Shelley of The Menagerie and Gideon at a public defender tapped me with the “Lawyers Appreciate…” meme stick a week ago. My thoughtful response was due no later than December 31st. In lieu of a thoughtful response, and with 4 hours in my time zone to go, here I go.
Lawyers appreciate words, from the day when we spoke our first word to the in-court argument that just clicked today. From the time we could talk we've been learning them, decoding them, delighting in them. Most of us grew up loving to read them, a love which survived even law school (of course, law school words brought their own pleasure: enfeoffment, seizin, meretrix, "helmeted jack-booted constabulary"). In daily practice, on the phone, in the brief, before the judge or jury, they're our life, and there's nothing like the feeling when the right one leaps to mind and off the tongue.
With just a few hours left in 2007, procrastinator that I am, I tag The Invent Blog ("lawyers appreciate... something new"?), Simba's Mom ("lawyers appreciate... cats"?), and Trial Ad Notes ("lawyers appreciate... a well-stocked library"?). Happy New Year, all.
December 31, 2007
Shelley of The Menagerie and Gideon at a public defender tapped me with the “Lawyers Appreciate…” meme stick a week ago. My thoughtful response was due no later than December 31st. In lieu of a thoughtful response, and with 4 hours in my time zone to go, here I go.
December 30, 2007
A reminder (as if anyone needed one) that we in the profession always need to keep on top of our class biases and prejudices: Spungen at bobvis patiently explains to us why American working-class speech, or as Spungen labels it, Prole Twang, is so shameful and grating that even your own indigent clients can't bear to hear it. Spungen also helpfully tells us what our clients want. Hint: it's a mistake to relate to them.
Instead of saying a few foul words here, I will send out a salute to my own public defender and legal services colleagues who grew up prole and proud (Chuck in Ohio, this includes you!), and make some recommendations for further reading: "On Being Poor" by John Scalzi, and Joe Bageant's "Let's Dump Prepackaged Class Identities." Yes, let's.
- 3:40 PM
December 29, 2007
From the Houston Chronicle:
55 Idaho inmates sidetracked during move from Texas prison
Fifty-five Idaho inmates who were moved out of a troubled Texas prison on Thursday have been forced by a contract delay to make a temporary stop before going to their final destination... More than 500 Idaho prisoners are in Texas and Oklahoma due to overcrowding at home. The prisoners being moved are bound for the Val Verde Correctional Facility in Del Rio, Texas, after more than a year at the Dickens County Correctional Center in Spur, Texas, where one Idaho inmate killed himself in March.
Because a Texas county official has yet to approve the contract to house Idaho prisoners at Val Verde, they have first been sent 100 miles away... There, they will sleep in groups of up to 10 men on makeshift cots in day rooms until resolution of the contract allows them to complete the final 250-mile leg of their journey to Val Verde...
Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke said he learned only last week that a Texas county judge wanted a lawyer to look at the contract one last time. "It was something we did not anticipate," Reinke said. "GEO is paying the transport costs..."
This is just the latest uprooting of Idaho inmates since they were first shipped out of state in 2005. Since then, they have bounced from prison to prison in Minnesota and Texas amid allegations of abusive treatment...
Despite the stopover, GEO has a hefty incentive to make sure the move to Val Verde goes smoothly, Reinke said. The company hopes to win contracts with Idaho to build a large new prison here to help accommodate the state's 7,400 inmates. "They're really monitoring this closely, and doing a good job at this point," Reinke said. "It's not a lot different than triple bunking..."
Great: when you get to the intersection of prison politics and institutional indifference, the two start hot-bunking.
- 11:10 AM
It felt wrong somehow to let the old year pass without linking to one more public defender client rant. From Technomadic Packratt:
I've decided it might be a good idea to step back and look at what the cases I intend to file will be based on. So far, here's what I have: (any legal experts or hobbyists are more than welcomed to comment and/or give me some constructive criticism!)...
Case 5: Action Against Northwest Defenders (Public Defenders Group)
Part 1: Willful negligence on the part of the public defender for divulging information about my case to other individuals without my consent...
Part 2: Willful negligence on the part of the public defender when she continued to insist that I plead guilty...
I'm in Packratt's debt for suggesting a proper name for the sort of self-educated tormentor we encounter on the job: Legal Hobbyist. Perfect.
- 10:56 AM
December 27, 2007
From the Olympian:
Cedar Creek inmate ready for release
Of 400 inmates at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, Craig Ulrich is the only one applying to be part of a doctorate program in biochemistry when he gets out in May. "We probably don't have a lot of people leaving here to get a PhD," said Tom Matthews, retired Cedar Creek business manager...
"I have great expectations for him," Matthews said of Ulrich. "He has great potential: something bad happened, and he felt the responsibility to step up and make amends for it." Ulrich, 25, was in his last year of pre-med at the University of Washington when a conviction on a manslaughter charge sent him to prison for four years...
- 9:49 PM
Scott at Grits for Breakfast recently wrote about Texas's corrosive reliance on snitching. He also noted this recent news about a snitch gone wrong, closer to my old home.
From the Idaho Mountain Express:
Twin Falls murder suspect was a Blaine County ‘narc’ - McElhiney cooperated with police in drug investigations
A Hailey man charged with murder in Twin Falls was an informant for the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team. John Henry McElhiney, accused of killing an 18-year-old Twin Falls man and hiding the body in a barrel, assisted police with drug investigations in Blaine County, the director of the Narcotics Enforcement Team confirmed... Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs is not seeking the death penalty...
... which is the only saving grace in this sordid story.
- 6:07 PM
From the Twin Falls Times-News:
Christmas in custody - Inmates find peace, sobriety behind bars
Lights on a small Christmas tree twinkled Tuesday behind two officers booking inmates into the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center. A female guard wearing a red Santa hat assessed a new prisoner for any medical conditions. Beside her, another officer booked-in an elderly man wrapped in blankets - until the inmate apparently spit on the counter.
