September 29, 2006

Free Pozner and Dodd!

Breaks my NCDC - educated heart. From CrimProf Blog:

The Neon Sign Reads: REVERSIBLE ERROR

A Michigan lawyer was held in contempt and fined for phrasing his cross examination questions as declarative statements, a perfectly legitimate technique. (See Pozner & Dodd...). Now he's being forced to appeal...


Read on for transcribed judicial gems such as:

THE COURT: It's not acceptable in my courtroom. If you don't like it you can appeal me after I'm done fining you. Is that clear?

September 27, 2006

How not to interview prospective public defenders

Scoplaw (via The Imbroglio) had a needlessly awful interview with some awfully self-impressed public defenders, and in the process of blogging about it, gave me the most awful flashback.

(from left to right: the Arbiter of Succession, p.d. job applicant, self-impressed p.d.)

Update: Fantastica's p.d. job interview wasn't fun either.

ID: enter the ex - Jesuit

From Blaine County's Idaho Mountain Express:

Jury acquits Harrison of kidnapping charge - Guilty verdict rendered on lesser, misdemeanor charge

A Blaine County jury on Monday found Robert Joe Harrison Jr. not guilty of second-degree kidnapping, but convicted the former airport security guard of a lesser misdemeanor count of child enticement.

In finding Harrison not guilty of the more serious felony, the jury was in accord with a recommendation from 5th District Court Judge Robert Elgee, who exercised a rarely used courtroom procedure and advised the jury to acquit Harrison of the charge...

Elgee's non-binding advisement to the jury to acquit Harrison of the kidnap charge came at the request of Harrison's public defender, Kevin Cassidy...


Kevin was my father confessor in Twin and has my life-long respect. From the priesthood to the AG's Office to the magistrates bench to his current gig, he's always delivered.

The county commissioners may be sending his firm more clients.

So much for the afterglow

I'm still feeling good about representing the kids. However, I was brought back to earth today by one line in discovery, words to the effect of, "(Juvenile's mother) was asked if she would be hiring a lawyer - she replied that (Juvenile) would probably have to settle for a court appointed lawyer..."

This is for a client I've been representing on all his cases and PV's since April. Got to work more on customer satisfaction, less on getting repeat business.

WA: pom poko

I was preoccupied, and forgot to share the latest news about this suspect.


From the Olympian: Raccoons ready for their close-up - National Geographic in town filming for 'Nuisance Wildlife'

Up in Sno Co., humans are striking back at the raccoon menace with their most powerful weapon - urban sprawl. Luckily, there are some kind people there who tend to displaced and wounded creatures.

September 26, 2006

Juvy is generally awesome

The juvenile public defender who runs Injustice Anywhere is channelling for me again:

I really, really like what I'm doing. I can't even express all the reasons why. I just feel great about it. I truly like my clients... I may not feel the same way in a year or two, but for now, I would actually be really disappointed if they wanted to take me out of juvie...


Likewise: liking the job, liking the kids.

September 25, 2006

WA: taking indigent defense in-house

Via e-mail from Public Defender Stuff, this article from the Daily News, down Longview - Kelso way:

County to hire public defenders after independent lawyer steps down

For the first time in its history, Cowlitz County will have a public defender's office by the end of the year, officials said last week. Historically, the county has contracted with independent attorneys to provide legal services to those who can't afford a lawyer...

Officials decided to bring the job in-house... "We feel this is going to be a better system," County Commissioner Jeff Rasmussen said. "These attorneys, their sole purpose is going to be meeting with their clients. They're not going to have to wonder whether their business is coming in the door..."


This could be a good thing. Cowlitz County put up a help-wanted ad earlier this month, and they might still be hiring; check the county website or call Personnel at (360) 577-3065.

September 24, 2006

CA: p.d. back from Baku

From the North (San Diego) County Times:

Vista attorney teaches lawyers in Azerbaijan

The world map hanging on the wall in longtime deputy public defender Kathleen Cannon's office proved helpful to her when she received an e-mail in April inviting her to teach legal professionals in Baku. "I said, 'Baku? Where's that?" Cannon said of her reaction to the e-mail. On the coast of the Caspian Sea, Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan...

