Like a virus, it has spread, feeding off the host (us lawyers).
It has turned into the bane of our existence.
An endless exercise in standing in lines, getting little done, and having client’s getting warrants for no reason.
We are speaking of soundings.
This is a no-brainer. This ship has sunk. Soundings in Circuit Court work as well as the Dolphin Offensive line.
We can see no real advantage to the felony sounding system. Prosecutor’s witnesses on the Monday trial date are already on stand-by, and with very little discretion, no deals are offered at sounding that cannot be had at trial. Truth be told, the best deals come right before trial, if they are coming at all.
In exchange for this exercise in futility, what do we get in return? 1) The prosecutors spend valuable time and energy in the middle of the week getting ready for an enormous calendar. 2) The Judge has to take time away from their regular calendar, and from hearing evidentiary motions, and trying cases.
3) Defense attorneys stand in long lines for nothing.
And to top it all off, a certain percentage of clients who have not really absconded miss the blasted court hearing and get an AC. Then the defense attorney has to call the client. Then they have to write a motion saying the client missed the sounding inadvertently. Then they have to call the JA (available to answer the phone only on odd number days, and then only between 1:18 and 1:22 pm) and set the motion (“Is Friday March 13, 2007 at 4:30 pm convenient for you counsel?”) And then the case gets back on the merry-go-round only to have it happen all over again.
Things are not so bad down here.
There is an identifiable reason for having the soundings: to avoid paying over-time for police officers to show up in court for cases that will plead out.
The County Court Judges have wisely allowed clients to sign a waiver and not require their appearance in court, drastically cutting down on the needless warrants and cycle of filing motions to set aside the warrant. However their Circuit brethren (motto: “If we have to be here, you have to be here.”) have not seen the wisdom of their misdemeanor savvy colleagues.
It also seems that a significant number of pro se cases are settled at soundings, and many cases that are not ready are continued, making Mondays in County Court pleasant, if now a bit downright lonely.
However, to achieve this, we still have the endless lines on Wednesdays. It can’t be pleasant for an unrepresented defendant to appear in court for a 9:00 am sounding calendar, and sit through a seemingly endless line of attorneys calling their 9:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, and 11:00 am cases.
There must be a better way.
See You in court, standing in line.