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Is Using A Public Defender A Viable Option To Defend A DUI Charge?

Interviewer: How about public defenders or court-appointed attorneys versus a private attorney like yourself? Do you have people that assume, “Oh, I’ll just get one of those public defenders. That will take care of it.”

James Abate: I know quite a few of the public defenders, and they’re fine lawyers. But when you’re getting paid $400 to handle a court session and you have 10 or 15 DUI cases all at once, you’re going to get them dealt with as expeditiously as possible.

Due To Their Heavy Caseloads, Public Defenders Lack The Time And Resources Of A Private Attorney

If there’s anything completely obvious, they’re certainly going to pursue that and they’re going to try and get you the least penalties they can. But they’re not going to do the legwork that a private attorney will do. We’re going to take everything apart in the case when we defend a DUI.

We’re going to go out to the scene. That’s not going to happen with a public defender. We’re going to hire experts and investigators. We’re going to take the computer data that comes off the Alcotest, and we’re going to analyze it against other machines. We’re going to see if it makes sense if this machine is spitting out a higher rate of convictions than other machines and is there a reason?

We’re going to look at the repair records for the machine. We had a case not too long ago where we pulled the repair records, and we found out that there was an environmental problem in the police station. The police department knew about the problem, and they had requested the manufacturer, Drager, to help them fix it. It never was fixed, so the whole process the machine was functioning under was faulty.

Interviewer: Yeah. All right, so public defenders have heavy caseloads and they lack the resources to devote a lot of time to your case?

James Abate: Correct, and that’s what it comes down to. It’s the same premise as with prosecutors. I have the time to continue to pound away at a case. I can continue to unwrap what the prosecution’s evidence is, and given enough time, I will eventually find a hole in most pieces of evidence.

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