It also is home to a legal advocacy center that is part of the American Bar Association's Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, a program that supports legal reform in emerging democracies and provides legal education and training for law students, lawyers and judges...

A self-described "public defender lifer..." Cannon said her experience in Azerbaijan was "empowering" and "reaffirming." "They're basically giving more life to the defense bar and more meaning because they're realizing the only way to have the justice system be fair is to have cases tested by two strong advocates," Cannon said...


Bonus link goes to Carpetblogger, a fine source of info for would-be Baku-bound lawyers.

Sunday catnap blogging

"Will you please turn out that blinding light?"

September 23, 2006

CO: lawyer's drug client turns narc's confidential informant

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Attorney accused of taking meth as payment - May lose license if he is convicted

A Colorado Springs attorney was arrested on suspicion of drug possession last week after allegedly taking methamphetamine as payment from a client. Criminal defense attorney Terrence McGannon, 49, faces four to 12 years in prison and the loss of his license to practice law if convicted...

According to a police affidavit, an informant that day told a detective... that McGannon, his attorney in a drug case, had asked him for meth as payment for his legal fees.

September 22, 2006

LA: SOS

Will the last public defender leaving New Orleans please turn out the courtroom lights? From the Times - Picayune, via Lexis One and The Legal Reader:

Trapped in the courtroom - As indigent defense lawyers vanish, one attorney is left

The Orleans Parish public defender situation is beyond crisis. And it is far past time that the Louisiana Supreme Court intervened.

This summer, changes at the public defender's office resulted in the resignation of a number of attorneys, including two of the three remaining attorneys who handled death penalty cases. Five lawyers had been handling 27 capital cases pre-Katrina... that insufferable caseload then devolved upon the remaining three.

Of the three remaining attorneys, one resigned... Another was reassigned to non-death-penalty cases. That left me...

GA: fallen-ness

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Public defender falls from grace - English faces 2 years in prison, likely disbarment

Arthur English's short legal career was punctuated by a quick rise — and a mighty fall.

English was only 28 when the state named him the public defender in the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which takes in four counties, including Fayette. But now, just 21 months after his office opened, English's career is in ruins. He was convicted of having stolen property and probably will be disbarred after being sentenced Friday in Lamar County Superior Court, a block from his house in Barnesville.

English was ordered to spend two years in prison despite testimony from 23 witnesses — most fellow lawyers — that he was a splendid attorney, boss and person... "It was given to me very fast — and it was taken away very fast," English said in an interview earlier in the week. "It's been a humbling and disheartening experience."

His is the story of a life that quickly unraveled. A fatal car wreck, a troubled brother and even a murder-for-hire plot all played a part in English's demise... In Barnesville... townspeople can't seem to agree:

Was English blinded by family bonds? Or did he knowingly help his brother, John "Mac" English, a thief who wanted two wildlife rangers killed? Karen Martin, a lifelong Barnesville resident and attorney, said Arthur English's mistake was he didn't distance himself from his only sibling.

"I begged him not to get involved, but he said, 'He's my brother,' " Martin recalled. "He has a helluva brain. If he had used it he could have done a lot of good. Never will I understand throwing away what he had."

Now, both... will be in prison...

WA: $40 K for self-defense acquittal

From the Olympian:

Man to get $40,000 to cover costs from court - Jury rules soldier acted in self-defense

A man accused, then acquitted, of second-degree assault with a firearm is now entitled to $40,000 from the state in legal fees and expenses...

Soldier Matthew Young's journey from defendant in a felony case to having his attorney's fees paid by the state was made possible by a Washington law. In some cases where a jury finds a defendant acted in self-defense, the jury is allowed to determine whether the defendant also is entitled to legal costs.

That's what happened to Young after his jury found he acted in self-defense when he wielded a gun to ward off a group of people who accosted him and his girlfriend...

ID: judge - "criminal justice system flawed"

From the Twin Falls Times-News:

'System is flawed' - judge says legal process failed victim's family

The judge, prosecutor, even the defendant, made profound apologies to a heavy-hearted courtroom. The criminal justice system had taken an accidental tragedy and made it worse. Few, if any, disturbing the peace sentencings amass so much public attention or frustration.

