Practicing law in different counties can be a fascinating experience, as each county has its own unique nuances. Join the roundtable conversation as we compare and contrast court practices in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Participating this week are Nafiz Ahmed, a certified criminal specialist who practices criminal law in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, and his identical twin brother Nabiel Ahmed, a returning guest on the podcast roundtable who represents the criminally accused throughout the Bay Area. Get inspired by their experiences and the lessons they have learned working in different counties simultaneously to level up your work, empower individuals, and positively impact their lives.
A transcript of this podcast is available at lovethylawyer.com.
Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law is a criminal defense law firm serving clients throughout the Bay Area. Our firm was founded in 2005 by founding partner Nafiz M. Ahmed, and Shari Sukaram joined in 2008 as a managing partner.
We have over 30 years of combined experience helping people navigate some of the most challenging times in their lives.
Our criminal defense attorneys understand the emotional impact and potential consequences of criminal charges – whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony. That’s why we’re committed to protecting your rights and ensuring you are treated fairly throughout the legal process.
We handle all types of criminal matters. Call us today if you’ve been charged with a crime in San Mateo County or Santa Clara County.
Nabiel C Ahmed, is the owner and attorney of a solo law practice out of the San Francisco East Bay, mainly representing the rights of the criminally accused in Bay Area courtrooms. While defending his clients, Mr. Ahmed gained notoriety for staunchly defending their constitutional and statutory rights all the way through jury trial if necessary. Mr. Ahmed’s clients and cases have received attention locally, nationally, and world-wide. No case has proven to be too big or too small for Mr. Ahmed to handle.
Recently, Mr. Ahmed’s representation helped dismiss charges against a defendant facing capital punishment for the crimes he allegedly committed. In addition to practicing criminal law, Mr. Ahmed has continued to expand his practice into areas of law affecting the lives of his clients in other contexts. For example, Mr. Ahmed’s client’s can now seek his advice and representation on matters such as restraining orders, dissolutions, breach of contract, fraud, and First Amendment issues.
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Attorney at Law
Twins Roundtable - Transcript
Louis Goodman 00:03
Welcome to the Love Thy Lawyer roundtable where two attorneys and I discuss specific legal issues facing practitioners. I'm Louis Goodman, the host of the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. I have an act of criminal law practice in Alameda County. Nafiz M. Ahmed practices criminal law, with an emphasis on San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. He is a certified criminal specialist. Nafiz's identical twin brother, Nabiel C. Ahmed returns to the podcast and the roundtable. Nabiel represents the criminally accused throughout the Bay Area. We thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast court practices in different counties. And I thought it would be a unique opportunity to discuss what it is like to grow up and live as an identical twin. Nafiz, Nabiel, welcome to the Love Thy Lawyer roundtable.
Nabiel Ahmed 01:04
Well, Louis, thank you for having me again. I think you mentioned earlier that second to yourself, I get the distinct honor of being the most heard guest on your show. So I wanted to thank you. And I hope that this won't be the time that I really put my foot in my mouth.
Louis Goodman 01:22
Well, we'll see what we can do to help you out with that.
Nafiz Ahmed 01:24
Thank you, Louis, for having me. It's going to be a tough act to follow with this one.
Louis Goodman 01:28
Nafiz, let me start with you. Can you briefly tell us where you grew up, where you went to school, where you went to college, law school?
Nafiz Ahmed 01:35
I grew up in the same place that Nabiel did, which is Burlingame, California, and went to Burlingame High School, UC Davis for undergraduate. But then he and I split paths when we went to different law schools. So I went to Santa Clara University School of Law.
Louis Goodman 01:52
And Nabiel, I know that we've discussed this before, but can you briefly tell us where you went to law school?
Nabiel Ahmed 01:58
Yes, I started out at Golden Gate University. And again, I loved it there. And then I was lucky enough to be able to transfer my first year and Hastings was gracious enough to accept me and I finished my law school education there.
Louis Goodman 02:14
So now Nafiz, you and Nabiel grew up together, you went to school together, went to college together. What was it like when you went to different law schools?
Nafiz Ahmed 02:24
Well, that's a good question. It was good. I mean, I was really focused when I went to law school, because I knew from some point in high school, that I wanted to be a lawyer. And that's all I really wanted to do. And I didn't really care to be in college too much. So I got out of Davis, just a year early and I went to Santa Clara. And I was just super focused on trying to do the very best that I could, because that's what I wanted to do. So I was just kind of dialed in and just studying and trying to do the best I could.
