Sunday, May 26, 2013

The court & the jail: what's the relationship btwn the two?

"The court (can't/won't/isn't going to) tell the jail what to do or interfere with the jail and its policies."

Occasionally I hear this from judges when I request something on behalf of an in-custody defendant. I have to admit that I find it both confusing & frustrating. I don't know if there is some official rule or policy that applies or if it's just the decision of the judges that I have asked. But it does drive me a little nutty.

I don't understand, bc the court does order the jail to do things...all the time, in fact. They order the jail to take people into custody, they order the jail to release people on furlough, they order jails to transport defendants in jail in other counties to court... So courts can and do order jails to do things. And what if there was a situation @ the jail that violated a defendant's constitutional rights? Would the court be unable to do anything about that to ensure that the defendant's rights are being vindicated?

For example, I heard of a jail that had a policy that any inmates who were in seg were not allowed to receive visitors & were only allowed to make phone calls from 11 p.m. to midnight. This included visits from their attorneys and calls to their attorneys. So, the result was the defendants in seg were never allowed to meet w/ their attorneys and could not call their attorneys during normal business hours. In effect, this policy completely denied defendants the right to be represented by their attorneys because they never were allowed to talk to them. Ultimately, a defense attorney raised the issue to the court & the court ordered that the policy against visitors/phone calls for seg inmates could not apply to contact w/ attorneys.

But what if the court had said that it could not tell the jail what to do in that situation? The jail had a policy & the court couldn't/wouldn't interfere? The court is charged w/ ensuring defendants are treated fairly & their rights are protected in the system, so does that not include in the jail while waiting for their cases to resolve?
I wouldn't expect the courts to do something like order that the jail must serve tacos on Friday or anything like that. But what about situations where the jail policy prevents someone from bailing out? I have seen that occur. Bail gets lowered to an amount the defendant can post, but the defendant's wallet is in his property @ the jail & he isn't allowed to access his property while in custody. So, he can't get to his money to post bail, despite having the money to post bail. Or he needs to make a phone call to a family member or friend to have them line up a bail bondsman but they don't have any phone credit, so they can't call & can't bail out. What is the remedy, if any, in those situations?

Is the court w/o the authority or ability to order that the defendant be allowed to access his money or to make a call to get his bail arranged? It seems like there should be some ability of the court to ensure that silly things like that don't keep someone in jail who would otherwise be able to bail out. Keep in mind, if the person has had bail set, they are still considered innocent so the end result is that innocent people are stuck in jail bc of jail policies, rather than a court order or sentence. It seems unfair & ridiculous to me, but of course, I recognize I may be biased.

Maybe there is a policy that prevents the courts from ordering certain things and that explains the reluctance to do so. But if there is, it's not one I know about, so I am just left confused & wondering when can a court order the jail to do things??

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ugh, for real??

So, it seems I will be in a trial next week that involves me having to talk about lien waivers and other things I don't understand. It's a criminal case that soooo overlaps into the civil world that I think it should be civil completely and I shouldn't have the case at all.

I had hoped we could resolve it, because I don't want to deal with trying to learn about lien waivers and shit, but alas, no go. So, trial it is.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Well that was completely horrible

I went on my "date" tonight. Which lasted all of 2, maybe 3, minutes. Immediately after we met, he informed me that I was "bigger" than I looked in my photos (which makes no sense bc one of them was from last week!) and that unless I was interested in just hooking up, he wasn't interested, so, what did I think? I am pretty sure he thought he was throwing me a bone by so generously offering to still sleep w/ me despite how obviously hideous I was and that he was expecting me to jump @ the chance to be able to sleep with him. Like my reaction was going to be, "Well gee, you just insulted me but sure, let's go do it." Instead my reaction was, "Ok I am going to head home." So I did.

And here I was being concerned that the worst thing that could happen would be that I would be awkward... Looks like I vastly underestimated just how bad it could be.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brb, have to throw up

Soooo this date is less than 24 hours away & I am starting to get the panic dry heaves. The socially anxious part of my brain is trying to figure out if there is a way I can cancel politely (don't worry, I am not actually going to cancel...I have enough control over my anxiety not to do that) while also imagining all the terrible ways I can totally embarrass myself. So, that's fun!

