Interviewer: How many DUI cases do you think you handled last year?
Phil Wormdahl: Well you know it’s hard for me to put a number on how many cases I handled. At any given time I maybe have 30 cases in my caseload. And it’s important when you think about what my case load looks like. These 30 cases are not all in the same situation. And what I mean by that is that as a DUI case progresses, the amount of work or attention that that case requires changes vastly.
The Weeks Immediately Following a DUI Arrest Is the Most Labor-Intensive Time for the Attorney Defending the Charge
So for example, when a DUI case is new – and maybe just for sake of easy math – let’s suppose that at any given time of the 30 cases I have, 10 of them are new cases. Among those 10, there’s going to be quite a bit of work that’s going to need to be done in the first couple of weeks. The work includes getting information to the court regarding which attorney is handling the case; giving requests out to the prosecutor and other agencies that have information about the case; and also dealing with the driver license division.
During This Time, It Is Important for the Attorney to Ensure That Crucial Evidence Is Preserved
Among those duties, preserving evidence is always important. For example, I receive a case where somebody gets arrested in front of a business. I want to make sure that if that business has security cameras, that I’m getting on top of that business to get the security camera footage before that footage is either destroyed or simply recorded over and then no longer available to me. So there is sort of a rush at the beginning of the case, and a lot of work is required at the beginning of the case to make sure that all that’s preserved, that the client’s rights asserted with the court.
The Attorney Also Ensures That the Client’s Rights Are Asserted with the Court
Their rights include the right to a speedy trial, and their right to a jury trial – all those things need to be submitted quickly so that the case doesn’t become stale or the evidence doesn’t become stale, or that person doesn’t get a bench warrant for failure to appear. So that may be what is required for 10 of those 30 cases.
On the other side of that coin would be cases 20 to 30. Of those 10 cases, there’s really not a lot going on and that’s because those cases may just be waiting to be tried. When a case is waiting for a particular day to have a jury trial, there’s really not a lot of work that goes into that case at that point probably because I’ve already gotten all the evidence and I’ve reviewed it comprehensively.
With Older DUI Cases Waiting for a Trial Date, the Attorney Has Reviewed the Case Comprehensively and Has Appeared on the Client’s Behalf at the Driver’s License Division and During Other Court Proceedings Related to the Criminal Charge
Most probably, I have been over it several times, such as before the driver license division and before any court proceedings that I’ve been to. Maybe there have been motions to suppress, or other hearings or motions on that case. So I’ve had ample opportunity to look at all the evidence in that case, interviewed all the witnesses in that case several times and I have probably even prepped them for trial a few times.
A Number of Cases in Salt Lake City May Be Continued Several Times
This is because a case, when it is set for trial, especially in Salt Lake City, may be set several times and continued several times before it actually has its opportunity to be heard by a jury. So those 10 cases of my 30, there’s really not a lot going into them because they’re just sort of sitting and waiting for their particular time. I’m in periodic contacts with those clients every couple of weeks, just to make sure that nothing’s changed and that everybody knows when they need to be in court.
With Some Cases, the Attorney May Be Investigating How to Best Obtain Needed Evidence
Some of the cases are in the middle phase, and we’ve obtained most of the evidence. The work that’s going into those cases is either determining which evidence we do not have yet and still need to determine how to obtain it. This may be because we’re either being denied access to a particular piece of evidence by an administrator or state entity. And so we need to put pressure on them, or talk to another entity in order to get that information or that evidence.
Other Cases May Be Scheduled for Motions, Including Motions to Suppress
Other cases may be scheduled for some type of substitute hearing like the motion to suppress. And those cases are sort of in the middle of how much work or how much of my time is being dedicated to them at any given moment. That’s an overview of my caseload at any given time.
So with roughly 30 cases at any given time, a third of them are requiring a lot of my time and attention. Another third are requiring not very much of my time and attention because I’ve already spent quite a bit of time on them. And then the other third are in the middle ground, where maybe they’re having some hearings, and they just need a moderate amount of attention, in order to make sure that they’re being litigated properly, and that we’re getting all the information that we needed.