Louis Goodman 03:05
And you went directly from college right into law school, you didn't take any time off?
Nafiz Ahmed 03:09
No time off. If I could have gotten there faster. I would have.
Louis Goodman 03:12
Nabiel, did you always know that you wanted to be a lawyer from the time you were in high school as well?
Nabiel Ahmed 03:16
I didn't. But last night, I rewatched a movie clip because it was true. This Few Good Men movie, Tom Cruise, he had Colonel Jessup on the witness stand. I mean, there was no other impressionable moment in my life that really made me want to go to become a lawyer other than that, and I watched it again and that man was just so awesome. And yet, when I saw that, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. There's no doubt about it.
Nafiz Ahmed 03:44
I'm going to have to concur.
Make it, I didn't know. But I'm glad that I tried at least.
Nafiz Ahmed 03:50
Wait, Lou, I'm sorry. I have to interject because that was it for me, too. All that Tom Cruise movies, The Firm, A Few Good Men, Judge Wagner's divorce court, or whatever, all those shows. That was it.
Louis Goodman 04:03
So Nabiel, you followed essentially your big brother by five minutes into the law?
Nabiel Ahmed 04:10
Oh, yeah. Yeah. No, I didn't know what's going to happen. And so you know, by the skin of my teeth, I got into GGU. And so I remember I was still in Davis, and I didn't know if I was going to even graduate, to be honest. And my brother is finishing college in three years. He's the superstar in the household and then he's going to Santa Clara University that's just filled with palm trees and nice things. And so, yeah, I was nervous, I was jealous, I was scared and he was leading the way. But my mom always reminds us of the story of when Nafiz passed the bar, which was a year ahead of me, I just like acted like Joe Cool, because I was like, well, this knucklehead could do it. I just got this in the bag.
Louis Goodman 05:01
All right, well Nafiz can you briefly tell us how you ended up being a criminal defense practitioner, and having what is essentially your own practice with your wife as your partner?
Nafiz Ahmed 05:15
I really thought I was going to be like a business lawyer for small businesses. Then the first job I took out of school was working for a lawyer who did corporate law and civil litigation. So I did that for only about eight months. And then I just by happenstance applied to work for the private defender program in the county of San Mateo. And I had, I think, a foot in the door because I had previously clerked while in law school for the legal research department of the San Mateo County Superior Court. So I was kind of a slightly known commodity, when I applied for the private defender program, which is like a indigent defense panel in San Mateo County. And luckily, they accepted me. And I've been doing that ever since.
Louis Goodman 06:06
So your office is in San Mateo County?
Nafiz Ahmed 06:09
Yeah, so we have an office in Redwood City, which I'm currently in right now. This is the one I've been in the longest. And I've been here since 2006. In late 2015, I opened up a second office in San Jose. And now I split my time about 50:50 between the two different counties.
Louis Goodman 06:28
And Nabiel, were you talking to us from right now?
Nabiel Ahmed 06:31
I'm still in San Ramon. And I'm not even sure where the majority of my cases are anymore, but it still has to be Alameda, Contra Costa County, in both areas, and I'm loving it here still, still have a base in Oakland. And I think to be honest, again, maybe 2023 that I'll be back there physically for a good part of my you know, I might be there from there on out.
Louis Goodman 06:58
Well, we have now four counties that have come up in this conversation, which is Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa. I'm wondering now Nafiz, let me start with you. Which of these counties have you practiced in? And what's your sort of overall impression of how things work in the counties that you have practiced in?
Nafiz Ahmed 07:21
I have appeared in every single one of those counties, the majority of my cases they'll be in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and probably better to fit to address those. Overall, I think the biggest difference that you notice is the pure size of the counties and volume of the case loads. And due to the volume of the case loads, the way that the courts handle their calendars are extremely different for examples….
Louis Goodman 07:47
Yeah, which is larger and which is smaller, and how does that affect the calendars?
