Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Week in a Nutshell (More or Less)

Things have been quite busy here, so I've been unable to blog about them. We had our orchestra concert last night. It actually didn't go as badly as I thought it would. And that Puccini mass is really quite pretty. It made me wish our conductor was a little more experience, and more able to give cues as to dynamics and such, rather than just the beat. I was a little miffed that the program didn't say I was the "section leader," but I'm sure my ego can take it!

Work has been quite strange. I seem to have my caseload pretty under control (for once). We now have fifteen licensed attorneys and I only have about seventy-five active cases. That's fewer than I can remember ever having. I still am quite busy, though. I've got three mentees now, in addition to random other people coming into my office and asking me questions. One of my mentees is getting her first felony cases, so of course she has all kinds of questions since she is no longer dealing with only dwi's and domestic violence cases. Another of my mentees seems to have two hours worth of questions every day. The strange thing is that most of her questions are repeats. So I'm not sure if she really needs help or if she just wants to chat. Because if she really needs that much help, she has the shortest attention span of anyone I know. But if she just wants to talk to me about the same cases into eternity, I really am not that interested, and have work I could be doing on my own cases. The third, I haven't figured out yet. She's actually not my mentee, she's my boss'. I don't think he realizes that even though she did graduate from an ivy-league college and practiced civil law for 2 years, it doesn't mean she understands criminal defense in New Mexico. He gave her felony cases right off the bat (a bad idea, in my opinion), and seems to expect her to know how to handle them without assistance. So, I go over all her cases with her and tell her what to expect, etc. But it is quite time consuming!

Another strangeness is that my boss seems to hold me responsible for whatever everyone else does. For example, an attorney (not my mentee) forgot to do something on one of her cases. She told the client about it, and appealed the case based on ineffective assistance. Apparently someone at the da's office did not like this, complained to their boss, who then complained to my boss. My boss then yells at me for about 20 minutes. How I came to be involved in this at all, I don't know. The gist of the conversation was that he didn't believe the attorney should have appealed (why not, I don't know) and that this makes our office look bad. I asked, "to whom," and he said to the da's! Who cares if our office looks bad to the da's? The attorney did nothing unethical or even wrong, and if the da's don't want us to appeal cases, that's their problem. And again, how is it me that he's yelling at?

Betsy's doing well. We went to the vets again for more shots, and she's up to 18 pounds now. She gained 5 pounds in 4 weeks, and is much bigger. Probably 1/3 taller and 2/3 longer than she was when I got her.

Potty-training is still improving. She goes 4 days to a week without accidents! Her genealogical makeup is still quite the mystery. My bf thinks she is part monkey, which I think might be right. She's got a prehensile tail and a knack for mischief. She's also quite the acrobat. She's a great jumper and escape artist. (I noticed this when she stole a hair-tie off the coffee table and then escaped when I went to retrieve it.) She can move! And sometimes she just runs around because it's fun. And then it's bed time...
I will really miss her when I have to go for annual training next week. (No puppies allowed at the hotel.) I was going to board her at the vets, but this shot was only the first bordatella vaccine, and she needs the second one before they'll take her. So she'll be staying with my secretary and her herd of cocker spaniels in the country. She'll like it. The secretary breeds cockers and so knows how to deal with puppies. She's going to fence Betsy away from the cockers during the day, because she's worried the cockers will pick on her. I think Betsy can hold her own with a cocker spaniel!
Oh, and I finished my tandem socks. I just need to re-bind them off because I bound off too tight.

Friday, October 12, 2007

On Law and Order

So, I have a confession to make. I love the TV show "Law and Order." The original series, not the spin-offs like whatever that one's called where the detective solves all his cases by making the suspect quake with fear and blurt out confessions as a result of the detective's uncanny ability to read minds. And the older seasons. The first four or five. Not the ones where Sam Waterston's assistant is a different bimbo every season. Once Jill Hennessy and Chris Noth left, it was not nearly as good. So, I was trying to figure out why in the world a public defender, like myself, likes this show.