Everyone keeps asking me if I am excited & I say yes bc it's obvious that they are excited for me. I appreciate their excitement because I have very little excitement of my own. Not because of anything in particular that is killing my excitement...just because I am...well, I am me. I make awkward people wonder why I am so awkward. I like me but I also know that not everyone feels that way. And some people take a while to warm up to me. So, mostly I am not excited because I am too busy worrying about the possibilities that he won't like me.

Or worse, what if he does?! What if he wants to go out consistently? My poor little emotionally destroyed heart couldn't handle that much pressure.

Basically I anticipate that whether it goes well or it goes badly, I will end up in the fetal position on my couch barfing from nerves.


Monday, May 20, 2013

That was fast

Well apparently the stuff I put in my online profile was enough to garner me a date already. I will be going on my first date post-divorce this Wednesday.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to have a minor panic attack.

Just the idea of dating makes me want to break out in hives

At the insistence/urging of several friends, I have put a profile up on a dating website. Then I remembered that 1. I did that in college & hated filling out all the info sections and 2. I hate going on dates. First dates, specifically.

Like what do I put in the "about me" section? I can't tell the truth. It's like interviewing for a job that includes the potential for making out. There are real answers and there are interview answers. I

f I were going to give a real "about me" it would be something along these lines: "I work as a public defender, which I love, but which sometimes consumes my entire life and means I deal with people you probably would avoid. I am really passionate about my work so if we are dating, you're going to have to listen to me rant about my day if things don't go the way I think they should. Outside of work, I have several life-long, chronic conditions which you probably have never heard of but which require me to take a ridiculous amount of medication in order to function normally. I sleep a LOT. I have social anxiety, which means if I ever have to meet your friends or family, I will probably have a small panic attack. That also means you'll have to carry the conversation @ first, since I suck @ small talk. I am recently divorced, which was the most devastating thing I have ever lived through, and I am still seeing a therapist since it fucked me up pretty badly. I am also incredibly terrified of commitment as a result. I hate wearing pants. I often go out in public looking like a crazy homeless lady. I have an unhealthy obsession with my cats and will expect you to humor me when I show you 800 photos of my cats being adorbs. I swear a lot and I am a grammar & spelling Nazi. I also dislike being touched by strangers. I know I sound crazy but I think I am pretty effing awesome, so I have a bloated sense of myself, too."

Clearly I cannot use that...

I am not cut out for dating.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I am annoyed with many things lately

1. I was scheduled to cover a coworker's routine hearings in one court while they were in another court. These were insignificant hearings as far as the overall case goes. Then a sentencing for a sex assault case got added. My coworker tried to get it moved but the court denied the request, meaning I would have to cover an extremely important sentencing for a case I had no interaction with for a client I had never met. This would have been an absolute travesty for this client, who has every right to have the attorney who has been on the case the whole time do this important hearing. Public defenders are NOT fungible. We build a relationship with our clients, we get to know them & they come to know us. We are not just warm bodies sitting next to the defendants. We are not there simply to give the appearance of fairness. I can't possibly do as well the original attorney on something like this. Thankfully, my coworker is no longer in two courts so I don't have to cover this anymore, but the point is I shouldn't have had to in the first place bc we aren't all interchangeable.

2. So this is a weird observation... If a 17 year old is sleeping with a 55 year old in MN, that's legal (barring some exceptions). But if the 55 year old has a naked picture of the 17 year old, that is a crime. How is it worse to have a naked picture of the 17 old than it is to actually have sex with them???? Something seems off.

3. I absolutely hate, hate, hate, hate the laws that criminalize teenagers having sex with other teenagers. We are talking about kids who are sleeping with other kids consensually and one kid now gets labeled a predatory offender. How ridiculous! The laws that automatically & arbitrarily criminalize consensual sex between teenagers of different ages is just stupid. Who decided on the 24 month cut off for the oldest someone could be for it not to be illegal? What was that based on? What is the real and actual difference between someone being 24 months older than the other person or being 24 months and 1 day? And what about situations where the two kids were legally sleeping together, but one kid turns 18 and then suddenly it's illegal for them to do what they were legally doing before? The laws that criminalize these kids are ridiculous & do nothing to protect the public.

