Alright, I’ve gone kind of off the rails live-tweeting this horrific CLE I’m a part of. We’re on lunch break, now, so I’m going to break my thoughts down in a form that isn’t limited to 140 characters.
The NACDL is the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In theory, it’s an organization that exists to support those of us down here in the trenches. It’s supposed to be a resource for us.
And it is, to an extent. 12.75 free CLE hours is nothing to turn my nose up at. I love me some free CLEs, and I’m just tail-waggingly happy to get them.
But the actual training is excruciating.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the public defense situation in Washington, you should know a couple of things. First off, we’ve had some litigation concerning the fact that governments tend to underfund public defense (“I spent more taxpayer dollars defending criminals” not being the best campaign slogan ever). This litigation is sending ripples through the rest of the nation, and we’re kind of at the epicenter.
I’m going to detour here and take a moment to talk about my experiences working the night shift at Jack in the Box.
I don’t know if anyone remembers the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box E-Coli incident. It was one of those things that was a big deal at the time, and has since faded into our memories. But I’ll tell you one place that, as of me assuming the position behind the grill, hadn’t forgotten: Jack in the Box. I’ve had a lot of friends work in various fast food places, and almost all of them say something along the lines of “Man, after seeing what goes on back there no way am I ever eating at that place.”
That’s terrifying, and thought I spent a year and a half working for Jack I wouldn’t pause to eat there. The safety standards were impeccable, and they were impeccable because the company had fucked up so badly in the past. They knew that, with that kind of shit on their record, they had to shape up.
Back to Washington State Public Defense. In response to those cases I linked above, our courts have put strict standards on things like how many cases I can take during a given time period. I cannot be overworked, now. And if the county screws with me, I can just be all “hey, no other attorney can take more, cause state standard, yo.” No more overloading of defense attorneys; everyone is being super-fucking-careful about that, because after what happened to Mt. Vernon noone else is willing to chance it.
The NACDL folks have come to Washington with the very clear impression that we are nothing more than overworked incompetents. A decade ago, that may have been true. But they’re talking to us like we’re in fucking kindergarten, here. We are Washington State Public Defenders, and because of that we’re obviously a bunch of racist incompetents who ignore our clients and try to plead guilty as quickly as possible.
I fight, in court. I fight hard for my clients. I put a great deal of effort into making sure that my client’s voice is heard, even if that voice is really stupid. I throw down with the prosecutors time after time after time, and I do it because I take pride in doing my job well.
So the #dayofpain thing on Twitter is me venting that NACDL doesn’t think I do. They’re being nothing but condescending and rude to those of us down here in the trenches, and I’m pretty pissed off about it. I’d love to talk about how to deal with the racism that is inherent in the system, but I don’t need you to take an entire morning to call me a racist. I realize that the system screws people over; help me fight it. I’m all on board with doing a great job for my client, but telling me to stop being a lazy prick really accomplishes nothing because I am not a lazy prick.
So, enjoy the ranting. Because a bunch of corporate-lobbyist numbnuts have me for two days, and they get to pound on me for those two days. Then I’m heading back into the trenches, and they’ll find someone else to go be rude and condescending to.
A note: there’s a difference between NACDL and WDA. The WDA conference had a “we’re all in this together” feel. NACDL is more of a “you’re all fuck-ups” feel. The difference is palpable.