Christmas is just another day in jail. But there's an upside to the holiday for two state inmates doing hard time for meth crimes. "I'm grateful to be here. It's a sober Christmas this year," said inmate Penni Andoe...
- 6:03 PM
December 25, 2007
Let the just rejoice,
for their Justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their Savior is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let all Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.
- St. Augustine (AD 354-440)
December 24, 2007
We caught the early show at St. Michael's in hopes that visions of sugarplums would be dancing in the boy's head at a reasonable hour tonight. No such luck - he's still awake. Just as well that we didn't stay up late to go to Midnight Mass, though. I've drawn on-call cellphone duty again (second Christmas in less than three years, not that I'm getting a complex or anything), and it'd be a pain to duck out of church to answer the drunk driver Batphone.
For your Christmas Eve viewing, here is our Sugarplum:
Correction: drinking driver - sorry, DUI colleagues.
- 9:57 PM
December 23, 2007
From the University of Washington School of Law's Public Service Voices:
Conceptions of Justice: An Interview with Jay Stansell, a Seattle Federal Public Defender
I wasn’t aiming to become a public defender, I just fell into it. My original goal was to do political work on human rights violations in Central America. But it’s an illusion to think there’s one right spot to go to work for social justice – it’s where your heart is. I started doing misdemeanor criminal defense and I realized that there was a lot of human rights work that needed to be done here too..
- 9:22 PM
December 21, 2007
From the Spokesman-Review:
Front-page photos help capture thief
The blue and black checkered jacket and dark-colored hooded sweatshirt were dead giveaways to Tribune readers and police. Michael Millhouse... said he liked the photograph of himself on the front page of Thursday’s Tribune, painting some Christmas greetings...
It was the second image on the page, about an inch below, the 43-year-old Millhouse, of Clarkston, didn’t find so flattering. That one, taken from a video surveillance camera at the Clarkston Zip Trip... ran alongside a story about the apparent theft of a woman’s wallet at the store by a man whom police hadn’t identified... Video screens from multiple angles showed Millhouse snatch the wallet and leave the store with it.
The two pictures, running one on top of the other, led to Millhouse’s arrest Thursday and the recovery of (the) wallet...
Click on the image for a nice big PDF view of the front page from the Lewiston Morning Tribune. It's always a proud moment when the home state makes Boing Boing.
- 11:00 PM
December 20, 2007
From Caminiqua and Davious:
A strong stand for public defenders!
Dana Hlavac, my boss, here at the Mohave County Public Defender's Office... recently took a stand against unreasonable caseloads for Public Defenders...
"Why are we so concerned about giving quality representation to criminals?" - a paraphrased quote from a public official...
See also from the Mohave Daily News:
Judge allows public defender to withdraw from 39 felony cases
- 8:49 PM
More about a black-robed bully's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weekend, from the Oregonian:
Colleagues detail 'bad weekend' with judge - conduct, offensive remarks at a conference are among the reasons the state censured Clark County's John P. Wulle
Clark County Judge John P. Wulle was frustrated with the discussion. It's time for the group to move to the next topic, he announced... "No, Judge," Keith Pereira told Wulle. The group needed to work through this topic... That was it. The judge erupted with an expletive directed at Pereira, threw down his pen and walked out the door - leaving behind his stunned, embarrassed and frightened colleagues.
The incident was one in a series of questionable behaviors involving the judge during the five-day conference, including remarks about African Americans, gays and Jews that witnesses reported as demeaning or, at least, inappropriate... But his outburst at Pereira especially shook participants. It frightened at least one member - Cookie Quirk... "I've never seen a man throw stuff, use the F-word, and just act like a kid," Quirk said. "I didn't know what he was going to do next..."
- 7:59 PM
The International Senior Lawyers Project, together with International Bridges to Justice, non-governmental organizations that support criminal defender and legal aid efforts in Asia and elsewhere, are recruiting on-site volunteer attorneys for placement in China:
This assignment is ideal for a retired (or on sabbatical) public defender or criminal defense lawyer and would require a commitment of at least 3 months on-site in China, starting in either Spring or Summer 2008. The project involves mentoring Chinese lawyers; however, Chinese language skills are not needed.
If you are interested in this opportunity, or know of someone who just might be, please contact Andra Moss, Volunteer Coordinator, International Senior Lawyers Project, 31 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019, (212) 895-1038, or amoss "at" islp "d0t" org.
If I ever get to go to China, I'd like to visit a rural police station and bring back one of these signs:
“Confess - better treatment; Resist - harsher treatment”
Actually, I think they used to have these in police stations in rural Idaho, too.
- 12:01 PM
December 17, 2007
December 14, 2007
December 13, 2007
Environmental Graffitti serves up what's on the menu chez Idaho Department of Correction:
PETA Takes on Prison Menus
PETA recently took a good hard look at the US prison system. Were they making sure that we human animals were treated fairly, given access to decent medical care, and protected from harm? Nope. Just needed to make sure vegetarian criminals had tasty veggie burgers available. Idaho was rated the top prison system in the US for vegetarians...
See also Corrections Sentencing.
(thanks for the link, enviros!)
- 7:49 PM
December 12, 2007
Can't imagine how playing the tape of this defendant disparaging his court-appointed lawyer might affect the jury in a, you know, right to a fair trial kind of way:
"Defendant: If you and Jodie cannot get me a good lawyer, I'm going to go do my f*cking time, I'm going to sign my kids over to the State of Oregon, and you guys will never f*cking see me again...
-- I'm telling you what I'm going to do, and you can count on it. If I go to court with this f*cking attorney, I'm f*cked...
-- No. All I'm looking for is go find a lawyer. I don't give a f*ck if it's goddamn Mr. Magoo and on his first case. I'll pay for whatever it takes when I get out of here..."
Or at least the trial judge couldn't. The Oregon Supreme Court could, though:
"(I)t would be extremely difficult for him to advocate for the defendant in front of jurors who knew that defendant had 'called (him) every name in the book' and did not believe that he was competent..."
