Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whew! Support staff to the rescue!

Made it through two very tough, very busy days in court yesterday and today. Between the two days, I had 45 hearings--24 on Tuesday and 21 today. I think that might be like 1/3 of my entire caseload right there!
Thankfully, the court staff was awesome and helpful and I had assistance from our office on both days. Without both the court staff and my co-workers, I don't know that I would have ever managed to make it through all those cases!

Yesterday morning, one of the court staff met with me right away to help plot out which courtroom to go to when, since I was scheduled in all three courtrooms that morning. So, we met, took a look at where and when cases were at, and she helped coordinate the morning so it ran very smoothly. I was extremely grateful, because having a set plan of where to start, which courtroom to be in when, etc. saved me a ton of time since I didn't have to bounce from one courtroom to another to see if they wanted me in this one first or that one or if they were in the middle of something and I should go to another one... I just knew where to be first, second, third, etc. and it was soooooo much less stressful since everyone knew the plan of action and I knew where I needed to be. Plus, with a chunk of 5 of my cases being handled by another PD, the morning went amazingly well. I was super relieved when the staff member set it all up like that first thing in the morning since it took the stress off me of having to run around...that way I just had the normal stress of dealing with some of my clients!
The afternoon was smoothly as well , although the judge in one courtroom did have to reschedule two of my cases because they had been waiting for a very long time and I was still doing my other cases in the other courtroom. But two isn't bad, all things considered.  Especially because my helper PD had to go to another county and I was on my own in the afternoon.
This morning was not a bad morning, but the afternoon was looking tough. Two courtrooms, 17 hearings. 4 started at 1:00, 13 started at 1:30...this was looking to be a scary afternoon.  Thankfully, my managing attorney was not scheduled for his own hearings today and he was able to help out.  So, I divided the cases up by courtroom and gave him one courtroom while I took the other. The split was 6 to him, 11 to me. And I thought the afternoon ended up going pretty good, actually.
The clerk in my courtroom knew I had a crapload (scientific terminology) of cases just in that courtroom. So, I did about half of them right away because I had about half ready to go. Then, she told me to go finish up talking with the other half and come back. This worked out pretty well because the first half of people could be on their way and then at least some of the work was completed.  Then, I only had a few people to talk to and it didn't take so long. I managed to finish up with all 11 of my cases by about 3:00, which wasn't too shabby! Then I went over to the other courtroom to help out with the cases my managing attorney was handling.
So, although initially I was sort of terrified by the sheer volume of hearings I had to deal with over the last two days, it actually went very smoothly. No one was mad or cranky (at least not that I could tell and I sure wasn't), I knew where to go and when, the court staff was awesome and helped me out immensely, and my fellow PDs were willing to join me to help make things run.  It was actually pretty cool how everything worked out and ran so smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised since I thought, looking at my calendar, I might be dead from exhaustion by the end of today. But everyone was willing to work together and get through the busy days and it was awesome.
Seriously, I love support staff--mine, prosecutors' staff, the courts' staff... They are always the people who know what's going on, where you should be and when, they handle all the details of stuff so that things run... I know I'd be a hot mess without my staff to help me. Not to mention I don't have any idea how to do like 90% of the stuff my staff does for me. Draft a subpoena? Nope. File an ex parte funding request? Not a clue. Hunt down an expert? No. Pull together a client's jail credit? Not sure how that gets done. Open and close a file? Not sure how to do that stuff.  Really, I can't do anything at all besides run my mouth in court.  And even that I'm not always the best at, like the day I couldn't think of the phrase, "ple as petition" and just told the court I had "this thing" to submit...duh...
And I'm lucky enough to work in a county with some pretty kick-ass court and prosecutor support staff, too.  They are always friendly, even the prosecutors staff when dealing with me, the enemy...ha! And the court staff personnel are always friendly and nice.  When I was an intern in law school, there was one county I worked in where the court staff was super cold and mean and yelled at everyone all the time and scared the piss out of me and two other law students. Thankfully, none of the support staff I interact with now are like that. I swear, all three of us law students were really afraid of those staff members because they only had one tone--yelling!
Attorneys get to show up in court and be all flashy and use big words and wear suits and hear their own voices all the time, but it's always been my experience that we only get the luxury of being all, "Oooo look at me, listen to me talking" in court because someone else--generally many other someone elses--actually do like 85% of the stuff that needs to be taken care of before we even get to court.
Which is why I never understood when lawyers were buttholes to support staff. Like, shut up, are you that stupid that you think you do this all on your own? Puh-lease. But, I suppose I'm also unusual in that I also don't think that just because I'm a defense attorney, I can't be friends with prosecutors.  What can I say? I guess I think we all have jobs to do but that whatever piece you are in the puzzle, everyone is just as crucial.  And if I have to see and work with the same people day in and day out for years, why not try to be friends and get along? I have worked plenty of jobs where I hated the people I worked with...Santa Photo, cashiering, waitressing, etc., etc.  And nothing sucks worse than having to work with people you don't like.
Plus, sometimes, the prosecutors or court staff are the only other people who can really relate to the bizarre crap that happens in this line of work.  You can explain it to people who don't work in this system but they just don't quite get it like those of us in the system do.
Omg, I'm tired.  The days went smoothly but I'm still wiped out. I'm going to bed early tonight.
But remember kids, if you work somewhere that has support staff, you pretty much don't do squat and they do almost everything and you end up looking all smooth and professional because of them. In reality, you probably can't put your own pants on without their help (goodness knows I can't!).  So, make sure you're nice to them.  Maybe buy them some cookies or something.
Mmm now I want cookies....

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