How could I have missed this, when I've been on the look-out for uplifting stories of tattoo 'ed Americans? This news from back in November, on KUTV:
Utah’s Public Enemy Number One Arrested
Lt. Chris Bertram of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office says he’s a very dangerous person and that’s why he was public enemy number one. "It was some of the things he was engaged in," says Bertram. "He was a member of a white supremacist gang..."
'Course the defendant made that bit of police deduction a little easier:
December 31, 2006
How could I have missed this, when I've been on the look-out for uplifting stories of tattoo 'ed Americans? This news from back in November, on KUTV:
From Law & Order: Magistrate Court, why might a young prosecutor feel the need to vent?
Because my job is the same every day. Snide or condescending defense lawyers that think I'm a lowly misdemeanor prosecutor and not that smart. Public Defenders that whine about their clients' sad stories. Magistrate "judges" with no legal education on power trips. Smelly criminals. Crazy victims...
It's telling that this blogger's mission statement says:
I never intended to get into criminal law, but that was the first job I got...
It's an uncomfortable responsibility.
- 12:28 PM
December 30, 2006
Interesting discussion amongst the law students on the topic:
How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
including this relevation from Moonchigger:
The head of the Colorado PD's office actually told us at an informational meeting that they view working for the DA as a huge black mark. While he didn't say it would be an automatic disqualification, he did state that there was no PD he knew that could even consider being a prosecutor.
Well, he didn't know me then. So relieved to know that my years prosecuting child support cases aren't an automatic disqualification. Oh, the shame of representing The People, particularly on the days when I'd have to fill in on the criminal docket. On those days, I'd say things like, "Your Honor, the State of Washington wants... uh, whatever Your Honor wants," and then stare down at my shoes. Somehow, I could just feel the disembodied head of a PD's office somewhere glaring down at me - how my face would burn.
Hope I've redeemed myself in the nine years since then, though the black mark is still visible. It's nice to know:
(T)hat's not how the PD Office in GA works.
Not in Idaho either. Lucky for me, not in some parts of Washington. There's also the honorable example of Ken Lammers, lawyer for the people whichever side of the courtroom.
So, "how could you?" How could I even consider being a prosecutor? The question sure takes me back. Was it the glass ceiling between misdemeanors and felonies, with none of the senior felony guys (and they were all guys) going anywhere before retirement? Was it the cheery welcome on breaking through the ceiling, being told by one of the old guys, "none of you are qualified to handle these"? Could it have been the day I watched an older colleague argue for the release on his own recognizance of a con who'd previously raped someone close to me?
We all have our reasons, and our paths out of the job, and our paths back. None of them are disqualifying. As pointed out by commenter John Galt (how's that for a name for a freedom-fighting p.d.?):
An office as important as the PD should probably just focus on hiring the best attorney available.
And if you were feeling charitable, and maybe if you had more than one opening to fill, you could do as my current boss did, and take a chance on a one-time prosecutor like me.
- 1:32 PM
December 29, 2006
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Well, I'm sold. No more worrying over whether a lawyer will except my case.
- 10:37 PM
December 28, 2006
This county's comparatively mellow, less meth, more marijuana, but it's still far from Lotus Land. From the Olympian:
Killer sentenced: 'I do lack remorse'
Paul "Playboy" Johns was defiant Wednesday as a Thurston County Superior Court judge sentenced him to more than 66 years in prison for Lynn Soeby's shooting death in May.
"I'm not going to stand here and BS the court. I'm not going to stand here and BS the Soeby family," said Johns, 29. "You're right. I do lack remorse. I grew up with nothing. I have nothing. ...
"You guys want my life, cool, I'm about to spend my life. No matter how we look at it, Lynn ain't coming back. Neither am I. I don't ask for your guys' forgiveness or the court's forgiveness..."
Sex offender jailed after online baby-sitting ad
A neighbor of John Gilbert Gray on Fern Street became alarmed after discovering that Gray, a convicted Level 3 sex offender, was advertising his services as a baby sitter on craigslist.org...
- 11:29 PM
From the Times-News:
Charged with Murder - Police: Accused worried victim would 'snitch' about robberies
A Twin Falls woman and three Hazelton men have been charged with the first-degree murder of Jessie Aaron Coates, 19, of Hazelton and with developing an elaborate plan to murder Coates and dump his body in the South Hills.
Fredy Heredia-Juarez, 21, James Roy John Jr., 19, Michael Lee John, 18, and his girlfriend, Nicole Lea Baker, 23, were arraigned Thursday in Twin Falls County court on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy. If convicted, all four defendants could face death sentences or spend their lives in prison...
19... damn. My old county (pop. 66,000) finishes this year with more murders than my new county (pop. 225,000). My poor old office. Poor Twin.
Update: video here. The woman with red hair is the chief public defender. Note that there are no sally ports to the courtrooms.
- 11:19 PM
Law student Grace at Law with Grace is not impressed with the thinking behind the budget cutting in Cook County:
At first it seemed like the PD's office would refuse to comply. But they've had a change of ummm.... uhhhh...heart? Like, overnight. I'd LOVE to know how that happened. Suffice it to say that politics in Chicago are rarely as they seem...
Todd Stroger calls for a 17% budget cut of the PD's office. The PD's office complies, resulting in about 50 assistant public defenders being laid off.
A little something called Gideon v. Wainwright means that a defendant has a right to counsel. Currently, this is not something Cook County is exempt from providing its defendants...
More from Soapblox Chicago (nice Haymarket graphic by the way):
Cook County to Cut "Fat" From Public Defenders' Office By Possibly Spending More Money:
Federal law mandates that legal representation be provided at the county's expense for indigent defendants, but private attorneys start twice as high as the measly wages the public defender's union has been able to negotiate. The only rationale for cuts in the public defender's office is to give the appearance of cutting spending while deferring the inevitable substantially higher costs into a later timeframe and buying time to lay the blame.
And you can always keep up with the latest on the Cook County Public Defenders Association Blog (AFSCME Local 3315).
- 10:51 PM
Voting is continuing in Public Defender Stuff's p.d. bloggers' version of the Miss U.S.A. pageant.
