Will unnecessarily nasty prosecutors and judges get a call back from colleagues when in private practice?

14 Feb Will unnecessarily nasty prosecutors and judges get a call back from colleagues when in private practice?

By Jon Katz, a criminal defense lawyer and DWI/ DUI/ Drunk Driving lawyer advocating in Fairfax County, Virginia, Montgomery County, Maryland, and beyond for the best possible results for his clients.

Whether or not the characterization is fair or not, sometimes the following concept helps my clients overcome irritation over unfair-seeming prosecutors: A public defender colleague once observed that prosecutors are not born; they are hatched at the age of twenty-five, with a law degree in one hand, and no real world experience to sufficiently understand a criminal defendant’s plight

A good prosecutor seeks justice for all, as s/he defines it, not to try to cow defendants with unnecessarily nasty and intimidating words and tone of voice during a hearing at which my client is merely listening and observing; not by intentionally or unintentionally — and impermissibly — communicating to my client by loudly talking to me in the hallway so me client can hear; and certainly not by prevaricating.

What of judges who unnecessarily scare and demean represented and unrepresented defendants, and who unnecessarily talk down to and humiliate their lawyers, thus risking a wedge between the client and attorney?

A prosecutor acting like an a**hole might find it a waste of time doing that to someone who knows how to be an a**hole himself or herself right back at the prosecutor. Numerous times I have laughed at prosecutors and cops who try the a**hole route —- or the route of treating me as if I had just fallen off the vegetable truck — by informing or reminding them that they can save such unsavory behavior for lawyers on whom it will have an impact at all.

A judge who talks down to a lawyer will likely think twice about doing so when s/he sees the lawyer putting a stop to that merely by the lawyer’s honesty integrity, ability and preparation, and it will not hurt for the judge to see the astonished and disapproving faces on the remaining lawyers in the courtroom, to the judge’s unjust actions.

How does a lawyer prepare a client for nasty prosecutors and demeaning judges, whom fortunately are generally outnumbered by judges and prosecutor who do not act that way? I sometimes prepare my clients for that by reminding them that their only friend in the courthouse is me, themselves, and any family members or friend who have joined them. Invariably, they find that the experience is nowhere near as bad with such prosecutors and judges as I warned them might happen. It is akin to putting a donut weight on a baseball bat, to make the bat feel lighter after removing the donut. Sometimes I tell them the story of the man, the tigers, and the wild strawberry, and the power of summoning the child within. .

In taijiquan, and as a necessity in all aspects of life, the nasty prosecutor and the demeaning and heartless-seeming judge might be seen as we would see a vicious dog. We do not get angry at the vicious dog, and should not do so with vicious humans. We only get angry and upset with humans because we expect that they have a greater capacity for doing good and for compassion than does a vicious dog. That may be true, but we get nowhere to attach to such expectations of humans, even though we can try to inspire them on that path.

Here is where I re-summon the living spirit of my trial law teacher Steve Rench . With difficult judges, Steve applies the basic and effective lesson of the magic mirror. If a judge (or prosecutor) knows s/he has a poor reputation with lawyers, that presents all the more a reason for the lawyer to empty the mind of any such thoughts, and to give the judge a clean slate that day. Oversimplistically, it is like trying to find the thorn in the lion’s sole and to pull it out, rather than trying to slay the lion. T’ai chi master Cheng Man Ching believed conflicts should be addressed by harmonizing the situation, and emptying ourselves of any tension, anger, or fear, which all weaken us in any battle. I have found no better way to do this than the daily practice of t’ai chi — physically AND mentally — over the last dozen years. 

In that regard, I need to empty out my vindictive feelings when an unjust judge or prosecutor goes into private practice, about whether I ever in a million years would return their phone call or e-mail for help or brainstorming on a thorny issue they have with case. If such a call comes, I need first to think about the benefit of their client. I need to remember the damaging effect that not forgiving has on the person who does not forgive. If I answer the call or email, I might tell the former unjust judge or prosecutor abut the reason I almost did not reply, and might also urge him or her to spread the word for judges and prosecutors not to so abuse their position.

It is not only judges and prosecutors who have the capacity to be unjust. Those groups of people, though, are among those outside of the defense team who have the most direct impact on my clients. 


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