12 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 371 (2014-2015)
Painting the Roses Red: Confessions of a Recovering Public Defender

handle is hein.journals/osjcl12 and id is 383 raw text is: Painting the Roses Red:
Confessions of a Recovering Public Defender
Carrie Leonetti*
The failings of the public defense system are well chronicled and oft
bemoaned,' but for me the failings are also personal. My story is almost a cliche.
I was a young, idealistic lawyer, fresh out of a clerkship, when I got my first job as
a public defender. It was my dream job, the last legal job that I would ever have.
It lasted for two years. Still a relatively young and idealistic lawyer, I got my
second, even dreamier dream job. I became a Federal Public Defender, once again
convinced of my forever, true calling. That gig lasted four years. The forces that
drove me to leave both jobs are common ones that are cited by former public
defenders2 and studied by academics like myself: heavy caseloads and workloads,
poor management policies and practices, and bad office cultures.
When I was hired as an Assistant Professor, I was given a stem lecture on
high expectations and the ruthless nature of up-or-out promotion and tenure. I was
thrilled. Finally, I worked in a meritocracy, with quantifiable performance
measures and consequences for failing to perform. The academy also gave me an
Associate Professor, University of Oregon School of Law. My thanks to Guido for letting
me publicly embarrass him even more than most older sisters usually do. This is dedicated to Nancy,
Bill, Allison, Mark, Mike, Quinn, Ann, Marc, John, Tim, Joe, yet another Mark, Steve, Matt, Robert,
and everyone who is still kicking ass when I just couldn't any more. I haven't named names, but I
haven't exactly disguised the guilty, either. Thanks, tenure.
1  See generally Jonathan D. Casper, Did You Have a Lawyer When You Went to Court? No. 1
Had a Public Defender, 1 YALE REV. L. & Soc. ACTION 4 (1971); Ting T. Cheng et al., Notes From
the Field: Challenges ofIndigent Public Defense, 12 N.Y. CITY L. REv. 203 (2008); Frank D. Eamen,
Public Defense in Michigan: From the Top to the Bottom, MICH. BAR J., Nov. 2008, at 40; Michael
McConville & Chester L. Mirsky, Criminal Defense of the Poor in New York City, 15 N.Y.U. REV. L.
& Soc. CHANGE 581 (1987); Frank X. Neuner, Jr., The Funding Crisis in the Louisiana Public
Defender System: Public Defense Reform Has Far to Go, 60 LA. B. J. 110 (2012); Scott Russell,
Public Defenders: A Weakened but Indispensable Link, 66 BENCH & B. MINN. 20 (2009); Andrea
Woods, The Undersigned Attorney Hereby Certifies: Ensuring Reasonable Caseloads for
Washington Defenders and Clients, 89 WASH. L. REv. 217 (2014).
2  1 use public defender in the broadest sense of any attorney appointed to represent
defendants, including those working at public defense agencies, in consortiums and on panels, and by
direct court appointment.
3 See eg, Jan Pdlow, 11 th Cbruit PD Says His Office Is at 'The Breaking Point', FL BAR NEWS (Jan. 15,
2009), aviliable at hipsAvww.floidabar.org/8 5256aa95b9250/cfdc482t56dc686285257536004fa5ac!
OpenDoc  Ct&Cick=. Cf Jonaihan Rapping, Diecting the Winds of Change: Using Organizational Culture to
Reform Indigent Defense, 9 Loy. J. PuB. INT. L. 177 (2008) (arguing that cultural factors were responsible for
inadequate representation).

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