I feel really embarassed that some people picked me as "Public Defender Blogger You'd Like To Be When You Grow Up." Sure I'm flattered, but since I trust you, you also ought to know about my worst case, when I choked and was ineffective (don't take my word for it - see the Idaho Court of Appeals opinion here (pdf file)).
There's also my inordinate interest in walruses and wolves to consider.
For those highly esteemed colleagues (I think it's the same Karl) who've already voted, it's too late (unless they want to vote more than once). For those of you who haven't, take care in choosing a good public defender role model - otherwise there's no telling how you could turn out.
- 7:04 PM
In Cook County, Illinois, the public defender rank and file aren't taking the layoffs of possibly 50 attorneys lying down.
Too bad that their boss is.
Too bad for the clients - remember them?
Finally, from Montana, Rabid Sanity reminds us that not all public defenders are joiners:
I find it ridiculous that lawyers have unions.
Bonus link explains "card check."
- 12:27 PM
December 27, 2006
Back in my homeland, when an officer couldn't find any section of Idaho Code to fit a perceived 'crime,' he just made one up. And, the case went right past the trial judge up to the Court of Appeals. Thanks to fellow Idaho lawyer (and expatriate) Useful Information:
This month, we learn of another unlucky fellow — Blaine Murray, who got stopped by an Idaho Fish & Game officer and cited for the offense of "Violate Forest Service Road Closure."
The citation indicated that "Violate Forest Service Road Closure" is codified at "I.C. 36-401(b)10(C)." But if you take a look, you’ll see that there is no "I.C. 36-401(b)10(C)." Of course, the prosecutor who argued the charge against Mr. Murray recognized that. That’s why the prosecutor moved to amend the charge by adding a "1," to make it "I.C. 36-1401(b)10(C)." The magistrate allowed the amendment, and the wheels of justice rolled on.
Except that there is no "I.C. 36-1401(b)10(C)" either...
More fun in Fremont County magistrates court - where Murray was convicted - here. The opinion, State v. Murray, No. 32394 (Idaho App. Nov. 30, 2006) is here (pdf file). As Useful Info notes:
The Court of Appeals, after careful analysis, concluded that this fiasco "presents the rare circumstance where a charging document fails, under even the most liberal construction, to charge an offense and therefore is insufficient to confer subject matter jurisdiction on an Idaho court."
- 8:56 PM
December 26, 2006
From the Bonner County Bee:
Gillispie's mental competency questioned
A mental competency evaluation is being ordered for... Ronald Anthony Gillispie. (He) wants to withdraw his pleas, but his defense counsel, Chief Deputy Public Defender Isabella Robertson, is worried her client is unable to grasp the potential consequences of such a move...
Robertson said in court filings that Gillispie is "ensconsed in a fantasy world" where is unable to accept the fact that the withdrawal of his guilty plea in the rape case could have dire consequences... Robertson adds that Gillispie won't keep phone appointments, yet blames her for not staying in touch. He also continues to assert defenses which are not available to him and refuses to listen when Robertson attempts to explain tactics which are available, documents said.
"Gillispie appears to desire a legal assistant that he can order about rather than allow the utilization of the skills of a trained attorney who must handle his case in an ethical manner not only for him but in the presence of this court," Robertson wrote.
Conflict much? I see where you're going with this, counselor, and I know the feeling - frustrating, isn't it? I'm just not sure about putting it all down in writing and filing it with the court.
- 12:00 AM
December 22, 2006
It doesn't sound as though the Cook County public defenders are going to take the threatened budget cuts and lay-offs lying down:
We will fight to protect the public, our client’s rights to quality representation in the criminal justice system, and the jobs of all public defenders. As we who work here know, layoffs of public defenders would cripple an already teetering justice system...
- 6:56 PM
From the Olympian:
Attorney resigns under cloud
Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney William Halstead, who was arrested Oct. 22 when he was found in a women's restroom at Qwest Field during a Seahawks game, will resign effective the end of the year...
Halstead has worked in the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office for about 10 years, with one break when he worked elsewhere...
On Monday, Halstead won two first-degree murder convictions for a case he prosecuted in Thurston County Superior Court. The case involveed murder charges against two men, James Faircloth and Paul V. Johns...
In a phone interview last week, (elected prosecutor Ed) Holm said he was waiting to discipline Halstead for his Oct. 22 arrest until the conclusion of the murder trial...
Courthouse scuttlebutt has it that Ed Holm did wait - for a whole five minutes after the verdicts.
One commenter on the Olympian website says, "The wrong person resigned," while another says, "Good luck in the private sector, Will. This could be a blessing in disguise. You'll be much better off financially and less likely to be subjected to this type of humiliation."
- 12:25 PM
December 21, 2006
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Many lawyers could lose jobs - Prosecutors, public defenders would feel pinch
Tensions are roiling the Cook County public defender's office amid fears the county's budget woes could force deep cuts in legal staff.
The 10 percent budget cut initially requested by county officials would force layoffs of 150 lawyers, Public Defender Ed Burnette said. If County Board President Todd Stroger gets the 17 percent cut he is now asking for, at least 210 assistant public defenders would have to be cut, another source said. "It's going to be devastating," Burnette said...
Send some love to the colleagues in Chicagoland, the poor bastards.
Update: they have a blog.
- 12:06 PM
December 20, 2006
From the Idaho State Journal:
Stoddart Transcript Sealed
A local judge sealed the transcript Wednesday of the preliminary hearing for two teens accused of killing Cassie Jo Stoddart. Sixth District Judge Peter D. McDermott said the Nov. 3 preliminary hearing was open to the public and there was no sense in rehashing it in the media...
Torey Adamcik and Brian Draper (are) the two 16-year-old Pocatello High School juniors accused of killing Stoddart... McDermott set an April 10 trial date...
Defense attorneys for Adamcik and Draper have said numerous times during the court process that they are concerned the local jury pool may be tainted because of the extensive media attention the case has received.
One of Draper’s attorneys, Bannock County Public Defender Randy Schulthies, said he believes sealing the transcript will increase his client’s chances of getting a fair trial and impartial jury...
