December 30, 2006

Automatic DQ

Interesting discussion amongst the law students on the topic:

How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?

including this relevation from Moonchigger:

The head of the Colorado PD's office actually told us at an informational meeting that they view working for the DA as a huge black mark. While he didn't say it would be an automatic disqualification, he did state that there was no PD he knew that could even consider being a prosecutor.

Well, he didn't know me then. So relieved to know that my years prosecuting child support cases aren't an automatic disqualification. Oh, the shame of representing The People, particularly on the days when I'd have to fill in on the criminal docket. On those days, I'd say things like, "Your Honor, the State of Washington wants... uh, whatever Your Honor wants," and then stare down at my shoes. Somehow, I could just feel the disembodied head of a PD's office somewhere glaring down at me - how my face would burn.

Hope I've redeemed myself in the nine years since then, though the black mark is still visible. It's nice to know:

(T)hat's not how the PD Office in GA works.

Not in Idaho either. Lucky for me, not in some parts of Washington. There's also the honorable example of Ken Lammers, lawyer for the people whichever side of the courtroom.

So, "how could you?" How could I even consider being a prosecutor? The question sure takes me back. Was it the glass ceiling between misdemeanors and felonies, with none of the senior felony guys (and they were all guys) going anywhere before retirement? Was it the cheery welcome on breaking through the ceiling, being told by one of the old guys, "none of you are qualified to handle these"? Could it have been the day I watched an older colleague argue for the release on his own recognizance of a con who'd previously raped someone close to me?

We all have our reasons, and our paths out of the job, and our paths back. None of them are disqualifying. As pointed out by commenter John Galt (how's that for a name for a freedom-fighting p.d.?):

An office as important as the PD should probably just focus on hiring the best attorney available.

And if you were feeling charitable, and maybe if you had more than one opening to fill, you could do as my current boss did, and take a chance on a one-time prosecutor like me.