December 30, 2004

Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

old courthouse











The U-Haul is packed, more or less, the DI truck has left, and in an hour or so, I'll be off on the next installment of the adventure. I'll be back in a week for cats, in two weeks for wife, son, and dogs. I'm leaving this place where I married, where  my wife and sonPosted by Hello

were born, where my father-in-law, rest him, died in harness two hours after a pre-trial, and where somehow I came to rest and stayed put for the longest stretch of time since high school.

I first set foot in the old courthouse back in 1995, the day before my wedding. Months before, I'd applied for a job with the federal defenders, the first in a series of fool's errands to that august body.
(typical state court p.d. (center) interviews with federal p.d. (right) to bemusement of man of action (left))

They rejected me, and not for the last time, but sent my CV on to various Idaho chief p.d.'s who might have lower standards, including the chief in Twin, who invited me to interview. I'd found a job I liked in Washington State by then, as a prosecutor alas, but a civil prosecutor at least, but I figured, I'll be in town for a wedding, so what the heck, it'll be good juju for the future. What an odd day. I got the marriage license, met with the guy (who maybe didn't have the best people skills and surely would've fired my *ss within a year), ducked my ex-girlfriend the criminal defense lawyer in the parking lot, and drove around town buying mixed nuts and mints for the reception and listening to Kurdt Cobain yowling, "married...buried...yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." The wedding was much more fun.

Somehow I must have intuited that I'd be back, and since April 1998, here I've been. My boy Joe arrived in 1999, in time to meet his grandfather. My practice became exceedingly interesting: I befriended a few murderers, I saw others recover, I made a few stands and won a few trials though I let down a few other defendants, but in general felt I could hold my head up when running into old clients at the grocery outlet. I'm proud that want ads under my by-line said "Class standing is less important than commitment and a sense of humor." I had some remarkable colleagues with smarts and heart at the Twin Falls County Public Defenders Office. You know who you are. If you don't know who you are, thank you Jon O., Paulie, Tony, Casey, Denise, Wells, Robert, Julia, Brett, Robin C., Bryan, Christa, Jack, L. Scott, Sandra, Charles, Teri, Ben, Susan, Robin W., Chris, Brody, and Marilyn. I leave an orphaned placeholder of a website to whoever can figure out how to update it. I haven't exactly finished my course, but I am taking it on the road now.

Consequently, this site will be going radio silent for a couple of weeks or so while I learn the ropes of my new posting. So it's farewell, Idaho, my old antagonist and friend, until we meet again.

Justice and honor

One of my heroes, Sister Helen Prejean has a timely and astrigent reminder in the New York Review of Books about George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales, the death penalty, and the quality of mercy:

I already knew the substance of Bush's position toward Karla Faye, but I had never heard the last sentence of his press statement: "May God bless Karla Faye Tucker and may God bless her victims and their families."

Immediately after the statement, King turned to me for a response. When I heard Bush say, "God bless Karla Faye Tucker," I had to struggle to keep a vow I made to reverence every person, even those with whom I disagree most vehemently. Inside my soul I raged at Bush's hypocrisy, but the broadcast was live and global. With not much time to rein myself in, I took a quick breath, said a fierce prayer, looked into the camera, and said, "It's interesting to see that Governor Bush is now invoking God, asking God to bless Karla Faye Tucker, when he certainly didn't use the power in his own hands to bless her. He just had her killed."

I've never comprehended how the man can just mouth the words "Lord, Lord," and millions of good people will think he's godly. From Ricky Ray Rector to Karla Faye Tucker, W is no more moral than Clinton. I prize my autographed copy of "Dead Man Walking, and you can't just dismiss Sister Helen as a "liberal." Read her article.

In Idaho, by contrast, at the time the current president was living in Texas, we had a Republican governor with integrity and honor. In 1996, Phil Batt, to his eternal credit, and over the objections of the prosecutors and A.G., commuted the death sentence of Donald Paradis, a man who'd been wrongly convicted in 1981. But then, Phil was never seeking higher office.