- 9:14 PM
December 19, 2006
From the Twin Falls Times-News:
Verdict: Guilty - Jury issues verdict in meth-related shotgun slaying
(A) jury unanimously found Donald Brink guilty of first-degree murder. The jury also found that Brink used a firearm to commit the crime, which could boost his prison time past a life sentence.
Brink had been charged in the May 29, 2005, shotgun slaying of Brent "Spook" Lillevold... "I think it's sad that somebody ruined their own life that quickly," said Deanna Lombard, the victim's daughter, after the verdict. "But I have no remorse..."
Lillevold's family said after the trial Tuesday that they hold Brink responsible for killing Lillevold. That makes him unsafe for the streets, they said. But would he still have murdered Lillevold if neither he nor the victim had been addicted to meth? Deanna Lombard speculated that he might not have...
Video here of the closing arguments and the verdict.
- 11:29 PM
From the Olympian:
Jury convicts 2 men in slaying of woman
Paul Vincent Johns Jr. had two words Monday after a jury found him and another man guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping.
"Bang, bang," he said to the family and friends of Lynn Soeby, 47, a woman who was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in the woods south of Tenino...
- 11:23 PM
The other day in open court (in this state, almost all juvenile hearings are in open court), once my kid's mother finished explaining that it was a cultural thing for her teenager to carry a weapon (a big scary brass knuckles thing, with a serrated blade facing out and two more blades that flipped out to the sides), my dear client said, "your Honor, if I'd meant to use it, I assure you that someone would've been hurt bad."
I stared down at the floor, hoping for a sudden earthquake to open up a chasm for me to jump into and hide.
- 10:35 PM
December 18, 2006
Elko County, Nevada has an opening for a deputy public defender:
Nevada bar license is preferred, but is NOT required, as long as the applicant is a licensed member of the bar, in good standing, from another state. Nevada Supreme Court Rule 49.9 allows for a Deputy Public Defender in a rural Nevada county to be waived in to practice for up to 2 years pending passage of the Nevada bar exam. The starting salary is $50,000 to $60,000 per year...
Doesn't suck. The Ruby Mountains are beautiful, particularly around Lamoille. I'm partial to Jarbidge and its surroundings. There's the famous cowboy poetry slam. And Basque food... mmm, Basque food. Plus, it's 2 hours or less to that true meeting point of Northeastern Nevadans, the Costco in Twin Falls, Idaho.
- 9:36 PM
December 17, 2006
From North Dakota, video of the former DA put in charge of the statewide p.d. system, and a few upbeat words from one of her deputies. From KXMB:
North Dakota Opens New Public Defender Offices
"We're all state employees, full-time attorneys, working actually against the state. It's almost schizophrenic, the state hires us to fight the criminal process."
"The tricky thing about doing contract work is that a criminal contract is a bit like a cancer, it grows, it consumes all of your time and so it basically takes over your practice so that your private cases can suffer."
Let's see: comparing our public defender work to schizophrenia and private p.d. work to cancer, stressing how unpopular our job is... somebody could use a hug (and some p.r. training).
Bonus link goes to Vera Institute for some ways to argue how public defender offices are a positive for the community.
- 11:23 AM
December 16, 2006
Along with one million of our PNW neighbors, on Friday we lost power in the big storm. The family and juvenile courthouse switched to a back-up generator, but with only enough power for a few lights, and no computers or recording devices, they took one detention hearing and cancelled the rest of the docket. Back at the office, power was off then on, then off and on, then back off for good. We served the public no more that day.
At home we had an impromptu family home evening, bundling up and reading stories by flashlight, like camping in our own house. Today 240,000 of us have electricity again thanks to the hard-working folks at our local utility. Welcome back, Reddy Kilowatt, we missed you.
- 10:54 AM
From the Olympian:
Soeby slaying trial heads to jury
Paul "Playboy" Johns offered Lynn Soeby one last cigarette before marching her into the woods south of Tenino the night of April 13 and fatally shooting her in the head... Johns and his former roommate, James "O.J." Faircloth, are each charged with first-degree murder and other charges in connection with Soeby's slaying...
Deliberations continue in local murder case
Question: would this bit of prosecutor closing argument vouching -
During closings, Halstead told the jury that Jordan's testimony is believable. "Robbie was telling you the truth," Halstead said...
- be allowable in your jurisdiction? I didn't think so.
- 10:05 AM
From the Twin Falls Times-News:
'The gun went off' - Donald Brink takes stand in murder trial
Angry, very frustrated - even obsessed, Brink said he never wanted to kill (Brent) Lillevold. What obsessed him was getting back his van...
In court Thursday, Brink said his hand bumped the trigger. He denied ever pulling it. He said he was backing up when the sawed-off shotgun in his hands went off. Brink was the only one in the room holding a gun...
- 10:00 AM
December 14, 2006
From the Tri-City Herald:
2 ex-attorneys indicted in dollars-for-deals case
A federal grand jury indicted two former Tri-City attorneys Tuesday for their alleged roles in a scheme that allowed clients to pay their way out of charges they faced in Benton County District Court.
Former Assistant City Attorney Tyler M. Morris and Jeff Finney were indicted on charges stemming from their alleged participation in arranging out-of-court payments and diverting up to $50,000 to their own pockets.
Two attorneys charged with public corruption
The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington is calling it public corruption. His office alleges Tyler Morris, an assistant prosecutor for the City of Kennewick and Jeff Finney, a defense attorney, were in cahoots and were pocketing money from Finney's clients. It's alleged Morris asked for cash donations from Finney in exchange for his clients to have reduced or dismissed cases...
- 7:18 PM
From the Times-News:
Day two: Murder over a van - Donald Brink murder trial
Hollering death threats, sawing the stock off a shotgun and engaging in a manhunt for the victim - if Donald Brink did not murder Brent "Spook" Lillevold in cold blood, it is because his blood was boiling, Wednesday's witnesses testified...
- 7:15 PM
December 12, 2006
Meet the tis-the-seasonally named Sugar Plum, whose name we're keeping, but will call Sugar, Miss Plum, Shug, or Bad Kitten No No as the mood (or the cat) strikes us. She, her mom, and her siblings were abandoned, then rescued by the kind people at Feline Friends. Joe picked her out on Sunday.
