things work.

"As a result of all this my man has been locked up for 3 months and hasnt seen a shred of evidence as to why."
Sounds like a Federal case. They tend to go very fast in situations where teh prosecutor doesn't want to negotiate, and 3 months isn't considered a really long time in the Federal world.
As to the evidence, it's likely that it's been summarized for the defendant. Lots of criminal cases are very straight forward. "A routine trafic stop turns yields a constitutional search, and stolen property is discovered. There's some fingerprint evidence with the defendant's prints on it. There's an admission of the theft, although there's a question regarding whether the admission comes in at trial. (There may be concern about how the police officer could fix the apparent problem if they testify at a pre-trial hearing; but if the case goees that far there could be concern that teh defendant is in an all-or-nothing position and gets creamed at trial if teh admission comes in.) This is the offer, resulting in a certain number of years; vs. here's the numbers if trial happens and you lose."

"We cant even get him to file for a bond hearing." Most of the time, the attorney will know how a judge feels about the defendant getting out of jail. At a bail hearing, the numbers can go up as well as down. The client needs to to ask (again, I'd send a letter) about why a bond hearing hasn't been done; but the most common asnswer is that things are so bad that teh chance of things getting worse seems higher; or that the judge already told the attorney not to bother during a conference.

"Can we file our own motions even though he has counsel?"
Generally, no. There is a right to self representation, however. (Don't do it.) It certain wierd instances, there can be co-counsel status (which will require the attorney to agree). Motions like requests to have the court rule on an attorney's competency can be filed by the defendant. Otherwise, the attorney gets to make all teh tactical desions (and there's no requirement that client has to agree with them.)
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  #11  
Old 12-16-2005, 04:05 PM
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Thanks again Gryphon. You're right it is a federal case(google operation reclaim for the story) he has 29 codefendants. So it is becoming one twisted puzzle of documents and motions. The lawyer talks to me occassionally but he has to be careful what he says because Im not actually the client. Alot of what he says lines up with what you have to say. Thank you for setting my mind at ease. One more question though on the docket report it refers to our lawyer as a CJA appointment and some co-defendants have a Federal Defender Program lawyer is there difference in the quality? Doesnt a lawyer have to have federal case experience before being appointed to a federal client? Ours stated that he has never handled a case this complex(not comforting). Also when talking to me once he refered to the US Attorney as the DA which tells me his expertise is more than likely in State charges.
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Old 12-16-2005, 06:52 PM
Gryphon Gryphon is offline
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It doesn't take ANY experience to be admitted to the Federal bar. After the state swearing in, I just had to walk across the street and be sworn in to Federal court. Any actual Federal knowledge comes from going to continuing education classes and actually taking federal cases.
Not too many lawyers have handled a dozens of co-defendants case; so this lawyer isn't too different than anyone else out there in that regard.

Most of the time, Judges won't appoint unqualified atttorneys to heavy cases. They don't want to deal with reversals. However, if there are a zillion defendants, some of those lawyers will in fact suck. Lawyers who aren't in a Public Defender office and who are on their own are more likely to suck than those who are in a supervised setting. (The image of the "street lawyer" being superior to the Public Pretender is a myth. What matters is the depth of experience, access to resources, and the ability to transform into a warrior god as required.)
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Old 12-17-2005, 03:06 PM
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Thanks so much for all your help. I'm going to pass all this on to my man and hope it makes him feel as much better as it has me. Maybe we just need to be patient but it's hard when we don't know anything both of us have said we cant wait till he gets sentenced so we can at least count days. Thanx again Gryphon
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Old 12-17-2005, 08:07 PM
Morrigan68 Morrigan68 is offline
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I worked for many years in the Public Defender's office and yes, they do have an enormous caseload. It always annoyed me a little when someone would say that the judge made them call the P.D.'s office, but they want a "real" lawyer. PD's work as hard, if not harder sometimes, than private practice lawyers. Yes, I have seen some who seem to come into the office to put in their 8 hours and draw a paycheck - but I have also seen others who have gone the extra mile for their clients. It's not a private lawyer/public defender thing as to what makes a better attorney - it's the actual person.