Nafiz Ahmed 07:52
Sure, so Santa Clara County is a much larger county than San Mateo County, the way that I've noticed is, for example, in San Mateo County, you'll have a judge involved or Commissioner, in most of the plea bargain discussions between the prosecution and the defense, there's usually just one date set for a pre trial conference. And then there's usually a jury trial set right after the pretrial conference, and you get one chance at your plea bargaining usually in San Mateo County, whereas in Santa Clara County, most of the plea bargaining is offline, between the defense lawyer and the prosecution. Judge usually don't get involved in plea bargain unless you're going to end up ‘cleaning up the sheet’ needing to get the judge involved. And there's usually much more court appearances in Santa Clara County, because there's a quicker court proceedings because the judges usually aren't getting involved in the plea bargaining. So it'll just be either you have a deal ready to go with the DA or your case will end up being continued to future date. So a lot more court appearances in Santa Clara County, but a lot shorter. Those would be amongst the biggest differences that I see.
Louis Goodman 09:02
Is there one method that you prefer over the other?
Nafiz Ahmed 09:06
In terms of benefiting the client, I think at both counties, you can achieve good outcomes for your clients. I think sometimes it may be a little bit easier, depending upon the type of case and this is all highly case specific to you. It may be a little bit easier in Santa Clara County to get the outcome that you want because I think there's a little bit less direction being given from their head DA to the individual deputy DA's on how case should be handled versus in San Mateo County. I think there's a little bit more guidance and check in with me kind of attitude. So I think sometimes for that reason you may be able in some cases to make better deals in general in Santa Clara County.
Louis Goodman 09:47
What's your experience been, Nabiel, in Alameda and Contra Costa counties?
Nabiel Ahmed 09:51
I'm really hoping to provide a meaningful distinction between the two but to be honest, other than the delay, date of incident of arrest to the of arraignment in Contra Costa County, it can extend months close to in a misdemeanor, sometimes even close to a four year for the statute of limitations to run before a case is charged, and filed upon. And so that would be in terms of criminal, probably the biggest issue between the two counties is, you can't really ever presume or tell when you're going to get a significant case charge that there was defendants who committed serious crimes, and it took over a year to charge him. And that sometimes creates a little bit more planning, the same with the defense attorney and the client, if that is the situation. And then it also gives a little bit less clarity to the client in terms of what's going to happen with the District Attorney, what's going to happen with their life because of that delay. So that's the only meaningful distinction I think that I've noticed between the two counties, I wouldn't say that the outcomes and neither of them are different. I know that we're to be in Contra Costa the same now it's less lesser court dates, we'll see they're going to get a change of police set date in a trial, something along those lines. So when they charge the case, you have to be ready to go. I think in Alameda County, they've cut down on the excessive court appearances with in the past, before COVID used to be a pet peeve of mine is that we keep coming back on it, you know that you don't have a file in the courtroom, DA doesn't have a file, there's some type of hiccup in the processor in the system that just allowed the continuance of cases to the point where it became unmanageable or unbearable perhaps, but that is all changed to with the Odyssey, with the online, with the information being put all online, it's now at the axis at our fingertips. We have no excuses. If a client calls us and says, I have a petty theft. But really, it was a five count felony, five count robbery strike case, and you only got two grand or 1000, whatever, something silly, and you show up to court and you don't you show up to court on a case that was much different than what the client represented. Those types of issues don't occur anymore, thankfully, now that both counties are online.
Louis Goodman 12:26
What about access to diversion programs? But let's start with you. What are they doing over in San Mateo and Santa Clara County? And what sort of differences do you see diversion, if any.
Nafiz Ahmed 12:39
So some of the big differences are procedural, like what I see in Santa Clara County are a lot of orally made diversion motions, which means without having to file any written paperwork, the defense lawyer will ask the judge to give the client this program so that the client can keep a clean criminal or keep a clean record. Whereas in San Mateo County, it's not a 100% uniform practice. But you're pretty much not going to be able to make a oral diversion motion at any point in time. You're going to have to file written paperwork, and have it heard where the DA has a chance, obviously to file responsive pleadings, if they wish, I would say I've seen in Santa Clara County less objection to diversion motions than in San Mateo County. I see probably more objections just routinely in San Mateo County than in Santa Clara County on the diversion motions.
Louis Goodman 13:35
Nabiel, what's your experience been in Alameda and Contra Costa?
Nabiel Ahmed 13:38
Well, Alameda County definitely has a great diversion program, I think in Contra Costa County, they also have diversion programs not as broad or as easy to get into again as perhaps Alameda County but in terms of diversion in Contra Costa County, I'm going to see if I can do something, in terms of a felony, mental health diversion for a client of mine on a very serious case of child abuse case.
Louis Goodman 14:03
What about veterans court? Have you had any experience with veterans court in Alameda or Contra Costa, Nabiel?
