Sunday, March 17, 2013

Adjusting to my new work assignment

I am slowly becoming more accustomed to my new county, although I still wish I was in my old county. Nothing is wrong with the new county. It's just new and I don't like change. Plus, I miss the people in my old county. I've been there for four years. That's a long time.

But I'm adjusting to the new county. Some things are nice, like the fact that I don't have to drive to court anymore, since my new county courthouse is only a block away from my office. And the jail is closer, like a 5 minute drive if you hit all the red lights. So that is nice & saves me a lot of time.

The new county schedules things completely differently than my old county. As a crash course for non-lawyers/lawyers who work in other states with different rules, in MN, a defendant will show up to a first court date & formally be charged. This is called a Rule 5 hearing. They can apply for a PD @ this point in time. The next court date is called a Rule 8 and this is usually the first time I'm with the defendant in court.

So, now that we all know that, back to scheduling in my old county, the Rule 8 hearing was usually within a week or two of the Rule 5. Pretty soon after they appear at the Rule 5, I will meet them & be in court with them. Makes sense, since people are usually pretty freaked out @ this point in the process and want to talk to their lawyer ASAP.

However, in my new county, I got a new file in mid-January. I popped it open & looked to see when the Rule 8 was scheduled for. I actually had to double check that I had read it correctly because it said the Rule 8 was scheduled for March 25! Wowza, talk about a drastic change of pace! And that tends to be par for the course. If the defendants aren't in custody, the court dates are spread pretty far apart. If they are in custody, the court schedules them right away so they are complying with the timing requirements for in custody people. But otherwise, the court dates are spread out.

This is both good and bad. Good because I have time to focus on immediate needs clients, i.e. those who are in jail awaiting trial. So I have way more time to meet with clients at the jail and deal with them right away. I also have time to meet with out of custody clients more often, since I'm not in court so often. So those things are good. 90% of lawyering takes place outside of the courtroom, so having more non-court time to get things done is helpful, because then when I am in court, I am always well-prepared and ready to go. I think the only continuance requests I have had to make were for cases that I took over for another lawyer and the trial date was like a week away when I got the file.

The bad? I forget who my clients are and/or what the case is about. I see a court date that is a month and a half away & I read the complaint & put the file away. Then I don't think about it again for a long time because the court date isn't for awhile. So, I get phone calls from people and I think, "Who? Is this my client?" Or I see the file in my drawer & can't remember what the case is about. So that is a bit frustrating. But that is really just my brain being forgetful...

Semi-related but not really: since court is so close, I can walk there now. But that creates the issue of my pant hems dragging in the slush and snow and salt. Which is a great way to ruin dress pants. So, in the pair of pants that I sewed, I solved the problem with some fancy snap cuffs.

On the inside of the pants near the bottom, I sewed two snaps, one on each side along the seams. They are basically invisible from the outside. But, when I need to go walk outside and it's gross outside, I can just snap the cuffs up so they don't drag in the slush. It beats rolling them up, since they always unroll as you walk, or stuffing them in your boots, because they get all wrinkled at the bottom. Snap cuffs! Why hasn't anyone figured this out before?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:22 AM

    This is the story of my life. Here, when we get a case, if the person is held, we're back in court within thirty days. If not, their first pre-trial is 45 to 60 days away. I do the same thing you do - read the file, call the client, if I'm lucky, we meet up at the office with the client, and then just wait around for weeks until our first court date to see what's really going on with the case.