(Bonus links to guitarist Bill Frisell and "Justice and Honor.")

December 29, 2004

U of I football murder defendant pleads not guilty

James J. Wells, one of two Seattle brothers accused of fatally shooting University of Idaho football player Eric McMillan, has pleaded not guilty in District Court up in Moscow.

Six other people — most of them Wells family members — also made initial appearances in magistrate court Monday on charges of lying to a grand jury.

Private attorney Tom Whitney of Moscow, who was appointed Monday to represent James Wells, said after the arraignment that he hasn't made a decision about whether to seek a separate trial or change of venue.

Moscow attorneys Greg Dickison and Charles Kovis have been appointed to two of the co-defendants. Kovis represents Matthew Wells.

McMillan, a starting freshman cornerback, was shot September 19 when he opened the door to his apartment. He managed to seek help from a neighbor and was driven to the hospital, but died about 11 hours later.

December 28, 2004

I swear I'm a lawyer! Why do you ask?

Not only has Professor Chin of Crim Prof Blog sent lots of first-time visitors to my fourth-tier blawg over P. D. Wannabe's epic saga, he's listed many other examples of non-lawyers playing make-believe. High good fun.

And just to keep everything on the up-and-up, my bar numbers are 3711 (Idaho) and 23936 (Washington State). You could look it up.

December 27, 2004

Left and right unite to fight Patriot Act

Gotta love Congressman C.L. "Butch" Otter, upholder of the small-government tradition of the Republican Party and an Idahoan's Idahoan, who's credited with co-authoring an upcoming law review article critical of the Patriot Act.

Good old Butch has done freedom a service by opposing the Patriot Act from the right and from the beginning. In the upcoming article, he is joined by U of I law professor and former ACLU board member Elizabeth Brandt to focus on the expansion of "sneak and peek" searches under the Patriot Act. Both authors argue that allowing such searches in any widespread way violates the Fourth Amendment.

The article will appear in the spring 2005 edition of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy.

(Bonus link to our other congressman, Mike Simpson)

December 26, 2004

SLTrib column: "freedom's heroes" for 2004

Tribune Media Services columnist Robyn Blumner offers "those individuals deserving of special praise for protecting our nation's liberty" in 2004. Among them:

* "Army Spc. Joseph Darby, a reservist in the 372nd Military Police Co...the soldier who sparked the formal investigations into the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq";

* "Frank Dunham Jr...federal public defender for the Eastern District of Virginia, who has spent years vigorously defending terror suspects Yaser Hamdi and Zacarias Moussaoui from efforts by the Justice Department to strip his clients of many if not all of their constitutional rights"; and

* "the group of military attorneys who objected in the U.S. Supreme Court to the lack of fairness and legitimacy of the military tribunal system established by President Bush... These uniformed officers stood forcefully against the administration's claims that the Guantanamo prisoners should be denied the ability to challenge the legality of their imprisonment in federal court."

Vancouver USA homeless court

For Boxing Day, a positive story about poor people and the system from southwestern Washington State, down the road from Olympia and just across the big river from Portland:

A Fresh Start for the Homeless

"The homeless court provides a place for those living on the streets to clear up the legal issues that hold them back from finding housing or employment. That can include outstanding fines that drain their resources or outstanding warrants that impede their ability to get a job... (t)he ideal end result is, 'paying their debt to society but not destroying their lives.'"

December 24, 2004

Check your local listings


In the spirit of "Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey", Blonde Justice (the one pictured on the right) presents a new holiday tradition, "A Defense Attorney at Christmas."

December 23, 2004

CrimProf Blog ♥ Idaho

In another sign of Professor Godsey's regard for the great Gem State, CrimProf Blog has linked to another Idaho Supreme Court case, State v. LaMay. The court declined to extend the "recent occupant" rule of Belton to a search inside a defendant's home, and determined that the area within an arrestee's "immediate control" is where he is arrested, not where he is first approached by law enforcement.

