Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happenings in Court (New series)

I'll be starting a new series for my DUI blog.  It is titled "Happenings in Court."  As everyone should know Im a Seattle DUI lawyer.  That means I spend most of my days sitting in court endlessly waiting for my cases to be called.  In other words I just sit there and get to people watch.  Well some pretty interesting things happen every day in court.  Whether it is some defendant, or whether the Judge does some odd, or whether it the Attorneys involved.  Something is always going on, and I figure this will be a pretty interesting series to start, and should give everyone an insight into what happens in Courts throughout Western WA.

So today I was in court this morning in local district court.  I was waiting for my case to be called and I was sitting down for about 2 hours.  While waiting some Defense Attorney walked in.  I have never seen him before, so he probably doesnt do a lot of DUI work, or maybe he practices in other counties.  But nevertheless he came into court.

If you have never been to a district court, typically the Prosecutors are there handling all the cases for the calendar.  That means they probably have around 50 cases, sometimes more they are reasonable for.  Usually in this particular court there is only one Prosecutor.

Now its always best practice to try and contact the Prosecutor before the calendar.  Especially if you want to negotiate with them, pointing out evidentiary issues, having a lengthy conversation, etc.  So to get back to this hospital.  This defense attorney walks in.  He instantly looks upset because there are 4 other attorneys in front of him waiting to talk with the Prosecutor.  This defense attorney is making "tiff" sounds every time one of the Defense Attorneys tries talking with the Prosecutor.  Almost like this line is moving too slowly for him.

This whole time Im just sitting down observing this.  I can tell this Defense Attorney is kind of a DB, so I continue to watch.  He gets up to the Prosecutor and starts gruffly talking with him about his case.  Apparently he is representing someone on a driving while license suspended charge.  From what I gather he is saying the fact the license was suspended was a mistake by DOL.  He has brought all these documents and he is trying to point to the Prosecutor why this charge is incorrect.  While he is doing this he is raising his voice, and becoming more and more frustrated with the Prosecutor.

Then I hear him tell the Prosecutor this case should be dismissed, and blah blah.  The Prosecutor is looking at him and saying, "hey I cant look at all these documents right now."  Clearly this is something that should have been presented to the Prosecutor before court, if nothing else to give them time to review it.  Then the Defense Attorney starts getting more upset and kept saying this was a mistake and needs to get dismissed.  Finally I guess the defense Attorney realized he was getting nowhere, and just yells "Well we will just continue this," and he stormed off.

While I was watching this thing unfold I kept thinking to myself, doesnt this defense attorney realize that the Prosecutor is the one with all the power in this situation.  They hold all the cards, and its not going to do your client any good to piss them off.  Especially when you're asking them to dismiss a case.

Obviously this attorney doesnt get that and his client will probably get screwed because of it.  Had the defense attorney taken a different approach then he probably could have got the deal he was asking for.  But because he was a jerk, who knows what will happen now.  Throughout my career there have certainly been times when I have been frustrated by a Prosecutor.  But you can't take out those frustrations on the Prosecutor, its bad for business.  Especially when they hold all the cards.  As my mother always said, "treat people like you would want to be treated."

Matthew A. Leyba is the owner of a criminal defense DUI firm in Seattle, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.  If you have been arrested for DUI contact our offices for a free consultation.

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