Sunday, April 11, 2010

Los Angeles County Public Defenders

by Tyler Press

This summer I will be working for the Los Angeles County Public Defenders. I will be splitting the summer between two offices, one of which will be a juvenile office. I will shadow a public defender and assisting with research, and help write pre-trial motions and sentencing memorandums. I will have direct contact with clients, and will sit in on hearings. The public defenders office provides an invaluable service for members of the public who are accused of a crime but cannot afford a private attorney. I have always thought that the public defenders are the people who maintain balance and integrity within the legal system, and this semester taking Criminal Procedure
has only reinforced these feelings.

Since my long term career goals are to stay in the public sector, I wanted to work at the public defenders office because I will get a real ground level experience in all aspects of criminal procedure and litigation. While the work done by public defenders is often some of the most difficult work, I hope that it will be a rewarding experience on which to build a career in the public sector.

This March the LA County courts announced that due to mounting budget pressure, fifteen courts are being closed, with up to 50 courts to be closed by September. Up to 20% of employees will also be cut this year. This is going to put enormous stress on the remaining employees of the system, as well as slow the docket of the courts substantially. While criminal trials will be given priority due to the right to a speedy trial, wait times will be much longer for those with civil, family, juvenile and traffic cases. Now more than ever the work of the public defenders will be essential to maintaining a semblance of justice in the criminal defense system. In the face of a troubling time, this summer I will not only be getting a first hand look into the criminal justice system, but also to the wide-sweeping changes that are occurring during the recession.

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