Trials go forward all the time when the public defenders know this - we just try not to share that knowledge with the jury.
Via Evidenceprof Blog and the ABA Journal.
(Good old Malheur County! You know, the DA there was #1 in my class. This issue must not have been on the final.)
- 7:57 PM
December 11, 2007
I got a bit of a frisson from this ABA Journal article about a former public defender striking out on his own:
A Conspiracy of One - After months of planning, hoping and hand-wringing, Michael Grossman is ready to start his new life as a solo practitioner
(T)oday... is Grossman’s first day at a new firm. His firm.
(H)e’s ready to tackle the day. Which for now means stuffing hundreds of envelopes with announcements that he’s opened a solo practice. Grossman is sending the cards to pretty much everyone he knows: friends, associates and lawyers he’s crossed paths with during his nine years in the Cook County Public Defender’s Office...
I completely understand this reason for the move:
He began to notice the violence was getting under his skin in ways it never had before. Before he became a parent, that is...
One murder case proved particularly troubling. “There were four dead bodies, and one was a 2-year-old,” he recalls. “I had medical examiner photos in my file that I didn’t want to look at. I didn’t want to take that home with me at the end of the day.” While the case alone wasn’t enough to make him quit, it contributed to his growing malaise. “I believed in what I was doing,” he says. “I just wanted to do something different...”
But I suspect that this only leads to trouble:
Meanwhile, Grossman had become an avid blog reader...
- 8:18 PM
December 10, 2007
From the Columbian:
Judge Wulle censured by commission
Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle was censured Friday for "demeaning, offensive and shocking" behavior at a training conference last year. Wulle, 57, appeared before the state Commission on Judicial Conduct in SeaTac. The judge and seven other people from Clark County, including a deputy prosecuting attorney, a juvenile probation officer and a defense attorney, attended "Planning your Juvenile Drug Court," July 24 to 28, 2006, in Los Angeles.
According to a nine-page document posted on the commission's Web site, Wulle used profanity, made an obscene gesture in response to a request to lower his voice and referred to Clark County's group facilitator as "the black gay guy" while at the Los Angeles event. Also, after the facilitator said, "Clark County gets a star" for finishing an assignment, Wulle said, "I don't need a star. I'm not a Jew." Several witnesses said Wulle smelled of alcohol, according to the censure order...
See also "Judge Talks Himself into Trouble" from the ABA Journal.
- 9:42 PM
This is one of the scariest things I've ever received:It's an invitation to an evidentiary hearing in the U.S. District Court for Idaho. A week from now, I'll be on the witness stand answering questions about what I recall discussing or not discussing with a client of mine 5 1/2 years ago, prior to his entry of a guilty plea, and prior to his being maxed out by a judge known as Hang 'Em Higher.
After twenty years it's a first for me: first federal habeas, first testimony in federal court. I've reviewed my own advice to myself; if any of you have any good words, please e-mail me at senor_bosnia at hotmail d0t com .
December 09, 2007
Gifts as They Are
My clients are indigent... Occasionally (though a better word might be "rarely"), we really get to help people out of tight spots and our clients want to thank us. Now, as we've already established my clients are... poor, it becomes clear that they can't really afford to give us lavish gifts to show their thanks. But the gifts they do give have taught me a valuable lesson...
- 6:49 PM
December 08, 2007
Michael E. Haas, a Grant County public defense attorney, writes in response to this bit of nonsense from the Columbia Basin Herald:
Guest Editorial: Defender responds to comments on juvenile crime
"The best thing we can do is put the fear of God (in kids)," said Grant County Prosecutor John Knodell. I disagree John. The best thing we can do is love our children, nurture them, teach them right from wrong, teach them to be kind, teach them boundaries, teach them to be respectful of others and themselves. That's what I want for my children and it's what I want for my neighbors' children. Should I want anything less for a child that commits a crime?
Big A & C respect goes out to Ephrata / Soap Lake / Moses Lake juvenile public defenders Sean Devlin and Brandon Redal.
- 5:07 PM
From the Terrell Tribune:
Just a year old, Kaufman County PD's office serves as a model for others around state
A year ago when Andrew Jordan was appointed as Kaufman County's first public defender, he had no staff, no desk and a daunting charge from commissioners... “I really thought when I agreed to accept the position that somewhere there was ‘The Idiot's Guide to Creating a Public Defender's Office,' ” Jordan said. “That book doesn't exist so, to that extent, it was overwhelming trying to start from scratch...”
Via I Was The State.
- 12:35 PM
December 07, 2007
When I lived in the Magic Valley, I got to go out to the site of the Minidoka internment camp. Unlike its residents back in World War II, I got to leave when I chose. The artist Roger Shimomura was held there. His exhibition, "Minidoka on My Mind," is at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle until December 22:
In a group of 30 paintings, Roger Shimomura's exhibition, "Minidoka on My Mind," will explore the artist's family's internment during World War II... The show's title refers to Camp Minidoka in Hunt, Idaho where he and his family were detained from the spring of 1942 until the summer of 1944... He says that these "images are scraped from the linings of my mind — not necessarily what I remembered specifically, but what I respond with when I think of Camp Minidoka..."
Via the Is That Legal? post, "Keep on Talkin', Michelle Malkin":
Artist Roger Shimomura takes on Michelle Malkin.
- 6:33 PM
December 06, 2007
From the Port Townsend Leader:
Defenders say 'no' to more District Court cases
Jefferson Associated Counsel is declining to represent any more poor people in Jefferson County District Court until a new contract can be negotiated... Jefferson Associated Counsel Director Ben Critchlow advised the county Nov. 8 that District Court had assigned the three-attorney firm 822 cases, which is 312 more than a county contract limit of 510 cases.
Attorney Richard Davies... said Tuesday that through Nov. 28, the three attorneys had been assigned 983 District Court cases, 473 more than the caseload limit spelled out in the contract. "There's way too many cases, and we're getting to a point where our clients aren't getting the service they deserve," said Davies. Davies said the Washington State Bar Association recommends that attorneys be assigned roughly 300 District Court cases a year...