Yet, the lackluster conviction Thursday morning of Richard D. Openshaw began boldly 18 months ago with the prosecutor charging him with involuntary manslaughter in a 2004 fight outside a Jerome bar that ended in the death of 24-year-old Kevin Gaver. A hung jury prompted the prosecutor to reduce his charge despite the objections of Gaver’s family.

The sobs from the victim’s family and dozens of friends dropped to silence as 5th District Court Judge Mark Ingram spoke these words:

“The criminal justice system is flawed without a doubt,” he said. “This case is probably one of the most difficult cases I’ve ever encountered. It’s painfully obvious friends and family feel victimized by a system they believe did not do for them what it should...”


I admire Judge Ingram, but I'm uneasy with this sort of pronouncement from the bench.

A decent day at juvy

This afternoon in court, I had the sort of client who keeps me doing the job: someone who's turned his or her life around. This client had been an angry and self-defeating kid for too long. Today it was great to see the confident young adult my client has become.

(That's about as much detail as I'm going to give. Even though juvenile proceedings are open to the public in my state, I figure that my kids deserve to deal with their mistakes without any additional publicity from me and my blog. Perhaps you've been noticing the decline in "you are there" posts from the courtroom since I went out to Juvy.)

September 21, 2006

WA: for one without a conscience, life without parole

From the Tacoma News Tribune:

Murderer to families: ‘Get over it’

Ulysses Handy III walked into court smirking Wednesday morning and held the pose as he proclaimed himself “guilty as charged” of three counts of aggravated first-degree murder. He smiled. He laughed when family members of his victims said they hoped he’d be killed in prison. And he told them, “Pain is part of life. Deal with it. Get over it...”

“I know why I did what I did,” he said. “It wasn’t over no money. It wasn’t over a jacket. “And it ain’t no secret who or what I am,” he continued. “I never covered that up, never tried to … I shoot people, kill people, all that other good stuff, only when I’m provoked. Vengeance, karma, whatever you want to call it. People cross me, I did what I did. And that’s not going to change...”

September 20, 2006

"This 'jail calendar sucks' wherever it is"

From Public Pretender, a place we've all been one time or another, at two minutes per client:

"Today will not be the day to fight your case. Today is the day I am going to try to get you out of jail. What I ask you is what I have to know in order to make the best possible argument to get you out of jail."


I wish there was a better way to do it too.

TN: say amen, somebody

From the Tennessean:

DA's letters to inmate improper, some legal experts say - References to religion in correspondence questioned

Religion has long had its place in the criminal justice system, where witnesses swear on the Bible and some courtrooms convene with prayer, where prisoners undergo jailhouse conversions and victims turn to faith for solace and answers.

But when a Midstate district attorney embarked on a deeply personal, deeply religious two-year correspondence with a murderer he helped prosecute — offering his prayers, quoting Scriptures and telling him that God was speaking to him against a plea bargain in the case — did he cross a line?


Wait, I think I know the answer to this one...

ID: go, Vandals!

From the Spokane paper:

Federal judge allows ex-Vandal's lawsuit to proceed

A federal judge has said a lawsuit brought by a former University of Idaho football player against U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Department of Homeland Security and others can move forward...

Abdullah al-Kidd, who played for the Vandals under the name Lavoni Kidd, contends that in 2003 the government wrongfully arrested him as a material witness in its unsuccessful computer terrorism case against a fellow student, Sami Omar Al-Hussayen...


Yes, the place where I went to law school (cheap!) has the worst - named mascot in the Northwest.

September 19, 2006

WA: ex- p.d. sues ACLU

From the Columbia Basin Herald:

ACLU sued by former public defender - Grant County attorneys named as being blacklisted

A former Grant County Superior Court public defender is suing the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, claiming the organization publicly targeted him late last year as a poor performer.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday... by Moses Lake attorney Randy Smith... alleging "defamation," "invasion of privacy" and "disclosure of private facts," according to court documents... Smith's lawsuit comes 10 months after the ACLU and Columbia Legal Services won a highly publicized $500,000 settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit the two nonprofit organizations brought against Grant County, alleging an inadequate public defense system.