Even though the former Chief Public Defender informed my boss that she did not believe me to be "sufficiently defense oriented" to be a public defender at one point (whatever that means), I certainly am not prosecution oriented. I have too much of a tendency to believe the best in people, I think. You know, "He didn't mean to beat his girlfriend to a bloody pulp. He was drunk and she was cheating on him." Or, "He had to forge $15,000 in checks he stole from his grandmother because he's got 5 kids to support and couldn't make rent with his minimum-wage job." I believe them when they say they'll never do it again, or they'll get help for their addiction problem and walk the straight and narrow. At least I believe they sincerely intend to at the time, even if it doesn't pan out in the end. (By the way, this is also probably why I would be a lousy judge, even if I wanted the power or the responsibility.)

So why do I love this show that is all about the other side? I think I've figured it out. This is the only lawyer show I've seen that treats the justice system with respect. And, it treats public defenders with respect. It treats the law and the Constitution with respect. The detectives are good cops, who try to do their jobs properly, and within the bounds of the law. It's true they really want to catch the guy they think is guilty and "nail" them. But they don't try to nail someone they think may be innocent just to make an arrest. They actually do care about getting the right guy. The ADAs actually do care about justice, as well as the rights of the individuals they prosecute. They will dismiss cases if they become convinced that they can not prove them or if they are no longer sure the guy's actually guilty. Also, while there aren't frequently public defenders on the show (the defense attorney's usually some very expensive private attorney with political ambitions or some other agenda) when they do, they aren't depicted as incompetents. They are shown as competent, or even very good attorneys. There's at least one episode where the pd wins the trial.

My answer to myself is this: I like the show because it is what the justice system is supposed to be. An adversarial system on a level playing field whereby the truth comes out. And this results (usually) in the innocent guy being cleared and the guilty guy being punished. (Although for you new lawyers out there, don't use it to learn rules of evidence or trial techniques!)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Puppy Update

So, Betsy is now eleven weeks old. She's growing so fast! She's able to climb onto the furniture. She knows she's not supposed to, since she usually comes right down when I see that cute fuzz-ball curled up on the sofa. She's really getting the hang of potty-training now, as it has been two whole days without any accidents. She actually takes it upon herself to go through the doggie door when she has to go, and then come back in to continue the playing. I'm kind of surprised, since I'm sure I'm less vigilant than I'm supposed to be. I'm still glad that I held off getting the carpet cleaned, though, in spite of my mother's urging! (Bo had trouble keeping food down the last few months, and I had a flood before that.) She has also cut down on the biting. She will still try to mouth me occasionally, but she usually only bites when she's really tired and hyper. But this is getting less, too. I think she finally trusts that I will not disappear or leave her when she's asleep. She's also catching on that some things are toys for her, and others she'd better keep her sweet fuzzy nose away from! I guess eleven weeks is roughly equivalent to a two year old human. At least it seems that way to me. You know, refusing to sleep when they're tired and getting progressively more hyper and unmanageable, and constantly testing to see where the boundaries are. I've been making use of both a squirt-bottle and the "time-out" approaches, which seem to be working.

The more she grows, the more I'm quite sure that she's probably got a lot more Rott in her than anything else. I saw a book on rottweilers at the pet store, and the puppy on the front cover looks nearly exactly like her. Betsy has more fuzz and a little more brown on her head and face, but the rest of the markings are exact. Down to the black triangle in the brown under her chin. She's also got characteristics that I was attributing to either German or Australian shepherd, but that may very well be rottie ones. (I couldn't help buying the rottweiler book.) For example, I had no idea that rotts were as smart as they apparently are. Nor that the herding instinct (which is quite pronounced in her) was so common in rotts. (She runs laps around the house with her toys, and is very good at fetch.) I also had no idea that rotts were as playful as they are. She's got the playfulness down! Here, she's investigating my violin. The case is fortunately quite indestructible!