Item: It has been made very clear that entering a plea of no contest or guilty for a client at arraignment is against office policy. Indeed some believe that doing so on a regular basis could result in their dismissal. If a client insists on accepting a good plea and getting out of jail there are a series of forms that must be filed and the court must be told it is an un- counseled plea.
Rumpole says: When lawyers are forced to argue against their clients and work against their client's best interests it sucks the life out of their love for their job.
STATS: Like the Wizard of Oz, the silent one sits on the fifth floor behind a curtain and pours over the statistics of his lawyers.
What statistics are they measured against? Wins at trial? Motions granted? Below guideline sentences? Waivers of minimum mandatory sentences? In a word, are they measured against the success they achieve for their clients? NO.
No so much as they are measured against their work load.
How many depos have they taken that week is a very important statistic. Perhaps the most important. Can they dash off to jail to see a client? Not at the expense of taking depos. Jail visits must be arranged way in advance. Being in trial or conferring with a client is all well and good, but not at the expense of taking depos. And their depo load is monitored by supervisors on a weekly basis. Much like the sales of a car salesman, they must make their quota, or else.
Why? Because the Great Wizard must go to Tallahassee and beg for his alms, and to do that he needs statistics that show his minions are working.
What do the politicians want to see? Grist for the mill. They don't care (and perhaps don't even want) to see the PDs win at trial or get great results. What they want to see is the most work done for the money they spent. They want their state lawyers to process a mass of humanity and do it in a manner that shows that their money is being well spent.
And that means depos. Not wins. Not wonderful results that truly change a client's life.
When you impose your will to create stats on public service lawyers who got their law degrees to help people, you suck the pride right out of their work. You turn them from a lawyer racing to court to try a case with a big smile on his or her face to a shuffling stoop shouldered bureaucrat counting the days to 25 years.
What a shame.
Sorry to damper your weekend. Sunday is the first home day game for the Fins this year. Get your suicide pool picks in.
See You Monday.
* Our allegations in this post were taken from weeks of speaking with all sorts of lawyers and email communications with many more. We left out a lot of the even more petty stuff like PDs are no longer allowed to cover for private lawyers at a depo who may have to miss the depo because they are in trial, etc. What a bunch of bs.