* it seems that before we met her, our kitten posed for Stella Marrs' Bad Cat projects, available from the artist or from buyolympia.com.
* Charges Against Accused Serial Meower Are Dismissed
- 10:11 PM
Recommended by Raymond P. Ward of Minor Wisdom, read this if you haven't read it yet -
Justice on Katrina Time - Hundreds, if not thousands, languish behind bars without their day in court
(I)n post-Katrina New Orleans(,) (a)n untold number of people got "lost" in the prison system in the weeks immediately after the storm... Many are still among the 3,000 active criminal court cases. At least 85% of them qualify for representation by a public defender...
The city's indigent defense system has long been plagued by negligent attorneys who provide haphazard and deficient representation. But in the months after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the program spiraled into chaos...
Ray observes that the characterization of the attorneys "...is probably an unfair criticism of people who did their best in impossible circumstances."
See also Do Not Pass Geaux.
- 9:57 PM
December 11, 2006
In its way, this is good news - from Legal Sanity:
organizational disrespect in the law
(B)urnout within a business or organization really reflects more on the employer than the employee...
(R)espect is critical to inducing or avoiding burnout because it fuels employee engagement in the workplace. Respect gives people the conviction that what they’re doing is important and meaningful. Conversely, when employees experience disrespect directly or vicariously through coworkers, they conclude that the company doesn’t care about its workers and demoralization follows...
Maybe you're like me, and you've worked in both kinds of organization. Some days when you're feeling like you want to bail on the whole public defender experience, maybe it isn't you, or your clients, or even your caseload - maybe it's your office culture.
I also enjoyed these posts from Legal Sanity, on lawyer burnout, and on "meaning + money".
The latter has persuaded me that this Concurring Opinions post -
Assume that our law school graduate has two options. She can work at Skadden Arps and earn $140,000 a year. Or she can work at Legal Aid and earn $40,000 a year. Which should she take? What if... she took the Skadden job, and donated most of her salary to Legal Aid?
With her $140,000 Skadden salary, she could donate $80,000 to Legal Aid, sufficient to allow them to hire two new attorneys, and thus defend twice as many indigent criminal defendants... That's twice the net gain in overall defense for the indigent, if our law student doesn't choose Legal Aid herself...
- is less Law & Economics, more very subtle joke. (check out the comments for answers to Professor Wegner's question, "So why don't more law students take this route?" Or the blogs of any public defenders or p.d. - inclined law students.)
- 8:07 PM
December 10, 2006
From Saturday's Spokesman-Review:
Prosecutor won't fire for e-mails
Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas will not fire any employees for a slew of sexually explicit e-mails several of them exchanged on county-owned computers over the past year... "They are against county policy and those people who sent them are subject to discipline," Douglas said. "Those who forwarded these used bad judgment, but no one was fired for it..."
Says Huckleberries Online: "You and Baughman would be so fired if you pulled your e-mail stunts at the SR."
From Thursday, same paper:
Harassment investigator steps down
The original investigator hired by Kootenai County to look into sexual harassment allegations against the county's chief deputy prosecutor has stepped down because of a perceived conflict of interest...
More on both topics from the Coeur d' Alene Press here.
- 7:37 PM
December 09, 2006
I wouldn't have believed it, but I saw it on cable - a Christmas movie for (Christmas - celebrating) public defenders and their kids:
This family holiday film concerns Chris Kringle, Jr. who unfortunately gets picked up by two cops while trying to deliver gifts. While he's under arrest and interviewed by his public defender (Lauren Holly), she starts to believe in his story and wants to help save Christmas...
Kind of goofy, but a feel-good movie with a p.d. and an elf? And something my seven-year-old can watch and say, that's what Daddy does? And did I mention that the public defender learns to love again? You can catch all that and more on the Hallmark Channel on December 23.
- 12:42 PM
December 07, 2006
I'm continuing my re-evaluation of my feelings about tattoos. Today at the detention hearing I sat next to one teenager who had a joker skull inked on his forearm, and another who had rosary beads and three dots inked on his hand. I know that I shouldn't jump to conclusions. They probably just liked the design.
I have been a fan of Russian prison tattoos (gallery here), ever since I saw my first Russian prison - the outside of one, at least. I've learned that some Guatemalan artists are making great aesthetic strides in this area. But for something closer to home, I could develop an appreciation of the wearable art of Texas or Arizona or Chicago.
Tonight I caught a few minutes of "Tattoo Stories" from Fuse TV, where a young Anglo guy got a "13" done because "it's my lucky number," not for any gang-related reason. You know, tattoos aren't necessarily gang-related.
- 9:16 PM
From the Olympian:
Suspect leaves good clue
A man suspected of robbing the Sterling Savings Bank...probably won't go down in history as one of Olympia's master criminals. A note written on an envelope that the suspect gave the teller demanding money was left behind... The envelope contained a piece of paper with two pieces of evidence - the name of a hotel and the name of the suspect's brother...
Decorabilia says, "If anything represents a failure of public education, this does."
- 8:16 PM
December 06, 2006
From Knit and the City:
So, what was I doing in Key West - well, to the shame of the conference organizers, I was not smoking weed. Out of all the public defenders to send to NORML's national conference, our office sends the non-toker...
I won't say it - but, let me just put it this way. I was the only public defender at the conference. Everyone else was a member of the private bar - and man were they high on themselves. Crack after crack after crack about the dumb pd, the ineffective pd, the pd this, yadda yadda . . . enough already.
Nice sunsets though. Pictures too.
- 10:22 PM
First, another example of my embarrassment and ineptitude in the cultural proficiency department. One holiday season I'm meeting with my client in attorney visiting down at the jail, and I'm going on and on about, "I'll really really try to get you out of here in time for Christmas."
"Why?" asked my Southeast Asian Buddhist client.
Next, a positive story about how one teenager transcended the juvenile justice system. From the Seattle Times:
Tough-love remedy for an unruly teen: Two years. With monks. In Cambodia.
Chou Sa-Ngoun was desperate.
