A Day in the Life of an Itinerant Criminal Defense Lawyer


In my current practice of law, working with the Bay Area criminal defense firm Summit Defense, I handle primarily serious felony cases that are likely to have to go to trial.

As a result, I have had Summit cases in 22 different counties (as far north as Butte County and as far south as San Diego) and in four different federal courts, including the Southern District of New York.

Yesterday was a classic example of what this sometimes means, as I had court appearances in San Jose and Auburn … and had to pick up juror questionnaires in Stockton.

Map 150805

I set off on my peripatetic adventures for the day by leaving home at 7:00 am for a 9:30 am appearance in the US District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division. I hit heavy traffic on 101 in Marin and stretches of 880 in Oakland and Hayward … as a result of which, the trip took 2:20 and I barely made it to court on time.  After waiting for some time for the case to be called, it took about 20 minutes to finish our appearance.

Once done there, I left at 10:30 for Stockton, where I am in trial in the San Joaquin County Superior Court, to pick up juror questionnaires for review prior to resuming trial next week. That trip took 1:40, which got me there after everything had shut down for the lunch hour. Fortunately, a friendly bailiff was willing to track down the clerk supervisor who had my forms and I was back on the road at 12:30.

This leg of the trip took me to a 1:30 pm appearance in the Placer County Superior Court branch in Auburn for a trial confirmation conference. The trip took 1:35, so I was late, arriving at 2:05. Fortunately (again), I have co-counsel on this case, who was able to appear at 1:30 to let the court know I’d be late … and the court was extremely busy and didn’t care anyway.

In fact, the case didn’t even get called until after the mid-afternoon recess at 3:00 pm and took less than 10 minutes once it was called.

After some post-appearance conversations with the client’s family and my co-counsel, it was back on the road to head home, a trip which took 2:15.

So, for the day, I drove roughly 360 miles and spent 7:50 on the road, all to pick up my questionnaires and make two court appearances which took a combined total of less than 30 minutes.

On the other hand, I did get to listen to more than half of my current audio book!

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