Trial by fire

As you know, if you’re reading regularly or at all, or if you know me–I am involved in the UB clinic program which allows me to handle cases under the supervision of the public defender’s office.

I am in there 2 days a week, and for most students in the position the first few weeks are supposed to be shadowing, etc. Since I had done all of the shadowing that a 3rd year law student could mentally handle in my internship this summer, and more or less having the confidence to handle cases, and having the confidence of the head of the office to handle cases, the decision was made that I would start getting cases today. With that in mind, last friday I met with a public defender who had a docket of cases schedule for the district court this morning. In Maryland there are two trail courts. The district court is the lower court, and limited to bench trials, if a case is to be tried at all. Charges carrying a max penalty exceeding 90 days in jail give the defendant the right to pray a jury trial. Jury trials are in the Circuit Court, and are set in roughly 2 months down from the prayer.

The plan was that I would review the docket last friday with this attorney, and to “ease me in” we would cherry pick a few cases that shouldn’t be too tough for me to handle. Mostly cases in which the state is dropping charges, or putting the charges on what is called the ‘stet docket’. Sounds good to me, I can handle this, no big deal.

So this morning, court begins at 8:30, and I’m in the office waiting for the attorney with the docket, who will have to supervise me during all of this, to show up. Tick, tock, tick tock. Eventually the phone rings, and it appears as if this attorney has called in sick. Seriously? No big deal to me, and in fact I think this might have even been set up. “I got this, its show time.”

I took it upon myself from this point to handle the entire docket. For confidentiality reasons I can’t really go into any details, none of which were too exciting anyway, but everything went well. Talked to the State’s attorney, the clients, even put pressure on the ASA to drop charges that they wanted to stet, and stet cases they wanted to offer a PBJ. A job well done, at least for a rookie.

By 11am I had handled my first case ever, and 8 more. Exciting. In fact, so exciting that my next move was to figure out who had an afternoon docket and hijack that!

These district court cases are relatively minor. In fact the bulk of the afternoon docket I grabbed were driving on suspended or other “serious traffic” charges. All in all, out of 18 total clients (3 of which failed to appear) everyone seemed happy with the results–especially those who got better results than the state originally wanted to offer.

This clinic is supposed to provide experience, and a real feel of practice. Its also supposed to help someone decide if this is in fact what they want to do. Check, Check and Check.

Bring it on!

 

UNSTOPPABLE REBEL FORCE

It’s on.

Tomorrow I will start taking on some cases. While I will start with some soft-balls, stets and noelle prosqui, it’s time to start getting the feet wet. The goal is to become an all-out litigation machine by the end of this semester. I am already enrolled in trial boot-camp, so to speak. Trial advocacy class kicks into high gear next week when we have direct and cross examinations to prepare and to be critiqued upon. This will continue all semester, polishing the basic skills of setting a theme, getting the story to the jury, and challenging witnesses and their testimony.

Brilliant.

The clinic, while I will be taking on baby cases in the beginning, will have similar training in the classroom component. I am also learning the “rules” aspect of both criminal and civil cases in Maryland in my other 2 classes.

Let’s win.

Yeah, the trial team I was on last year now has 2 full teams from our school, and the gloves come off around September 9th when the competition problem is released.

It’s time to crush it and become a complete machine by November 16th competition date, and beyond.

It is time to bring back the tag I put on the Ravens Superbowl run last season: Unstoppable Rebel Force.

 

Officially sworn in today!

It’s official, I’m a lawyer* under Maryland’s Rule 16. The asterisk is there due to the fact that I’m now an attorney in limited capacity. This semester I will be working under the supervision of the Office of the Public Defender in Cecil County, Maryland.

This means that 2 days a week I’ll be in the Public Defender’s office, with cases, clients and actually be in court.

Very exciting, but I’m not a full on lawyer.

First, this only exists within the specific supervision at the OPD. It ends when final exams end. I also cannot give you legal advice on any other matters or situations that you may be dealing with. Also, nothing on this website has changed, or will. Nothing on this site should or can be seen as legal advice, on any topic, no matter how close to a situation you may be dealing with is.

 

Good times, and limited info will be updated as possible.