Her teenage son was skipping school for weeks at a time, using drugs, getting arrested, staying out all night, hanging out with the wrong kids.
Nothing she did seemed to make any difference. Grounding didn't work. Neither did yelling, crying, taking away privileges, counseling, switching schools, probation or stints in juvenile hall...
Finally, at the end of a family trip to Cambodia in 2004, Chou told Michael that they were leaving him behind. She, her husband and Michael's two younger siblings returned to their Tukwila home while Michael remained in a remote village to be raised and taught by monks in a Buddhist temple...
It's a good article with a happy ending. This Idaho boy could stand some more exposure to stories like this.
- 9:14 PM
So I link to this goofy item on Boing Boing about a toy tattoo gun for kids ("You know, for kids!"). I add my own snarky throw - away comment, next thing I know I'm being cited by a popular law professor's blog and cited for bigotry against illustrated - Americans.
I need to pause for some reflection and self-criticism: how have I grown so middle-aged and Scrooge-like with my tattoo love? Why would I not be thrilled about seeing my teenage clients wanting to get ink done? Could it come from being an old white guy? Or from the Book of Leviticus? Or from President Gordon B. Hinckley?
Or could it come from the guy with the teardrops inked by his eye in Boise, the skinhead with the full swastika covering his dome in Caldwell, the con with the lightning bolts on his neck in Twin Falls? Darn my prejudices, anyway. Must remember that "people like art in all forms," "you can't judge a book...," and all that.
(disclaimer: some of my most talented colleagues, hires and co-workers have had the tats, so shows how much I know.)
Bonus link goes to Eyebrow-Raising Tattoos from The Smoking Gun.
- 7:19 PM
December 05, 2006
This is apparently from some pernicious chain letter going around, via Brian Tannenbaum's Criminal Defense blog:
The Criminalization of Life
Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.
1973.....Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.
2006 ......School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers...
That first one is very Idaho circa my high school years. I'm ever grateful that I am not coming up these days. I think back, not so fondly, to the dumb things I did back then, only to get off with a warning or a driver safety class. My poor parents then, my poor kid clients now...
- 8:31 PM
December 04, 2006
December 03, 2006
Stop Jailing the Juvies...
(R)ather than promoting public safety, detention — the pretrial “jailing” of youth not yet found delinquent — may contribute to future offenses...
I have a number of clients in pre-trial detention. At least one is in an especially frustrating bureaucratic limbo: not adjudicated, and ordered to treatment to attempt to restore competency, but with no hospital bed open 'til December 11, my client continues to sit in detention.
- 7:07 PM
November 30, 2006
Yes, I was aware that today was National Meth Day. I celebrated by giving thanks that so few of my young clients have gotten caught up in the stuff.
This morning in court I had a rude reminder of the importance of client communication. It seems that, after discussing all the facts of the case, including the video-taped admission that's definitely coming in, the statement "I guess I'm totally screwed" does not always mean "I'm guess I'm going to plead guilty." Majorly disgruntled client, even after getting four days to serve instead of the state's offer of ten.
- 9:07 PM
November 29, 2006
From the Olympian:
Judge rejects 'necessity' argument for port protest
Protesters accused of trespassing onto the Port of Olympia's operations yard to stop a military shipment can't argue to a jury that breaking the law was necessary to stop the war in Iraq, a judge ruled Monday...
- 8:31 AM
November 27, 2006
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Inmates knit to help children worldwide
Jail charity: From Cache County jail comes warmth in the form of hats, blankets and hearts
Cache County inmates have found themselves bound in a work of the heart. These hardened, tattooed men are spending their hours with yarn unraveling at their feet, knitting stocking caps, blankets and booties for children in need...
"We might all be criminals, but some of us have big hearts," said David Evans, 25, of Blackfoot, Idaho...
- 10:33 PM
From the Idaho Statesman:
Coroner will not call inquests - Sonnenberg plans on ‘trying something different' in the DiPaola and Lowery cases
Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg doesn't plan on calling public coroner's inquest hearings on two fatal shootings by police officers this fall... Sonnenberg said he is going to "try something different" to look into the deaths of Jonathan DiPaola and Tyler Lowery.
He said he plans to work with special prosecutors from outside Ada County and the local multiagency police task force to release a public report when the investigations are completed... The coroner's decision to ditch the inquest hearing comes about a year after the controversial inquest into the death of 16-year-old Matthew Jones...
Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower recused himself from the two current officer-involved shooting cases, asking Twin Falls Prosecutor Grant Loebs to review the Dipaola shooting and Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman to review the Lowery shooting...
Bower, Loebs and Hiedeman have entered into an agreement to handle investigations into officer-involved shootings for each other so the impartiality cannot be questioned, Bower said. "I think we recognize the perception might be we are too close to officers involved," Loebs said...
Bruce Jones, Matthew's father and the only witness to the shooting, said he thinks the changes — getting rid of the inquest process, having a visiting prosecutor review evidence and publicly releasing a detailed report — are good.
I do too. In my home town, police seem to shoot people with some frequency, and could stand some outside scrutiny. Bully for Sonnenberg, Heideman, and Loebs.
- 10:17 PM
While one site says,
Public defenders usually work in “niched” areas of legal specialty, such as DWI or domestic violence defense. So they tend to be up-to-date on new law and legal theories in their area of specialty.
another site says,
this lawyer, known as a public defender, will not necessarily have any expertise in the field in which he is defending the client. For this reason, it is to the benefit of the client to hire a criminal lawyer with expertise in defense, as it is an extremely specified field.
(Sure, the first site is sponsored by LexisNexis and Martindale-Hubbell, but the second site cites Psalm 146, you know, the one about the One who executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, and frees the prisoners. That's worth something.)
- 9:41 PM
November 26, 2006
November 22, 2006
From our private colleague Brian Tannebaum, A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Thanksgiving.
We public defender types are on his list of things to be thankful for - twice. But don't just click over there because of that: read the list, add your own reasons to be thankful, and feel some gratitude. To my U.S. colleagues and readers, a most happy Day of the Turkey to you.
