Attorneys Weigh In on PFJ

Across the country, PFJ Advocates are earning attorney accolades

The PFJ advocates have been an immeasurable resource for my Mental Health Diversion clients. In Mental Health Diversion I am starting from scratch with clients and that process is a lot of work. With the help of the PFJ advocates we are getting clients medical insurance, working with a doctor to address their mental health issues, medication management, job placement, housing placement, and really anything that helps improve their quality of life. These are extremely time consuming cases and having that support is indispensable not only for me, but my clients as well. I have been with three classes of PFJ advocates so far, and have been impressed every single time with the work ethic and determination that they show in fighting for our clients. Any public defender office would be lucky to have these folks at their office.

Alex Thayer – Misdemeanor Trial Team - Alameda County Public Defender

Having PFJs has been ENORMOUSLY helpful. Most of my clients have non-legal needs that I don’t have the time or skills to help with; having PFJs not only gives my clients resources that helps them improve their lives and avoid recidivism, but also allows me to have the bandwidth to focus on the legal aspects of each client’s case.

Claire Lowinger-Iverson – Felony Preliminary Hearing Team – Alameda County Public Defender

Advocates help me immensely. Whenever I have a client who needs help with re-entry from jail, I reach out to the PFJ’s. They take away that burden from me and help my client get the assistance they need and desire. For example, I was saved many hours of work when I asked the PFJs to help transfer my in custody client’s Medi-Cal. They get on the phone with treatment providers and are able to make placements into programs. All of this is invaluable and I don’t know what I would do if I could not refer clients to them. Additionally, one PFJ in particular, Jamir Graham, sat with a client of mine during trial. This was because she was reliving her trauma and was having panic attacks during court. Jamir sat with her the entire trial and calmed her down and talked her through a panic attack. Without that support I would have been distracted from trial and we may not have had the ultimate result of the dismissal! Truly no words can express how much I rely on the PFJ’s and how much time they have saved me.

Erin Herrera – Felony Trial Team – Alameda County Public Defender

PFJs are incredible for client management. I had a client who was extremely frustrated that his case, which was back on calendar for restitution, was preventing him from getting a job. Instead of discussing the restitution issue, he was fixated on his frustration. I assigned him to a PFJ who got him set up in a jobs program within the week. After that, this client was amazing to work with and we were able to seamlessly resolve his restitution issue.

Maiya Moncino – Misdemeanor Trial Team – Alameda County Public Defender.

Incredible help to our office in many ways, by (1) giving the hands on assistance many clients need to access benefits and services, (2) becoming a resource for available local services with up to date knowledge of how to access those services, (3) providing another point of contact for clients that need extra communication or care, and (4) helping craft program/service based resolutions with updates to the Court, and more. Working with PFJs both gives more help to our clients and allows me more time to do other legal work. I currently have 5-10 clients working with PFJs and the hours they have spent working with my clients to help get them into programs, coordinate care and updates, and help draft letters and petitions to the Court is invaluable. I really could not provide the level of service we currently give clients without the help of our PFJs.

Laura Bull – Misdemeanor Trial Team – Alameda County Public Defender.

Before we had Partner for Justice client advocates, I did all my own mitigation. Now, the client advocates work with our clients to collect proof of employment and education, gather character letters, write mitigation reports, and help get evidence of treatment or other types of classes like domestic violence, parenting, and anger management. Not only do they save me time herding cats (as it were), but they do it more quickly and thereby get me better results earlier in a case. An early case dismissal saves me so much time preparing a case for various hearings or trial.

Misty A. Seemans – Family Court Supervisor – Delaware Office of Defense Services

Prior to our client advocate unit, I engaged in all of my own mitigation work.  I also tried to refer clients to resources both pre and post disposition.  I was not well versed in all the resources available or those that could not only improve the client’s life but also positively impact the legal case.  Our client advocates take the lead on all of this work which enables me to focus on other aspects of my cases.   The client advocates have the knowledge, experience, and networks to provide clients with these resources.

Dawn Williams – Director of Training and Development – Delaware Office of Defense Services

As indigent defenders, we often hear from clients in some form of crisis, struggling with unmet needs for treatment, food, or shelter. These needs often impair our clients’ ability to stay in contact with their defense team, and have often created distraction and delay for attorneys involved. The involvement of PFJ Advocates helps our clients find the stability and support they need to meaningfully participate in their own defense.

Anthony Capone – Assistant Public Defender – Delaware Office of Defense Services

Just wanted to give you some recognition for all you did for this client — he went from unhoused and in custody, to clean, participated in inpatient treatment, HOUSED, and EMPLOYED all in literally two months because of you. The client’s case was completely withdrawn and Judge Davis was impressed not only with your amazing work, but also in the client’s ability to persevere and that really means a lot when someone’s going through everything that Damon is. Sometimes giving our client’s confidence and support is the best thing we can do. I know I say it all the time, but thank you so so so much for what you do.

Amy Lattari – Assistant Public Defender – Delco Defenders (in an email to Advocate Christina Howard)

The way PFJs dedicate so much of their time to assisting clients in getting help they need is not only instrumental in breaking the cycle that leads to repeat customers, but it also provides a light in the darkness for attorneys, they give hope and mitigate burnout on those days and weeks when nothing seems to be breaking our way.  They do the things we all want to, but have no time to.  Sometimes, the look of relief on a client's face at simply the mention of having advocates in office that can help them find work feels as good as a win."

Patrick McCafferty – Assistant Public Defender – Delco Defenders

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