I'm a Public Defender AMA

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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Borhas » Thu Mar 18, 2021 2:42 pm

Clamence wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:24 am
Just got hired as a PD. I’m going to be thrown into the fire of misdemeanors. I know much of this varies by state and even county, but is there anything you wish you knew before starting? Anything to make the work easier? Whether it’s organizational, mental, legal, or what have you.
mental
- regular exercise and diet. the lifestyle will take a toll on your body and soul. Do what you can to build up your fundamental life skills. Something after work (other than drinking) that will take your mind off work and allow you a bit of your own space. If I did jiu jitsu when I was a PD I wouldnt have burned out as quickly.

- dont make promises you cant 100% keep, to judge, client, co-workers. Over deliver, under promise, always. It will reduce stress, believe me.

organizational
- if possible block off some time on a specific day and tell your in custody clients to try to call you at that time if they need any quick updates. It'll make it more likely that you keep in good touch with them and hopefully reduce jail visits.

legal
- be very clear. repeat yourself. ask questions from clients to determine if they actually understand what you are telling them. Discuss the possibilities of the hearing in detail so that the client doesn't get flustered and start going off the rails on the record. E.g. be very clear about what waiving right to speedy trial is when discussing a continuance. Be very clear about when next court dates are. If possible give a card with the next court date to your client.

-write your own motions, dont get too reliant of the copy pasta motions from colleagues

-read the fucking statutes, read the fucking cases. Literally most lawyers dont do this. If you do, then it will show and you will gain credibility with co-workers, adversaries, and even your clients (people in jails talk about their pds with each other)

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by abyss » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:18 am

tigger03 wrote:
Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:59 am
How likely are new Colorado PDs to get placed somewhere outside their top 10, or like at their bottom choice?
I wouldn't think it's likely, but you sign up to be placed anywhere so there's always a chance at being placed in Sterling, Trinidad or somewhere similar. I just requested being placed in a metro area so my wife would have an easy time with job transitions and for better schools for my kids. Generally, it's very likely you'll be placed in one of the front range offices.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by tigger03 » Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:59 am

How likely are new Colorado PDs to get placed somewhere outside their top 10, or like at their bottom choice?

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Cal Trask » Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:19 pm

Whoops, was quoting the wrong person there.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Clamence » Mon Mar 08, 2021 7:41 pm

Cal Trask wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 6:29 pm
Is there a specific CO office you’d like to know about? Your experience will vary somewhat depending on whether you’re in a metro or rural office.
The office is actually in California.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Cal Trask » Mon Mar 08, 2021 6:29 pm

Is there a specific CO office you’d like to know about? Your experience will vary somewhat depending on whether you’re in a metro or rural office.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Clamence » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:01 pm

Story wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:52 am
Clamence wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:24 am
Just got hired as a PD. I’m going to be thrown into the fire of misdemeanors. I know much of this varies by state and even county, but is there anything you wish you knew before starting? Anything to make the work easier? Whether it’s organizational, mental, legal, or what have you.
Do you have prior PD experience? Your posts in other threads make it seem as if you do.
I have had a number of legal internships at PD offices, clinical experience in law school, and I worked as a "post-bar" in a PD office (a position unique to California where I was something between a lawyer and a legal intern, writing and arguing motions, conducting prelims, negotiating pleas with DAs, counseling clients, etc.), but I have never been a full-on lawyer at a PD office. So I have whatever PD experience that amounts to.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Story » Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:52 am

Clamence wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:24 am
Just got hired as a PD. I’m going to be thrown into the fire of misdemeanors. I know much of this varies by state and even county, but is there anything you wish you knew before starting? Anything to make the work easier? Whether it’s organizational, mental, legal, or what have you.
Do you have prior PD experience? Your posts in other threads make it seem as if you do.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Clamence » Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:24 am

Just got hired as a PD. I’m going to be thrown into the fire of misdemeanors. I know much of this varies by state and even county, but is there anything you wish you knew before starting? Anything to make the work easier? Whether it’s organizational, mental, legal, or what have you.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by abyss » Sun Mar 07, 2021 1:11 am

1 person covers Teller county court and another covers district court there. Folks might keep some cases as they transfer around, but for the most part you’ll be in one place or the other.