- 9:52 PM
November 21, 2006
From the Times-News, another murder in Twin:
Suspect faces second-degree murder charge in shooting - Twin Falls man’s bond set at $250,000
What police called voluntary manslaughter Sunday, prosecutors boosted to second-degree murder Monday.
The leap from the police’s account to the prosecutor’s charge hinges on whether the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Luis Carlos Ramirez early Sunday morning was the result of malice. The significance to James M. Steel, measurably engraved on his face at his arraignment Monday afternoon, could be a possible life sentence...
But what to make of this?
Defense Attorney Jeff Stoker (no relation to the judge), who represented the defendant in court Monday, suggested to his client’s family in the hallway a pick of other attorneys to hire for future hearings. When appealing for a lower bond, he also told the court the defendant’s family lacked many resources...
- 9:04 PM
From a mom involved in a child protection case, courtesy of MySpace:
Without weed I become manic ... If I'm manic and NOT able to think ...I can't even save myself let alone my kids. Hence the need for weed. Understand?
So peeps need to stop telling me they don't understand how I can ask for money for weed but not for money to get a lawyer to get my kids back... I'm asking for $50 bucks here for smoke. Not the couple grand it takes to get a real lawyer... So I have no choice but to go to a public defender.
I understand: $50 here, $50 there, months gone by and kids still gone, and who'll be to blame? The public pretender, of course. Sad.
- 6:48 PM
November 20, 2006
These kids are so going to show up in my caseload:
Via BoingBoing and Neatorama, it's the GR8 TaT2 Maker!
Open up your very own pretend play tattoo parlor. This easy-to-use tattoo maker kit includes an electronic tattoo pen and funky stencils...
Says one happy shopper:
"I bought this for my 6 year old son's birthday who LOVES tattoos! It's great, gives the look and "feel" of a real tattoo..."
Only $14.99. No deliveries to juvenile detention addresses.
Defining Deviancy Down Update: I stand indicted of failing to accept tattooed people unconditionally, not because I don't embrace the marketing of adult pasttimes to way-too-young kids, but because I'm an ancient white guy. Guilty as charged: didn't they see my picture up in the right-hand corner?
- 7:05 PM
Developmental milestone for the son today: first CT scan, after a nasty tumble during second-grade PE.
At the pediatrician, before heading to the radiologist, Joe's lying on the examination table, and he chirps, "Daddy, you can blog about this!"
So I have. Get well soon, brave boy.
- 5:41 PM
November 19, 2006
From the AP wire:
Toll rises to 5 in Mexico prison siege
A public defender died of his injuries Sunday after being shot by inmates who took a group of lawyers hostage near the central Mexican city of Morelia, bringing the death toll in the incident to five, authorities said.
Ulises Montañez Arias, 28, was shot in Saturday's standoff. Three other lawyers and an inmate also died in the hostage-taking and subsequent police raid...
On Friday, four inmates took a total of 14 public defenders and a guard hostage after the lawyers informed them that they had lost a court appeal and would have to serve 40 years in jail on kidnapping charges... They later released the guard and six lawyers...
From TV Azteca: Mueren Tres abogados y un reo en Cereso de Morelia
Update: photos and more details (in Spanish) from the truth-hunting blog Cazador de la Verdad. Juan Antonio Fernández Galván, Alfredo Fabián Sandoval, Edgar Galíndez Hernández, Ulises Montañez Arias: requiem aeternam dona eis.
- 7:30 PM
Georgiana has an Animal House experience after work with some p.d.'s:
I was out with a couple of public defenders... These guys don't open doors... They talk about drugs. They talk about when they almost got arrested. They talk about their courtroom antics that, while acceptable and admirable for criminal lawyers, make a civilized civil lawyer shudder. [While I tend to view litigation as a series of surgical interventions, each carefully prepped and practiced, these guys seem to wade into the carnage with a chainsaw, yelling "bring on the f*cking bloodbath!"]...
Oh, to be a young public defender again...
- 7:08 PM
November 18, 2006
From the Olympian:
Sex bias lawsuit in jury's hands
A Mason County jury starts deliberations Monday to decide whether three female ex-Thurston County prosecutors were the victims of sexual harassment on the job or whether they magnified workplace dysfunction into sex bias allegations in order to make a stronger case for damages...
Holm testifies in bias case
Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Holm said he had to clamp down on his once-favored "queen bee" and "shining star" when the top female deputy refused to lend her staff to cover a workload crisis in District Court...
From the comments:
"The more I read, the more it sounds like it was a workplace fully of bullies. And, it was bullying from both sides of the lawsuit..."
- 12:20 PM
November 16, 2006
Frolics and Detours has crossed the bar:
I have jumped from the frying pan into the flame... While I was nervous, the judge understood they were my first pleas and took it easy on me. Even though he didn't know my name, he didn't call me out in front of my client as a new attorney. This helps in not perpetuating the rumor around the jail that public defenders are not lawyers...
- 6:28 PM
From the Seattle Times:
Deputy prosecutor stepping down after using racially charged word
A King County deputy prosecutor resigned from his job after he used a racially charged word, which he said was the defendant's nickname, to refer to a man charged with kidnapping, assault and promoting prostitution...
- 6:18 PM
November 15, 2006
From the Olympian, continuing coverage of the lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment in the Thurston County prosecutors office:
Attorney defends yelling at workers
Thurston County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jack Jones said Tuesday he regretted yelling at several female co-workers, but he said the need for precision in dealing with felony criminal cases "sometimes brings out high emotions..."
"Would you say that if you're soft-spoken, that you're probably not going to be a successful criminal prosecutor?" (attorney Pat) Buchanan asked. "Yes," Jones said. "You have to be able to make a point, and not be shy about it..."
Bonus link goes to The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't by Robert I. Sutton (reviewed here).
Update 11/16/06: Men: Women made sex jokes
- 6:50 PM
From OlyBlog, this interesting video made by teens, some of whom are involved in the local juvenile justice system:
Youth of Olympia: Accused Innocence
It's 15 minutes long, and provides a good sounding board for some local teenage angst. It was produced in collaboration with Thurston County Media's Yaya Media ("Taking media production to the streets to help young people share their voices") and Community Youth Services, an organization that does an admirable job helping out my under-18 clients.
