Monday, August 17, 2009

Special Public Defender not notified of new client

This is a follow-up to the article on August 3, 2009, "What causes delays in court?" That article was about a woman who had cases in two courtrooms on the same morning and who experienced delays in finding her court-appointed attorney.

It turns out that the Special Public Defender who had been appointed for her didn't even know about her. Apparently, no one notified him that he had been appointed to represent this woman, and he didn't know about her court dates. No wonder there was a delay.

"Little' paperwork errors like this shouldn't occur, even in a busy office. There must be some system to assures the production and communication (mailing, e-mailing, faxing, etc.) of notices of appointment.

I had gone to court with her that day, because of the multitude of cases that have been filed against her by an angry neighbor. (This will be another story.) It's hard to be in two courtrooms at the same time. Since it is a really bad idea not to be in court when your case is called, I suggested she identify herself to the bailiff before court started and ask how to be in two places at once.

The bailiff in the first courtroom told her that her lawyer, whom she named, was not in the courtroom. The bailiff told her to go to the other courtroom.

She did and, when her case was called, she indicated her lawyer was not there and the judge told her to sit down and wait.

Later, during a break, I went back to the first courtroom and reported she was still waiting for her lawyer. The bailiff said that, if the second judge told her to wait, then she should wait.

Who knows? Maybe she'd still be waiting there, if we hadn't continued to ask where her lawyer was!

How many people don't know what to do or what questions even to ask???

More attention by the bailiffs would have resulted in less delay. Passing the buck isn't good enough. Why the bailiff in the first courtroom didn't become pro-active when no lawyer appeared for her, even though the bailiff knew the lawyer who was to represent her, is anyone's question. (Hello? Is there a problem building here?)

When you have a public defender or any lawyer, you should not wait for the lawyer to contact you. Make the call; establish the contact. If you don't get a prompt return call, keep calling. Especially when you have cases in two courtrooms on the same day, establish who does what so that you don't end up in hot water with the judge. Remember: the warrant for Failure to Appear will be issued to you, not to your lawyer.


Franker said...

Why should the bailiff have to become pro-active in finding her public defender for her? It is not his responsiblity. Actually, it is hers! Did she know who her public defender was? Probably not. Did she go out of her way to find out who her public defender was? Probably not. Are the wrong people being blamed for her not knowing who or where her free lawyer is? YES!!! It is a total load of bull that other people are being blamed for her actions. She obviously has a lack of responsiblity, not only with blaming others for her actions but for having several court cases going at once.

Gus said...

So, Frank, if I got the police to accept half a dozen disorderly conduct charges against you that you knew were all B.S., then you would, by your logic, obviously have a lack of responsibility.

Even if I didn't show up when the cases were called for trial.

How would you get this stopped?

Franker said...

How did they get them to "accept" these complaints? Trickery? Or was there atleast some sort of proof that the complaint/crime happened? What is she doing that gets the police called on her so much? I've never had the police called on me. So yes, some where she needs to be more responsible. Oh, and why didn't you reply why it should be the bailiffs problem to find HER lawyer for HER!!!

Gus said...

One police report made by the angry neighbor alleged disorderly conduct, and the accused was 600 miles away. At least in that case, the police didn't take a Complaint.

The person making the complaint reportedly has stated that she has "connections" and can get anybody arrested. Such statements are usually baseless; in this case, they seem not to be baseless.

Notawannabee said...

Gus, you're barking at the wrong tree! The COURT SECURITY OFFICER
(NOT BAILIFF) is there to maintain security of the courtroom not ride herd on lawyers. Whether of not someone attorney is there is the responsibility of the person, not the court and certainly NOT the Court Security Officer.

Gus said...

Yes and, if a person in court has to ask a question, it is to the Bailiff (court security officer) they must go. And when that person, as the apparent official in the courtroom, tells the person to do someone, s/he speaks for the courtroom.

It's okay with me if they do something besides glare at people whose cell phones might ring or quiet people talking in the courtroom or in the vestibule (sure wish they did more of that and sooner).

Unknown said...

Gus said...
One police report made by the angry neighbor alleged disorderly conduct, and the accused was 600 miles away. At least in that case, the police didn't take a Complaint.

The person making the complaint reportedly has stated that she has "connections" and can get anybody arrested. Such statements are usually baseless; in this case, they seem not to be baseless.


It is amazing that you manage to get dressed in the morning, Gus.

How is it that it is ALWAYS everybody else's fault and not her fault? it is the police departments fault, it is the attorneys fault, it is the bailiffs fault....

The truth is that this lady is a loon and you are attracted to loons. didn't you say her own lawyer requested she seek medical attention for her mental problems? Think that happens on a regular basis? No it does not?

Yet you continue to take everything she tells you as if it is the gospel truth and nothing but the truth.

Maybe the both of you can get a 2 for 1 special at the head shrinker?

Zane said...

DA needs to be censored. I only say that because I care about the safety of the community. He needs to find a different outlet or he's going to end up having a nervous breakdown. I don't want him shooting some poor driver on a traffic stop because he saw a furtive movement which was really just his own nervous twitch. Do the right thing Gus, pull the plug on DA.

Gus said...

Harry B., thanks. I had to do that last year, when a couple of local boys crossed the line into cyber-stalking.

I went to Woodstock PD about it. Once I myself went to the SAO showed them all the threats and said I was serious about an investigation and charges, the threats stopped.

I feel strongly that a leak at WPD resulted in the end of the threatening messages.

I look carefully at each of DA's comments and have begun rejecting them. Up until now I've allowed him to show his colors, but that time is drawing to a close.

Thanks again.

Franker said...

I didn't read your blog at the time so I don't know the details but "cyberstalking"? If youre a REPORTER you should know that is going to happen from time to time. Its part of the job as a reporter.

You should do an after school special on cyber-bullying!

Gus said...

Frank, I didn't write about the cyberstalking at the time, because I was trying to get the cops to investigate.

The first response from the SAO was that threatening emails were permitted under Freedom of Speech. Their opinion was based on the emails shown to them by the WPD detective.

Then I showed them all of the emails I had given to WPD. The answer changed and became, "If we had seen all of these, we would have called it Cyberstalking."

Because WPD was supposed to handle the Complaint, the matter went back to WPD. And the nasty emails stopped.

Some folks there had a close call and got away with it. That time.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Another Lawyer said...

Gus, I am trying to understand this post. Is it your position that because a person had to wait they were denied justice? Or was it your position that special PD appointment was mishandled, and that denied justice to the defendant.

Or, did you feel these "errors" reflected poorly on the system.

Further, were warrants issued? If warrants for "failure to appear" weren't issued, then I am missing your point? Unless, you point is that people don't like to wait around?

Gus said...

Part of the system was broken.

The Special PD apparently didn't know he had a new client. Her last name begins with a letter near the front of the alphabet, and her cases were called within minutes of the start of court. The appearance by the Special PD was a formality only and actually something that ought to be handled administratively by the courts without the appearance of the defendant or even an appearance in the courtroom. It's all just paper-pushing.

There are many court appearances of defendants that could be avoided by a little administrative creativity, without impairing the rights of either side.