Nabiel Ahmed 14:09
in Alameda, yeah, veterans court a couple of times. The times when I did have clients who did go in through the program, through their veterans courts. It was wonderful experience for them. They were receiving the treatment that they needed through the programs that they needed, and it was a tremendous boon to their life.
Louis Goodman 14:26
Nafiz, have you had any experience dealing with the juries in San Mateo and Santa Clara County? And is there any difference in the jury pools that you've noticed?
Nafiz Ahmed 14:37
So I've had 40 trials to verdict, two of them were in Santa Clara, and the rest all in San Mateo County. The very first one I did in Santa Clara County was on a three strikes case, which most people know based life in prison. And the thing that I learned is that people are people, and they’re not changed by the name of the county that you live in. I was very fortunate, very happy. I'm going to slightly brag, it was a hang. My other Santa Clara County case was a solicitation of prostitution case, which was a hang with the majority of votes in the defendants favor actually had two good experiences in Santa Clara County, the rest in San Mateo, but people are people I think, I haven't tried cases in other counties, but I'm going to keep that belief.
Louis Goodman 15:30
Nabiel, any comment about Alameda or Contra Costa or do you agree with your brother there?
Nabiel Ahmed 15:35
I completely agree with my brother. And the truth is in these two Bay Area counties where I tried the most cases, yes, Alameda and Contra Costa, we have some of the most intelligent jury pools around and the people that deal either juries are extremely impressive. Their beliefs don't differ very much from a render to Berkeley, I feel the same thing that Nafiz feels I think.
Louis Goodman 16:02
What about the District Attorney's offices and the way they handle immigration or other collateral consequences in terms of looking at their plea bargaining Nafiz, let's start with you on that
Nafiz Ahmed 16:13
Things started changing a little bit more recently in San Mateo County where there's now one main DA, who's assigned to review any request to change a charge for the defendants favor for immigration related purposes. Before it used to be up to like the individual deputy district attorney, now moving it to one particular da I think it's good because it concentrates a knowledge base on immigration law and the consequences of certain criminal convictions with one DA who know what's going on. In Santa Clara County, it's still up to the individual deputy DA, but I found that that county, to be quite honest, has been a little bit more liberal with granting changes in the charges to favor defendants who have immigration related concerns
Louis Goodman 17:03
Nabiel any the experience in Alameda or Contra Costa County on that, whenever
Nabiel Ahmed 17:07
Whenever you have a case that maybe borderline and the fact that you do have a client that does have collateral consequences with respect to the immigration court or their status, that may be a case where the defendants immigration status is irrelevant. But if they are guilty dead to rights on a serious or violent felony or a case of significance, whether they're here lawfully or illegally, I don't think that's going to play too much into the prosecutors decision making because their number one duty is the protection of the public.
Nafiz Ahmed 17:41
So what you're saying, essentially, it sounds like almost in San Mateo County where the prosecutor will consider it. They say, hey, we consider it but we're not going to change the charge, your client has to plead to the charge whether they get deported or not. I think that's what it sounds like. That's, I think, what San Mateo County's like quite a bit.
Louis Goodman 18:00
But Santa Clara will look at that a little more favorably, from the point of view of the defendant?
Nafiz Ahmed 18:06
As a generalization, as a sweeping generalization, yes. But then, again, to Nabiel’s point when you get into the more heavy sex related cases or things with minors, and yeah.
Louis Goodman 18:16
Yeah, I think it's difficult to generalize about criminal cases, because there's so many different types of criminal cases. I mean, you know you go anywhere from petty theft cases to, as you say, serious sexual cases or serious violence cases or murder cases and things are obviously going to be dealt with somewhat differently, no matter where you are. What about the judges and the courtroom etiquette that the judges expect, any difference in San Mateo and Santa Clara?
Nabiel Ahmed 18:47
You must be there absolutely on time. So San Mateo County is a much smaller county. Okay, then Santa Clara County, if the calendar says nine o'clock for the preliminary hearing, you better be there at nine o'clock.
Louis Goodman 18:59
What about calendar matters? Pretrial calendar, where there's 30 cases on?