4. While we are on the subject, how about we address the stupidity of the predatory offender statute? It requires defendants who are charged with certain crimes to register, even if they aren't convicted for those registrable crimes. So here is the scenario: def is accused of kidnapping (registrable offense), criminal sexual conduct (registrable offense), and disorderly conduct (not a registrable offense). Def has a trial. Jury finds him not guilty on the kidnapping and not guilty on the criminal sexual conduct, guilty on the disorderly conduct. Guess what? DEF STILL HAS TO REGISTER AS A PREDATORY OFFENDER EVEN THOUGH HE WAS FOUND NOT GUILTY OF THOSE OFFENSES!! Does that sound even remotely fair? Or logical? Why is that guy registering, if the registry is meant to keep tabs on dangerous people? Oh and here is the best disorderly conduct defendant is now a registered offender.Meanwhile, the law also allows for def #2 to go in, plead guilty to first degree criminal sexual conduct (the most serious level) and, should the court stay adjudication for some reason, that defendant won't have to register even though he ADMITS ON THE RECORD to committing the crime. Granted, that's not a likely scenario, but it isn't an impossible one. The law only applies to convictions (or juvenile adjudications, which in recent years has just come to mean "juvenile convictions") so if the court doesn't enter a conviction, then no registration required. Does this make sense to anyone?? Disorderly conduct defendant is not guilty but still has to register, crim sex defendant admits guilt but doesn't. It's just plain stupid.

5. Punch your wife in the face and give her a black eye? Misdemeanor. Maximum sentence is 90 days in jail and/or $1000 fine.
Give a 20 year old a beer? Gross misdemeanor. Maximum sentence is 365 days in jail and/or a $3000 fine.
Really??? Do the legislators not realize how stupid that is? I have yet to meet a prosecutor who actually pursues a gross misdemeanor sentence on that because it's ridiculous to make that a more serious level of offense than punching someone in the face.

Everyone whines lately about government spending, blah blah. How about clear out some of these stupid, illogical, nonsense laws and free up some resources for the judicial system.
Ugh. I am so irritated recently with these things.

"Well I've never been through hell like that, but I've closed enough windows to know you can never look back."

-Carry On by fun.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stiff upper lip

I will not cry tomorrow. I haven't cried about it in months.

I will not be sad tomorrow. It is just another Wednesday.

I will not let one person's actions continue to hurt me.

I will not be sad. I will not cry.

Tomorrow is just another day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I am SO proud of Minnesota right now!

The Senate passed the bill legalizing same sex marriage.  It passed the House on Thursday of last week.  Governor Dayton is signing it tomorrow.  

I am so overwhelmed with excitement about this that I could pop. 

Mark this day in history

I woke up this morning & realized something was different. I couldn't quite figure out what it was for awhile. Then, as I was driving to work today, it finally dawned on me what it was.

I am happy.

For no specific reason @ all.

A yr ago, I never would have believed this was possible. Especially not so close to what was once my anniversary (May 15). But it's possible.

I haven't felt happy for no reason in soooo long. The feeling was so foreign I didn't even recognize it @ first.

Fingers crossed that it sticks around!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

I am everywhere!!

So, I am now an authorized blogger @ the newly resurrected Public Defender Stuff site. It's linked on the side already, has been for awhile, but only recently did it start back up again. Before its hiatus, I was only a reader of it but recently I was asked to be a contributor. That one is solely focused on all things public defense related, so no ramblings about cats from me on that one, but it's still very interesting & you should read it.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

More changes

As usual, my life is full of change. I am going to be moving in a couple months. I am moving closer to work. It's not exactly where I pictured myself being but other than being a public defender, none of my plans have worked out. So may as well add another thing.

