April 30, 2008

The Vanilla Ice of public defenders?

Okay, I'm fairly sure that this new blogger is writing fiction:

The Public Pretender

(besides stealing the blog name from someone who claimed it before he did)

(let me rescind that: the old blog is named "Public Pretender," where the new blog is named "The Public Pretender." See, it's like one is "Under Pressure," and the other is "Ice Ice Baby."

April 29, 2008

CA: 3 p.d.s walk out of a bar...

From the Record-Searchlight:

Three public defenders arrested outside club

Three Shasta County deputy public defenders were arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of starting a drunken ruckus with police officers at a Redding bar...


Lots of speculation in the comments, along with many of the usual insults, including the obligatory comparison to "real lawyers..."

April 28, 2008

FL: mensch, p.d., "one good hippie"

From SFLTV:

Help Me Howard is One Good Hippie

Howard Finkelstein, better known to most as the Howard in ‘Help Me Howard’, WSVN’s hugely popular newscast segment, is getting some well deserved praise. The South Florida Times has a very nice story about him and his many efforts to assure that everyone has access to a public defender, but especially the poor and homeless who can’t afford high-powered lawyers...


And in the ABA Journal:

Finkelstein stayed at the public defender’s office and was elected the agency’s chief in 2005. In that role, one of the first things he did was remove a daiquiri machine from the office. He also facilitated Alcoholics Anony­mous meetings at the facility and weekly yoga classes. “Our profession churns out addicts like no other profession,” Finkelstein says. “If I can give them things that will support them, I do...”


Oh, and he saves lives too.

April 26, 2008

Square peg? Come work with us!


Look Like a Lawyer suggests:

If you have pink hair, dreadlocks or tattoos and want to be a lawyer, then working for a Public Defender’s office might be the job for you...

April 24, 2008

Deal or no deal

From Iowa Champion:

Where's my deal?

(I)f you haven't heard a defendant or someone from their family complain about a plea offer in one of your cases, you can count the days you've practiced law on your fingers... There are certain things about plea bargaining that everyone charged with a crime (or their family) should know:

1) There is no constitutional right to a plea offer...

2) Each person's situation is unique...The State is not required to offer people charged with the same crime the same or similar deals...

3) In general, plea agreements are only between the defendant, their attorney, and the prosecutor; judges are usually not bound to a particular outcome...

4) If you don't like the plea offer, you can go to trial...

April 21, 2008

OR: "our clients (are) better off having come to us"

From the Oregonian:

Oregon public defender changed the system - Thirty-seven years ago, James Hennings started a movement in the interest of justice

James Hennings thought he'd stay two years when he agreed to start one of the nation's first nonprofit law firms for people who were accused of crimes but couldn't afford an attorney. Thirty-seven years later, he's finally ready to leave. Hennings, one of Oregon's most powerful and passionate voices for the down-and-out, announced that he'll retire at the end of June...

April 20, 2008

ID: "not a fence-mender, not a pacifier, not a negotiator. He’s a warrior!"

From the Idaho Statesman:

9/11 trial will test Boise attorneys - Defense team members David Nevin and Scott McKay will be ‘making sure the government plays by the rules’ in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

As Idaho’s most famous defense lawyer, David Nevin is no stranger to unpopular causes. But his decision to defend the man the government says planned the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, puts him in a league of his own... Nevin and his partner, Scott McKay, have volunteered to help military lawyers represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the most important detainee of 300 suspects held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. His defense is the top priority of the ACLU’s John Adams Project, which is raising money and finding lawyers to help represent the detainees...

McKay and Nevin will be working with Navy Reserve Capt. Prescott Prince, the lead defense lawyer in the 9/11 case... Nevin, 58, graduated from the U of I Law School in 1978. His career is marked by a string of celebrated defenses, from neo-Nazis to Idaho’s worst environmental criminal... A 2004 terrorism trial prepared Nevin and McKay for the new case. They represented Sami al-Hussayen, a University of Idaho graduate student and Saudi national charged with three terrorism-related offenses. Despite a rush to judgment... a Boise jury acquitted al-Hussayen.

But the case that first made Nevin famous was Ruby Ridge, when his client, Kevin Harris..., was cleared of all charges by a federal jury in Boise after a 60-day trial... “I like to remind people that Gerry Spence’s client went back to jail,” said Tom McCabe, a Boise lawyer who has worked with Nevin. “Kevin Harris walked out the front door of the courthouse with David...”

Gideon's trumpet

Rock star! Notoriety for our esteemed blogging colleague, from the Stamford Advocate:

Call him 'Gideon:' - Public defender's blog causes stir

Who is "Gideon?" That's a question mystifying criminal attorneys in Connecticut as the anonymous public defender's blog about legal issues gains readers in Connecticut and nationwide.