The whole opinion in PDF format may be viewed here.

December 22, 2004

Those who count the votes decide everything

They play for keeps in my adopted state of Washington:


It seems that Christine Gregoire's unwillingness to play the Al Gore nice guy (or gal) role by rolling over and conceding, and instead choosing to fight the post-election legal challenge every bit as craftily and nastily as Karl Rove, has the R's in WA sputtering. It also seems that she'll be the next governor of Washington State.

Dino Rossi appears to be a nice enough guy for a winger, while Governor-elect Gregoire usually strikes me as the smart and not nice type of person you'd prefer to have as an ally than an enemy. It'll be interesting to hear the echoes of Florida and Bush v. Gore when the R's attack the legitimacy of her governorship; R's like Rove and GWB might yet regret having awakened the ghosts of LBJ and Richard J. Daley on the D's side. This time around, D's like Gregoire are going to give as bad as they get, so it's gonna be a bumpy ride. I don't have the stomach to participate in this game, but it will be highly entertaining to have a ring-side seat when I move to Olympia next week.

December 21, 2004

For the want of a nail

Last Friday, the Idaho Supreme Court granted post-conviction relief in an ineffective assistance of counsel case, McKeeth v. State, all for the omission of one letter of the alphabet.

McKeeth was facing six counts. Defense counsel drafted a conditional plea agreement and the State agreed. It provided that “[i]f the defendant prevails on appeal, he will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to the charge.”

So on his first appeal, McKeeth gets three counts dismissed and three affirmed. But then, the Court of Appeals doesn't let him withdraw his guilty plea to the remaining three counts, reasoning that the language of the plea agreement provided for McKeeth to withdraw his plea to only those counts he was able to prevail upon in his appeal. Understandably, McKeeth filed for post-conviction relief.

At the evidentiary hearing, McKeeth's first lawyer testified that 'out of haste' he mistakenly left off an “s” at the end of the word “charge” on the plea agreement. Not only did McKeeth and his original attorney testify they intended to reserve the right to withdraw the guilty pleas on all counts if McKeeth prevailed on appeal regarding any one of them, a prosecutor testified “that although they did not realize it at the time, they now believed McKeeth and his attorney did intend to reserve such a right.”

It took the Supreme Court (Burdick, J.) to deliver the result which everyone intended in the first place:

McKeeth’s plea was not voluntarily made because it was based on the incorrect advice and understanding of counsel resulting from counsel’s clerical error. Counsel’s deficiency in drafting a plea agreement that did not contain the protections counsel and McKeeth intended to preserve constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel. But for his counsel’s errors, McKeeth would not have pleaded guilty and would have proceeded to trial. This Court therefore reverses the district court and vacates McKeeth’s guilty pleas to the remaining counts of the charges against him.

All avoidable from the get with ten seconds' worth of proofreading.

December 19, 2004

The Wire: twilight of the gods

"Look, I mean, it don't matter who started it with who. I mean, we at war and once you in it, you in it. I mean, even if it is a lie, then we post on a lie, but we gotta' post."

Farewell to The Wire, from Marlo appearing at Avon's arraignment to tattered fliers for Frank Sobotka to Bubbles surveying the ruins, a decent season finale, and a fair place to end it if this truly was a series finale. I'll miss it, but I'll save by no longer having to subscribe to HBO.

December 18, 2004

In Boise, all your parking sins forgiven (offer not available in Twin Falls)

In my hometown of Boise, in place of the old-fashioned giving to the poor and needy at Christmas time, some local pastors have decided to pay off miscreants' parking tickets. Some see it as a teaching moment and a chance for evangelization. This did not sit well with some Idahoans.