I can imagine more than a few misdemeanor public defenders out there saying, "as if."
- 7:02 PM
December 05, 2007
December 04, 2007
Long after settling the ACLU lawsuit, Grant County, Washington continues to struggle under the yoke of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The elected prosecutor's latest objections, from the Columbia Basin Herald:
Grant County cities ask for more prosecutors
Grant County Prosecutor John Knodell said the juvenile system in Grant County is flawed. Juveniles go to court and are viewed as clients by public defenders...
More public defenders results in less prosecution due to the amount of time they can demand on the prosecutors, he added. Public defenders are drowning them in motions and extensions for the misdemeanor crimes, Knodell added...
He said public defenders play a role in overcrowding because their client sometimes stays in jail while waiting for trial. If the process were expedited, they wouldn't be in the jail because they would be transported to another juvenile facility to serve their time...
The first time a juvenile is prosecuted, they should be doing jail time, he said. The court system is teaching young criminals what they did is not their fault and they need counseling to cure their ailment...
Knodell vowed a promise to prosecute juveniles to the full extent the law allows for all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes to get maximum jail sentences. "The best thing we can do for kids in put the fear of God in them...", he said.
Really, that's the way he talks. No, seriously. Apparently no Grant County public defenders could be found to be interviewed for the story, probably because they were all off doing dilatory and frivolous things like filing motions and talking to their clients.
Update 12/11/07: Grant County prosecutor's staffing request declined
- 9:01 PM
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah Supreme Court: Did prosecutors harass defense in death penalty case?
Defense attorneys told the Utah Supreme Court on Monday that prosecutors are "waging a war" of harassment and intimidation against lawyers representing capital murder defendants.
Death penalty cases bring out the worst in prosecutors, said federal defender Kent Hart, speaking on behalf of the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. There is "a willingness to engage in conduct they otherwise would not," he said...
- 8:37 PM
December 03, 2007
December 02, 2007
From the AP:
Study: Immaturity May Spark Teen Crime
The teenage brain, Laurence Steinberg says, is like a car with a good accelerator but a weak brake. With powerful impulses under poor control, the likely result is a crash. And, perhaps, a crime. Steinberg, a Temple University psychology professor, helped draft an American Psychological Association brief for a 2005 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty for crimes committed before age 18.
That ruling relies on the most recent research on the adolescent brain, which indicates the juvenile brain is still maturing in the teen years and reasoning and judgment are developing well into the early to mid 20s. It is often cited as state lawmakers consider scaling back punitive juvenile justice laws passed during the 1990s...
Because sometimes judges and lawmakers have to have things spelled out for them.
The Idaho Statesman article adds a little local content:
Prosecuting kids as adults gets another look - Drop in juvenile crime, brain research and studies of ill effects of prison on teens spark reforms in many states
In the Treasure Valley this week, the case against a 13-year-old Nampa boy was transferred to adult court, where he will face charges in an alleged sexual assault on a 5-year-old girl earlier this year. The boy's lawyer is now fighting to get the case moved back to juvenile court. Under Idaho law, any juvenile 14 or older who is charged with a violent felony such as murder, attempted murder, rape or robbery is charged as an adult. If a suspect is younger than 14, a juvenile court judge must decide whether the suspect should be charged as an adult...
Fourteen. Meanwhile in the Cowboy State:
Minor offenses routinely land Wyoming youths in adult jail
Wyoming is big on tough love. Hundreds of Wyoming juveniles each year are locked up for minor crimes like shoplifting, drinking and even running away. The main reason is that many of these youngsters are tried in adult rather than in juvenile courts...
The Campaign for Youth Justice has something to say about locking up youth in adult jails.
(homage to Bliss for the headline)
- 7:27 PM
November 30, 2007
These comments by a criminal defense lawyer really pissed off my wife... from the Twin Falls Times-News:
A Twin Falls man who pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape was sentenced Thursday to four to 10 years in a special section of prison that offers treatment. In six months he'll have a shot at probation. Battling attorneys at the Dustin Owings sentencing hearing argued points in what sounded like two separate cases.
"Boys will be boys and girls will be girls," said Owings' attorney, Harry DeHaan. "And one of the ways girls get attention is they present sex." DeHaan objected to the prosecutor's repeated claim that Owings coerced the girls, saying, "It is only rape because the statute defines it as such."
Owings, now 26, allegedly raped five underage girls during a five-year period in which they were about 16 years old, and he was 21 or older and was their supervisor at Gertie's Brick Oven Cookery in Twin Falls...
...and you really do not want to piss off my wife.
Update: see comments at The MountainGoat Report.
Update: but wait, there's more!
Harry DeHaan, Owings' defense attorney said, "I think the facts contained in the pre-sentencing hearing reports show that these ladies had sex with a number of people. But if they have regrets about their sexual history, somehow it's all Mr. Owings's fault..."
- 7:38 PM
November 29, 2007
I've been waiting for this to go online, from Reason magazine, by Radley Balko:
No Money, No Justice - Do public defenders deserve scorn, or bigger budgets?
If we’re serious about giving everyone a fair crack at justice, indigent defendants need access to the same sorts of resources prosecutors have... If we’re going to generously fund the government’s efforts to imprison people, we need to ensure that everyone the government pursues is adequately defended and protected from prosecutorial overreach...
- 12:44 PM
November 28, 2007
From Style Weekly:
Boat’s Battle - Prickly longtime public defender John Boatwright runs into a different kind of enemy: hepatitis C
John Boatwright III used to swagger into courtrooms like a lion entering a Roman arena: confident, brash and hungry. Whether it was in the heat of litigation or in the chilly brinkmanship of plea negotiations, his forthright manner often irked opponents. Some things change; others never do...
There isn’t much to say about hepatitis C, other than there is no cure, and it is a miserable, life-altering disease... Boatwright is on short-term disability from his post as capital defender for Virginia’s central region...