As part of the settlement agreement, the ACLU insisted the county deny Smith and Moses Lake attorney Ted Mahr... future contracts. The county agreed, but the two names were to be kept secret in a sealed court document.

But the ACLU revealed the two names, attaching the sealed document to copies of the settlement agreement the organization e-mailed to media outlets...

September 18, 2006

"You don’t even know you’re on the edge of a cliff"

From Borenstein's Law, a gripping tale of a young man about to break his parents' heart:

Intervention: what friends are for

And yet here he was. Sitting across from me, smiling a benign smile, seeming oblivious to the decision he was contemplating that might lead him on a disastrous path...


Read all the way for the startling conclusion.

New p.d. blog, same old dogs

Live from Farmington, New Mexico, it's Of a Public Defender's Life:

I am a public defender because I care about Truth, Justice, the Constitution (and fuzzy puppies).

(and it's an excuse for posting pictures of my fuzzy puppies)

September 17, 2006

OR: search warrant for "Attorney A"

From the News-Review in Douglas County:

Local attorney eyed in drug probe - Defense attorney David Terry confirms he is man identified as 'Attorney A' in indictment

Prominent Roseburg defense attorney David Terry is under investigation by federal officials looking to link him with a syndicate accused of selling tens of millions of dollars of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Federal investigators served a warrant just after 7 a.m. Wednesday at Terry’s office... They spent six hours looking through business, financial, property, personal and travel records, he said. They also left with data from four office computers.

“They didn’t find anything incriminating at all,” Terry said... Terry has not been charged with a crime... “I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said.

September 16, 2006

FL: "it's time for me to get out of my current job"

With all the hype over lack of privacy of MySpace accounts and private posts going public, you can still find the occasional public defender on MySpace venting like nobody's business:

A few simple rules to keep from pissing off your assistant public defender...

Getting angry at your APD when your last plea offer is withdrawn and the offer has gone higher accomplishes nothing. You were the one who refused the offer. You were the one who was told previously (in some cases, two to three times previously) that, when the offer expired, it would be going up. Who's to blame? Look in the mirror...

Begging your APD to ask for lower offers from the State Attorney after previous counteroffers have been rejected is like teaching a pig to sing. It's a total waste of time, and it annoys the pig. If the State's not going lower, then they're not going lower. Man up and take the offer, or go to trial...

ID: jailhouse doors swinging open in Caldwell

From the Press-Tribune:

Efforts tackle jail crowding - Changes may cause lighter sentences

Sheriff’s officials and judges have worked to ease overcrowding at the Canyon County jail with approaches geared to shorten jail stays for minor offenses. But Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Andrew Kiehl warned that these measures should probably be temporary fixes to the jail overcrowding problem...

Canyon County’s jail has been overcrowded for years, bringing pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union and a proposal to build a new jail and justice center. Kiehl said the county must strike a balance between allowing people with offenses like driving without a license to serve less jail time and adequately punishing them...

“Everything possible is being done to get people out of custody that either shouldn’t be in custody or shouldn’t be in there as long,” Kiehl said... “It looks like it’s going to be something that’s successful in knocking down our numbers...”

WA: this week's news from Yakima

From the Yakima Herald - Republic:

Rape conviction overturned

In a first for the state of Washington, DNA testing not available 10 years ago convinced a Yakima County judge Wednesday to overturn a 1996 rape conviction... The ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert Hackett drew loud gasps from supporters of Ted Bradford, 33, who served nine years in prison...

Bradford's conviction was the first in Washington that was overturned solely on the basis of new DNA evidence, according to one of his lawyers, University of Washington law professor Jackie McMurtrie, who leads the Innocence Northwest Project in Seattle.

"Thank goodness for advances in science," she said. A few feet away, Bradford huddled with friends and family...


Convicted killer will be re-charged

The man convicted of killing Yakima community activist Toni Gardner 10 years ago is back in court. A decade ago, Robert Eugene Langford pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the stabbing death of Gardner...

Langford's case, however, is the latest and probably the last of 15 Yakima County murder cases invalidated as a result of a controversial 2002 state Supreme Court ruling... Prosecutors have until Sept. 29 to arraign Langford on a new charge. The paperwork was already filled out by day's end: first-degree murder.

