September 30, 2007

Juror: "I was actually impressed by the vigorous defense mounted by the public defender"

Jury duty blogging from I Will Dance For You:

Whatever the motivations to pursue this case over cases where people are, um, actually harmed is probably something I won't understand. All I know is I left after two weeks of service not feeling like I, in any way, served justice, made our city safer, made sure our police force felt protected in their dangerous job, or made our parks nicer places to eat paninis. Nope. It felt like a waste of time and resources. Justice busywork...

September 28, 2007

MySpace indiscretion: "it's almost ridiculous"

In the comments on the post, "Do You Facebook?," Kirsten reminds the Urban Mamas (and the rest of us):

I work for the public defender and I can't tell you how many people get in trouble for what they post on their mySpace pages...

September 27, 2007

"You play the organ like a madwoman"

Llama the prosecutor sends a little love our way:

I'll give a shout out to the public defenders -- the PD from my courtroom today had seven people in custody, plus at least twenty-some clients to represent. Imagine having to give competent legal advice to all of those people...

Wingnut vs. public defenders

Matthew of Right Angle Blog argues:

Right to Counsel, But No Right to Have it PAID For

While Joseph at Plunderbund is more of a vouchers guy:

Legal Choice: Market Forces Improve Defense Counsel

September 26, 2007

PDX AFPD, new pd blogger

Welcome to the public defender blogging ranks, live from the Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon in Portland, OR, it's Tex Clark with Go West Young Tex.
My boy welcomes our new neighbor.

September 25, 2007

KY: 6-year-old's case dismissed

Good news from Autism Vox:

Criminal Charges Against Nathan Darnell Dismissed

Just up on WCPO news (Kentucky):

Public Defender Amanda Mullins asked that the charge be dismissed because of Nathan’s age and autism. "A child can’t participate in their own defense at six years old because they’re unable to answer questions or give me their version of the story accurately," Mullins said. The judge agreed...

"That's a relief."

September 24, 2007

WA: local kids, wounded by war

Sorrow next door in the South Sound, from the Seattle P-I:

Camp helps kids grieve for a parent killed in war

Kaylee Sharp-Henderson, 8, is comforted by Sgt. 1st Class William Harlan of Fort Lewis and by Gail Kriete, a volunteer with the non-profit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which conducted a "Good Grief Camp" on Saturday at the fort. The program attempts to help children like Kaylee, whose father was killed three months ago by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, come to terms with their feelings...

CA: porn allegation, immediate termination

From the Lake County Record-Bee:

Youth public defender arrested for child porn

Lake County Juvenile Court public defender Robert Wayne Wiley was arrested Thursday for possession of child pornography, a felony under California Penal Code 311.11 (a). "We'll have no comment until the investigation is concluded," said Lake County District Attorney Jon Hopkins Monday...

Wiley's contracts with the county and state for juvenile public defense were both "mutually terminated" on Friday, according to the contract holders. Mary E. Smith, CEO of Lake County Superior Court confirmed that Wiley's contract with the state to provide juvenile dependency services was canceled in a Friday meeting at his Lakeport office...

Innocent until proven guilty and all that, but, oh hell... Thanks for putting us all under a cloud, pendejo.

September 23, 2007

"He didn’t have any weapon on him. He didn’t even have a pencil."

E-mailed by Liz at I Speak of Dreams, two items of concern from Autism Vox:

Aide Files Charges Against 6-year-old

Charges have been filed against an autistic 6-year-old, Nathan Darnell, of Brooksvile, Kentucky, by a teacher’s aide, Glenda Schlitz. As reported in the September 19th Ledger Independent, "According to his parents... 6-year-old Nathan had allegedly refused to eat his breakfast at school and was told by the teacher’s aide in the cafeteria he could lay his head down if he ate his breakfast. When he did not do it, the aide started to leave the area. Nathan then allegedly pushed the aide, Glenda Schlitz and caused her to fall to her knees... Then, on Sept. 13, the Darnells received notice of fourth-degree assault charges filed Sept. 11, against Nathan by Schiltz..."