Nabiel Ahmed 19:04
It was kind of the same thing. It was weird, because even though they don't know you're there in the courtroom, like everyone kind of expects you to be there. And it takes a little bit of maybe time and experience to know, okay, it doesn't matter if I'm there at exactly 1:30 because as long as I'm there on time, and I don't, the most important thing is don't delay the judge. Because as long as you're there and you're not delaying the judge, then everything's okay. But a much more strict, you better be here. And I want to see you here, even if your case isn't even being called, but there has been an influx of new judges in San Mateo County. So that's kind of loosening up quite a bit.
Louis Goodman 19:45
Santa Clara is different?
Nabiel Ahmed 19:48
Yes, in the sense that it's such a large county that most of their calendars will go most of the morning or the afternoon. There's usually a mix between public defender and private counsel matters as long as you are there without delaying the judge, it's usually just fine. And one thing that I've noticed that I thought was always quite nice about Santa Clara County was that if you happen for some reason not to be there, or there's a calendaring error, they'll actually call you and say, counsel, you know, blah, blah, blah, you know, you have a case on calendar, whereas in San Mateo County, your clients going to get a warrant. So I think that's a big difference.
Louis Goodman 20:30
Nabiel, what about Alameda and Contra Costa counties?
Nabiel Ahmed 20:33
If there's any difference amongst the judges, I know it to me. No, I don't see any. And to me, I've been in counties up and down the state especially northern California, but a good judge is like a robot, when they sound the same, look the same, heck the same, talk the same, that's what I'm looking for. Because I understand that language and we know how to speak it. And that's what I like, so a judge is a judge, I think anywhere to be honest.
Louis Goodman 21:05
If I can just chime in for a minute, that really has not been my experience. I think judges tend to be very different people and tend to run their courtrooms differently. And of course, my experience is pretty much limited to Alameda County, at least in the last 10 or 15 years. That's why we're having this discussion so we can get different points of views. What about technology? Ever since the COVID outbreak in the last two and a half years, we've been using technology and video conferencing in a way that we've never used it before. And I'm wondering what your experience has been in the different counties using video technology and what your sense of using that technology is in terms of your own practice. Nafiz, let's start with you.
Nafiz Ahmed 21:55
I don't want this to sound like just a Santa Clara love fest because I love San Mateo County and this is where I want to be forever. Okay, this is my first home. And I love it. But I think that they're a little bit more progressive with using video and technology in Santa Clara County, because they're actually allowing that for most of the calendars, whether it be an arraignment calendar, or pretrial conference calendar, San Mateo County, there was a decision made by the presiding judge and a vote amongst the judges to eliminate the use of remote video technology. That may change next year with a new presiding judge. But we are doing things the old fashioned way in San Mateo County. And that's to bring more defendants into court, to help the calendars run more smoothly from the judicial perspective. My belief that that creates more hardships, I think for some of the defendants that may force some of the defendants into pleading guilty or no contest when it's difficult for them to come to court, especially when the case is going to be continued anyway. So right now San Mateo County is doing business like usual like back in the old days, and I think Santa Clara is a little bit more with the times on it right now.
Louis Goodman 23:03
Is San Mateo allowing 977 appearances?
Nafiz Ahmed 23:07
It's up to each particular judge general rule. So obviously, we have to distinguish between felonies and misdemeanors, but let's just do felonies because that's where it's more pertinent. It's going to be in more limited scenarios like where you have a client who might be living out of state or may have some real good reason this is just going to be generally understood as your client better be present in court in San Mateo County.
Louis Goodman 23:29
Nabiel, what about Alameda and Contra Costa?
Nabiel Ahmed 23:31
Contra Costa as equivalent to San Mateo is wanting everything in persons or near or close to it. And if that creates the I think you know, my feelings about driving from Pittsburgh to San Jose in the morning or doing a Contra Costa County driving tour from Pittsburgh to Richmond. It's inefficient. I don't like it. I like to, video appearances works great when we were doing it. We even had to talk to the judge in his chambers or her chambers in the morning in pretrial case who's the best. I'd like to see it come back sooner than later. Alameda County, I love how we're doing video court here. It has totally changed everything. I think it's better for all parties to be honest video technology that we're using and I do agree with my brother he said that it was old school the other way and there's nothing wrong with the old school. That's what brought us to the new, what brought us here, but everything changes including our cleaning ourselves so let's get with it.
Louis Goodman 24:38
Since my practice is pretty much limited to Alameda County. I've been on the Bluejeans video app a lot. I think it's been great and I think the most of the judges like it. I think the DA is office like said I know the in custody defend dance like it because they don't have to be transported to court under very uncomfortable conditions. And obviously from the point of view of a criminal practitioner being able to make those court appearances from the comfort of one's office or occasionally in my case from home, it really helps. What about the jails speaking of in custody discomfort? Nabiel, why don't I start with you on this one, what's your experience in the Contra Costa and the Alameda County Jail systems?
