Friday, March 28, 2008
Stories from the Public Defender's Office
When I was a public defender, I spent five long years defending clients accused of misdemeanors, and learned a lot in the process. I also spent a lot of time writing down my client's stories, hoping to one day publish a book which would (1) pay off my student loan debt (didn't happen) and (2) inform people about the fate of my "damned" clients, who were struggling with addiction, poverty, and mental illness. That's not to say a lot of them weren't blameworthy, only that they were often misunderstood or punished too harshly, or foolishly, like the time the judge fined my client for panhandling. How do you suppose he raised the money?
The stories are long, as far as blog posts go, but they're all true. The names have all been changed to protect the presumed innocent. One story, heavily edited, even made it into the Champion, the magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. In that one, since I had to change the names, I used my maternal grandma's name, Dora, and my paternal grandpa's name, Alvin, since I had to change the names. I even used the name of my friend, John Haeberle, for the doctor, since, well, he is one.
I hope you enjoy them. Although I wrote them, I really just recorded them and felt like they were handed to me and that they truly needed to be told. I also added a link, if you ever want to check them out again.