The blog, apublicdefender.com, is among a handful of legal blogs written by public employees - judges, prosecutors and public defenders, according to experts who monitor the so-called online "blawgosphere." Some wish the unknown author, who goes by the pseudonym Gideon, would reveal his identity; others say he is wise to cloak his name and restrain his opinions...


Poor Gid! (via Connecticut Local Politics, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.")

April 19, 2008

"Public Defender work is not for everyone"

Two new posts by colleagues tonight, both deserving of wider notice:

* Donzell, with 10 Reasons It Doesn’t Pay to be a Public Defender

* Sancho on Defending Ourselves

April 17, 2008

ID: "I was hoping for something a bit more fun. and made of whiskey"

Congratulations to Sarah for passing the Idaho bar, and thanks for this observation:

I am knee deep in my first official trial on appeal, and the trial lawyer (for the defendant) decides that it would be a good plan to call his client (now our client) a "maniac" during opening statements. Really? Really??? You think that is a good way to introduce your client to the jury? I may be just a baby lawyer, but I seem to think that the jury might not be so open to your defense if you start off on the my-client-the-maniac foot....

April 16, 2008

KY: top public defender calling it quits

From Kentucky.com:

Public advocate Lewis to retire

Public advocate Ernie Lewis plans to retire Sept. 1, leaving behind a department that he says “will be significantly under funded” because of recent budget cuts. The Department of Public Advocacy announced Lewis’ retirement on Wednesday. He has been with the department for 31 years, and served as a public advocate for 12 years...

Update: Jon Katz, In praise of Ernie Lewis

April 15, 2008

"Juvenile justice and American media"

Fun fact from Burl Barer at In Cold Blog:

Juvenile crime in America has dropped approximately 40% since 1994, yet two-thirds of Americans believe that juvenile crime is rising...

April 13, 2008

WA: catching up with indigent defense

Back in Gray Sky Country now. On Friday we were at Doheny Beach (home of Surfer Joe), while in Olympia the Office of Public Defense was releasing its big report on the state of Washington State public defense (pdf here).

From the Olympian:

Gaps found in legal defense

A new report shows state funding is helping some counties make sure poorer people accused of crimes get fairly defended in court, but there still are glaring gaps in the legal system... Seattle University law professor Robert Boruchowitz called the situation a crisis because poor juvenile defendants still are appearing in courts in 17 counties without a public-funded lawyer. The report shows low pay and high caseloads are a problem mainly in smaller or rural communities...


From the Columbian (Vancouver / Clark County):

Report praises county’s legal assistance for poor defendants

Clark County received credit for hiring an indigent defense services coordinator and wasn’t singled out for anything troubling in a statewide report on the quality of legal representation afforded poor criminal defendants...


From the Kitsap Sun:

Embodying Gideon

Brush off your high school government textbooks: who here remembers Clarence Earl Gideon?

April 10, 2008

Saludos de la frontera


Spent part of the day hoping the boy might learn gently what Benito Juárez taught,

Respect for the rights of others is peace.

(that, and introducing him to the homeland of paletas and licuados)

April 09, 2008

April 08, 2008

April 06, 2008

CA: San Diego serenade

Heading to the land of surf and sand in the morning. This headline from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

A change of custody - Young criminals, no longer wards of the state, soon will be remanded to their home counties for incarceration

Under a new California law, hundreds of young criminals who once were the state's responsibility will now be locked up or supervised in their home counties – and San Diego is among the many counties not yet prepared for the transition... Now they are coming home to counties that have good intentions, but little in the way of new programs designed to rehabilitate them and ease them back into their communities...


The only juvenile institution I'll be visiting this week will be Legoland.

April 04, 2008

ID: this is the song that never ends

From the Times-News:

Discovery Channel revisits Johnson murder case

Discovery Channel crews have launched a week of filming for the storied Sarah Johnson murder case. The uncommon trial of a girl charged with shooting her parents already has been highlighted in an unending stream of national media coverage... Now, Discovery Channel, which will debut a new show, "Solved," in the fall, is featuring the Wood River Valley with a decidedly law enforcement bent...

April 03, 2008

In defense of the defenders

From The Defense Perspective:

Race Is Not The Problem

The main problem, of course, lies with the lawyer's work ethic... not the race of the accused. When lawyers simply want to turn the case for their paltry fee the system suffers. As long as defense lawyers continue to use financial disincentives... as an excuse for cutting corners the most needy in our justice system fail to get the quality representation they deserve...

April 01, 2008

AZ: chief p.d. killed by reckless driver

Horrible news from the Tucson Citizen:

Robert Hooker, county public defender, killed in car crash

Pima County Public Defender Robert Hooker died Tuesday evening after being hit head-on by a pickup truck involved in a race on a West Side road, a Tucson police spokesman said...

More from the Arizona Daily Star, KOLD, and KMSB.

Update: from Of Arms and the Law - "He was on his way home for his 33rd wedding anniversary..."

Update: More tributes, from John Wesley Hall, Jr., Sancho Villa, Daniel Patterson, and Blog for Arizona.