June 29, 2005

You don't bring me flowers

Went to jury trial today on one count residential burglary and multiple counts of felon with a firearm. Verdict some time tomorrow. My guy left 5 years on the table, and knows he's facing some significant years more than that if he's gambled wrong.

So I'm pondering again just how to find the right balance in advising clients, whether it's to plead or go to trial, or to testify or not. A lot of my clients know what they're doing, and can collaborate pretty well in their defense. Other times, some clients and I spend less time talking about the case and more time playing ping-pong:

"The law says X." "No, the law says Y." "No, you're wrong, the law says X." "No, the law says Y, and here's this copy of it that I printed out for you off the supreme court website." "No, you're wrong, it says X ..."

It's a tape loop. It gets frustrating. After repeated go-rounds of this with the same individual, I'm afraid that my legal advice starts walking a thin line between, "I respect your autonomy and your choices as an adult" and "it's your funeral, bub."

Got me thinking of how they do things in San Francisco. Apparently, if you're an intern at the public defender office there and you get a not guilty, it's customary for your client to send you orchids.

Update: Guilty on all counts. Sentencing next week. The prosecutor has made a cunning offer: waive objection to the state's calculation of the offender score and waive appeal, and all remaining charges either will be dismissed or declined (not filed). It's a hateful game.


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