As a side note, if the Public Defender's office is representing one of the 29 co-defendants, then they can't represent anyone else from the same case - the court will appoint an attorney, but it won't be a PD.

Yes, patience is a virtue, especially when dealing with the PD's office. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the more you bother them or constantly harangue them, the less likely it is they will want to deal with you. It is and was my assumption, however, that any defendant has a right to see what is in their file. Like Gryphon said, have your guy send over a kite (letter) to his attorney requesting to see him.

Good luck.
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Old 12-17-2005, 09:11 PM
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The PD isnt representing anyone it's a federal case. Some are represented by the federal defender program some have CJA appointment like my man and I'm sure any of them who can afford it have hired private attorneys. The guy who represents my man is a private attorney I believe who does this kinda thing like pro bono. I speak to his lawyer about once a week on the phone but it doesnt do me any good I'm not the one who needs the discovery brought to me. Our biggest thing is the fact that we cant get an honest answer out of the man we are supposed to trust with his freedom.
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Old 12-17-2005, 09:28 PM
Morrigan68 Morrigan68 is offline
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I completely understand your frustration and fear, believe me. Are you able to go to the attorney's office yourself and talk to him? If not, can your man give the attorney instructions for you to get a copy of the discovery, then you can send it to your man yourself? These might be some other options for you.

Good luck
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Old 12-18-2005, 08:14 AM
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I've already thought of that but the discovery materials are 3000 pages of all the evidence there is to know in a multiple defendent high profile case. His lawyer ain't lettin go of it. Thanks anyways though. I've never met his lawyer face to feace. I live in one town my man is incounty jail in the next town north of here and his lawyer is about another hour or so north of that. But after three months I'd walk up there to get the discovery if I could have it. I do have a pacer account though so I have the indictment and I keep him up to date on all the motions that get filed and coutdates and stuff like that. With 30 defendants its getting kinda expensive though. I've finally had to start just getting the documents of some of them.
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Old 01-08-2006, 07:18 PM
bikerbill bikerbill is offline
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Hi Tim's Girl,

Any inmate in the Floyd County Jail MUST constantly remind himself that HE is responsible for his defense and his freedom and that his PD works for HIM. He is entitled to ask questions and has the legal right to the answers. There is absolutely no excuse, NONE, for his PD to be anything other than totally honest and forthcoming, which, of course, will certainly result sometimes in the answer being, "At this time it's in YOUR best interest if I don't provide you with that particular information." As far as lying about coming to see him, does the PD know how to use a cell phone? Takes less than 2 minutes to call the jail and leave a message for his CLIENT.

He has been locked up 3 months without a bond hearing? Ridiculous. Has he been made aware of the specific charges against him? If he has not been told in detail about the evidence against him, he is totally unable to assist the PD in case planning--period. He does have this right! It has been my experience that the system wants "criminals," (Note the quotes, because all we know at this point is that he is behind bars.) to be ignorant of the law and of their legal rights because then the system functions much more smoothly for the system. Incompetent, lazy-butt PD's fear intelligent, informed, assertive clients and their families. You certainly qualify as I, I, and A, which may be the reason the PD won't take or return your calls. Behind the scenes insight is great, so I am adding my own. I suggest that you write the letter to the PD for your friend, including all of your questions and concerns, and have your friend sign it. I would also suggest that you forget about phone calls and put any additional questions/concerns in writing. It's mighty difficult to prove that someone in authority has lied to you over the phone. I know, I know, but let's not go there. LOL

I agree that it's terrific to have the Attorney General, US or State, as a friendly foe and not an enemy, but I, for one, refuse to have silly conversations with one to give the impression that I believe them to be Almighty. If one is inclined to get "p*ssed off" because a PD files a motion that she, in her delusional exhalted state, BELIEVES to be BS and then proceeds to use this against a defendant, needs to really prioritize matters and GET ANOTHER JOB.

Conspiracy might not be the best word to use regarding the justice system, but it comes mighty close when judges and PD's are making decisions regarding MY FREEDOM, over coffee in "conference." There oughta be a law!!!!!

Good luck. Keep up the good work and before too long you will be able to provide legal education to some of these attorneys-----both PD and "real" ones------who must have skipped a lot of classes in law school.
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