That's the same charge Langford originally faced for Gardner's death. Instead, he pleaded guilty to a variation of second-degree murder known as felony murder. It was that very variation... that the Supreme Court tossed out in 2002. (In) Andress v. State of Washington, the court reasoned that assault without proof of intent to kill was too similar to manslaughter and could not serve as the basis for a felony murder conviction...

Known simply as Andress, the dual rulings jeopardized roughly 300 felony murder convictions statewide...

WA: juvy arrests down

Positive news from DSHS:

2005 Washington State Juvenile Arrest Rate drops again

The 2005 statewide number and rate of juvenile arrests are the lowest since 1982...

Additionally, the 2005 arrest rates (per 1,000 youth) for the major categories of crime (violent, property, and drug / alcohol offenses) are at an all-time low...


If this keeps up, I'll be out of a job.

September 15, 2006

ID: "he will die in prison"

From the Twin Falls Times-News:

Nice pleads guilty - Killer of three children agrees to three life terms

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Jim Junior Nice pleaded guilty three times in court this morning to three counts of first-degree murder; one for poisoning each of his three children with a lethal dose of sleeping medicine and rat poison... Nice pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 20 deaths of 6-year-old twins Spencer and Justin Nice and 2-year-old Raquel Nice.

"I am sure I don't want a jury trial," Nice said.

By pleading guilty, Nice will serve three consecutive life terms with no parole or right to appeal his conviction, but he will not face the death penalty...


Credit should go to two lawyers of uncommon integrity: county prosecutor Grant Loebs and county public defender Marilyn Paul. Imagine the pressure they were under.

September 14, 2006

ID: 13 more felony charges against pistol-packing prosecutor

Jail clothes are never flattering, particularly when you're an ex-prosecutor. From KIFI:

Kimball Mason Appears in Court

Thursday we're getting our first look at former Idaho Falls City Prosecutor Kimball Mason since he was sent to Cottonwood Correctional Facility three months ago. He made his first appearance in court Thursday for 13 entirely new charges. This is on top of the three felony charges he's already been sentenced for...

In total, there are 13 new felony charges: six forgery and seven grand theft charges...


Update: from Assuming Arguendo - "Did I shave my head for this?"

September 13, 2006

Ah, clinic!

From Scoplaw:

A Day in the Life of the Criminal Justice Clinic Student

Today I met my first client. But we have to back up a bit...

The Imbroglio is right - it's a great read.

"Today we are in a struggle..."

Some days I would lay into a remark like this one from AOL Journals:

Lord knows we are thankful for (name of private criminal defense lawyer) as a public defender would let my brother rot in prison forever, and this I know for sure...

Today I don't feel like it. This post doesn't leave me snarky, it just makes me sad. For desperate people on either side of the jail bars, hope comes wherever they can find it, sometimes including the hope that might come from spending money on a private lawyer:

(T)he money for the attorney is overwhelming...

I have lost faith in Johnny's attonrey (private lawyer A) and am in the process of hiring the top defense attorney in our county...(private lawyer B). And to say the least, he is a FORTUNE!

My brother has really been his own attorney and findng so much case law on his own, I joke now that he is Johnny, Esq...


May Johnny make it safely through his coming trial.

ID: search warrants required, even in Clearwater County

A good slice of north central Idaho life, and a law school classmate of mine mentioned, too - from the Lewiston Morning Tribune by way of the Seattle P-I:

Charges dropped in north Idaho backwoods vandalism case

Charges have been dropped in a backcountry vandalism, burglary and theft case that authorities thought they had cracked by installing a homing device in a coffee can. Clearwater County sheriff's deputies failed to obtain a search warrant before seizing evidence to support 19 felony and 14 misdemeanor charges of burglary, theft and vandalism against David Pruss... Pruss, 35, whose trial had been set for next Monday, immediately left on a bus to rejoin his family in Tacoma, Wash., defense lawyer John R. "Jack" Hathaway said.

"I'm out. I'm free. I don't want to talk to anybody," Pruss told the Lewiston Tribune by cellular telephone. Facing a maximum prison term of more than 100 years, Pruss underwent a psychological evaluation during more than a year in custody and "he's on his meds, he's coherent, he's happy," Hathaway said...