We here in the Double Drip are made of sterner stuff. Thanks to the miracle of new legislation and a public-private partnership with collection agencies, no excuse if you've already paid your tickets, even a decade ago - we will hound you until you pay again:

She was just 13 years old when she was arrested for smoking a cigarette... Her sentence was a $51.50 fine, six months' probation and a round of smoking cessation classes. Now, 10 years later, the county is telling Jenette Worthington she never paid that $51.50 fine and, if she doesn't pay up now, a warrant will be issued for her arrest and the bill will be turned over to a collection agency.

Worthington's bill is the result of a new initiative to collect fines that were supposedly never paid. In some cases, the letters come with the threat of an arrest warrant for citations that are more than 10 years old... But each person who has received the notices and spoken with The Times-News has something interesting in common: they distinctly remember paying the fine.

Even the IRS says you only need to hold on to records for seven years. So why does Twin Falls County assume people would keep receipts from more than a decade ago?... Public defenders only keep records for 10 years...How can they expect us to?"


(Link here - story will be in free archive for the next 7 days.)

In this blessed season, from all of us in Twin Falls, a very heart-felt "Bah, Humbug!"

Kirsten Anderberg watch

In the midst of a call for a public defender general strike, Kirsten Anderberg has written about an instance of bad p.d. behavior from the point of view of a client. It's helpful to see her perspective; she sheds a little light on how the personal becomes political, as personal dealings with some harried and rude p.d. staff at SCRAP in Seattle lead eventually to her condemnation of all p.d.s everywhere.

Multiply that by 100 or 200, and you have baggage on both sides that leads to the beginnings of mutually suspicious attorney-client relationships with many people in your caseload. Once clients have been burned before, you singing "one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl" isn't really going to heal the damage, no matter how good you sound. It's part of the prior experience that clients bring in. When the objective stats show just the opposite, many clients will continue to believe that it's "quite standard knowledge that if you use a public defender, you have a much, much greater chance of going to jail than if you use a private attorney," a misperception that keeps the private-sector dumptrucks and bottom-feeders in business.

I suppose you just do your best within the strictures you face with whoever G d puts in your path. What you don't do is abandon your client. Anderberg doesn't talk about the duty of zealous representation, and I imagine that she wouldn't believe that it exists anyhow. She does seem to believe that no representation is better than representation by a p.d., and again, I think she must have been really screwed over by a p.d. or two in the past to reach that conclusion. The vast majority of my p.d. brothers and sisters are committed to doing better by our clients than that, and Anderberg's experience reminds me that while neither of us asked to be in this relationship, clients and p.d.'s need to start by building some trust.

I would hope I would do a better job than "Sam," even if overloaded. I'm obliged to stand with the one client beside me, even if there are 65 more waiting in the queue. When it's their time, I'll stand by each one of them. I'm not quite clear on how us going on strike leads to fewer people going to jail, or more people getting out of jail sooner. As for clients' moms, I'll have to refer to the Big Dog theory.

I've been unkind to Anderberg's essays in the past and I don't share her opinions, but I need to acknowledge her meeting us p.d.'s halfway with her support for lower caseloads and better funding. She's quoted some good authority out of King County. Finally, I do agree with her on one point: "it is time they quit blaming others." This could go equally for p.d.'s, and for individuals charged with crimes.

Update: Alaskablawg puts it better than I did.

December 17, 2004

News: ethics actually discussed at ethics CLE

Glad to say I've met my needs for a rental in the Olympia school district for the pets and us, found the new office with a 15-minute commute that avoids I-5, and picked up 4 (pending) Washington ethics credits.

Compliments to presenter Mike Gaffney of the Division of Governmental Studies & Services at Wazzu. The class was arranged for us public defenders and prosecutors by the local county extension agent; I liked that a land grant school sees its teaching mission extending beyond farmers and stockmen. Then our instructor got up and started talking about Aristotle of all things. This was going to be interesting.

