UPDATED: SEE BELOW
We have long advocated Public Defenders and Prosecutors switching jobs for six months during their first three years.
Now comes a speech from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who says she favors just the same thing. For our robed readers, Justice O'Connor advocates doing away with the election of Judges.
From the article:
In England, lawyers serve both as prosecutors and defense lawyers, paid from the public treasury. "We see a level of courtesy we don't see in our country," O'Connor said. "They realize there are problems in both areas."
She said would like to find some state or local governments in the United States that would be willing to create a staff of public lawyers, who "would spend some time on both sides."
Lord knows we have taken our shots at the Miami Judiciary (all well deserved in our opinion) . And yet our Judiciary has been marked over the years by a wonderful ability to create innovative programs and challenge old ideas. We started the first drug court in the country. Ms. Reno's office had some of, if not the first, specialized divisions dealing with sexual abuse of children, domestic violence, and before drug court, Ms. Reno and Mr. Brummer worked on several programs to deal with the crack cocaine epidemic.
Now is the time for Ms. Rundle, Mr. Brummer, Chief Judge Farina, Judge Blake and others to sit down and make this happen. We are talking about County Court positions here. It's not like PD's will be sitting down rifling through sensitive files. There are plenty of Branch Court positions where ASA's deal mostly with unrepresented defendants, and that would be a great place to start. On the other side, put a few ASA's in the early representation division and have them spend a few weeks speaking with defendants who have just been incarcerated. Learning about the traumatic toll being in jail takes on a defendant and their family might just help those ASA's from throwing around 364 offers without any thought as to the consequences.
See you in court.
A reader wrote in with these comments, and s/he is 100% correct:
funny you dont mention any things that a pd might learn serving as an asa.
1. there are actually victims of crime who suffer at the hands of the defendants.
2. not all asa's are nazis (that line must be fed to baby pd's like mothers milk.
3. asa's dont give you discovery not because they dont want to, they are overwhelmed and deal with cops who dont give them all reports.
4. if you think you have it rough in court dealing with defendant's, its not so easy dealing with cops, victims and witnesses who dont give a shit about what you are doing
Rumpole says: Our motto: When you're right, write.
Two small points: any generalization by any group of attorneys against another group is counterproductive to resolving issues.
However, we recently heard a County Court Prosecutor say to another prosecutor "I don't trust anything any defense attorney says. They're all scum."
Now beyond the problem of stereotypes, Prosecutors are paid to dispense justice. Thus, a greater problem arises when a prosecutor thinks like that, then when a defense attorney thinks like that about prosecutors. Is it fair? Nope. But that's the point- as law enforcement officers and lawyers prosecutors are held to a higher standard. When prosecutors perform to that standard (as most do) they have every right to be especially proud.
Anyway, we thank the reader for saying what needed to be said. Well Done.