On paper, they are adversaries. But in practice, prosecutors say, they get along well with defense attorneys – usually.
“Without them, the system breaks down,” Gordy Coldagelli says. “They are there to make sure I do my job the right way. They’re there to make sure law enforcement does their job the right way. It makes law enforcement better, it makes me better.”
Prosecutors say they talk frequently with public defenders and the private attorneys who represent the accused. Their goal: Both to let the defense know what kind of case they face, and to see if they can settle the case without the time and expense of a trial.
“You have to look at the strength of the case,” Tony Tedesco says. “I’ve always been very direct. I always disclose everything I’ve got, and most of the ones I work with are pretty honest of where they’re coming from, too.
“I just find that if we’re upfront and courteous, we can usually get more done. We can usually find some sort of reasonable resolution. Sometimes we can’t, and we just go to trial.”
“We’ve got a good working relationship with them,” Coldagelli says. “Most of the public defenders we deal with know that when we make an offer, it’s usually a reasonable one.
“They know our limits, we know their limits and, by and large, if a case ends up going to trial, it’s a case that needs to be tried, for whatever reason.
“Sometimes their clients won’t take their advice. Sometimes you just have a case, it has to go to trial.”