- 7:20 PM
November 25, 2007
I don't have much occasion to read up on Idaho caselaw since I, well, no longer practice in Idaho, but I liked these recent opinions:
State v Paul Lawrence Rogers, No. 33935 (October 22, 2007) (pdf file here):
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that where a defendant was required to plead guilty in order to enter into drug court, he had a liberty interest in remaining in that diversionary program, and held that drug court participants are entitled to due process rights such as those afforded to parolees in Morrissey v. Brewer prior to termination from the program. The opinion was authored by one of my old TF judges, Justice Burdick.
In the Matter of Doe, No. 33475 (November 1, 2007) (pdf file here):
The Court of Appeals found that raising one's voice a little is not sufficient to bring a youth within the purview of the Juvenile Corrections Act. I'm pleased as punch to send congratulations to the lawyer who argued and won the appeal, Robin Weeks of the Twin Falls County Public Defenders Office - I hired her, you know.
- 9:54 PM
November 23, 2007
From Las Vegas City Life:
Reasonable doubt - The state Supreme Court is working to fix Clark County's public defender system. But some doubt the changes will ever make it to the courtroom
"The reputation of the office has changed significantly," said Thom Reilly, county manager from 2001 to 2006. "The reputation five or six years ago was that attorneys got into the office around 11 o'clock and left at 2. That's not the case anymore. They are seen as very hardworking. They also take on controversial issues and are very vocal. Having said that, I still don't think that substitutes for staffing issues. Caseloads speak for themselves."
With the Clark County public defender system, there's always a catch. For every step forward, it takes one back. In 2006, the public defender's office had 14,362 new felony cases. This year it's projected to have 18,600 (with only one new attorney). Attorneys are handling more than 400 cases a year, said (Clark County Public Defender Phil) Kohn...
- 8:22 AM
November 20, 2007
Time for more of the action packed stories of Public Defender In Action:In this pre-Gideon episode, coppers are trying to prevent a responsible client from keeping his office appointment. Meanwhile, Public Defender In Action is taking an action packed drag on his pipe, as if contemplating the ethical do's and don't's accompanying that big rucksack of cash headed his way.
- 8:46 PM
November 19, 2007
First you'd quit your p.d. job and invest in something worthwhile... From the Spokesman-Review:
Connect: An urban vision for green living
It was not unlike winning the lottery without buying a ticket. Jim Sheehan was burned out on the law. For 20 years he'd worked as a public defender, and he'd just tried a death penalty case in Spokane. "I was just so finished. Then one morning my sister called from Seattle. She said, 'Are you sitting down, because you better be,' " Sheehan recalled. "Then she said our aunt Verle had died and left us this exorbitant amount of money..."
Unexpectedly wealthy, Sheehan took a year off to figure out what to do with his life. "It was really simplistic," Sheehan said, "because I loved being a public defender. It's incredibly important work. People think it's the prosecutors who wear the white hats and preserve the culture, but in my opinion it's those who represent the charged that we should commend as the defenders of freedom."
So in 1999, he opened the Center for Justice, a public interest law firm. "I was going to use my money to help have the voices of people heard, who never get heard," Sheehan said. "The poor, the disadvantaged, the oppressed, the disenfranchised – which all together is a vast number in our culture. They have no access to the legal system. I thought: I can do something to change that."
...later on, you'd hire the best lawyer you could find, naturally. Again, from the Spokesman-Review:
Attorney, law center join up - Jeffry Finer brings decades of experience to Spokane's Center for Justice
It was a lawyer's peak moment: arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. But Spokane attorney Jeffry Finer was pretty sure he'd lost in 1996 when Chief Justice William Rehnquist abruptly clicked off his microphone and leaned back with a scowl. "I got jumped by nine judges in robes. I lost hugely," Finer said of the case, in which he argued that civil forfeiture and criminal prosecution for the same offense violate double-jeopardy protections in the U.S. Constitution.
Finer, 52, is better known in Spokane for the high-profile civil rights cases he's helped win or settle, including the epic Spokane Gypsy case and a clinic-picketing case pitting the privacy rights of women seeking abortions against the free-speech rights of abortion protesters. Now, in a new step in his 23-year career, Finer is closing his solo practice and joining the Center for Justice, a unique public-interest law firm funded with former public defender Jim Sheehan's inheritance...
- 9:24 PM
November 18, 2007
Yesterday we were at the farmers' market, conveniently located next to the Port of Olympia. As the marchers went past, I was turned off by the bullhorn and the upside-down Old Glory, but was heartened to see a demonstration truly non-violent enough to bring your dog.
Bonus link goes to OlyBlog and "Imagine a different protest."
- 4:58 PM
November 15, 2007
For our colleague the Bardd, some days in Drug Court are joyful: Drug Court graduation for example. Other days feel like eavesdropping on someone else's confession: bless me, Your Honor, for I have sinned, for instance. The Bardd also has issues with Nature's "scoundrelly little opportunist," the squirrel.
Then there's this from the criminal defense lawyer at The Squirrel's Nest: "It would be totally awesome if we could just dispense with the clients"
One more lawyer, Simba's Mom at Unpublished Opinion (motto: "I will try to talk about something other than the cats") has noticed how squirrels are like cats.
And on my back porch there's an uneasy detente between the wily eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and the dapper Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri).
- 9:00 PM
November 13, 2007
Congratulations to Patricia Lee, one of three recipients of this year's California Peace Prize:
Patricia Lee has served as a deputy public defender in San Francisco since 1978 and has practiced in the juvenile courts since 1981. She is currently the managing attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender’s juvenile office, and co-director of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, which seeks to improve the quality of representation provided by juvenile-delinquency attorneys. Lee is a founding member of Bayview MAGIC (Mobilization for Adolescent Growth in our Communities), a collaborative of 25 agencies... that develops and implements strategies to reduce youth violence...
(via e-mail from Deepthi W.)
