Can you trust public defenders to work as hard as paid attorneys? 16 Answers as of May 08, 2012

Public defenders don't work as hard for a defendent as do paid lawyers right?

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Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
Some PDs are excellent. Some private lawyers suck. It is just the luck of the draw.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/8/2012
Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman
Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman | Brian K. Wanerman
Public defenders are usually very dedicated and committed attorneys.? In fact, they are usually more dedicated and more hard-working than many private criminal defense attorneys.? After all, by becoming public defenders they are agreeing to take on five-times the workload of a private criminal defense attorney for less than half the pay.?Most of the people who are willing to do that are motivited by a concerted dedication to indigent defense.? In any organization, however, you will always find "bad apples."? Some public defenders in some offices might just be "treading water" - i.e. using the job solely to gain experience and biding their time until they have enough to leave the public defender's office and go out on their own. The real problem public defenders have is not lack of experience or lack of dedication, it's lack of resources. The average public defender has a case load that is five times higher than the maximum case load recommended by the American Bar Association. Also, public defender offices have very limited resources to spend on investigations, gathering evidence, hiring experts and so on. A private defense attorney is likely to have far more resources to dedicate to these areas because he will expect you, the client, to pay for them up front. Therefore, the "problem" with public defenders is not that they don't work hard. It's just that they have very limited time and resources to spend on each individual case. Since the most important case for any defendant is, of course, his own, the limited time a public defender has to devote to it often makes it seem as if they're not working very hard on it. In fact, unless you happened to get one of those rare "bad apples" assigned to you, this is not the case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/7/2012
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
Public defender or court appointed attorneys in general are like any other attorneys some are very good and some are very bad. They are limited mostly by the number of cases they must handle at time which gives them less time to work on individual cases. On the other hand the job gives them much opportunity to enhance their trial and other skills. Many young attorneys start out as public defenders and go on to become successful private practitioners. People often feel by hiring an attorney he or she might be more responsive to the family's concerns, return calls and generally be more available and there is some truth to that. You must decide about each attorney individually however difficult as that might be.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/2/2012
Robert Mortland
Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
Public defenders have a much bigger case load than most private attorneys. It does not mean that they are not as good but they do have much more work for the most part.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/2/2012
Thomas C. Brandstrader Attorney At Law | Thomas C. Brandstrader
Some certainly.... a good public defender is better than any paid attorney because he knows the judge and courtroom better than any occasional visiting attorney.....the best criminal defense attorney in any urban area is usually a public defender.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 5/2/2012
    Law Office of Jared C. Winter
    Law Office of Jared C. Winter | Jared C. Winter
    Is this a serious question? Look, most public defenders are incredibly devoted, skilled, and knowledgeable attorneys. The main challenge that public defenders face that MAY not apply to private attorneys is their case load. But like everything else in life, it's very foolish to make a blanket judgement call about such a large, diverse, and complex group. Sure, there are a few duds. But there are plenty of "paid attorneys" that are complete duds too.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    The real issue is time. PD's have hundreds of cases every month, and you're just 1 file on top of many.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    The Public Defenders that I know are both sharp and hard working. The real issue with using a Public Defender is time. They do not have the time to devote to each defendant. They don't have the time to explore every question a defendant might have. They don't have the time to answer all of the family's questions. They don't have the resources to spend on quality investigation. They don't have the time to help the defendant become comfortable with their decisions. They work hard, but only have so much time in the day.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Public Defenders for the most part are very good attorneys. The point of concern for a defendant charged with a crime is that not all Public Defenders are good attorneys and you do not get to pick the one you want. Therefore, you are not assured of getting one of the very good ones. The Public Defender's Office decides who will work on each case. The other problem is the case load. In a misdemeanor court in Los Angeles County a Public Defender will have a case load of 50 to 100 cases. A felony Public Defender may have as many as 25 cases.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    No, not true. It depends. You may get a great public defender that will do everything they can for you. Unfortunately, with all the cases they may have piled up, the opposite could be true. That said, there are some private firms that run "mills" that will essentially just go to court with you and perform no different than a public defender. Generally, the mills are the "lowest fees" available. Your best bet is to hire the best attorney you can afford. Usually, more experience means higher fees, but not always. Consult a few. See who you feel comfortable with. And make sure you ask about their current case load. You don't want someone with too much time on their hands. But you also don't want one that you can never get a hold of.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    Law Office of Mark Bruce
    Law Office of Mark Bruce | Mark Corwin Bruce
    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. You bring a tear to my eye. As in everything else, it all depends on the attorney. When I was a public defender I worked as hard for my clients as I do now that I'm a solo practitioner. Some PD's have that pride in work. Also, they have the advantage of being able to confer with their colleagues. On the other hand, a PD is also usually swamped with far too many cases to give you the "personal" touch. I tell my private clients that when they hire me, they are hiring a personal advocate who will make time to answer their questions, return telephone calls, spend time in court with the DA on their case and their case alone, and appear in court without the client needing to be there. But there are private lawyers who are also lazy and will do next to nothing after you give them money. Bottom line, if you have the money to hire a lawyer, do so. PD's are for people who can't afford a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Both groups are real attorneys, working to the same ethical and professional standards for the benefit of their clients. With a PD you are not going to get any face time or hand holding, since they have dozens of cases on calendar each day. You'll see him on court appearance day only, and then only for a few seconds. You get what you pay for. The private attorney will be glad to take your phone calls, sit and listen to your story, investigate your case and witnesses, as you are paying him to do so. If that translates to working harder to you, then yes, the private attorney works harder
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache | Stephanie Arrache
    Public defenders are great attorneys who work very hard. The issue is that they have such a large caseload that they can't concentrate on individual cases and clients like a private counsel can.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Yes. However, your question assumes that all private attorneys work hard and are as knowledgeable of the law as a public defender. That is not the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
    My opinion is that you should hire a private attorney if you can afford to do so. There are some very good and dedicated public defense attorneys, but they are so overworked that it is most often hard for them to spend as much time on a case, or with a client as a private attorney. By the same token, there a good, dedicated private lawyers and those that are not. Do your homework and get the best attorney you can afford.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/2/2012
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