Just about every other ethics CLE I've attended has been an uninspired slog through the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. The format has been something like, "okay, let's hypothetically that say you do X; Model Rule X.XX says that you can't do that; everybody got that? okay, let's move on to Model Rule X.XY." If they really wanted to spice things up, they'd add, "but let's compare that to what the ABA proposed revisions to the Model Rules say." Riveting, what?

By contrast, the CLE this week was about, well, ethics. Imagine that, morality and right conduct being addressed in a room full of lawyers. Not the minimum we can get away with to avoid a Bar complaint, but what we ought to aspire to. Talk about the public trust and our own inner compasses. Those words "moral" and "morals" being bandied about, and John Stuart Mill thrown in for good measure. All this on the taxpayers' nickel, in a Blue state no less. Felt like I was back in undergrad - it was great.

December 11, 2004

Hierarchy of needs


I have a job in green and pleasant Olympia; now I'm off to Oly for a few days to find shelter and a few CLE's. Talk to you Thursday or so.

Nicest blogger and others

Fed #84 is this brainiac young attorney with a growing national reputation, who can deftly parse, dismantle, and explain 10 Supreme Court opinions in the time it takes me to say, "ummm, Whren sucks."

So I'm pleased as punched to be listed in such company. I'm also glad my blog name starts with the letter "A". Check out the list; I'm not worthy! I feel like I stumbled into the smart lawyers pageant and was just named Miss Congeniality. Thank you, Mike.

December 10, 2004

P.D. a go-go

Well, apparently Broward County's p.d. problems go beyond naked dancing public defenders:

Conflict deepens between incoming and outgoing public defenders.

Some details:

- the incoming chief p.d. displays his people skills by sending an e-mail to all attorneys stating that he will "no longer use the criteria of young, good-looking, rich or trial numbers alone" in picking future staffers;

- the outgoing chief p.d. defends his political graft and patronage machine by stating that "using the office staff as volunteers and donors in campaigns (his campaigns for re-election - ed.) gives us clout in the courtroom";

- politics, old guys with ponytails, past cocaine addiction, a lawyer crashing into a patrol car, lawyers with beautiful blue eyes, secret budgets, sexual harassment allegations, rescinded raises, recriminations, and the aforesaid nude dancing;

it's all great reading, with nary a mention of how (or when) the office represents actual clients. Is it any wonder that this story comes from Florida?

December 09, 2004

Your Terry stop ends where my front door begins

CrimProf Blog shines the spotlight of academe on the Idaho Supreme Court and Twin Falls' own Judge Burdick for the opinion in State v. Maland, holding that "police may not make a warrantless, nonconsensual entry into a residence in order to effectuate a Terry stop." John Adams, Coeur d'Alene ├╝ber-p.d., gets the win.

CrimProf's comment section says, "It's sad that such a common sense case is...big news." For the next 90 days, here's a place that you can read the opinion for free. While you're there, check out State v. LaMay, a search incident to arrest case. Looks like I'm leaving just as Idaho's developing some common sense search-and-seizure caselaw.

December 08, 2004

We accept you! One of us!

Whew! That was close! We nearly lost Public Defender Dude!

"Slippage"

I'm even more grateful that I was able to find a p.d. job on Puget Sound in light of this:

King County (Metro Seattle) whacks the public-defenders budget by $1 million


"...(T)he Metropolitan King County Council approved ...increases for both the prosecuting attorney's office and the sheriff's department. But it also included almost $1 million in cuts from the county's public-defense system..."

"The 2005 budget situation is so bad that Northwest Defenders, one of four nonprofit public-defense firms that are under contract to the county, will be run at a deficit and might have to close its doors."

"We're the least favored in human services," says Eileen Farley, director of the Northwest Defenders Association... "I don't have anyone left to lay off."

