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theimbroglio

Dude. I can't tell you how great it was to read this. A blast from the past, for sure! I can envision every single step you took, right down to the navy bean soup. But what about the PSA (Pre-Sentence Assessment, I think is what it stands for)? If you didn't get a PSA before the case was called, that's a good sign it's being no-papered. And how much does it suck for that to happen *after* you've done all that preparation? That's why the private CJA attorneys don't show up until about noon at the earliest and why they don't even bother meeting their clients before the case is called. Why waste time if the case might just go away?

But I like the way you're doing it, the same way I did it in clinic. You're learning more than you could imagine just in going through those motions. I now work in a court system where I have yet to find anyone who has even heard of Gerstein v. Pugh or Riverside (Gerstein's followup case). People here routinely sit 72 hours before they get a Gerstein hearing. Does that violate the law? You bet it does. Does anyone here seem to care? Not so much. Another thing: Cases are never no-papered or nollied here. If you get arrested, you go to jail and chances are high you'll stay there 'til trial b/c the court sets super-high bonds that indigent defendants could never hope to pay. Federal law doesn't allow such abuses; state law? Yeah.

So I've learned that, in hindsight, some things about where you're working are pretty damned great. I miss it like crazy, which I tell you just so maybe you'll enjoy it that much more while it's yours to enjoy.

Keep the stories coming as much as possible. I'm lovin' it!

Scoplaw

Good to hear from you!

PSA = Pre-Trial Services Agency, thus “the PSA report”. I hadn’t wanted to delve too deeply into minutiae, but I half-forgot there’d be *one* pair of ears that would appreciate it. So – here’s the deal. PSA reports are now only available in court from the PSA rep. Which means *if* they’ve done it, you have to negotiate the well (as people are being called) to grab them as they’re updated. Many attorneys got up before the judge and had to say, “Your Honor, if there’s a PSA report for my client, I haven’t seen one.” While this is procedural bullshit, at least the judge wasn’t granting a lot of holds. Yesterday was pretty bad from an organizational point of view. One student attorney was told her client was still in detox – it turns out that he was in the holding cell after all and was called, but only after the student attorney had left for the afternoon. We did a last minute switch and the student who picked up the case did it gracefully and seamlessly. (yea!)

Other mess-ups included several cases that were no-papered at the last minute, including mine. Had the no-paper list been updated earlier, I could have gone onto the 3pm docket, and my client would have been spared further anxiety. However, that same last minute no-paper scenario let (I need a moniker. . .but am tired) that other student attorney pick up the mysteriously overlooked client. I’m not even sure the no-paper list is a list per se nowadays. I think it’s just an initial list with random updates you must scurry over for and inquire after.

I realize the system can’t be set up for the convenience of any one party, but these kind of difficulties in process make for longer hours in front of the bench as attorneys try to process last minute information and ask for indulgences. From a system point of view, you want the arraignment court to: arraign all the people before it, hear pleas, process paperwork, hold the dangerous/flight risk defendants and send the rest home. Why not have that happen promptly, or as promptly as possible?

Other observations will come soon. . .

My client had this great braided hair that I thought I could use to ID her – when the Marshals brought her in though, she’d put on a low brimmed beach cap which obscured her hair, ears, brow, and hung down over her eyes. This created a moment of uncertainty and panic for me. I must always remember to ask my clients if they have a hat or a jacket they’re going to wear into court!

Best!

Scoplaw

Yes, there are only those 4 images, the first of which is no longer hosted on its site. That first image is also a bit deceptive with the human figure in the foreground as it distorts the scale of the building. That human figure would be swollowed by the dark horizontal bar which is the front entrance to the courthouse. The whole is 5 stories tall. . .

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