Comments are closed.
Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.
Call me crazy but that may have something to do with the disproportionality of criminal behavior.
There are tons of options for people who wish to become prosecutors. The biggest advocates for the prosecution clinic were people who were already working in prosecutors offices, as there are externship and job opportunities for law students at both King County and Pierce County prosecuting offices.
The clinics that are at the school tend to serve unmet needs. Many of us believe that the core purpose of clinics is to provide practical experience to law students while simultaneously serving the community. The prosecution clinic would be completely different, in that there is no unmet need and it does not serve the community.
You know who helped her achieve some small measure of justice? The King County Prosecutor's Office. The fact that people in this thread, and at UW law school, think that the prosecutors that help her don't serve the public, and what they do isn't justice, shows just how out of touch some people are.
Tell that to victims of crimes asshole.
Well that's only because the victims were ideal Stranger demographics. If he'd raped and butchered a couple of middle aged republicans in Bellevue do you think the Stranger would give a sh*t?
Most beginning lawyers (unless they get hired as 80+-hour/week drones by a commercial firm) work as assistant prosecutors. It's probably good that they learn how to do it correctly first.
For example, let's say a defendant will lose his livelihood and ability to support his family if the prosecutor doesn't take this into account in plea-bargaining for a DUI charge because he drives a commercial motor vehicle for work. The prosecutor will say "that's too bad. My negotiating table doesn't allow me to take that into account." This leads to an unemployed person, greater poverty, and affects not only the defendant but all his family. Another example would be a non-US citizen. Let's say it would help if the prosecutor crafted a plea bargain that would avoid deportation. Again, they will likely not take this into account and lack creativity in applying their guidelines set forth by their superiors. Or what about the poverty crime of driving while suspended for not paying traffic tickets. This charge usually leads to a snowball effect where a person has to drive to work to support his family and accumulates thousands of dollars in fines and ongoing criminal prosecution for being poor.
Our misdemeanor system is all about punishment. It has absolutely nothing to do with social justice. The good results we are able to get our clients usually come from litigation tactics against intern prosecutors. It has nothing to do with prosecutors voluntarily doing the right thing.
What we need is restorative justice where victims are made whole and people get treatment but defendants are not made outcasts. If they have a clinic that can promote that system from within, then it would make sense for the school to be involved.
So only rich people should be prosecuted for DUI?
Wow, equal justice!
" It has absolutely nothing to do with social justice."
Our constitution is based on equal justice, not some vague political belief system called 'social justice' pushed by the left wing.
"On Friday night, I spent two hours in a defense interview with a domestic violence victim who had been beaten for over a year by her drunk boyfriend and strangled multiple times to the point she thought she was going to die, all while her 3-year old son looked on, covering his ears and crying. This victim was grilled by the defense attorney about her mental health history, her sexual history, and asked what she thought about the fact that she was sending "the love of her life" away to prison. The victim was sobbing by the end. Afterward I answered her questions, reassured her that none of this was her fault, and I talked to her about constructive resolutions to the case. Then I came home to find out that what I do is "antithetical to the public interest."
This charismatic, skillful attorney could have made a fortune in the private sector, if not for a real desire to serve the public interest. Perhaps this clinic isn't a good option for the school at this time, but bashing prosecutors does nothing to advance social justice.
@28 - what you're arguing for is preferential treatment, not justice. The idea that somebody who drives drunk but has a CDL and drives a truck for a living should get a better deal than someone who doesn't is the opposite of justice, not an example of it.
@28 social justice acknowledges that a just system is not one size fits all. In some jurisdictions prosecutors absolutely take into account what we call equitable factors such as unusually disparate impacts, however, in King County this is being taken into account much less frequently. There's no doubt that some people will suffer much greater punishment as a result of their particular circumstances and this absolutely should be taken into account to meet the ends of justice. We need to implement restorative justice that crafts individual solutions to make victims whole, provide for treatment, do justice and make sure we are not creating more problems in our society then we had before people entered the system. The current system is counterproductive. I work in it and see it every day.
Likewise, you'll be hard pressed to get public support for lightening up on DUIs much more than already happens. There are options--albeit not perfect--for first-time offenders, and people feel strongly about holding repeat offenders accountable. As a practical matter, I'd be surprised if there weren't other reasons (other than heartless prosecutors) why your CDL clients aren't getting their DUIs reduced to Reckless or Negligent Driving.
Having looked at your bio, I see that you work primarily in misdemeanor courts. Restorative justice has its place, but it's incredibly resource intensive, and it does not serve one of the purposes of the criminal-justice system: keeping the community safe. There are violent people for whom treatment and intervention has failed. I'm not saying that we ever throw people away, but when you're looking at people who have committed multiple violent offenses, sometimes it is necessary to take them out of the community for a period. Again--not saying that we give up on restorative justice, but don't sell some Pollyanna vision of a future where we have no prosecutors or defense attorneys.
For felonies, it's a little more complicated, because the sentencing framework set up by the legislature depends on both your crime and your criminal history. For example, for Assault 2 (i.e. breaking someone's bone, or assaulting them with a knife/gun), the max is 10 years. With no history, the standard range is 3-9 months; with at least 9 prior convictions, the standard range is 63-84 months (and there are 8 steps in between). A judge can rarely go above or below that standard range.
What Jason Lantz is talking about is that although the legislature sets the sentencing range, the prosecutor can influence what standard range a defendant faces by choosing what to charge or what to offer.
Part of the reason for the emphasis on plea bargaining is just the volume of cases going through the system. I don't know the exact numbers, but a SMALL percentage of defendants take their cases to trial (it's less than 10%). Despite that small number, the trial courts are busy all of the time. Without a high percentage of pleas, things would grind to a halt.
So kind of like Alabama in the 50s.
As for my clients, the vast majority of the time I'm able to achieve their goals. However, it is usually not because the parties sit down and discuss what makes sense in a particular case based on the unique circumstances of each case. Instead, it's usually based on leveraging the mistakes and violations of rights by the officer in the case that I use in pretrial litigation and plea-bargaining. It would be nice if the parties could work together to achieve social justice.
Also I believe anonymity is toxic to public discourse. I discloses my name?
I feel the same way about ambulance chasing personal injury attorneys.