December 07, 2004

December seventh

Thinking today about the historical event of the day, one which relates to me and this site only in the most tangential way: as one of the unforeseen consequences of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor sixty-three years ago, here I am. Let me walk through this:

I called my mom tonight. In December 1941, she was a student at Lowell High School in San Francisco. The news broke in to the sunday Philharmonic broadcast. The next day, December 8th, high school boys were talking about enlisting. By spring, many high school classmates had gone, but not all to war. The Japanese-American kids were being sent to way stations and camps. My mom remembers driving down Geary Street seeing piles of furniture and belongings outside people's houses, seeing soldiers with rifles, and not being able to speak to friends as they were leaving.

Meanwhile up the coast, my dad already had joined up and was off to become a naval aviator by the time Western Washington's Issei and other Japanese-Americans were being rounded up. Many people from Seattle, Tacoma, Bainbridge Island, and even Olympia wound up here, not twenty miles from my Idaho desert home:
 Posted by Hello

It's the Minidoka Relocation Center, or Hunt, Idaho, in its time one of the biggest cities in Idaho. Nearly ten percent of the camp’s population – about 1,000 internees - were in U.S. military service. Of the ten relocation centers, Minidoka had the most volunteers. 73 soldiers from Minidoka died while fighting for the United States.

The camp ran from August 1942 until October 1945. The site is now the Minidoka Internment National Monument. There's not much left out there, but for me the ruins and the outlines of the tarpaper shacks where people spent the Idaho winters and summers are still a fine rebuke to anyone who wants to speak up in defense of internment.

As for the personal story, the Navy trained my dad to fly multi-engine transport planes, R4D's and R5D's, everywhere from New Guinea to Oakland, which, being one bridge away from The City, is how he met my mom. I arrived 16 years and five kids after V-J Day.

We now resume our regular public-defender-related rambling.

Immediate opening for p.d. - must keep clothes on, hands to self

As a public service, this blog brings you this item of compelling human interest:

Assistant public defender quits amid allegations about harassment, nude dancing

In Montana, this sort of behavior used to get you promoted.

December 04, 2004

Absolute beginner

Remember Jeffrey Fisher, the 33-year-old unreal criminal defense appellate god who won both Crawford and Blakely? Remember when I told you to watch out for this guy? The Seattle Times knew he would be huge.

Now thanks to David Feige's piece in the L.A. Times, everybody else does too:

"(W)hen Fisher stepped to the podium in the fall of 2003 to argue the Crawford case, he had been eligible to practice before the high court for less than six months. Crawford and Blakely were the first criminal cases he had ever argued."

"Two wins in the Supreme Court in a single term — "That's nothing short of extraordinary," says Drew S. Days III, U.S. solicitor general during the Clinton administration. That sentiment is shared by U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt, for whom Fisher clerked: "I doubt anyone has ever, at this early stage in his career, argued and won two cases like these.""

Outstanding.

Fall on your sword

There is a really interesting exchange between Fed #84 and Professor Yin touching on the proper role of trial counsel in the post-conviction relief process.

Yin's approach seems premised on the assumption that the greater problem is all these criminal defense attorneys lying and readily willing to lie to help clients after they lose. After setting up some straw men (such as, a criminal defense lawyer forges a document post-trial to get his client off) then knocking them down, Yin concludes that "it's in the long term interest of the system to have defense attorneys not fall on their sword unless warranted". He doesn't quite tell us how and when it would be warranted.

Fed #84 states that, "... offering self-critical but subjective sentiments are what I consider falling on one's sword. After all, the person saying those things is insulting himself." This is actually what the profession could use more of. I think that Fed #84 gets the better part of this discussion from the point of view of the trenches.

In my experience, the bigger problem than criminal defense lawyers telling lies about their deficient performance has been to get criminal defense lawyers to tell the truth about their deficient performance. When an old client files a PCR petition, too many trial attorneys have too much ego invested in their Spence-like self-image to come forward and concede that they might just possibly have made at least one mistake in the handling of the case. Each one of us likely can think of at least one attorney whose work objectively isn't up to Strickland standards - and the sooner that lawyer owns up to it, the better! (hey, it's not me! I have been on the stand and have signed affidavits in PCR proceedings. Where I've done a good job, I've said so; where I didn't, I've said so too.)

