Sunday, March 05, 2006

What do you tell a client?

I really enjoyed Skelly's not too old posting about advice to give to clients.

It made me come up with advice for prosecutors, given my experience dealing with good and bad ones.
  1. Return calls. Seriously, I know you're busy, but so am I! I return all my calls as soon as I can, even for slow/no returners.
  2. Return faxes/e-mails (see above).
  3. Don't be insulting. Get back, you don't know me like that. Who thinks that insults are the way to go.
  4. Ask, don't demand. You wouldn't respond well if I told you what to do, so please learn the importance of politeness.
  5. Fulfill promises. If you promise to look over a file so we can talk about a plea, do it! I don't blow you off, so don't blow me off.
  6. Apologize when you mess up. If you made a mistake and have to, say, change a plea we've already talked to a client about, don't go implying that its my fault you made a mistake! I apologize for my errors, so you should too.
  7. Don't get personal. Remember, I'm not my client. I didn't hit that person, steal that, possess that drug. I won't get personal with you unless you go there.
  8. Read my motions. Seriously, is that too much to ask?
  9. Respond to my motions. Appearing in court and quoting cases to the judge that you never gave me is bad form. I don't do it, why should you?
  10. Most importantly, remember that we're talking about the Constitution. It is not some technicality that I'm arguing about, it is the basic freedoms that define us as a people. For example, I know you'd be clamboring for due process if/when you were charged with a crime, so keep that in mind when dealing with me and my clients. Heck, the fact that I am even appointed is a part of the Constitution. I police the police. Even if most people charged are guilty, that doesn't mean everyone is guilty. Everyone deserves respect for their rights. If the state is allowed to ignore the rule of law to collar so-called criminals, then the state is nothing better than criminals, particularly when they convict the innocent due to slipshod, unethical corner-cutting like prepping state witnesses what they need to say to fit within an exception to the warrant requirement that doesn't actually exist.


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