Saturday, March 23, 2013

Happenings in Court

A few weeks back I was in Seattle Municipal Court representing a client on a DUI case.  SMC is a pretty unique Court with regards to some of the procedures.  Specifically when it comes to checking in with a Prosecutor prior to your hearing.  Now don't get me wrong most of the cases I take are in Seattle Municipal Court by choice.  I like appearing there.  It is close to my office.  I know many of the Prosecutors and have great relationships with them, and I know all the little quirks and procedures that make it so unique.  Especially how easy it is to check in with a Prosecutor prior to your hearing, I wish more Courts did what they do.

Anyway so I was sitting in the Attorney conference room waiting for my turn to speak with the Prosecutor on my Seattle DUI Case.  I think there were 2 or 3 other DUI Lawyers in front of me.  I don't really pay attention to what they are talking with the Prosecutor about.  First of all it is none of my business, and secondly I hate it when other DUI Attorneys try to chime in when I'm talking with the Prosecutor regarding one of my clients.

As I'm sitting there a young attorney comes barging into the Attorney conference room.  Keep in mind the Prosecutor is speaking with another attorney, and there is a line of Attorneys that you must wait in to get your turn.  But she barges in and demands the Prosecutor hand over her clients file because "it is just a plea."  I'm not sure what she was thinking the procedure was or if she didn't have to wait in line because it was a plea.

But it probably wasn't the best idea to interrupt this particular Prosecutor.  Number one because he is a helluva a nice guy and was probably offended, and secondly he is the supervisor for their unit.  So the Prosecutor turns to this young attorney and says, "who are you?"  At this point everyone in line is looking at this young Attorney.  She says her name.  It's someone I have never heard of before, or ever seen in court.  So she must be really young.  Probably just graduated from law school or something.

The Prosecutor then says, "you don't just barge in here, there is a line."  and "I'm not going to just give you the file."  The defense attorney just kind of said, "ok."  She was obviously embarrassed, or at least she should have been.  She then slinked away, and after she left a few people made jokes about her.  Which Im sure she probably heard as she was walking away.

The reason I bring this up is not to embarrass or make fun of this young attorney.  Heck when I first started I'm sure I did stupid things too.  But the reason I bring this is up is because you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.  I'm not sure how the Prosecutor feels about this young attorney, or if he even remembers.  But I remember her, and if he does it's probably not going to be for a good thing.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of young attorneys out there.  The job market is tough.  They start their own firm.  Figure criminal defense is something easy.  You don't need a lot of money to hang your own shingle.  But the problem with this is they don't know what they are doing.  Forget whether they know what they are doing when it comes to the law.  They don't know what they are doing when it comes to court policies, and procedures, etc.  

When I first started I was a public defender.  I learned the ropes that way.  I had a great supervisor, and some more senior attorneys who taught me everything I know.  But it is different nowadays.  Again this young attorney seemed like a very nice woman, and I feel bad for her that she was the brunt of some jokes by other attorneys.  But she brought it on herself.  She should have asked someone what the procedure was.  She should have saw the big line of attorneys waiting to speak to the Prosecutor and realized she couldn't just barge in.  But again maybe she didn't realize any of that because she is new and nobody ever told her.  

But unfortunately now in my eyes I will always remember her for that.  But more importantly I'm sure the Prosecutor will as well?  Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Seattle DUI Lawyer.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other alcohol related offenses.  He is currently rated by Avvo as a Top DUI Attorney in Seattle, and was recently named a 2013 Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Superlawyers Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys in Washington State receive.


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