Six years old. And this:

Would you want him Tased or hit by a car?

That’s what Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County sheriff’s department said in defense of sheriff’s deputies use of a Taser stun gun on a 15-year-old Taylor Karras. Karras, who has autism, had fled from his parents during a visit to the Regional Center of Orange County in Westminster about 11:30 a.m. Monday. Karras had gone there for counseling, which he did not want... About nine hours later, his mother saw him about one block from their home — 16 miles from the center — on the ground and handcuffed by deputies...

What a world.

September 19, 2007

FL: improving defense services to children

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Professor to boost juvenile justice - Using a $779,000 grant, he will train some area lawyers to better serve kids accused of crimes

Kids pleading guilty without talking to a lawyer. Teenagers waiving their rights without understanding the consequences. Little trial preparation by attorneys.

These findings from a 2006 study of Florida's juvenile-justice system make Gerard F. Glynn cringe. That's why Glynn, an associate professor at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, is leading the charge for a new center to focus on improving legal representation for children in the juvenile-justice system...

CA: no, you're not one of us

I'd just like to take this moment to point out that, according to CPDA (pdf file here), Leroy Davies, the purported public defender who wrote (and filed with the court no less) this -

(D)efendant made no move to expand on the statement of kicking lesbian ass by stating when, where or how it was to be kicked... Lesbians are unreasonable as a matter of fact, having violated all tenets of the Bible, common sense, and the biological imperative...

- is a private lawyer who does contract indigent defense work for Del Norte County. We don't claim him.

Link via Daily Kos.

September 18, 2007

NE: profile in courage at juvy

David Tarrell at In The Moment releases the transcript from the time that a juvenile judge held him in contempt:

Going to Jail for Refusing to "Be Still" in Court

THE COURT: Mr. Tarrell, can I talk to your client for a moment?
THE COURT: Can I talk to him, please, for a minute?
MR. TARRELL: Yeah, I’m – you know, I’m—
THE COURT: Thank you.
MR. TARRELL: Judge, you know—
THE COURT: Thank you, I’m just going to visit with him for a second.
MR. TARRELL: Judge, you know what—
THE COURT: You- Just a moment. Mr. Tarrell, if you do not be still, I’ll find you in contempt.
MR. TARRELL: You can find me in contempt.
THE COURT: All right.
MR. TARRELL: I think it’s important that I talk to my client, okay, Judge...

What my client learned in juvy today

Drinking pickle juice will not help you beat your UA.

Scoffing and smirking at the court commissioner will not help you beat your PV.

"Don't taze me bro" catchphrase sweeps nation, revives p.d. investigator blog

If it takes cops Tasering a struggling college prankster to get Sancho to start blogging again, then we as a society should be willing to pay that price.

Update: here's a public service announcement from Santa Barbara Lawyer:

It is NEVER, and I mean NEVER, a good idea to physically resist a police officer... Don't exacerbate the problem by pulling away or, even worse, physically assaulting the officer. Doing so can get you: (1) Injured (2) Tased (even if you say, "don't tase me bro'") (3) Charged with additional and more serious crimes (even felonies) and/or (4) Killed (possibly)...

September 17, 2007

LA: real law student, real K-ville

Public defender intern Kimberly gets it. From Dangerblond:

I’m taking a class this semester on Louisiana Criminal Procedure, taught by a guy who works in the Orleans Public Defender’s office... We’ve been asked to observe some criminal proceedings for the class, and I figured the best way to go about it would be to intern down there a few hours a week... Today was my first day of interviewing prisoners prior to their first appearances...

My job was to quickly determine indigent status and to fill out certificates stating that they qualified to be represented by a public defender. I also got contact numbers and personal data... After the attorney interviewed them, I went back to the office to call their contacts. Most of them already knew about the arrests, but the brother in California did not. He sounded weary. I really can’t imagine how it serves society to have this old man in jail for crack and make his poor brother deal with a bail bondsman from long distance. Society exacts its punishment on the family members for the mistake of having a drug-addled brother...

