February 28, 2008

Probation officer humor - "I am Witham"

I see I'm not the only one who's been told this, from Felony Stupid:

These are not my pants!!

Ah, but how many of you can say you've used this defense in trial without losing? (I put it that way because the jury hung - not a 'not guilty,' but at least not a 'guilty.')

February 27, 2008

Dog - more than just a partner

I'm always up for a dog story. From the Olympian:

Sheriff's office debuts its dogs - Savings, benefactors help feed and care for two K-9 teams

The Thurston County Sheriff's Office formally commissioned its new K-9 unit — two German shepherd dogs, Enok and Rex... during a ceremony Tuesday at the Thurston County Fairgrounds. The dogs have been in service since mid-December...

Meanwhile back in Idaho:

Dog Fighting Bill Signed Into Law

With this week's signing ceremony, my home state goes boldly forward with legislation that only 48 other states have adopted previously.

February 26, 2008

Art is my weapon, court - appointed lawyers are my targets

Remember, "HELL has no furry" like a public defender hater with a camera phone:

NOBODY Goes To Court To Support AVONE

Big screed. Lots of surreptitious in-court photos. Poor Avone.

"I'm so thin and frail / Don't care, want another rail"

Audio and book "exceprt" from Fresh Air and NPR:

Memoirs of Meth Addiction from a Father and a Son

Drug addiction doesn't just affect the addict, it changes the whole family. Journalist David Sheff and his son Nic join Fresh Air to talk about Nic's addiction to methamphetamine.

Both father and son have written memoirs about the experience. David Sheff's is Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Meth Addiction and Nic Sheff's is Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines.

February 25, 2008

WA: "when you push them out, who are you pushing them to?"

From the P-I:

For teen felons, hardest job is finding honest work - Crimes from the past hurt youths trying to build a new future

Finding jobs for teens with a felony on their record is increasingly difficult, but court officials say it might be the only thing to save them from spiraling further into crime...

We had an 18-year-old brought back to court today who could've been in this article:

"They think all this stuff goes away when they're 18 and out of our system. Well, it doesn't... It haunts them. And it really affects them in the long run..."

February 24, 2008

Dogs run free, but not at DOC

Took Annie to the off-leash dog park in Lakewood today, then took the long way home. We drove through Steilacoom in time to watch the prison ferry arrive from McNeill Island, our own Puget Sound Alcatraz. I've always thought of the boats as an interesting form of prisoner transport; this was the first time I've stuck around to see who disembarked. Tonight it was DOC employees on their way home from the day shift, like any other commuters - it's a full-service flotilla.

February 21, 2008

I can has detention

Humorous Pictures

ID: трагедия / tragedy

A sad task ahead for my honorable former co-counsel Marilyn Paul, from the Twin Falls Times-News:

Parents of child who died from burns charged with manslaughter

A court interpreter and public defender shuffled between Inna Gorbenko, 28, and her Russian-speaking boyfriend, Stepan Kutran, 31, as both were charged Wednesday with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one misdemeanor count of injury to child. The couple left their children inside a home that burned Tuesday...

A sad assessment from my honorable former opponent Grant Loebs, from the Times - News and from KMVT:

"My office is now facing the largest and most complex caseload in Twin Falls history... Twin Falls County finds itself the murder capital of the state."

Welcome, libertarians!

Being linked to by Cato at Liberty, the official blog of the Cato Institute, is a blast.

Being noticed by Timothy Lynch, the director of Cato's Project on Criminal Justice, is an honor.

February 19, 2008

VA: rubber chickens, rats and bricks

In this profile of Central Virginia capital defender - to - be David Baugh, could somebody in the comments please explain to me what this is supposed to mean:

“You can be a rat and a public defender and God’s going to give you a good seat up front near the floor show with Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King...”

I mean, is one of us supposed to be the rat in this scenario? Perhaps it's a fine thing to be compared to, but where I work, it's not a nice thing to be called. Then again, I come from a state where each year the lawyer with the most jury trials gets the coveted Cockroach Award.

FL: when it comes to caseload, "'manageable' is, apparently, a relative term"

"Why Would Anyone Want to Be a Public Defender? Perhaps it's for the low pay, long hours and questionable clients..." From Orlando Weekly:

The Defense Never Rests

Welcome to the public defender’s office of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, serving Orange and Osceola County. Please sign in and be seated...

Upstairs, in the offices on the fifth floor, there is no L.A. Law breeziness, no cocktail lunches... Over in one corner, a public defender leans uncomfortably over a dusty brown box of paper files, settling into her work day in a common area outside her office. It’s quiet – most of the attorneys are in court – and there are no frills.

But it isn’t dreary. The boss, Bob Wesley, helps see to that. Enter into evidence the fact that he keeps notes in a Hannah Montana spiral notebook...

February 18, 2008

No hugs please, we're public defenders

From Rural Michigan Public Defender:

No hugs, please!

I am pretty sure that most public defenders do not get hugged. I do. There are three public defenders in my county and the other two are men. They don't get hugged. The huggers are sneaky about it, too...

February 15, 2008

"If the bullet comes, I take the hit"

More of the good stuff from Simple Justice, one of the undeniable advantages of going into private practice:

Like Your Clients

Dan Hull at What About Clients? is absolutely right. Lawyers should only represent clients they actually like. Now this isn't always an option, as public defenders and assigned counsel aren't given an option as to whom they represent. But one of the hallmarks of a private practice is the ability to pick your clients. As my legal ethics prof in law school loved to say, "lawyers aren't buses; they don't have to pick up anybody waiting at the stop..."

Mr. Greenfield mentions some of my favorite mental images for what a good criminal defense lawyer does, public or private:

When I stand beside a defendant in court, I act as the shield between that one human being and everything else in the world...