You can pm me if you have more questions.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by tigger03 » Sat Mar 06, 2021 11:47 pm

Hi, I am an incoming Colorado public defender trying to decide what to list as my placement preferences. I noticed that most offices cover multiple counties--for example, Colorado Springs seems to cover both El Paso and Teller; Dillon seems to cover Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake, Summit; Fort Collins covers Larimer and Jackson.

I was wondering if anyone knew if, say, you work in the CO Springs office, will you be assigned to one county or handle cases from both El Paso and Teller? I noticed that the CO Springs PD office is quite close to the El Paso courthouse; it seems like if I worked for that office, and most of my cases were in El Paso, I could easily walk from apartment --> the office --> court every day, but if I had a lot of cases in Teller, much more travel would involved.... so I was curious if a typical attorney in CO Springs is travelling to Teller a lot, or if you could be assigned to mainly El Paso cases? Also curious what the situation is in Ft Collins and other offices covering multiple counties

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Kümmel » Thu Nov 05, 2020 4:22 pm

it's a weird hypo because usually there are more questions. but the simple answer is: you dont say anything.

based on the follow-up questions on this hypo you might be asked if that violates ethics in terms of candor to court you say "no, because i dont have any idea who my new client actually is, he might be telling me something that's not true."

I think hypos are generally designed to not have a ~~totally correct~~ answer, but instead the interviewers want to see (1) your thought process, (2) that your gut reaction is to do everything in your clients best interests (3) that youre not going to flat out violate ethical rules

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Mx2020 » Thu Nov 05, 2020 3:56 pm

Story wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:01 pm
Clamence wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:36 pm
Thanks, I appreciate it.

Are there specific interview questions that PD offices usually ask that I should be aware of? Why PD, and would you consider working as a prosecutor are two I'm aware of. Any others?
A lot of hypotheicals IME.

For example, you meet with your client for the first time at arraignment. The case is State v. John Doe. But you recognize the client to actually be James Jones because you represented him before.

James Jones whispers to you he changed his name so that people wouldn’t find out about his past criminal record. The judge enters the courtroom ready to start the proceeedings. What do you do?

Hypos like that.
What would be the answer to a question like this? I'm honestly stumped.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Story » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:01 pm

Clamence wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:36 pm
Thanks, I appreciate it.

Are there specific interview questions that PD offices usually ask that I should be aware of? Why PD, and would you consider working as a prosecutor are two I'm aware of. Any others?
A lot of hypotheicals IME.

For example, you meet with your client for the first time at arraignment. The case is State v. John Doe. But you recognize the client to actually be James Jones because you represented him before.

James Jones whispers to you he changed his name so that people wouldn’t find out about his past criminal record. The judge enters the courtroom ready to start the proceeedings. What do you do?

Hypos like that.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Clamence » Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:36 pm

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Are there specific interview questions that PD offices usually ask that I should be aware of? Why PD, and would you consider working as a prosecutor are two I'm aware of. Any others?

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Nony » Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:24 am

I’m sure that’s true to some (maybe large?) extent, but my impression is that they’re different because of the fundamentally different discovery practices, rather just being opportunities to examine witnesses. But I could be wrong.

(I know the rules allow depos under certain circumstances like unavailability for trial - I meant that some more open discovery states also do them as a matter of course in pretrial discovery in all criminal cases. But not all states.)

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by stego » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:05 pm

If you’re in a jurisdiction that allows criminal depositions are the rules really going to be that different though? Seems like conducting or defending a deposition would be a transferable skill

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by abyss » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:17 pm

Most states allow criminal depositions under limited circumstances (witness can't be present for the trial, is refusing to testify, etc.) with approval of the court. Florida has pretty expansive rules on criminal depositions, including being able to depose cops.

