Now, we all know I've had my run-ins with Sheriffs, and I'm pretty sure everybody knows that I am not their biggest fan. With that being said, let me make it crystal clear I have no problem eating some humble pie when needed to get what I want. Also, I must make it be known that my theory is that with politeness, being professional, and not using any profanity is the only way to get what you really want. That's not to say that I have never told a client or Sheriff exactly where they could go.... But I guarantee you I needed nothing from them when I said it.
Today's client was a first time offender. The family and defendants goal was to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor, and the ability to make payments on the restitution fees. The normal procedure is the public defender comes out, calls his clients name, a brief meeting (with the defendant and typically at least one family member, friend or spouse) is had. It is safe and plausible to suggest the possibility of a question or two may arise.
The public defender comes out sees me standing next to my client, doesn't ask who I am and says "you're not allowed to be in this conversation you will have to wait over there." No hello, no introduction, no handshake, no professional courtesy whatsoever. OK fine, I proceed to introduce myself politely and say I am here as a courtesy to my client, unfortunately his legal guardian could not be here and I am here to advise. He raised his voice in the court room and said "no, you're not allowed to be here you're disrupting this court room and you are not allowed to be here and I am his attorney and I have attorney-client privilege." Again politely, I said sir, could you please lower your voice I'm only trying to save you some time of having to explain the scenario twice. He said I'm not explaining anything to you, he said you're not allowed to be in this conversation and you need to leave! At that point I looked at my client and I said let's go outside and talk for minute. This enraged the public defender so much that he yelled out for the bailiff to come over to where we were standing. Again he yelled " I'm his attorney" and I said you're his public defender and we are eligible to receive another public defender if we feel necessary. The bailiff asked what was going on, the public defender said I need her removed from the court room. My client and I had already started walking out of the court room. The bailiff could see that the public defender was the only one yelling and the only one riled up. The sheriff was actually quite cooperative with me and I calmly explained to him that typically nobody has any kind of consultation with an attorney on their first criminal court case ever without somebody there with them and that it is the adviseable thing to do. The bailiff agreed, and totally understood. Since the attorney would not discuss anything with me I had to instruct my client what questions to ask the public defender. Which he did. We then go sit in the court room chairs. The bailiff then comes up to me and says may I speak with you for a moment, I said sure. We walk to the back of the court room and he said to me I'm sorry ma'am I'm going to have to ask you to leave the court room on the request of the attorney. I very calmly and politely said oh sheriff I'm so sorry I'm unable to comply with that request. I said I have client privilege as well, as he's out on my bond. I have every right to be here.
The sheriff bailiff could not argue with that, and said let's just keep it cool and I said of course. Again the sheriff was cooperative and nice with me. The public defender did some good, but ignored my clients need to make payment installations and my client is now is behind the eight ball. I'm sharing the story with you for many reasons. The first reason is to know that you are not stuck using a public defender that is a total and complete rude jerk! It turns out that he treated everybody the same way and would not discuss matters with anybody other than the defendant. You could see every defendant brought a husband or a wife or a friend. A public defender can be fired and another public attorney will be assigned to you and if you don't like that one he can be fired as well! The other thing that is so important here is to never let yourself be bullied by a suit, or a badge. This has no contingency on what color my skin is, or what I'm wearing, it's all in how you handle yourself. This may sound entirely frustrating to you, but to me it gets a big eye roll because it's so common. Court rooms are filled with puffy chested attorneys, district attorney's, public defenders, Judges, bailiffs, Sheriffs and defendants too! Know your rights, have my number ready. Call me if you need me. If I don't have the answer, I can get it for you. Never get caught slippin! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.