Another Rodney Dangerfield

From Nelly's Crazy Talk:

I could tell he had a bad day at work... I guess one of his clients said to him, "I bet you are super excited to pass the bar so you don't have to be a public defender!" Poor Dave... no respect!

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

(since it's been a while since one of my fur family has been featured in the blog)

February 13, 2008

ID: Mark Lankford, guilty again

The local sites don't seem to have posted this AP item yet; it's fairly significant, from the Houston Chronicle:

Former Idaho Death Row Inmate Convicted in Retrial of Murdering Texas Couple

A jury has convicted former death row inmate Mark Lankford of killing a Texas couple in 1983 in north Idaho. Lankford was granted a new trial after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he must be retried or released because of a jury instruction error in his first trial. Jurors in Wallace, Idaho, deliberated not quite four hours before finding Lankford guilty...

No intent to seek the death penalty this time. Updates as they come.

Update from the Shoshone County News Press: Lankford Found Guilty

Støt Danmark!

We're doing our part to support Denmark - for Joe's spring break, we're going to LegoLand!

LegoLand California, but still...

February 10, 2008

"Why would I lie?"

Think it's just you who's feeling under-trusted? Check out the latest post by Woman of the Law:

on being a public defender: apparently we're all liars.

It's strange how much judges and prosecutors really believe that we lie, lie, lie all the time...

It's not just in trial or motion practice. You can get this attitude, even when you're doing a change of plea, when your judge is all, "I am the only one here looking out for you, dear defendant, because we just can't trust this (incompetent / overworked / unprepared) court-appointed lawyer telling me that you've been advised of your rights..."

WA: more ripples from DUI tox lab snafu

From the Olympian:

County to scrap DUI evidence - Toxicology laboratory’s drunken-driving breath tests considered questionable

The Thurston County Prosecutor's Office has decided not to use breath-test evidence that was called into question by problems at the state toxicology laboratory, affecting an unspecified number of local drunken-driving cases...

A recent ruling against the state's evidence by judges in Clark County was particularly convincing, Thurston County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jim Powers said... "It's just, in their opinion, not appropriate to be offering evidence that resulted from these kinds of practices. That sort of hit us, saying that's really not the kind of evidence we want to be offering against people in court," he said...

WA: no drunk - driving checkpoints

From the Seattle Times:

DUI-roadblock bill dies in Olympia

(T)he plan encountered strong, bipartisan resistance in the Legislature. Critics said the Washington constitution's privacy protections, which are stronger than those in federal law, prohibit police searches without a greater degree of suspicion. It never came up for a vote...

February 09, 2008

WA: your friendly neighborhood caucus

Just came back from our local exercise in partial democracy. Our mayor went for Obama. Our city council person went for Clinton. Our precinct went Obama 70 (seven delegates), Clinton 36 (three delegates). Our household went Obama 1, Clinton 1.

Bonus Link goes to Kaukasus Blog.

February 07, 2008

NV: public defender mugshots

From KVBC in Las Vegas:

Two public defenders arrested

News 3 has learned two public defenders were arrested over the weekend...

Damn shame, but not bad-looking mugshots, considering. I hope they'll be able to keep their careers on track; the female p.d. was admitted in Nevada in 2004, the male p.d. in 2005. At a public hearing in December, he told the state Supreme Court:

"After those cases start piling up, you can't do anything near what you need to do," he said. "I can't convey to you what it means to put blood, sweat, and tears into a job and come home every night knowing you're a failure."

It's enough to drive a p.d. to drink.

Miracle of forgiveness

Unflappable public defender Doug Cricker on TV:

He'd be willing to represent his attacker again, however, "I definitely think there's a conflict of interest there now."

More at Beliefnet.

February 06, 2008

KY: p.d. on attacker - "I don't feel any ill will toward him"

I know you saw the video of the in-court sucker punch on the public defender, but did you read this? From Kentucky.com:

Assaulted attorney says he holds no grudge - no charges filed against defendant who slugged him

(Doug) Crickmer returned to work Tuesday and went to the jail to make sure Hafer was being treated properly...

An inspiring display of the p.d. ethic, and more than a bit humbling.

February 04, 2008

Overheard in open court today

"Um, do you people have some sort of form I use for that?"

- paid lawyer who took a client from me (shortly after using the adult court term for the juvenile court disposition he was seeking)

"She just blows every thing up and gets all dramastic."

- young person reporting on parent-child relationship

Inane public defender question

A previously uncharted depth of inanity is plumbed in this hypothetical from Yahoo! Answers:

The question is, what would happen if I was tried for murdered and I was truly innocent, but I had to get a public defender because I can't afford a lawyer to defend me, would I most likely be found innocent, guilty, or get a plea bargain. I was just carious the most likely outcome with a public defender. I hope I never get put in that type of situation because I know I can't afford a lawyer, so I'm guessing I would be screwed even if I was truely innoccent.

Enjoy the replies, and add your own!

ID: the "you've done this so many times before" basis for a knowing, voluntary and intelligent plea

I would be crestfallen to hear a judge say these words to a client of mine, even if they were true. From the Twin Falls Times-News:

Murder defendants McElhiney, Heredia appear in court

(C)oming before Judge Stoker on Thursday, Fredy Heredia-Juarez lost his bid to undo a guilty plea he says he didn't mean to make. Heredia told the judge when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder... he believed he was getting a sweeter deal than he actually got.

Stoker rejected a litany of reasons Heredia gave for entering a false plea... The judge said Heredia had pleaded guilty so many times, to so many people and in a variety of ways that even if his then attorney Greg Fuller plugged words into Heredia's mouth and railroaded his client into a poor decision, it would hardly matter...

Stoker expressed deep concern that too many innocent defendants in the U.S. plead guilty falsely. He said this was not one of those cases...