As fits a piece of advocacy, the subtitle "Accused Innocence" begs a question or two. Those of us who represent juveniles, or who once were juveniles, will recognize some of the dialogue, and some of the rationalizations, or as noted by one of the less supportive Olyblog commenters:
To myself, and evidently others, I saw the statements in the video as a giant I didn't do it, I'm never guilty, people pick on me for no reason...
No matter. I like my kids, innocent or not, and was interested to see some of their cohorts in a nicely-produced show of their own.
- 6:36 PM
From the Olympian:
Hair dispute now a legal matter
A bad hair day could turn into potential jail time for Dana Kelly, a 39-year-old mom from Rainier who refused to pay for a $37 haircut at Audrey's Elements of Style.
Kelly said her stylist botched the job, and she received poor service. But the police report alleges she was trying to get the haircut for free. Kelly is to be charged with misdemeanor theft...
- 6:20 PM
November 14, 2006
November 12, 2006
From the Olympian:
Judge delays trial of port protesters
A judge's ruling has postponed the trial of more than a dozen protesters charged with trespassing during the May 30 protest over a military shipment at the Port of Olympia...
At issue is an Oct. 3 ruling by District Court Judge Susan Dubuisson that allows protesters to use the "necessity" defense to win acquittal...
Bonus link goes to a post from one of the participants, via Oly Blog:
Victories and setbacks as the Oly 22 trial gets postponed
- 7:00 PM
November 11, 2006
November 10, 2006
From KTVB: Death row inmate could be closer to freedom
After more than two decades on Idaho’s death row, a man convicted of murder is granted an appeal (sic), and he must be retried or set free.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling this week. It is a major victory for death row inmate Mark Lankford. NewsChannel 7 spoke exclusively with Lankford today about the ruling...
On-line video here.
- 2:07 PM
Latest scorecard from Public Pretender:
1. private attorney charges you $30,000, get an offer to waive rights you can't understand, go to jail, have a felony, register, for something you did not do,
2. public defender is free, gets your case dismissed and keeps you in the community...
And from Gideon's Guardians:
"Man, my co-defendant on this case is getting the exact same deal!... I've got a paid attorney, so I should get a better deal!"
Meanwhile, this week I overheard this from a client to a private attorney:
"You're the lawyer, get me out of this."
- 1:52 PM
From the WSU paper, the Daily Evergreen:
Russell returns to the U.S. - Fugitive Frederick Russell returned to the United States from Ireland on Thursday
A fugitive wanted on charges of drunken driving in a crash that killed three people in Eastern Washington was extradited Thursday after losing a yearlong legal battle to stay in Ireland.
From the Seattle P-I:
Attorney general to prosecute fugitive in WSU vehicular homicide case
The state attorney general's office will prosecute Frederick Russell in the WSU vehicular homicide case in Colfax... The former Washington State University student was jailed in Colfax early today after he was returned from Ireland, where he had sought asylum. Russell is due to appear in Whitman County Superior Court on Monday...
- 1:19 PM
From the Twin Falls Times-News:
Three life sentences - Judge weeps while delivering sentence to triple murderer
The morning after Jim Junior Nice killed his three children, Twin Falls woke up with a scar. All parties roundly rejected a lengthy trial. Nice pleaded guilty in September and promised never to appeal his case. Nice would be sentenced, handed over to the Idaho Department of Correction and forgotten.
But at his sentencing Thursday afternoon, 5th District Judge John Butler wept and it was clear Nice’s actions still haunt Twin Falls...
- 1:15 PM
November 08, 2006
"When you hire me, I am on the case. When you hire me you get individual attention. When you hire me, I return your calls and address your concerns. When you hire me I represent you as a human being, not a case file or docket number. You won't get that kind of treatment from many lawyers, and certainly not a public defender."
Update: the private attorney who posted these words has commented below and revised his original sales pitch here.
- 11:12 PM
November 07, 2006
Via Sean Serrine at Objective Justice, this news from the home state:
Retrial or release ordered for Idaho death row inmate - Federal court says his attorney was ineffective
Court rules in case of Conroe man on Idaho death row
A Texas man sentenced to death for the 1983 slayings of a young Texas couple camped in the Idaho wilderness must be released or retried, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. Mark Henry Lankford has been on Idaho's death row for more than two decades... The appeals court ruled that Lankford received ineffective assistance from his attorney, and that the state must "retry Mark Lankford within a reasonable time or release him..."
Lankford and his brother, Bryan Lankford, were arrested, but each blamed the other for the crime. Prosecutors offered Bryan Lankford life in prison in exchange for his testimony against his brother...
Mark Lankford's attorney, Gregory FitzMaurice, told the jury they could consider Bryan Lankford's testimony even though it was uncorroborated, the appellate court found. Though federal law allows uncorroborated testimony, Idaho law forbids it, the 9th Circuit found, so FitzMaurice's instruction prejudiced the jury against Mark Lankford and effectively denied him his right to effective counsel...
"There was ample evidence that either one or both of the Lankfords killed the Bravences, but there was no evidence that Mark attacked and killed the Bravences other than Bryan's testimony," the 9th Circuit noted in its ruling...
FitzMaurice was a part-time public defender whose only felony case experience before the Lankford trial involved cattle rustling... "FitzMaurice simply overlooked important differences between Idaho law and federal law," the court wrote. "FitzMaurice's error is perhaps understandable, given his limited experience and resources, but it is constitutionally inexcusable..."
Today's Ninth Circuit opinion in Lankford v. Arave is here (PDF file).
- 11:17 PM
November 05, 2006
Port Protesters Pre-Trial
The last pre-trial extravaganza for those arrested during the Port War Protests is scheduled for Monday, November 6th and the trial is scheduled to begin on the 13th...
If you would like to come to support these 17 cases, come Monday, 11/6/06 at 9am to District Court. Wear red to show your solidarity. Otherwise, be well-behaved, quiet and civil to not complicate the cases. Directions to the court are on the website... and the names of our protesters will be printed on the dockets...
