The fact that private criminal defense attorneys always seemed to get better plea deals for their clients than public defenders irked me to no end during the five years that I spent as a public defender at the start of my career as a criminal defense lawyer. This discrepancy in plea offers extended to private counsel versus public defenders was so universally known that my mentor in the Public Defenders' Office would advise defendants charged with serious felonies, who had no viable defense to raise at trial, that they should hire a private attorney in order to maximize their chances of getting a favorable plea offer. It was not that my mentor was trying to avoid another client on his case load; he legitimately cared about the wellbeing of these defendants and was giving them solid advice.
All public defenders worth their salt are verbally assaulted by judges from time to time, but a Brevard County, Florida judge took things to another level when he physically attacked a public defender in the hallway, after the two verbally sparred in the courtroom. When Public Defender Andrew Weinstock refused to waive his client's constitutional right to a speedy trial, Judge John Murphy became enraged, stating "if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me off. Just sit down." When Weinstock pointed out that he had a right to be present and represent his client, Judge Murphy said "if you want to fight, let's just go out back and I'll beat your ass." Ironically, Attorney Weinstock was representing a defendant charged with two counts of assault when Judge Murphy made this threat.