- 9:45 PM
November 11, 2007
From the Evansville Courier and Press:
Happe resumes treatment, hopes to restart law practice
For Brad Happe, the moment of truth arrived around 8:30 p.m. Friday as 12 jurors returned to a Vanderburgh County Superior courtroom after four hours of deliberation. If convicted, the 30-year-old Evansville attorney faced six years to 20 years in prison on two methamphetamine - related charges.
"(Defense attorney) John Brinson told me to give my wallet and watch to my parents, because if they found me guilty, I was going to be taken to jail right away," Happe said. "That was the scariest moment." When jurors announced Happe was not guilty on both counts, he first thanked Brinson, then the jury, then his family and friends...
The bumpy road Happe has been down began at a party years ago, where he said he first tried methamphetamine... Happe said a 2006 conviction on a misdemeanor charge of visiting a common nuisance led to his ongoing recovery effort. In that case, he pleaded guilty after being accused of leaving a place where meth was manufactured... "This is a lifelong process," he said of his recovery.
Happe says his plans are to resume his career in criminal defense when he returns to Evansville in several months. "I'll be able to identify with my clients much more now," he said. "I'll understand where they are coming from because I went through the whole process. A client who comes to me will get someone with a unique perspective..."
- 10:42 PM
Veteran's Day regards to the families of members of Navy SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Teams 1 and 2, SEAL Team 10 and Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) who were killed in action in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wing, including posthumous Medal of Honor recipient LT Michael P. Murphy, USN, to House Judiciary Committee witness SCPO Malcolm Nance, USN (Ret.), and to all the other honorable veterans of the United States Navy and Naval Reserve (including my dad).
- 1:56 PM
November 10, 2007
From the Olympian:
At least 12 arrested as protests move to downtown, I-5 entrance
At least 12 people have been arrested today as protests of military-cargo shipments from the Port of Olympia moved to downtown and the Plum Street entrance to Interstate 5... Protesters on foot blocked traffic at Fourth and Plum about noon by jumping in front of 18-wheelers towing cargo containers containing military equipment bound for Fort Lewis. But Olympia police in riot gear moved in quickly, spraying pepper spray in the faces of the protesters, pushing them with their batons and dragging them away from the road...
There are lots of photos to be seen at OlyBlog (here and here) and The Olympian's gallery. Also, you might like to read this OlyBlog post, "I'm sitting on the fence here instead of lining up against it". My past posts on the port protests are here.
- 10:44 PM
November 09, 2007
From the Idaho Statesman, photo by Chris Butler:People, pets saved after fire breaks out at apartment
When Boise fire fighters say they work to save lives and property every time they are called out to extinguish a blaze, that includes pets. Boise fire fighters rescued two cats from an apartment fire Friday morning and resuscitated one of them with a special breathing mask, much to the relief of residents of the apartment complex...
Nothing about work here, just moved by the photo and the story. HELP Animals, Inc. is one charity that helps provide animal oxygen masks to first responders.
- 10:40 PM
November 08, 2007
This public service reminder from the Bear Whisperer and your friends at the Mammoth Lakes Police Department:
"There are no problem bears, only bears in problematic situations."
(Curiously, "Bad Bear!" is something that my wife has been known to yell at me.)
(hat tip to NPR)
- 10:31 PM
November 07, 2007
November 06, 2007
Reasons for becoming a public defender, from Inherent in the Concept of Ordered Liberty:
...so that I could advance the cause of social justice...
...(to) see human dignity as a greater value than guilt or innocence...
...in order to be a voice for the voiceless...
...because I suffer from an excess of empathy...
- 9:56 PM
From the Longview Daily News:
Breaking news: Jury convicts Russell on all charges
From the Seattle Times:
Jury convicts Russell in car crash that killed three students
Frederick Russell, who fled to Ireland after being accused of causing a car wreck that killed three college students, was convicted today of all charges against him. Russell, 28, was convicted of three counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault in the 2001 crash that killed three Washington State University students and injured three others...
- 8:57 PM
November 05, 2007
Idaho news from the Spokesman-Review, via Eye on Boise:
Prison proposal draws criticism - Otter's plan allows out-of-state inmates
The idea that Idaho could import out-of-state murderers, rapists and other criminals to serve time at new profit-making private lockups in the state makes some key state lawmakers squirm.
"I have some questions about the advisability of doing that – I think a lot of people do," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Denton Darrington, R-Declo. "I'm not sure it would be well-received by the citizens of the state..."
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said..., "I have a problem modifying the statute to allow a business or industry to bring in persons who have proven to be capable of very serious criminal misconduct. It's not something that I'm a fan of."
Idaho has sent hundreds of its own prisoners to out-of-state private prisons in recent years because of overcrowding in state prisons; 550 Idaho inmates are in such facilities now, and hundreds more are headed out in the next few months. Problems have included escapes, abuse complaints and an inmate suicide in the past two years at private prisons...
Mark the date: this is one time I agree with Denton Darrington of Declo.
- 8:57 PM
November 02, 2007
"You know what a love letter is?":
We recently notified you of an annual $50 administrative fee associated with the maintenance and upkeep of your Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings indicator displayed throughout the Martindale-Hubbell® Legal Network. If this fee is not paid by 11/9/07, your rating will no longer be displayed in our online and print resources. While this may not eliminate your rating, it will exclude it from being seen by over 1 million visitors that reference Martindale-Hubbell when evaluating and selecting a legal resource. You can submit a credit card payment for your 2007 administration fee via www.mhur.com/prradmin or by calling us at 1-800-892-6998. If you have already paid this fee, please disregard this notice.
(This one goes out to my little friend at LexisNexis®, who's been visiting the blog every weekday since I got Martindale-Hubbell®'s previous letter.)
- 6:10 PM
November 01, 2007
E-mailed from the blogkeeper of I Speak of Dreams:
Study cites troubles with juvenile courts
Children accused of crimes in the U.S. juvenile court system often find themselves represented by lawyers who know nothing about their cases and under pressure to plead guilty, experts said on Wednesday.