Come witness the process. Some of our protesters are represented by attorneys, some are represented by Public Defenders...
Again with the excluding of public defenders from the category of "attorneys..."
- 4:03 PM
November 04, 2006
One of the many benefits of Googling is that if a person were contemplating applying for work with, say, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney, that person could read this - from the Olympian:
Hotbed of hostile language alleged
Before she quit the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Vonda Sargent's ex-boss threatened to send her "back to District Court with the rest of the girls," she testified Friday. But attorneys for Thurston County said Sargent also had some choice words, calling a county judge a "short-legged hyena," and identifying a fellow prosecutor as an "equal-opportunity d--k..."
"There was no future there for me," Sargent, 42, of Tacoma, said in explaining why she left her post as a deputy prosecuting attorney in October 2001 to become a civil litigator with State Farm Insurance Co. in Seattle. "I took the job to get me out of that environment..."
To go to work for an insurance company... shiver on that for a minute.
- 6:15 PM
November 02, 2006
What does it take to keep some jurors awake?
Mistrial Declared in Mother's Trial
An Idaho Falls mother charged with the death of her own son has a new trial. Thursday after more graphic evidence and powerful testimony, Judge Anderson declare(d) a mistrial. The defense filed the motion after continuing concerns that some of the jurors were not paying attention.
Savannah Berrey Mistrial
After three days of testimony, the trial ended before all witnesses took the stand and a verdict was reached. The judge declared a mistrial in the involuntary manslaughter case against Savannah Berrey. Berrey's public defender said his client was not getting a fair trial because of numerous jury concerns...
The three reasons explained by Judge Gregory Anderson were these: ...a female juror was seen nodding off Wednesday afternoon; she was later warned to stay alert. Today, it was brought to the court's attention about a relationship between a juror and Public Defender Jordan Crane's secretary. Also today, another female juror was seen asleep or being inattentive...
- 9:01 PM
David Feige is coming to speak in the Pacific Northwest Metropolis on November 16 about eyewitness identification issues. Sources say that there will be "some other excellent speakers, too":
Hot Topics in Criminal Law: Witnesses
* Eyewitness Identification Issues: A moderated debate regarding new developments in eyewitness identification and double blind sequential line-ups.
* Dealing with Children as Witnesses
* New Developments in the Right to Confront Witnesses: Davis v. Washington and its ramifications
* Moderated panel discussion regarding new developments and challenges in dealing with witnesses in the criminal context
November 16, 2006 - 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Washington State Bar Association
2101 4th Ave., Suite 400 in Seattle
$40 for 4.5 General CLE Credits
Registration Deadline: November 13, 2006
- 8:44 PM
November 01, 2006
From the Olympian:
Plaintiffs set scene of sex-bias allegations
Three female ex-employees of the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office were "rising stars" knocked off the fast track after suing the county, their lawyer said Tuesday. "They hurt from the inside," Tacoma attorney J. Richard Creatura said during the first day of their sexual harassment trial...
Former Thurston County deputy prosecuting attorneys Audrey Broyles, Vonda Sargent and Susan Sackett-DanPullo were retaliated against for making claims of alleged sexual bias and for complaining of a hostile workplace where they were regularly humiliated with off-color jokes and lewd language, Creatura said.
But Seattle attorney Mike Patterson, representing Thurston County, said he will show the jury... that Broyles and the others were as loose-tongued as their bosses, were top players in office "turf wars" and generated the sexual harassment claim later, only on the advice of their lawyers...
Creatura and Patterson spoke during opening arguments Tuesday in the five-year-old case that targets the administration of Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Holm. Holm... is not named as a defendant but is accused of sex bias in doling out pay raises, plum assignments and responsibilities and of using inappropriate sexual language...
In his two-hour opening statement Tuesday, Creatura... gave an elaborate history of the prosecutor's office and attempted to show a work culture spinning out of control.
The three women filed suit only after no one took them seriously when they complained about intimidation and threats from Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jack Jones, Creatura said. Among other complaints, the women said they were afraid of Jones - then a large man who allegedly screamed at staff, threw files on the floor and carried a gun that he cleaned at his desk in front of them.
The women met with Holm in November 2000 to ask him to do something about Jones, who they said was a bully. "They were waving a huge red flag to Holm, but nothing was done," Creatura said. "There was no investigation, nothing..."
Creatura asserted that Holm and his male supervisors made sexual comments and told off-color jokes that caused the women to feel humiliated. That included suggesting a woman employee should "give me a hand in the men's room" or that "I would like to take you home if I didn't have a wife." Other comments were about women's breasts or other parts of their appearances, with one woman called a "fiery redhead," or "a long drink of water."
"It was a male-dominated culture that didn't support women," Creatura said...
Any resemblance between this Thurston County prosecutor story and that other story is surely coincidental.
Update: day two - Bias trial tests woman's character
- 8:56 PM
From the Twin Falls Times-News:
Judge’s verdict: For cat resort owner, the horror of the crime deserves jail, not rehab
The woman responsible for what has been called the worst animal abuse case in Idaho history will spend the next six months in jail.
Janet Rasmussen was living in fecal squalor at her cat boardinghouse along with 323 cats, including some dead, when an army of sheriff’s deputies and veterinarians entered her business April 20 with a warrant. Rasmussen, the former owner of Rocky Mountain Cat Resort... pleaded guilty in August to 19 counts of cruelty and 51 counts of neglect, each count a misdemeanor carrying a maximum six-month sentence and $1,000 fine.
Under questioning from her lawyer, Mick Hodges, she pleaded for help, not jail. But when Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amanda Wright cross-examined her, Rasmussen returned punches with punches.
Why had she never attended to several dead cats lying about in her home? Wright asked against Hodges’ objection. Rasmussen retorted with a host of excuses ranging from not having enough time to not knowing they were dead. She intimated how the winter chill and a broken light bulb kept her from cleaning up drying feces from the garage floor. She said heavy furniture blocked her from cleaning it in other parts of the home.
“I got to take care of the living today. I’ll get there when I can,” was ultimately her most succinct explanation...
The site has a link to in-court video of Rasmussen's testimony during the sentencing hearing.
- 1:14 PM