Nabiel Ahmed 25:30
Contra Costa County Jail is awesome, right? Let's start off with Richmond, it's right on the water, the views per day. Okay. It's just like walking on the beach. You could, you almost there you are there. I mean, it's great place, they figured out the perfect place for the GLS county jail. The Martinez, right at the courthouse, where you could walk from the department right to your client, or your other client who's being housed in the Martinez detention facility. And guess what, you could walk right in right out within five seconds flashier, your bar card, your ID, and you're done. You talk to you guys in and out in, you walk up to the guy and you get in person personal visits in a little room. You and your client and it's in they bring you stuff with you to they're not really-- you could bring your bed or your staff or whatever. In Contra Costa County nobody's treating, it’s not you get a little bit of trust, in terms of what you get to bring in, Alameda County is a little bit different. You're going to go through 18 levels of screening, it's going to take forever, sometimes you have to book an appointment, you can only do it during certain hours certain times. And pretty much you can't visit, you cannot. I'm being honest with you. And I complained about it. And that's what I said put the video, we give our in cussing defendants video conferencing technology in Alameda County, they already could have it, they have tablets. What do we do with tablets? We do video conferencing all day, every day. I mean, so these guys are able to make calls, they're able to do things with the tabs, why not let them have unfettered access to their attorneys that don't necessarily need to make a trip to the jail. If there are deputy shortages in the 18,000 reasons why us as attorneys can't get in and talk to our clients. And we have a lot of them. Imagine [unclear 27:32], had a lot of clients and a lot of in custody clients. And that's why I stopped taking in custody defendants because it was just too hard to visit with my in custody clients in the jail to get on their discovery to do things for them because there was a denial of access almost basically, seemed like a lot of obstructions were put in the way to prevent us from to be able to visit with them.
Louis Goodman 28:00
what I'm hearing you say is that the Contra Costa County visiting system for attorneys is a lot more user friendly from the attorney point of view than the Alameda County system.
Nabiel Ahmed 28:13
I haven't been to a jail. I haven't been to a county other than this, other than Alameda County where it's as difficult to visit with your clients and we were supposed to be the bastion of due process and defendants rights and how are we going to have access to justice he came to see your client in the jail.
Louis Goodman 28:32
Nafiz, what's your experience in San Mateo and Santa Clara County Jail systems?
Nafiz Ahmed 28:37
I'll continue along the same theme and then bring up another point. It's funny, I think that both the older jails in each county, Santa Clara and San Mateo, you get to see your client much faster than in their newer jails. The newer jails both in San Mateo and Santa Clara County ended up waiting seems like much longer than in the older jails. One thing that I thought was maybe starkly different between the two counties is inmates safety only because of how good of a job I think that the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office does. I think that clients are probably safer in San Mateo county jails than in any of the police closest Bay Area County, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara. So I think San Mateo County does a very, very good job of running its jails and keeping its inmates safe.
Louis Goodman 29:29
Let's move to the subject of probation. Nafiz says. I'll start with you on this, what's formal and informal probation, like in the counties that you cover?
Nafiz Ahmed 29:40
So court probation will probably be the same in both counties because you're not checking in with the probation officer and you just have to obey all laws and whatever conditions that the judge sets. In terms of formal probation, I think it usually depends on the type of crime. So formal probation is usually when people have a probation officer right in almost all those cases, sir Can seizure as a condition of probation. I think that depending upon the type of case like whether it's a drug crime or something where a lot of supervisions needed, like maybe in a sex offender type of case, like, you'll get more contact with the probation officer. But otherwise, I think you're generally going to be like a ‘banked caseload’, which is just call this number and check in and let us know if you've picked up any new cases. So I think from that aspect, they're probably pretty similar terms of services, like clients typically expect, probation is not doing anything for me and helping me get a job or helping me with these services. But I usually tell them probation is really there just to get you in more trouble. Maybe sorry to say, but they're just there to let the judge know whether you're violating your probation. So you're not really going to be getting that many services I don't think from either County.
Louis Goodman 30:54
Nabiel any experienced in Alameda and Contra Costa?