I think this one will be ok though. The rent is way cheaper than what I currently pay. And CB will be my neighbor. The new apt is in a bldg that has only 2 units. CB just moved in to the one unit & I will be in the other. So that should be fun! It will be like we are roommates but we each will have our own space. Plus we can split the cost of stuff like internet & cable.

So it will be good, I think. I am looking forward to being somewhere new & starting my life again. Single & in a new place with a sort of roomie right near by.

It's just business, baby

When I got to my office today, I saw that I had a really sweet email from a prosecutor friend of mine that made my day.  My friend said that they had recently been talking w/ an member of law enforcement in the county that I used to work in and that the officer said that they had only had pleasant and nice interactions w/ me and that I don't make things personal when I do my job. 

That was an awesome boost to start my first day back at work after my vacay.  I try to be nice and polite and friendly when dealing with people and when dealing w/ officers and prosecutors because, it's just business, baby.  I have a job to do and they have a job to do.  At the end of the day, we're all the same: we all just want to go back to our respective houses and take off our pants because fuck wearing pants kick back and relax.  

Monday, May 06, 2013

Protecting the Innocent Ones

So, I happened to stumble across this post that talks about the often-asked question that many defense attorneys get ("How do you defend someone you know is guilty?") and contrasts it with the more difficult question: "How do you defend someone you know is innocent?"

The truth is, as a defense attorney, there's nothing that causes me more anxiety, fear, and dread than the client who is actually, 100%, absolutely innocent.

Mini vacation

Currently chilling in Chicago.  RV's little sister got married this weekend, so I travelled to Chicago to be at the wedding and visit with everybody.  It's been really fun and very relaxing.  The nice thing was that I got to stay with RV, which was the hub for all the pre-wedding activities.  So, I got to be there for all the excitement and bustle and seeing the bride get ready and hang out w/ everyone, but since I wasn't actually in the wedding, I didn't have to BE involved with everything.  I could just be around without the stress of being in the wedding itself.  The wedding was super awesome.  

Tomorrow I head back to MN.  And Wednesday, it's back to work.  I turned off my phone's email push notification, so I actually have no idea what's been going on at work.  And I'm totally okay with that! 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Shout outs (Amended again)

So I have been feeling pretty happy with things lately & feeling grateful for the things in my life. And, my dear NFTMonosyllabicers, that includes you guys. I write here mostly for myself. I am lax about keeping an actual journal, so this operates as a replacement for that. But I also write because people read it. And I enjoy the comments from readers and I enjoy knowing that even if you aren't commenting, you are finding something of interest in my strange little ramblings.
And, with the aid of my stat tracker, I am able to see the area that people view from. Some of you all have been dedicated followers, seeing me journey through law school, the bar, marriage, divorce, starting my PD career, etc. And some of you are more recent but nevertheless just as dedicated. So, this is my thank you to all you readers. I really do appreciate the company, even if you're quiet.
So here is the first round-up of shout outs to you. If you aren't on this list, it may be because the stat tracker didn't say where you are. Or you've just recently joined us. In either case, I am glad you're here!
Holla to my peeps in the following locales (you know who you are, even if I don't!):
Bozeman, Montana
Winsted, MN
Mpls/St. Paul
Reading, MA
Austin, MN
Arlington, VA
Napa, California
Randall, MN
Eden Prairie, MN
West Concord, MN (I didn't even know you were a place!)
Mountain View, CA
West Palm Beach, FL
Newark, Delaware
Melrose Park, IL
*Denver, CO* (sorry about missing you the first time!)
*Schenectady, NY (sorry I missed you!)

And a special shout out to whoever checks me out @ the Hennepin County Government Center. This one has caught my attention because the entry page is always this guess is that post must be saved as a bookmark or something? If anyone from that locale wants to anonymously leave me the deets on that in the comments, that would awesome! But no pressure, you still get the special shout out because you caught my eye!
Thank you all. Especially during this last very difficult year+, your constant readership has helped lift my spirits.
And if you want to tell me something without leaving it in the comments, you can always email me @ PDGirlmn @ gmail or find me on Twitter @NFTmonosyllabic.
Sending virtual love & thoughts & well wishes to you all!
Xoxoxo, PDGirl