For those that still remember the last days of the Sonics here in Seattle, a familiar name made news last week in an unfortunate way.
In 2004, the Sonics drafted 18 year-old Robert Swift, a 7'1” center from Bakersfield, California. Throughout his 4-year NBA career, which was limited by injuries to his knees, he played in only 97 games. During that time, he earned over $10 million.
Last week, he was arrested for attempted burglary in Gold Bar according to a spokesperson for the Snohomish County Sheriff's Department. Swift is presently in jail in Seattle for an earlier gun charge.
That charge stems from a raid by Seattle Police of the house Swift was staying in, which belonged to a 54-year-old heroin dealer. Swift had a saw-off shotgun and a grenade launcher in his room there. A warrant for his arrest on that charge was issued in November after he failed to appear in court. He will be arraigned on that charge tomorrow.
According to their spokesperson, the King County Department of Public Defense, the department that represents indigent defendants in King County, will defend Swift.
That Swift has struggled since the end of his playing days is well documented. After attempting to revitalize his career in Japan, Swift hit hard times. His home was foreclosed on in 2013. Shortly after he moved out of the house, a tour of it revealed its squalid condition, including maggots in the sinks, dog feces covering the porch, and holes in the walls. A makeshift shooting range was also found in the basement.
Some have called Swift the saddest example of those players who went straight from high school to the NBA in the early 1980s. That was before the new attempted burglary charges against him.
As his criminal charges wind their way through the legal process, it is likely that, because of his hard times, Swift will be represented by appointed counsel.
Before going too much into depth about public defenders, I should first make it clear that public defenders are competent attorneys who give their all in representing their clients. Despite their intelligence, however, public defenders are often overworked and under-supported. In addition, because they are so often in court, they may hesitate to be aggressive in some cases if they think that doing so may cost them in other cases.
Ideally, all criminal defendants should retain private counsel. Private attorneys have more time to devote to their clients and can generally be more aggressive than public defenders from case to case. Yes, public defenders provide a valuable public service to those that cannot otherwise afford an attorney, but a defendant's first choice should always be hiring their own attorney.
Attorney Steve Karimi aggressively defends all of his clients. He has years of experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. If you have been charged with a crime in the greater Seattle area, do not hesitate to contact him for a free consultation.