Nabiel Ahmed 30:57
Actually, most of my clients in Alameda County, if the added probation officer, most of them like their probation officer, for sure. I think almost all my clients in Alameda County like probation officer, and I think the opposite of what was said about getting them services and helping them I think that's the number one thing that, one of the main things that they that they kind of do here in Alameda County that our probation department is helping people.
Louis Goodman 31:22
What about Contra Costa?
Nabiel Ahmed 31:23
I don't remember anybody saying too much about their probation officer. Any problems or anything like that, here in Contra Costa, I don't see there's the again, in terms of the differences between the two counties. It's all statutory for the most part whether or not the I don't see a probation are getting more or less services out of either County, I think both do their best to provide the services that are required. And if we're talking about terms and conditions of probation being in gainful employment, or schooling the police officer will give you a list.
Nafiz Ahmed 32:00
I was just going to say, then I think the two counties that I'm talking about are really different than your counties because I just had a probation violation for a guy, multiple different charges. But one of the different violations in Santa Clara County was he didn't maintain full time employment, as directed by the probation officer and they seem like more like to get the defendant in trouble and like another branch of the prosecution than anything else. And in my experience in my counties.
Louis Goodman 32:26
Is that both San Mateo and Santa Clara?
Nafiz Ahmed 32:29
I would say more heavily in San Mateo, I would say that's almost like 100% Steam in in San Mateo County, whereas in Santa Clara, not to that same level. San Mateo County [unclear 32:40] write probation reports and formal reports Santa Clara County, you're not really going to get that too often. And there maybe I have had clients who've had better success in Santa Clara County with like getting extensions of time to do things such as like community service hours or to get into a program the judge ordered them to do what I think there's a little bit more flexibility, whereas in San Mateo County, there'll be a probation violation filed right away.
Louis Goodman 33:05
Do either of you think that the way the probation department handles the probationers on their caseload affects public safety one way or another in any of these places?
Nabiel Ahmed 33:19
Yeah, like I said, a moment ago, I think could do more help that the defendant can get to get back to actually successfully complete probation, which is what you do see a lot here in Alameda County is beneficial to the defendant, they go on and they lead or they expunge their records and they move forward to gain full employment. And that's what I've seen, the most of, in my practice, a lot of people coming back who are fixing their lives, they were 20 years old, or so when they had their problems and maybe even 30s or and beyond, but I even just had a client just the other day. So it took her a little bit longer, but thankfully, she did receive the treatment and programs that she needed, the services that she needed, and now her life is better. And I have a lot of people since I've done this since 2006, 2008, a lot of people who have reached back out and say, I'm doing great, let's take the next steps for me to progress in my life. Can you do an expungement? Can you get these? Can you get a certificate of rehabilitation or request the governor's pardon? Because I want to open a marijuana dispensary, and I'm going to make a lot of money. He knows it'd be great. And so yes, of course, the probation department has a significant role. We all have a significant role in the justice process and getting defendants back into the right side of the tracks, let's say in maintaining, remaining or becoming productive members of the community, of our communities up and down the Bay Area. Of course, we all have a role in it and any help that that our clients can get they welcome it. And that may be the difference that they need to make a positive impact not just in their lives but in other's lives as well.
Louis Goodman 35:07
Nafiz what's your notion about the effect of public safety in the way that different probation officers and probation departments handle things?
Nafiz Ahmed 35:17
I was going to say a completely different answer, I was thinking about it, the only real thing that I can think that probation is helping with, at least in my experience in these counties, is the fact that, for example, when somebody is on formal probation, they know they have to report, if they've committed a new crime, or they know that the probation officer may discover it. So from the fact that you know that any new crime may be discovered me prevent recidivism, that may be how it helps. But aside from that, in mind, you this is my personal opinion in the abstract without data, I don't really see how it helps, they're just there, in my experience to get the defendant in further trouble if they do anything wrong, or slip up in any way, or go even further, if you don't have like the best attitude with your probation officer, that will lead to some type of violation that they could find on the client, which leads to more trouble. In fact, I don't think I really liked that much. To be quite honest.
Louis Goodman 36:19
The two of you, gentlemen grew up together, have very similar backgrounds, arguably identical backgrounds. You're both doing criminal defense work in the San Francisco Bay Area. And I'm wondering that when the two of you compare notes with each other, do you have a notion of a difference or a similarity in terms of the way you approach clients, the way you approach your practices, and the way you approach the notion of the law?
