December 31, 2006

UT: suspect has identifying marks...

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:

"Why couldn't I have been a defense attorney?"

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.

December 30, 2006

Automatic DQ

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.

December 29, 2006

Shillin'

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Well, I'm sold. No more worrying over whether a lawyer will except my case.

Friday kitten blogging


Taking a break from chasing the cursor

December 28, 2006

WA: Nirvana's not here

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...

ID: one more murder for Twin Falls County

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.

IL: fire 50 public defenders, save Todd Stroger's private elevator

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).

Don't follow me, I'm lost too

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.

Card check

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."

December 27, 2006

ID: "an obscure criminal provision"

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."

December 26, 2006

ID: venting into the court file

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.

December 25, 2006

Fear not

Merry Christmas from A & C

December 22, 2006

IL: solidarity forever

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...

WA: winning, all-too-human Oly prosecutor resigns under fire

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."

December 21, 2006

IL: Cook County p.d.s on the chopping block

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.

December 20, 2006

My dog has pleas

"How can a friend of mine get back into court? He had a public Defender & they the public defender told him to flea bargin."

Check out the p.d. - slamming response from a self-promoting "aggresive" attorney.

ID: Pocatello teen murder suspects might get an untainted venire panel after all

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...

December 19, 2006

ID: "eventually something goes wrong and somebody gets killed"

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.

WA: "bang bang"

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...


Messed. Up.

And the earth did not swallow him

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.

December 18, 2006

NV: Elko seeks a p.d.

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.

December 17, 2006

ND: "it's almost schizophrenic..."

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.

December 16, 2006

Electricity is our friend

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.

WA: "you want a last cigarette?"

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.

ID: "My hand hit the trigger..."

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...

December 14, 2006

WA: big trouble for lawyers behind Kennewick plea bargain scam

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.


From KNDU:

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...

ID: "Donnie said he was going to off somebody..."

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...

December 12, 2006

New kitten blogging

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.

















Bonus links:
* 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

LA: orphans of the storm

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.

December 11, 2006

AK: you're fired, and best wishes

Remember: when dumping a court-appointed lawyer, and sending your letter care of the Alaska Court System of Kangaroo Justice Inc., you may soften the blow if you'll just follow the phrase "public pretender" with a cute little "devil smiley face" emoticon.

Find out what it means to me

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.)

December 10, 2006

ID: prosecutor - nasty e-mails? bad judgment? no problem!

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.

Weekend wolf blogging

Wolf Haven's residents were resplendent in their winter coats yesterday, and even sang us a few holiday carols.


December 09, 2006

Santa's son defended by p.d.

I wouldn't have believed it, but I saw it on cable - a Christmas movie for (Christmas - celebrating) public defenders and their kids:

Santa Jr.

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.

December 07, 2006

Tale of the tats

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.

WA: catch a clue

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."

December 06, 2006

Must've been high

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.

WA: Siddhartha

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.

Tattoo you

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.

December 05, 2006

It's hard to be a j.d. these days

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...

December 04, 2006

UT: both perpetrators and victims

From the SLTrib:

Young Utah molesters strain agency - DCFS sees big increase in caseload

Raising the stakes in Utah: signs of an increase in juvenile sex offenders. "We're seeing more of them and at younger ages..."

Darkness at noon

Indefensible. Barbarous. Beyond sickening.

December 03, 2006

Feige on juvy

From Indefensible:

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.