Saturday, June 13, 2015

Being a trial lawyer

Being a trial lawyer is an incredibly draining job. It's a job that is hard to explain to people who don't do this work, even to people who have high stress jobs where people depend on them. Trial is all-consuming. And the pressure & stress is unlike anything else.

As a public defender, people rely on me. In some of my cases, people's lives depend on me. Not in the sense that they will die, but in the sense that a guilty verdict will send them to prison & everything in their life will be irrevocably altered.

My last trial, the client was facing 91 months in prison if we lost. That is a long period of time. This trial that starts on Monday, the sentence is 144 months in prison if we lose. The outcome of trial will affect the course of the client's life in a very huge way.

And for most trials, it's a very solitary venture. As the attorney, I'm almost always on my own in the courtroom. I'm the only one I have to consult with & I am the only one I have to rely on. I have to make judgment calls, sometimes on the spur of the moment, & hope it's the right choice. Trial is a solo undertaking. Since it's all day, there is usually no time to go back to the office to debrief with others or discuss the day's events. You're all on your own.

Being in trial is almost a round-the-clock status. Even when court is out, whether for break, lunch, or the end of the day, as the lawyer you're still in trial mentally. There's still things that need to be changed, researched, looked into, modified, added, omitted, altered, etc. Trial never stops until the verdict is read. If I'm not asleep, I'm in trial.

Being a trial lawyer is hard to explain to someone else. It's not like Law & Order where the attorneys can just prance around saying whatever & it wraps up in an hour. It's mentally, physically, & emotionally draining. People who don't do this job can't understand what that is like.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Been awhile

It's been some time since I've posted, mostly because I've been overwhelmingly busy with stuff. Work has been crazier than usual recently & I'm slated to start a 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct trial on Monday. Thankfully, I'm not the only lawyer on the case, so the work is cut down a bit. But it's a huge case & it's been consuming me recently.

Also the court calendar in my county has become a rapid paced blitz. My former county was always on the fast track, no matter what, and it was incredibly hard to keep up. My current county hasn't gotten that bad...yet...but it seems like it's going that way. And that makes a stressful job even more stressful.

One of my co-workers recently had a trial start on Monday & end late on Tuesday night. He was then required to start another trial that Wednesday. Two trials one week. I couldn't do it. I'd collapse.

The calendar routinely has felony trials starting on Mondays & gross misdemeanors & misdemeanors starting on Wednesdays. I have a mixed caseload, meaning I can be scheduled for two trials a week.

And the calendar for all other hrgs has sped up too. It's been making it hard to be on top of everything & to find enough time to do the proper work on cases. So, it's been exhausting.

I'll post more later. For now, I have to do some work for trial...