"People would be outraged by many of these practices if they occurred in an adult system," said Cathryn Crawford of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School.
She was one of the authors of a report that looked at the juvenile court system in Illinois timed to mark the 40th anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that children accused of delinquency are entitled to a lawyer and due process in the courts...
Reaction from one Illinois juvenile public defender:
After reviewing the study, Brian Dees, an assistant public defender assigned to Sangamon County juvenile courts, said, “I don’t think it’s indicative of what we do here.”
Dees said defense attorneys normally meet with juveniles and parents before the first court hearing. Plea bargains are not forced on anyone, he said, and juvenile defendants don’t plead guilty on their first appearance. “We like to win trials,” said Dees, who has represented juveniles for eight years in Sangamon County. “We do everything we can. I’m not sure what they’re talking about...”
- 10:18 PM
October 31, 2007
- 10:35 PM
From the Iowa Independent:
Law Students' Goal: Teaching Youths a New Kind of Street Smarts
Helping minority adolescents learn more effective ways to deal with law enforcement and criminal justice officials is the subject of an upcoming forum hosted by a group of African-American law students at Drake University.
"We felt a lot of minority people in general, not just youth, don't know how to interact with the police when they get confronted on the street," said Lauren Yates, 23, a second-year law student. "We want to show them how to de-escalate the situation so you don't go to jail for mouthing off to an officer..."
Reminds me of my stints as a guest lecturer for Magic Valley Alternative High School; good times, good times...
- 8:50 PM
October 30, 2007
First tragedy, then farce. First, to the “Expeditionary Legal Complex” now going up at Guantánamo, from Subtopia:
A Camp Called Justice
Like the sign reads ‘Camp Justice’ is – to its credit – just what it says it is: justice in the form of a camp. There is absolutely no pretense here whatsoever, nor can it be mistaken for anything else either, really, which is partially what makes it so disturbing. Not to mention how obnoxious and arrogant it is in its crude declaration of itself. CAMP JUSTICE. We're here. But, again – to be fair – the name does actually say it all...
They are rather proud of their inflatable complexes – their fly-by-night hovering courtrooms – that can be deployed, assembled, disassembled, re-deployed in a matter of hours... In fact, that is precisely what they want us to see – how justice can be ultimately made elastic and modifiable, how it can be architected to fit any set of legalistic circumstances or interpretation thereof; how it can literally remake the political landscape in its own image...
Next, from the New Yorker (via Willamette Week):
Clive Stafford Smith is fond of citing the ironies of the justice system... at Guantánamo Bay... but perhaps the most bizarre of his experiences occurred in August, when... he received a letter from the United States Navy suggesting that he and another attorney had smuggled a pair of Under Armor compression-fit underpants... and a Speedo bathing suit to one of their clients...
- 9:16 PM
October 28, 2007
Interesting profile from the Anchorage Daily News of "probably the most well-known criminal defense lawyer in the state (of Washington)":
Kohring's lawyer is known for being flamboyant, effective - JOHN HENRY BROWNE: Attorney from Washington state once defended serial killer Ted Bundy
One thing's for sure about John Henry Browne. Humble he's not.
He's the Seattle lawyer defending former state Rep. Vic Kohring on federal corruption charges, and he is on a roll. "If you can find an attorney with a better record, hire them," says a half-page ad... Now he's trying to keep Kohring out of prison, and he's up against two federal prosecutors on a team that's 2-0 against public corruption in Alaska...
Once I went to a death penalty CLE in a cramped lodge below Mt. St. Helens. John Henry Browne was there, lounging like a lion in repose, power and confidence in reserve, in a way befitting the king of the beasts.
- 2:10 PM
October 25, 2007
From the Greeley Tribune:
Former head of Greeley public defender's office dies after long fight with cancer
Bryan Shaha fought like a bulldog for his clients. That's how Mike Zwiebel describes his longtime friend: a lawyer who pulled out all the stops to defend those who couldn't afford to defend themselves.
Shaha, 65, died Wednesday after a bout with cancer... After a stint with Colorado Rural Legal Services, Shaha moved to Greeley and the Colorado Public Defender's Office, where he was deputy state public defender before heading the Greeley office. He worked in private practice for five years beginning in 1979, still defending the accused, and later returned to the public defender's office. "There was no ego," Zwiebel said. "It was never for his own glory..."
Update: from the Denver Post, Defense lawyer went to bat for defenseless
The one thing Bryan Shaha couldn't stand was injustice - whether it involved meatpackers or inmates on death row. So Shaha, who died Oct. 24, three days before his 66th birthday, spent almost all his legal career defending those who could count on no other defense...
- 9:43 PM
Homage to Judge Wright, from Susan Estrich: My Hero
J. Skelly Wright, a self-described "good Catholic boy" from New Orleans, a night-law-school graduate, a working-class kid who took seriously what he learned in school and in church, had been appointed to the federal district court by Harry Truman while still in his 30s because he was the only guy around who thought every ballot was supposed to be counted, once. But no one expected this good ole boy to decide that if separate but equal was inherently unequal, it was his job as a federal judge to order the first blacks to attend LSU Law School, to integrate the New Orleans school systems...
He didn't set out to be a hero. He just believed it was his job to do what was right, to enforce the law... He never got rich... As the Supreme Court changed, he got reversed more and more often. But he never stopped fighting...
Now you know just a tad more about this blog's patron saint.
(shown here with his wife Helen Patton Wright)
- 8:19 PM
October 24, 2007
As seen on yesterday's drive, the courthouse (1887, 1993) in Dayton, Columbia County (population 4100), together with the bright white courthouse (1901) in Pomeroy, Garfield County (population 2400).
Those early wheat kings had confidence in the law, as great as their hopes for the future.
- 9:53 PM
Pants on fire, from the Spokesman-Review:
Craig hired lawyer before arrest
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig paid top criminal defense attorney Billy Martin and PR consultant Judy Smith $37,350 in early July, and has had them representing him since last February – throughout the time he said he consulted no lawyer about his legal troubles in Minnesota...