"Working hard to put food on your family"

Today in court, the commissioner pro tem instructed one of my teenage clients to turn to face his parents.

As the pro tem explained, "you need to thank them for putting a roof over your mouth."

September 16, 2007

MySpace, MyLawyerSpace, MyProsecutorSpace

From the Arizona Daily Star:

Online clues now helping to get convictions - Prosecutors use social sites like MySpace to aid cases

What you do online can haunt you later — especially if later involves standing before a judge in a criminal case. Prosecutors are starting to use photos and statements posted to defendants' personal Internet pages as evidence against them. And judges are using the information to justify tough sentences...

Logging onto, and is now considered de rigueur for police agencies and investigators who work for defense attorneys and prosecutors, said John Wesley Hall, president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. MySpace and Facebook are social networking Web sites that let people post personal information about themselves along with photos, videos and music. "You find out all kinds of things about people that you never would have known about without the Internet," Hall said.

More and more attorneys are using the Web sites to investigate the credibility of witnesses, victims and defendants. "I don't think attorneys on either side can afford to overlook the Internet," said John O'Brien, an assistant Pima County public defender. "It's a whole new realm that attorneys didn't have to worry about 20 years ago..."

September 14, 2007

WA: teen manslaughter judge - "Justice is sometimes a very elusive thing"

From the Seattle P-I:

No prison for teen who shot stepbrother - After hearing from youth's backers, judge shows leniency

Confounding expectations and ignoring the wishes of prosecutors, a judge Friday spared 16-year-old Jordan Jantoc from prison time in the fatal shooting of his stepbrother and instead sentenced the teen to two years of electronic home-monitoring...

September 13, 2007

Robbery Suspect Kicks Attorney in Court, Cop Tazes Self

Gideon at "A Public Defender" wonders if this is reason enough to excuse the p.d. from the case.

TN: "what if he actually pulls the trigger?"

At PrawfsBlawg, ethics professor Alex Long is watching the Knoxville chief public defender's threat to pull all p.d.'s off of all misdemeanors:

If these weren't public defenders... there wouldn't be any issue here: a lawyer can't ethically represent a client if the lawyer can't do so competently. But these obviously aren't just regular old private lawyers and we aren't just talking about one client. While I think I'm o.k. with Stephens threatening not to take any more misdemeanor cases... I'm not sure what I'll think if he actually pulls the trigger if and when his bluff(?) is called...

WA: "this is not a joke - this is my life"

Here is a particularly thoughtful presentation from the Seattle P-I of the shock waves from one juvenile manslaughter case, where the accused and the victim are members of the same family:

One Fatal Shot: A struggle to forgive one son, not forget the other

What Jordan remembers from the night he killed his stepbrother is Michael sitting on the floor in the basement bedroom they had shared since childhood, his back against the futon, reaching for the gun in Jordan's hand. Or maybe Mikey was just reaching forward to stand up -- Jordan isn't sure...

For Jordan Jantoc, the year after that night last September has been a series of jail cells, courtrooms and lawyers' offices, where adults deliberated over how to charge the lumbering, round-faced teenager for a death family members insist was accidental. Three judges have weighed in...

On Friday, when he is finally sentenced, Jordan will face up to 8 1/2 years in state prison in a case that underscores the stunning ease with which children can get guns. Yet the mechanics of King County's legal system look streamlined compared with daily life in Jordan's home...

One of the audio portions of the presentation mentions a standard sentencing range of 78 to 102 months, indicating that Jantoc is being prosecuted as an adult.

September 12, 2007

NM: "no skin off my nose"

From the Farmington Daily Times:

District public defender cleared of contempt charge

The county's top public defender, who was jailed for nearly two hours March 16 after Aztec Magistrate Judge Wilma Charley found him in contempt of court, was officially cleared of the conviction. "I am pleased but not surprised by the decision," District Public Defender Christian Hatfield said. "I was doing my job..."

