Best Lawyer You've Never Heard Of

Sam Amata

Think of Roberto Alomar. Think of him playing for 12 or 13 years, but not for the Indians. Think of him doing it for, say, the Buffalo Bisons. Not because he's lost his mind, but because he wants to. This, basically, is what Amata has done. For more than a decade, he's worked as a public defender -- in juvenile court, pretty much the dregs of the criminal justice system in the ol' prestige department. It's not by accident nor incompetence. As the head of the public defender's juvenile court division, Amata actually seems to like the work. He's also damn good at it. Genetically predisposed to distrust authority, Amata thrives on cases other lawyers wouldn't touch. It is not uncommon to see him in the hallways of juvenile court, files in hand, tie yanked wayward, yelling at a prosecutor or social worker about some perceived injustice against his clients, who all too often have no idea how lucky they are that he's their lawyer.