Nabiel Ahmed 36:50
Nafiz Ahmed 36:51
Absolutely. Right. Well, tell us.
Nabiel Ahmed 36:54
Okay, well, since you asked me to, I will, yeah. I tried to take on the toughest cases, from the toughest guys. And I like to get them what they asked me for, which is the best results. And I didn't do it for a hefty reward, a lot of times or a pot of gold, or a pat on the back. I did it because I thought it was--I just wanted to tell him at the end of the day, I did that, and kind of put my finger in their chest and be like, I did that. And it's really fun to do that. Who was as a younger guy who was 26,28,30, whatever, 35. But it was really fun to go tell some badass supposedly, hey, tell me, thank you. Tell me, thank you.
Louis Goodman 37:48
Nafiz, what's your notion about the Compare and contrast between the brothers?
Nafiz Ahmed 37:53
Well, first off, I always try to do as good of a job as Nabiel does, because he's an excellent lawyer, and I love him to death. And I don't just say that, because he's my identical twin brother. And I don't really see very many differences. We're both…
Nabiel Ahmed 38:09
He made all the money.
Nafiz Ahmed 38:11
There's not even close. So I know that I tried to do a good job just like Nabiel does. And we're both doing the very best that we can. And I try to maintain a good level of service that I think Nabiel would be proud of. And so when my clients.
Louis Goodman 38:27
Nabiel, I'll start with you here. If someone wants to get in touch with you. Do you have a website where people can go to find you?
Nabiel Ahmed 38:36
Yes, right now it's www.eastbaylawpractice.com . Same as has been since 2008.
Louis Goodman 38:44
It's www.eastbaylawpractice.com . And Nafiz?
Nafiz Ahmed 38:52
So I have a website that you could type in to find me. It's www.650, the numbers, so that's 650attorneys.com. And that will take you to my main site, which is my wife and I, who is my partner.
Louis Goodman 39:12
So that's www.650attorneys.com ?
Nafiz Ahmed 39:19
You got it. Thank you.
Louis Goodman 39:21
All right. Nafiz, I'll start with you. Is there anything that you wanted to bring up to discuss that you thought might be important to this conversation that we haven't touched on?
trying to be mean to any probation officer because I do love quite a bit of them. And I know Nabiel got really upset when I was talking about that. But aside from that, I think it's totally interesting practicing in different counties to see how they do things because there are unique ways that the law is practiced. I mean, some weird like some counties will focus on a particular statute or rule that other counties don't even ever talk about, or I don't want to say think of. But I mean, and so you go into your own little world, like, each time you go into a new account, and you have to figure out those rules. And the funny thing is, is that you're looked at, as kind of like a stranger when you go into the new county, because you don't know, all the little ins and outs, and so it’s kind of cool figuring out Santa Clara after being what I thought was a insider in San Mateo County. And now I think I kind of understand both counties fairly well, but I don't really venture out of those counties, because I don't like to, I don't like not be in the know when I go somewhere, so I just want to stick to what I know. And so I thought that was interesting.
Louis Goodman 40:45
Nabiel, any final thought?
Nabiel Ahmed 40:48
I just want to say to all my clients, past and present that thank you, thank you very much. We traveled this journey together, I'm still here for all my clients, past and present that want me need me in any way just to tell me that they're doing good and vice versa. And then to any former clients who might have felt like I let them down. I want to extend my greatest apologies and want to let them know, I try my best to give you justice by the end of the day life is long. This I'm going to keep at it. I'm going to keep trying. And if I let you down, I'm going to try again. Sorry, if you give me the chance. Maybe I'll make it right this time.
Nafiz Ahmed 41:28
I hope your clients don't catch any new cases. So they'll be good and law abiding and…
Louis Goodman 41:32
Nabiel Ahmed, Nafiz Ahmed, thank you, gentlemen, for joining me today on the Love by lawyer roundtable. I really had a great time talking to both of you.
Nabiel Ahmed 41:46
Thank you. I appreciate it. Have a good one.
Nafiz Ahmed 41:48
You're always the best.
Louis Goodman 41:51
That's it for today's episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and follow the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs and information.
Thanks to my guests and to Joel Katz from music, Bryan Matheson for technical support, Paul Robert for social media and Tracy Harvey. I'm Louis Goodman.
Nabiel Ahmed 42:30
That was actually the big challenge. I was a biology major. I basically finished out with an emphasis in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the end but I hardly made it there either.