Hatfield said he hopes the court order dispels any fears young attorneys may have in supporting the constitution because they feel threatened. "I hope that (situation) never comes to pass," he said. "Then again, going to jail once in a while is no skin off my nose..."

Fictional p.d. to fictional client: "the only thing I'm suppressing is the urge to bitch-slap your head"

Urban Monarch seems to be enjoying "The King of Methlehem" by Tacoma author / prosecutor Mark Lindquist. Here's a p.d. - themed excerpt from Google Book Search:

One of the many advantages of being a prosecutor is that you do not have to visit clients in jail. Ted, a public defender for twenty-three years, feels he is serving a penance every time he enters what he calls the Grey Bar Hotel. He is known by other lawyers and some of his clients as "Cocktail Ted" because of his penchant for bourbon lunches that precede afternoon visits...

September 10, 2007

Quick-fried to a crackly crunch, or baked to a delicate crunch

Mandatory DV arrest meets extruded cheese doodle, from the Palm Beach Post:

When Snack Foods Attack

An Iowa man was arrested this month for attacking his father with a bag of Cheetos. Patrick Hamman, 22, of Des Moines, threw the loaded snack bag at his father, Michael. The projectile of nuclear-orange kibbles hit the dad in his glasses, cutting the bridge of his nose. When police arrived, they noted: “Michael’s T-shirt was also covered in Cheeto dust...”

Via Total Criminal Defense Blog.

A crime of violins

Yahoo reader wants to bring a claim against a public defender:

Alleging ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to raise Constitutional Viola


It is unadvisable for anyone to actually get formal legal advise online... . NO ONE should EVER put their legal stuff online...

"Happy is good"

Sunday morning and afternoon at the Puyallup Fair, Sunday night at Benaroya Hall.

Seeing my son's smile at the 4-H cat competition and the ferris wheel: sweet

Hearing the first Seattle performance of the Turangalila Symphony: sublime

Walking through cow whizz on the path to high culture: suits me just fine

(This goes out to my friend who met up with me at the concert and got me backstage: classmate, groomsman, dairy farmer, concert pianist, appellate lawyer, Jeff can do it all.)

September 05, 2007

UT: "if the Lord were here today he would be a public defender"

Two reminders from BYU NewsNet, one express -

Public Attorneys Defend Even the Guilty

and one implied - "Public Defenders Even Can Be Good Members Of The Church":

David Stuart, an attorney at the Public Defender Association, ran in between courtrooms at the 4th District Courthouse trying to keep his clients happy. As a public defender, Stuart defends those appointed to him by the state who do not have the money to pay for their own defense...

Some people wouldn't consider Stuart and the other public defenders to be heroes, but County Commissioner Gary Anderson does... "I have often said if the Lord were here today he would be a public defender. In fact, that is what he is. We are all too poor to take care of ourselves; we do not have the resources to take care of ourselves in the cosmic scheme of things, and he steps in and helps us. That is kind of what public defenders do..."

Locked-up p.d. - "a terrier with a bone"


Public Defender Service Attorney Detained in Holding Cell

A heated exchange between D.C. Superior Court Judge John Bayly Jr. and Public Defender Service attorney Liyah Brown last week ended with Brown in a holding cell -- the first time, Bayly says, he has ever detained a lawyer.

During a criminal hearing on Aug. 29, Brown attempted to point out that her client "is a homeless man," according to court transcripts. Bayly, however, responded with skepticism: "I don't know that he is." The two argued over the point before Bayly told Brown to have a seat. "Step her back, please. Step her back," Bayly told a U.S. marshal, according to the transcript. Brown was shackled and held in a cell with misdemeanor defendants...

From the Washington Post:

Colleagues Back Lawyer Detained in Dispute With Judge

Several lawyers with the D.C. Public Defender Service wore red armbands to the courthouse yesterday to show support for a colleague who was handcuffed and briefly locked up last week in a flare-up with a judge...

