Friday, June 6, 2014

A Quick Detour Into the World of Assigned Counsel

While I exclusively practice civil (i.e. not criminal) matters, on occasion, I am appointed as counsel for cases where the civil vs. criminal line of distinction is a little blurry. In yesterday’s case, it was spending an afternoon working as assigned counsel for individuals accused of violating restraining orders.

I expected a much heavier caseload, but in the end, was only assigned to three cases for the day. There was a fourth person in the courtroom (who was tethered to one of my clients) who kept asking why I wasn’t also representing him. I never got an answer to that one, but I can only assume he was there on some other type of charge.

Of my three cases, two of them were very straightforward. There was an order of protection, the person knew there was an order of protection, and the person violated that order of protection in some manner. Not much to do with that case, and neither of those clients wanted to have a trial or drag the matter out any further, so with a plea bargain and a little speech from the judge, they were on their respective ways.

The third client was a more interesting case. He claimed that he did not know there was an order of protection against him and his violation of the order was sending photos of his children to the other person, i.e., not harassment, but merely look how cute our kids are/look at what they are doing now.

When we dug deeper into the case, I showed him the order of protection, the paperwork for which he claimed to have never seen. And when we looked at the portion of the document that says when it was given to him, there were multiple boxes checked that may mean he wasn’t actually served with it. Finally, there had been a final hearing against him last week, which he didn’t appear at, because he had been in jail at the time (an all too familiar circumstance for my cases recently).


So for him, he’s off to another trial date and to try to figure out what is actually going on with his case.

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