Top Ten Things I Learned as a Public Defender / Criminal Defense Attorney

by Monroe Mann
Founder, Break Diving

I worked as a public defender for two years from 2012 – 2014.  Here is what I learned:

10. If I decide to break the law, I will not take a selfie of myself doing it.

9. As bad as my life may seem at times, at least I’m not in state prison for an indeterminate sentence of seven to fifteen years.

8. Criminal defense attorneys make more trips to the county jail than the clients they are charged to represent.

7. I am not defending a guilty client’s actions; I am affording him or her the Constitutional right to a fair proceeding and a fair trial, as we are ALL entitled to that.  Even if we’re guilty.   I know, it’s hard for some people to get this.

6. The new word (apparently) ‘conversate’.  “Nah, I don’t want to talk with you; I want to conversate with you, man to man!”

5. The new phrase ‘Shiht man, I needs me a paid lawyer, yo!’ followed by “Wait, wait, I was just kidding, you’re a great lawyer, please don’t leave!” as you turn your back and start walking away.

4. Most repeat offenders recommit crimes because life on the inside is easier than life on the outside; when you have a rap sheet a mile long, it’s pretty hard to get a job, so what do you do? You go back to what you know: selling drugs, robbing people, and burglary.  And then you get arrested, and… once again get a nice place to live, tv, three meals a day, and a library.  Sounds pretty good!  Bottom line: jail and prison alone are not the answer.

3. Happiness is a warm gun.  Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot.  (This has nothing to do with my job at legal aid, but I always wanted to make a reference to this Beatles song, and I figured this is my opportunity!)

2. Trials RARELY happen.  Most accused strike a plea bargain long before a case even gets to trial: this benefits both the clients and the DA’s office: the clients who get a better deal by pleaing up front to a lesser included charge, and the DA’s office by avoiding the hassle, time, and expense of going through with a trial.  So all of these law shows?  They show the exception, and not the rule.  Tip: if you’re guilty, and all the evidence tends to show that you’re guilty, take the plea bargain!  Don’t be cocky and try to beat the system at trial–you will lose and feel pretty stupid.

1. Most importantly, I learned that if I do foolishly break the law and take a selfie of myself doing it, I will not then post it on social media for my friends to ‘like’.  That’s called evidence, and it’s not something I would want others to see.  I say this because I saw this happen… numerous times.  Ai yai yai!

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Do you have a fun, funny, inspiring, or educational list you’d like to share on this blog?  If so, let us know!  We accept jokes too. 🙂

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