September 04, 2007

P.D. on being assaulted by client: "I’m just glad it's over"

I can admire the public defender who'll take a punch from a client and continue to represent the s.o.b.; I just don't think I could. I'll defer to our colleague the Bardd:

Last Friday, the Jerk did the smart thing for a change and pled guilty to punching me out in court. He was sentenced by agreement of the parties to 8 years in prison, which will run consecutive to the 39 years he already got for the Home Invasion...

I have to confess I’m relieved... (T)here’s just something wrong with the whole situation. I used to defend this man. I did it even after he hit me, because its my job and that’s what I do...

Given that, it feels like some kind of violation of my job description to turn around and testify against someone I used to defend. On the other hand, that kind of conduct is wholly unacceptable and in honor and self-respect I could not let him get away with it...

September 03, 2007

"Why does this generation hate criminal representation?"

Paper Chaser suggests that there might not be enough defense-minded law students coming up to replace all of us decrepit middle-aged p.d.'s:

What spooks me is that not only have I been unable to find anyone else in my section that shares my inclination for criminal defense, or that the number of my fellow students who align themselves with the prosecutorial camp is quite large, but that the response to my musings has been so overwhelmingly negative, as if I am positioning myself to be some sort of criminal myself...

Bonus link goes to the lyrics for "Welcome to My World."

AK: client to p.d. - "you're an idiot too, pal"

In "How to Be Excused from Your (Own) Trial," Steve at Alaskablawg links to an "interesting decision," Douglas v. State of Alaska (pdf file here), where a defendant got booted out of the courtroom and even was barred from returning to the courtroom to testify, because he just wouldn't shut up.

Steve says,

If you are facing criminal charges and you are frustrated with your attorney, the prosecutor, the court, or whatever, I would strongly urge that you read this decision and realize that this is a great demonstration of how to NOT demonstrate your frustration...

I say, wow, the guy said all this stuff and then punched his p.d., and the lawyer wasn't conflicted? We truly are the lawyers of last resort.

September 01, 2007

KY: "we're losing a brain trust"

From the News-Enterprise:

Justice Done - After 27 years of defending rights of poor, Holbert retires

To complete 27 years in any occupation is an accomplishment, but to do that time fighting for the indigent and people charged with crimes, is a career worth talking about.

Larry Holbert, veteran defender of the accused in Hardin County, completed his time as an attorney for the Department of Public Advocacy in motion hour Tuesday.

“There’s a satisfaction in getting justice done,” Holbert said. “And just like any other defense attorney, guilt or innocence plays no bearing on my job...”

"Moving toward requiring magic words"?


11th Circuit Considers What to Do When Defendant Wants to Fire Public Defender - In rare en banc review, court will re-examine what constitutes waiver of right to counsel

Sometimes a criminal defendant wants to fire his court-appointed lawyer, even a lawyer that everyone else in the courtroom thinks is a good one.

"Some people just are irrational about their case, and they make bad decisions," said DeKalb County, Ga., public defender Lawrence L. Schneider. "They carry their bad decisions all the way into the penitentiary."

But in two recent cases, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed convictions of defendants who could not afford their own lawyer but fired the one provided by the state -- meaning they represented themselves at trial despite their indications they didn't want to do so...

SC: "lawyer, attorney, counselor -- all are names of who I am"

From the Beaufort Gazette:

Deputy public defender finds 'calling' in job

Deputy Public Defender Trasi Campbell is defending herself today... Now the man she once defended on taxpayer money is sitting in the plaintiff's chair - putting her on the defensive by saying her failure to call possibly key witnesses in his case landed him 10 years in prison...

Tyrone Robinson has applied for post-conviction relief, a type of last-ditch civil action taken by prisoners in reducing sentences, and now Campbell's former public defender colleague, Don Colongeli, is appointed to represent Robinson and is questioning Campbell.

Although Campbell read over the case file the night before, she struggles to remember details of what transpired more than four years - and hundreds of clients - ago. But she is sure she did the right thing. "I did invest in this case," she answers Colongeli. "If I made a decision not to subpoena, the decision was made for Mr. Robinson and with Mr. Robinson..."