We all make mistakes, even our President. And like our President, fessing up to them doesn't come easy. But fessing up not just good for the soul, it's good for the system. The integrity of the criminal courts is troubled less often I think by attorneys lying that they performed poorly, than by attorneys fighting ineffective assistance claims tooth and nail when the old client has a valid point. "When warranted" is not much of a bright line rule for responding to an old client's PCR claims, even IAC claims. It seems that a continuing duty of loyalty to the client, combined with a continuous duty of candor to the courts, requires us criminal defense attorneys to fall on our swords every time it's the truth, not just when we decide it's warranted.

December 03, 2004

Friday cat warming device picture

 Posted by Hello

What cats did before the invention of personal computers.

December 02, 2004

A train wreck disguised as a murder trial

From the northernmost courtroom in Idaho, a vivid picture from the Kootenai Valley Press of the justice system, steaming and screeching, going off the rails: a recent Idaho Court of Appeals opinion, State v. Manley

"...raises a litany of procedural errors that plagued the trial from the outset, including the failure of the defense, state-appointed counsel Roger Williams, to provide written discovery until one week before the date the trial had been set and that then-prosecutor Mark Jones didn’t reveal one of his expert witnesses until four days before the trial was to begin."

"A statement testified to by arresting officer Pete Atkins that would have proven that Joseph knew of his brother’s death before deputies arrived was thrown out as the statement, “I didn’t kill my own brother,” allegedly made immediately after Joseph was confronted that night, appeared no where but in Atkin’s testimony; it wasn’t on the recording made the night of the arrest nor in the report Atkins subsequently wrote."

"Next, questions were raised over blood spatter evidence, which the defense contended hadn’t been disclosed prior to trial. “The objection was made and overruled,” the court wrote."

"The case didn’t turn truly odd until it was in its fourth day, when Williams attempted to enter five exhibits, most to refute testimony on the blood spatter evidence and none of which had been disclosed to the state."

"After Judge James Michaud, now retired, excluded three of those exhibits for lack of disclosure but ruled the remaining two might be introduced later if proper foundation was laid, there ensued an argument between Williams and Michaud that ended with the court declaring a mistrial."

"Williams contended that Michaud’s ruling was made not on legal grounds, but because the judge knew that Williams supported Michaud’s opponent in an upcoming election. After telling the judge he resented the way he was being treated, Williams grabbed his chest and told the judge, “God help me if I don’t have a heart attack over it.”"

Williams didn't have that heart attack, but he did retire shortly after the trial. I can't tell you how proud I am to have shared the profession with such a kook.

Update: for visitors from Crim Law, many lawyers and other Idahoans, and FedSoc itself, agreed with Ken about this judge, but you see, until the judge resigned just before the election, saying so could get an Idaho lawyer in trouble with the Bar. See In re Topp, 129 Idaho 414, 925 P.2d 1113 (1996), cert.denied, 117 S.Ct. 1334 (1997).

Judge DQ'ed in U of I football player murder

Here in Idaho, District Judge John Stegner has stepped aside from the first-degree murder case of University of Idaho football player Eric McMillan, who was shot September 19 in Moscow. A new DJ has been assigned.

Defendant Matthew Wells II, through his appointed counsel, moved to disqualify the judge. Two other co-defendants are waiting to be extradited from just across the border in Washington State.

December 01, 2004

Mrs. Paul, you have the con

The Twin Falls (Idaho) County Commissioners have appointed former Navy lieutenant Marilyn Paul to the position of Chief Public Defender. Best wishes for smooth sailing are pouring in from all quarters, and an extra ration of grog has been ordered for all hands.

Update: Short blurb from the local paper here (scroll down after "Freak accident destroys family's home" to "New public defender")