This reader said it very well.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR NEW ASA's:
1. Talk to your supervisors and ask questions. Trust me, they'd rather spend their time avoiding mistakes than cleaning them up.
2. Talk to the Senior Trial Counsel, especially David Gilbert and Flora Seff. They can help you strategize and, gasp, are willing to try homicide cases with young ASA's (once you get a few felonies under your belt). David is even willing to try your "c" cases with you! Too bad there aren't more like them.
3. You are the only lawyers in the world fighting for truth and justice, rather than a client. Learn the special ethical rules that apply to you (like not making witnesses whom you know are telling the truth look like liars) and follow them. Once you cross the line, you can never go back.
4. Your job is to seek justice fairly and honestly. Don't be afraid to hammer the people who need it OR to cut slack to those who deserve it. Learn the distinction. It took me most of my first 10 years to gain perspective, but it made me a better prosecutor and, more importantly, a better person. Don't sweat the minor stuff; your caseload is too big to worry about every case. Focus on the real cases and dangerous defendants (you'll soon learn how to identify them; on suggestion: focus on your DUIs and cases with victims who have been or are likely to be injured).
5. Talk to the defense attorneys. Yes, many will mislead you. But, some won't. You need to identify who fits in which category. Regardless, it's difficult to determine a fair and appropriate sentence in most cases (cases without minimum mandatories) without learning about the defendant. You really can't do that unless you speak to the defense attorneys.
6. Trial is a blast. But, not every case needs to be tried. Don't take a case to trial just because you can. Remember, it's your job to do the right thing.
7. Love your job. It's the best job any of us will ever have (no, I'm no longer with the office). Don't let the naysayers get you down. No matter what anyone says, you're doing an incredible public service that borders on outright charity. The strong prosecutors can double or triple their incomes for going private. We owe a great deal to those who stay (same goes for the PD's).
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR NEW PD's
1. Not all of your clients are innocent (especially at the felony level). If you constantly tell the prosecutors they are, you'll lose credibility and no one will listen to you.
2. Not all of your clients will stop committing crimes if they get treatment. If you claim otherwise for all of your clients, no one will listen to you. That would be unfortunate because you all have some great social workers who can really make a difference in people's lives.
3. Talk to your supervisors. There are many good ones who can help you. Talk to private defense attorneys; there are many who care enough to give you some tips.
4. Talk to the prosecutors. Not every case should be tried. Remember, you're playing with your clients' liberty.
5. Not all prosecutors play by the rules. Don't be afraid to call them on it if they don't. You (and the judges) are the check on their power.
6. Love your job (see above).
FOR BOTH: Try settling the personal stuff in the hallway, rather than on the record. You'll get a lot further.
GOOD LUCK,Been there, done that, and loved almost every minute.
Rumpole says: Great post.
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