Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back Again

Work's picked up so I've been too busy to post (yeah, excuses I know). Typical cases: spouse batterers (both sexes), DUI's, petty thefts, expungements, felony drug sales and the atypical: passing counterfeit money. I'm in court a lot and underpaid but better off than in March when I posted last. I'm also learning the in's and out's of all the jails around the Bay Area, a report of which would be a novel in itself.

Criminal defense work in SF varies wildly. The Hall of Justice has its own unique culture to learn. Attorneys who are known to the judges routinely show up late for appearances without criticism. It's a club really and once you're in it's ok but you have to learn the rules. Those of us who still show up on time crowd around the podium once the judge takes the bench, vying for a chance to be heard first and get out of there. The judges are always late but I figure its chancy counting on that. In some departments defendants are routinely summoned for 8 am hearings which everyone knows never start before 9:30. I have stopped showing up at 8; although I still feel an obligation to be there by 9.

Most of the time the DDAs don't know what they are doing until the complaints and dismissals come down from upstairs around 10:30 or so.

In many ways it's a tedious culture where 90% of your time is spent waiting with the remainder left for lawyering.

More to follow.