This case needed to be continued and I knew it. My client was charged with First Degree Murder, not Driving While License Revoked. Despite my pleas with the prosecutor to allow me additional time to prepare for trial, she was determined to go forward. I suspected that this stance had something to do with the upcoming election since my case had not been on their radar for some time, and, there were a number of murder cases that were much older than mine. It seemed they decided this would be an easy conviction to attain. A first-degree murder conviction meant free press prior to the election. I disagreed with the notion that my client should be the poster child for the District Attorney’s attempts to appear “tough on crime”. Realizing that I was coming up against a brick wall, I knew my only hope of having this case continued was to convince a Superior Court Judge that I needed additional time.
To the outside world a person’s request for additional time may seem reasonable. In the world of litigation, it is a strike against a defense attorney when he/she has to acknowledge that he/she simply cannot be ready to try a case. Needless to say, I have accumulated many strikes over the past eighteen years. My location, and my commitment, to representing indigent clients means that I do not have the luxury of receiving a $50,000.00+ retainer that would permit me to dedicate all of my attention to that client’s defense. I often dream about what it would be like to have client’s that have never ending access to money so that I could spend a year only having to worry about three to four, maybe six, clients at the most. Instead, in my world I am called upon to be a master juggler. My life is about extreme organization, taking a lot of work home, waking up in the middle of the night panicking because I can’t remember if I filed something that I needed to file, and waking up before anyone in my house gets up so that I can work in peace. My life is also about subjecting myself to a lot of humiliation at the hands of prosecutors and Judges, despite my best efforts, in order to ensure that my clients receive the defense they deserve. All because I, some would say naively, believe that everyone is entitled to a good defense attorney. Or, at the very least, an attorney that is prepared.
As part of my plea for additional time to prepare, amongst other things, I talked about the hectic court schedule that I had been maintaining over the past several months. Not to mention the attempted murder trial that I was already scheduled to try in May. And, the other murder trial that I was scheduled to try in July. Oh, and, the numerous other cases that I would be handling between now and July. Would it be too much of me to throw in the fact that, while I am committed to my clients, I would like to spend some quality time with my nine-year-old daughter?
As expected, the prosecutor simply responded that she too had a hectic schedule. And, that is what one sign’s up for when one decides to be a trial lawyer. Having learned to pick my battles, I simply chuckled and thought, if I had a victim witness advocate to organize and prepare everything I needed prepared, other lawyers in my office to help me prepare, or, a team of law enforcement officers at my beck and call, I too might be arrogant enough to believe that crap coming out of her mouth.
With my ego bruised by the prosecutor’s snub at my plea for a little compassion, I became determined to show her that she was not the only gladiator in the ring. As a result, prior to begging the Judge to continue the case, I spent a couple of weeks devouring the discovery and pulling things together for trial. If she wanted a trial, then we would have a trial. Fortunately, I was able to quickly check my ego at the door. The more I prepared, the more I realized the State had not provided me with a number of documents that I was entitled to in discovery. And, despite everything else that I argued, it is my belief that my ability to point those things out is what ultimately led to the case being continued. Of course, I consider this a victory. But, I still question why I had to jump through all of those hoops simply to give my client the benefit of having an attorney that was prepared to try his case.
P.S. I know I promised the next few posts would tell you more about who I am as a person. I promise, I still plan to share. 🙂 Stay Tuned! And, thank you all for your continued support!