I'd agree with Nony, though, that the class is definitely focused on the civil side. It might be worthwhile if you just need to fill credit hours, though.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Nony » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Not a PD, but AFAIK, some states do allow deposition of criminal witnesses. I’d bet money that a class on depositions in law school will be focused on the civil variety, though.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Clamence » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:42 pm

I've pretty much taken all the relevant classes for public defense. Would it be worth taking a class on depositions? Are criminal depositions common?

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by rsm0117 » Sun Sep 29, 2019 6:15 pm

Thanks for the info guys. This thread has been so helpful! Looking forward to my interview this week.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by PDanon » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:57 am

rsm0117 wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:28 am
Kümmel wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:13 pm
rsm0117 wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:35 pm
Hi everyone,

Long time lurker but first time poster. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread, it has been SUPER helpful. I have a skype interview next week with the Colorado State Public Defender. Can anyone elaborate on what kind of hypo questions I should be prepared to answer in the interview?

This will be my first "real" PD interview, and I am trying to figure out what kind of questions I could be asked so that I can be prepared and brush up a bit on any substantive law I need to.

Again, thanks so much!
I don't remember them asking many hypos and def no substantive law. Much more focused on why PD and why Colorado specifically. I think you should have those fleshed out and have a clear focus on Colorado.

Thanks for the info! What has your experience regarding placement? I know that Borhas mentioned you don't really get to have a preference where you go. The only thing I am worried about is that my wife has her own professional career and she has put her life on hold a bit for my career. I'm worried that I'll get stuck somewhere we she won't be able to find a job. Do the people doing placement take into account any of these types of factors? Is it okay for me to express my concerns if they offer me a job?

Thanks!
Leadership changed a year ago and I've heard that they now will take into account where you want to go and you should express that when they offer you the job

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by rsm0117 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:28 am

Kümmel wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:13 pm
rsm0117 wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:35 pm
Hi everyone,

Long time lurker but first time poster. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread, it has been SUPER helpful. I have a skype interview next week with the Colorado State Public Defender. Can anyone elaborate on what kind of hypo questions I should be prepared to answer in the interview?

This will be my first "real" PD interview, and I am trying to figure out what kind of questions I could be asked so that I can be prepared and brush up a bit on any substantive law I need to.

Again, thanks so much!
I don't remember them asking many hypos and def no substantive law. Much more focused on why PD and why Colorado specifically. I think you should have those fleshed out and have a clear focus on Colorado.

Thanks for the info! What has your experience regarding placement? I know that Borhas mentioned you don't really get to have a preference where you go. The only thing I am worried about is that my wife has her own professional career and she has put her life on hold a bit for my career. I'm worried that I'll get stuck somewhere we she won't be able to find a job. Do the people doing placement take into account any of these types of factors? Is it okay for me to express my concerns if they offer me a job?

Thanks!

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by Kümmel » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:13 pm

rsm0117 wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:35 pm
Hi everyone,

Long time lurker but first time poster. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread, it has been SUPER helpful. I have a skype interview next week with the Colorado State Public Defender. Can anyone elaborate on what kind of hypo questions I should be prepared to answer in the interview?

This will be my first "real" PD interview, and I am trying to figure out what kind of questions I could be asked so that I can be prepared and brush up a bit on any substantive law I need to.

Again, thanks so much!
I don't remember them asking many hypos and def no substantive law. Much more focused on why PD and why Colorado specifically. I think you should have those fleshed out and have a clear focus on Colorado.

Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

by rsm0117 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:35 pm

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker but first time poster. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread, it has been SUPER helpful. I have a skype interview next week with the Colorado State Public Defender. Can anyone elaborate on what kind of hypo questions I should be prepared to answer in the interview?

This will be my first "real" PD interview, and I am trying to figure out what kind of questions I could be asked so that I can be prepared and brush up a bit on any substantive law I need to.

Again, thanks so much!

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