...(I)nvestigators had been trying to catch Pruss for weeks and learned where he was hiding by placing an electronic signaling device in the bottom of a plastic can of coffee and left (sic) it in a building that had been burglarized several times. "We knew he liked coffee," the sheriff said...

September 12, 2006

UT: dose of reality

In Provo, a kind-hearted woman goes to court to watch her son's case, and has compassion to spare for the other souls on the docket:

As each one stood with their public defender at the mercy of the court, my heart went out to them... What would become of them? Some would get it. Some would, after time away from society, make the decision that they didn’t want to be there again. Others would never get it...


I like her comments. Also, coming from the same cultural orbit as I do, she understands the importance of having a really big refillable mug.

Goodbye Joe, me gotta go

Somebody on MySpace is pretty excited about her new p.d. job:

phase one of my plan to take over the world is in effect.
the government has allowed me to join its ranks as an "insider".

yes, ladies and gentlemen, i have officially been hired at the Marion County Public Defender's Office...


Now, about that thinking - that - becoming - a - p.d. - makes - you - an - "insider" stuff... Congratulations, new colleague!

(warning - clicking on link above launches a real peppy "Jambalaya" by Hank Williams - turn speakers down (or up) accordingly)

Alaskablawg and CrimLaw return

Alaskablawg is back online! Steve explains where he's been.

Ken Lammers, original proprietor of CrimLaw, has resumed his blogging too.

September 10, 2006

The Wire: the return

If you have HBO, Season 4 of "The Wire" begins tonight.


If you miss it, it's also on demand. If you don't have HBO, "The Wire" is a pretty compelling reason to get it. (If you don't have cable, well...)

LA: the first appearance project

Thanks to Ray Ward, this cover story from BestofNewOrleans.com:

Defenseless - Saddled with huge caseloads and low budgets, public defenders often have to give their clients -- the city's poorest citizens -- legal representation on the fly. It's just one part of a broken system.

Seventy percent of the people arrested on state or local charges in Orleans Parish are initially represented by Meghan Garvey, one of two public defenders assigned to Magistrate Court, the first stop in the local criminal justice system...

Arriving in New Orleans four years ago to begin Tulane Law School, Garvey read articles about problems in Municipal Court and became intent on trying to prevent mentally ill and drug-addicted people from entering the cycle of arrests that often begins with a minor offense such as "obstruction of a public passage."

"It made me want to take them out of the criminal justice system and put them in the mental health system," says Garvey, who has been practicing law less than one year... "It's a matter of pride in my city," she says. "I don't want to live in a place where the Constitution doesn't apply."

Sunday mountain goat blogging

An afternoon at Northwest Trek - a fine outing with the kid.












September 07, 2006

True disbeliever

Yes, I was the last one in the office to see this comic:

WA: editorial on unconstitutional jail booking fees

The Olympian goes way out on a limb with this headline:

Inmates have their rights

... then commenters show up to debate the proposition.

P.D. credo

For the Googler who got here looking for the "public defender oath," perhaps Gideon's Guardians has what you were seeking:

The Public Defender Creed

"I am a public defender. I am the guardian of the presumption of innocence, due process, and fair trial. To me is entrusted the preservation of those sacred principles. I will promulgate them with courtesy and respect but not with obsequiousness and not with fear for I am partisan; I am counsel for the defense. Let none who oppose me forget that with every fiber of my being I will fight for my clients. My clients are the indigent accused. They are the lonely, the friendless. There is no one to speak for them but me. My voice will be raised in their defense. I will resolve all doubt in their favor. This will be my credo; this and the Golden Rule. I will seek acclaim and approval only from my own conscience. And if upon my death there are a few lonely people who have benefited, my efforts will not have been in vain."

- Jim Doherty, Cook County, Illinois Public Defender


Learn it, live it, hang it above your desk, wear it on a t-shirt.

September 06, 2006

First ingredient: one lawyer...

From the unfailingly humane legal blog Minor Wisdom, which got it from Legal Sanity, which got it from Idealawg:

"A lawyer's recipe for depression"

Why, of all professions, does the legal profession have the highest rate of depression...?

