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What does my lawyer do all day

At least once a day,  I get a certain type of call from a people who have not retained an attorney.  They are usually facing criminal charges.  And they ask:  "Can you just tell me what to do so I can represent myself?" 

I strive to be polite in all of these situations. But I'm continually stumped by this question.  The thought never crossed my mind, to call my dentist, and say,  "I need a root canal. Can you just tell me how to do it, so I can do it myself?" 

It's not enough to know the rules of criminal procedure.  There is much that goes into one case including court appearances, filing motions, obtaining discovery and gathering evidence, interviewing and deposing witnesses, looking for exculpatory evidence, and much more.  

The first fact is, that even lawyers do not represent themselves.  There needs to be a level of objectivity that can not exist when one represents themselves in court, and many more reasons.

Here's a great article by  +Kevin Hickey that outlines his similar experiences.  A good read for every new client in any area of practice. 
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24 comments
 
"It's not enough to know the rules of criminal procedure." I'm guessing that it is also helpful to have established a working relationship with the various attorneys, law enforcement personnel, and judges that may be involved in the case.
 
+Kevin Hickey Thanks Kevin for sharing what many attorneys would like new clients to know. 
 
+Lil Peck Well said.   That is so true, and one aspect I did not mention.   So thanks for  addressing it.   Being familiar with the court, judges, and prosecuting attorneys is an advantage to  defendant.   If a reputable criminal defense attorney practices regularly in a certain jurisdiction,  the judges know them, and reputation goes a long way.  If they know you, they will respect you.  They will know that a good attorney does not file frivolous motions; does not ask for unjustified continuances;  or modification of release conditions, make unjust or unreasonable demands from the court; and respects law enforcement, judge, and police. That also goes a long way.   And it's no secret if an attorney can positively connect with the opposition due to familiarity, it only helps the defendant's outcome. 
 
+James Novak loved the comparison to doing your own root canals...LOL. It's so true. People think y'all just sit there looking handsome in your suits and then when the day comes, you walk into court and say "He did it your Honor" and that's that. Everyone goes home.

I've been a witness in several court cases and nothing was quick about it. It took years to resolve these cases. I was represented in a car accident law suit and it took 6 years to finally conclude and settle and that's not even a criminal case wherein you have to find witnesses, back up evidence, test DNA, file reports, have experts verified, line everything up, search the books for the laws that apply, etc., etc. I'm no lawyer, but I know there's nothing simple about your job.
 
+Kelline Pickett Thanks Kelline.  Your are exactly right.   I was trying to be all serious...and then the suit thing, and the quote, was too much.   
 
+Carra Riley Thanks for asking Carra.  I defend cases in Maricopa County only.  And I do that for exactly the reasons that +Lil Peck and I were discussing before: familiarity with the courts, judges and prosecution. It is so important.  So I represent cases in all the City, Justice, and Superior Courts in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale on a regular basis. 
 
+James Novak  you are welcome.  I have an AZ circle you might like to meet.  I know your content will help anyone in that area.
 
I get it all the time, too. In my case, though, someone probably could help themselves, but they fail to realize that the very reason they are in the mess they are in, and even thought about calling me is because history has shown that they DON'T help themselves. 
 
Speaking of helping themselves, (this may be a bit unrelated), but one time I went to a small city court and as I sat there and listened to the judge counsel the parade of people who just could not get their acts together, I realized that the judge was the closest thing many of those folks had to a spiritual adviser.
 
+Lil Peck Yes, some people who are unable to hire an attorney, will look for public defenders. But some towns or jurisdictions have limited resources do not have enough to fill the public defense needs.  Sadly, many people think the judge will protect their rights and help them in their defense.  But the reality is their hands are tied.   They can only rule on evidence or motions presented to them according to court procedures, timelines, and laws.  So those unrepresented are actually held to the same standard as someone who is.  They are as US Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Scott puts it similar to "referees" .  So if the defendant arrives to court without the primary player, their attorney, the referee will not help them play ball.  They just call the score.  So its usually a loss for the defendant. 
 
In court today, a lady was representing herself and is demanding a trial. The judge did his best, but she's stupid +James Novak It is a bad idea to not hire an attorney. I think people confuse reality with television and think they can do everything themselves. I see it in my field too, but going pro se is insane.
 
+Dr. Laura Umfer your comment reminds me of when my mother thought she could write her own contract, just because she watched Judge Wapner on TV, LOL.
 
+Dr. Laura Umfer Perfect illustration.  Judges prefer a defendant have legal representation.  Then they don't have to do what the judge had to do in court today that you spoke of.    They rely on the attorney to educate them on their rights, criminal justice processes, rules of criminal procedure, and why they can't have a trial today just because they want one today, and now.  Thanks for sharing. 
 
+Lil Peck I think your Mother is in good company with that thinking.  Some people have difficulty separating T.V. and real life.  PS. Every time I hear the name "Judge Wapner"  it reminds me of the movie "Rain Man", with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Remember? 
 
Great to see all the comments on here.  Glad the blog post created a good discussion!  And thanks James for the share.
 
+Kevin Hickey You're welcome.  But it was a great topic and your great original content that generated the discussion. Thanks to you, friend. 
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