Well, it’s time for some more public defender anecdotes (and how much I wish the actual PDs would chip in with their own experiences to educate the blogging public). Anyway.
I should point out that the facts in my stories are considerably but in varying degrees fudged to blur the parties involved, but the gist of it, like all good story/fiction/poetry should ring true enough.
We had a judge dealing with 5 open container/drunk in public charges. None of them were represented by the PD office. The judge called the first name – and the defendant was not present. $25 fine after assessing, via a police officer’s testimony, that the absent defendant was drinking Old Milwaukee outside. (And, let’s face it, is that so bad a result?) The judge calls the second name, exact same result. The third name involves a woman drinking beer out of a red cup as she walks up the street. The judge, using a special clairvoyant power, declares, “I’m sure she (absent defendant) was just going up the street to see a friend. Case dismissed.” The fourth case, again absent defendant, results in a $50 fine. The fifth case, where the defendant actually showed up for court featured a brief statement by the police officer saying he arrested Defendant X for drunk in public in the downtown area, but concluded with the following dialogue:
Judge: “Do you have a job, sir.”
X: “I’m a somethingorother.”
Judge: “Who is your employer?”
X: “SoandSo, they’re up in the BlahBlahBlah neighborhood.”
Judge: “So why don’t you go and drink up there. Get out of my courtroom. Case dismissed.”
Unsurprisingly the docket was cleared pretty quickly.
Recently, I also went to the jail. It’s interesting, especially given that there are some *very* high profile people held in the jail right now. While I was there I met the sister of the King of Interdiction. Basically, if you’re a habitual drunkard in this state they can interdict you, which is like being on double secret probation – very easy to rack up offenses for drunk in public or possessing alcohol. The King has been arrested over 400 times, with his arrest activity peaking some years ago at just over 100 arrests for his peak year. Sometimes he’d be arrested 2 or 3 times a day. I also met with some very odd clients. I have to be super-careful blogging about them, but in general it amazes me how many people will take a short term fix (plea) which leads (in some cases, given probation, it’s guaranteed) to more time served and trouble down the road. It’s also amusing when clients lie to you. I mean bald faced lies that are evidenced as contradictions within their own stories. There’s a very delicate process of massaging the truth out of some people.