I'd been meaning to pass this along earlier, but I'd been feeling a little, you know, down...

The sound of freedom

Here is a most excellent NPR story from Nina Totenberg on the lawyers who won Hamdan:

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, got a letter appointing him as counsel for... Salim Ahmed Hamdan... There was just one hitch to Swift's appointment... The letter told Swift that his access to his client was conditioned on his negotiating a guilty plea. Swift thought that was an unethical condition.

He immediately called Georgetown law professor Neal Katyal... Katyal, 33, had volunteered his services and been embraced by the defense team... Katyal had been an early academic critic of the Bush military tribunals. He had written, thought about, and testified on the issue. So, he was the perfect point man for developing a legal strategy aimed ultimately at Supreme Court review...

(Hamdan) was a stunning rebuke to the president. But Katyal doesn't see it that way. He commends both the military and the administration for letting him and Swift do their jobs. "In some other country," Katyal observes, "we might have been shot."

September 05, 2006

City of angels

Thanks to Kathy A. for e-mailing me the link to this week's L.A. Times series following an average - and exemplary - p.d., Ramiro Cisneros, "a man with his heart in the clouds of idealism and his thoughts down in the daily rough-and-tumble.":

» Part One: Going to bat for those who have hit bottom.
» Part Two: Should the judicial system lock up a man if he hasn't broken the law?
» Wednesday: A retrial and a sweet victory for the public defender's office.
» Thursday: An extortionist is sentenced and a drug user returns to jail.
» Friday: The case of the one-eyed man comes to a conclusion.


Public Defender Dude and Indefensible like what they've read so far.

September 04, 2006

Look sharp!

Goblin's in a quandary: he's moving from insurance defense to criminal defense, and wants to get his new look just right:

After a short time in the insurance defense bar, it's become evident that neither the culture nor the work itself are for me, and I am taking a significant pay cut to move to the public defender's office... the bottom line is that I'll be afforded more freedom to dress the way I want to - this particular public defender's office, like many others, is significantly more tolerant of individual idiosyncrasies than are the local defense firms...

Like Goblin, I too might like to adopt the mod, "skinnier" style, and maybe I would if I didn't maintain such a consistent walrus-like shape. Every work day, I wear a tie (from my couturiers, Deseret Industries and Ross Dress for Less) with a white shirt, a blue shirt, or a gray shirt. I maybe suit up once or twice a week and go with a sportcoat the rest of the time. In my office, if you're not going to court, t-shirts and flip-flops are okay, but shorts are verboten. I can't pull off either look, so the tie stays on.

Any public defender fashion pointers out there?

(apparently the tiny word bubble below is for comments - will somebody please test this for me?)

Coach's corner

A couple of posts from a blog titled Coach Approach:

"A Day in the Life of a Public Defender"

I stop him cold in the middle of his rant and say this: " When this is over, however it turns out, I want you to promise me something. I want you to promise that you will get away from here, because if you stay here you will be dead..."

"It Is In Giving That We Receive"

My clients are generally grateful just to have a lawyer who will take the time to listen... I deal with them each individually, and do the best I can for them. I try not to think too often about the big picture: the permanent underclass that produced these souls, the poverty and hopelessness that pervades their lives...

September 03, 2006

Sunday harbor seal blogging

The salmon have started returning to the Deschutes River by way of the Fifth Avenue bridge. For the local harbor seals, the living is easy. (here's video)

No river otters were seen using the crosswalk.

Meanwhile, all's quiet on the raccoon front.

Not exactly what I had in mind

This site has switched to Blogger Beta, with some things gained, other things lost.

Comments will return once I figure out where they've gone.

September 02, 2006

CA: smile now, cry later

From MySpace - Erin's a San Diegan, and a new intern in the dependency section of the public defenders office. She's smiling in her photo with her new colleagues and her new p.d. id, but she's also realistic:

I finished my first week...and it's been good so far (besides a few setbacks), but I know that working there is going to break my heart...

I can say that after reading a bunch of cases and talking with attorneys and other staff in the office...I haven't heard of a single happy ending for a child yet. I know I'll hear the happy stories eventually...but it seems like they'll be few and far between...


Best wishes, new colleague. Hang in there.