“Larry didn’t tell anyone – not a soul,” said his spokesman, Dan Whiting, who said that was “a well-established giant mistake.” Whiting said Craig never told Martin, a renowned criminal defense attorney, of his arrest or guilty plea, even though he was paying him at the time to represent him...
- 8:34 PM
October 23, 2007
Accused murderer Mark Lankford and I both arrived in Grangeville, Idaho recently. I stayed about five blocks from him - didn't visit. I just left there; he might still be there.
Lankford returns to Idaho County for possible retrial
Mark Lankford is back in Idaho County Jail this week after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he must be either retried or released because of an error in jury instructions during his 1984 trial...
Judge grants motion to appoint Lankford new lead lawyer
A state judge has granted a motion to appoint a new lead lawyer for a man facing a second trial for his role in two 1983 slayings. Mark Lankford, 51, appeared today in Second District Court while his defense team urged the court to hire a more experienced attorney to supervise the case...
24 years later, the majority of taxpayers in Idaho County seem determined to try to execute this guy one more time around, tax base and other necessary tax expenditures be damned.
- 9:23 PM
October 18, 2007
October 16, 2007
Alert reader Erik sent me this link from the LA Times:
'What gun? Oh, this gun? Uh, it came with the pants'
Not everyone is born with the talent to make up plausible alibis on a moment's notice. Take the gang member walking down an L.A. street with a handgun visible in his waistband. Before he donned a pair of handcuffs, he told officers John Banuelos and Manny Sierra that "the pants he was wearing were actually not his and he hadn't noticed that it [the gun] was in there..."
(I'm sure the writer meant to say alleged gang member.)
Thanks for remembering my favorite defense, Erik! In the words of the great Benton Larson, "I know what's in my pants."
- 11:13 PM
From the Burley / Rupert South Idaho Press:
Public defenders, boiler hit Minidoka budget
Minidoka County Commissioners and Fifth District Judge Barry Wood discussed on Friday possible solutions to the county’s shrinking pool of attorneys willing to serve as public defenders... (P)art of the problem is an increasing number of court cases in which a public defender is required... But Wood said fewer and fewer attorneys are willing to take cases as public defenders because the county pays just $55 per hour, a fraction of what attorneys make on private cases...
But finding room in the existing budget to raise public defenders’ pay may be just as difficult, as commissioners learned the courthouse boiler has sprung a leak and may have to be replaced to the tune of about $20,000...
- 10:51 PM
October 15, 2007
As you read here at A&C last month, from today's
National Law Journal (link via UW's Trial Ad Notes):
Lawyers in civil and criminal cases are increasingly finding that social networking sites can contain treasure chests of information for their cases. Armed with printouts from sites such as Facebook and MySpace, attorneys have used pictures, comments and connections from these sites as powerful evidence in the courtroom.
"It's going to be more and more helpful in the future," said Mark Diebolt, a deputy county attorney in Pima County, Ariz... Diebolt said an eyewitness recently identified a first-degree murder suspect in a group photograph posted on MySpace... D. Jesse Smith, a solo practitioner in Tucson, Ariz., said... (i)n a recent misdemeanor assault case..., he was able to prove someone other than his client was the aggressor who started the fight because his MySpace page contained a video of him beating someone up...
One defense lawyer said that... the judge relied heavily on MySpace to decide on his client's sentence. Steve Balash of Santa Barbara... said that Jessica Binkerd was sentenced in January to five years and four months in prison after she drove under the influence of alcohol and got into a crash in which her passenger was killed. Balash said he expected Binkerd to get probation, but she received a prison sentence in large part because her MySpace page showed her wearing an outfit with shot glasses and an alcohol advertisement after the accident...
Why, just today outside the courtroom here, one teenager's parent was talking about wanting to sue the cops for invasion of privacy, because they printed out the teenager's (incriminating) MySpace pages.
- 11:30 PM
Well-written post from Dangerblond in New Orleans:
drugs and tennis shoes
Tonight, there were about 15 prisoners at HOD. Also, Popeye was back, making short work of a po-boy from Mandina’s. The older deputy told me that things had calmed down since this weekend, when there were 40 people arrested on Saturday and 30 on Sunday.
I said, “what happened? Everybody being good all of a sudden?”
He said, “no indeed. The cops just don’t want to arrest anybody...”
- 9:27 PM
October 14, 2007
October 13, 2007
From the Fort Wayne News - Sentinel:
Attorney arrested after missing hearing - Public defender said he was in another court
A public defender who failed to appear for a client’s sentencing hearing Friday found himself on the other side of the law hours later – arrested and booked into Allen County Lockup on a direct contempt of court charge. Allen Superior Court Judge Kenneth Scheibenberger ordered an arrest warrant for 43 - year - old Quinton L. Ellis when the lawyer did not show up for the sentencing of Dixon W. Boughman... Boughman was to be released Friday because he had already served enough time in jail...
“I think it was extreme under the circumstances,” said Ellis of the judge’s decision. “I know he has fined other attorneys...” “He’s a good lawyer, an excellent lawyer,” Scheibenberger said. “He’s just not very organized...”
- 12:21 PM
October 12, 2007
By now you've heard of this:
All-white jury clears 8 in boot-camp death of boy
Acquittal Fits the Pattern in Boot Camp Deaths
I can't find the words...
In other Florida news, this, also from the South Florida Sun - Sentinel:
Public defender intern in Broward had been arrested for sex with teen
A Coral Springs man whose stepdaughter is in Broward juvenile court said he "almost had a heart attack" when he learned her assistant public defender once was arrested for having sex with a minor. "We were shocked," said Steve Potgieter, 38. "We were like, this is the twilight zone; this cannot be."
It turns out Bryan Docobo, 26, is an intern newly hired by the Broward Public Defender's Office... In May 2005, Docobo, then 23, had consensual sex with a 15-year-old Cooper City girl he met on the Internet. He pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to one year's probation...
- 6:12 PM