Friday, June 06, 2008

Prosecutors: Some Things Never Change

I've blogged a lot in the past about prosecutors in the Albany area. I had a new experience about a half-hour ago that I feel compelled to relate.

In one local county the District Attorney's office has undergone a lot of changes in the past year or so. I had substantial problems with that office in the past. With the recent changes I had hoped that things would be better. Today tells me I might be wrong.

We have a case that's been around for a while. Our client was charged with a misdemeanor, but initially charged in the wrong town. That case was dismissed. The officer re-filed the charges in the correct town, but never served the papers on our client.

So, after a sufficient amount of time, we moved to dismiss on "speedy trial" grounds. There was no response from the DA's office. We waited two months or so. A few days ago we submitted a proposed order to the judge, on notice to the DA's office. I think our letter even asked the judge to wait 10 days to give the DA time to respond.

I should mention that my associate did all the paperwork, and much of the research. We discussed the proposed order before he sent it, and what should be in the letter. For now I have to assume he did it the way I told him.

So I get a message on my voicemail, left at about 4:30 pm today (Friday). I get it about 4:45 and someone I've never heard of from the prosecutor's office is yelling at my voicemail about ex parte communication with the Court, and some arguments about why speedy trial is inappropriate. For those who don't know, ex parte communication is when one side communicates with the judge without the other side's participation - usually improper without consent, and some times even then.

I haven't had any ex parte communication with the Court. I did go to the Court once on this case, but there was an ADA there. We made a motion to the Court, but as far as I know we served a copy of the motion on the DA's office. Then we sent our proposed order and obviously a copy of that got to the DA's office since I got this call.

I figured I'd call up and discuss the situation in a calm manner with this ADA. When she picked up I asked her to assume I might be right and she might be wrong. And she started yelling at me, with the same stream of stuff that I already heard in my voicemail.

Before I go on you should understand that it's shortly before 5 pm on a Friday. I have a cold or something, and really don't feel great. I want to go home, see my wife and kids, and get ready for the older one's soccer practice. I'm an experienced trial attorney who's used to being treated with some amount of respect, and don't like being yelled at. It's one thing for a judge to do it. It's another to get yelled at by someone I don't know, have never met, and who has probably never talked to a jury before, especially when my associate is the one who was handling the case.

Keep in mind that if they didn't get a copy of the motion papers, or even if they lost them, all she had to do was tell me that and ask us to send another copy and give them some time to respond. Yelling is not necessary. Wait. Let me say that in language that this prosecutor might understand. YELLING IS NOT NECESSARY!!

So I hung up. I don't have time for this crap. I e-mailed my associate to call them next week. He can deal with it. Sucks to be the employee I guess. :-)

I don't know what gets into people when they work in certain prosecutor offices. I've always had good dealings with some DA's, like in Saratoga and Schenectady. Most DA's offices really. Even in one of the troubled local DA's offices there are some good people. And in this particular office I know at least one prosecutor who's reasonable. But for some reason this particular office seems to have an infection of imbecility, and a lack of civility.
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