August 30, 2008

Crazy 'bout a Mercury

This week the beloved VW wagon broke down for the last time. Today we traded it in (with a few tears from the boy) for this fine machine:It's a 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Union-made in the USA for the lunch-buckets, reduced fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions for the tree-huggers, it's the perfect ride for a couple of forty-something northwest Democrats.

Mercury Blues - David Lindley

If I had money tell you what I'd do
I'd go downtown and buy a Mercury or two
I'm crazy 'bout a Mercury, I'm crazy 'bout a Mercury
I'm gonna buy me a Mercury and cruise it up and down the road

August 28, 2008

On having been poor

Insight and empathy drawn from personal experience and pain, from Woman of the Law:


It's taken me almost five years, but I am finally parting with my fat clothes... I still have the anxiety, that if I throw them out I have no safety blanket, I'll have nothing to wear, no way to get new clothing, and I'm just throwing money away. I cling to these things because I can't take those things for granted. I'm always afraid of being poor again...

Don't skip the comments.

Bonus link goes to John Scalzi on being poor.

August 27, 2008

LBJ 100

Happy 100th birthday, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
(I'm probably the only lawyer in my office whose house has a framed portrait of the man, right next to the one of JFK, both inherited from my Great Society Democrat father-in-law. RIP, LBJ.)

August 26, 2008

Feige rising

From the ABA Journal:

The Defense Rests

David Feige has come a long way from his days as a New York City public defender. But the Hollywood wunderkind seems to have a hard time leaving it all behind. All you need to do is ask, and he’ll tell you that the criminal defense system is broken and members of his former profession are never portrayed accurately. Feige is hoping the public will finally get the real picture with his new television drama, called Raising the Bar...

Yes, but, if only the lawyers in the promo weren't all so damn telegenic...

August 25, 2008

We accept Blondie, one of us!

Great news from Blonde Justice:

Two weeks from now, I will once again have my dream job. Public defender.

Welcome back, Blonde One.

NY: "tattooed bikers, a dog's best friends"

Uplifting tales of tattooed Americans helping animals in need, from the New York Times:

Heaven’s Angels

Clad in leather, inked to the hilt in skulls and dragons, with images of bloodied barbed wire looped about their necks, they shared something else — a peculiar tenderness for animals, and the intensity needed to act on the animals’ behalf when people abuse them...

About a year ago, they took up the name Rescue Ink, and now work full time investigating cases of animal abuse...

Nothing peculiar about that; admirable in fact.

August 23, 2008

Through the looking-glass

Took my 9-year-old to Sand in the City today, but not before taking a wrong turn through Hempfest first.

When it comes to 9-year-olds (and others), Rick Steves has a point:

"It shouldn’t be traumatizing for a person who is inclined to agree with the decriminalization movement to walk through Hempfest..."

(no photos - I'm not a narc)

August 22, 2008

53 minutes left for Friday cat blogging

Someone noticed that these two hadn't made an appearance in the blog lately. Here they are.

Speaking of t-shirts...

Good news from Legal Profession Blog:

Informal Attire Not Unethical

The alleged misconduct? First, the lawyer visited a police station to interview two officers wearing a t-shirt with "Let the f***ing begin" across the front. His intent was to "communicate to the police officers his general feeling that his client was at a disadvantage in the judicial system by virtue of the police misconduct..."

August 20, 2008

WA: sueño rebelde

Today an accused teenager stood before the court commissioner, wearing a t-shirt similar to this one:Some days I get such a rise out of living here in Lotus Land.

Bonus link: commodify your dissent at The Che Store!

August 16, 2008

W signed it!


Loan-Forgiveness Program Becomes Law - Legal aid attorneys, state and local prosecutors and public defenders benefit

President Bush on Friday signed into law legislation expanding a student loan forgiveness program for students who become legal aid lawyers, state or local prosecutors and public defenders...

ID: re-entry

A good series of articles about the challenges of being on the outs, by Melissa Davlin of the Twin Falls Times-News:

A new deal: Part one - Preparing for parole: Is this chance different for convicted meth dealer?

At 48, Daniel David Arnold didn't have a lot to his name... "I'll be 49 in July and I've wasted over 25 years of my life on drugs and alcohol," he said in February, sitting in his blue prison uniform... He wants more from his life, and there's a chance he could get it. On April 9, Arnold was released on parole from the work center, given another opportunity to live a sober life...

The first freedoms - Former inmate encounters obstacles, joys of life on the outside

Snow fell quietly on Dan Arnold as he stood outside US Bank... He had been a free man for less than an hour. He had no cash, no phone, no car of his own - just a check that was no use if he couldn't cash it. Arnold put his hands in his pockets, shifting and looking at the ground. He had spent much of the past decade incarcerated, and now he was on his own...

Safety in routine - Parolee remains wary of people, places with potential to drag him back to drugs

Dan Arnold is on parole after spending four years in prison and in jail for dealing meth in Canyon County. After his release from the Twin Falls Community Work Center in April, he decided to stay in Magic Valley. Make a life here. Try to stay clean. It hasn't been easy, but he has had some help. So far, he is on the right track...

August 14, 2008

Listen up, lawmakers

It's in the New York Times...

The Case for Juvenile Courts

Transferring juvenile offenders many of whom are accused of nonviolent crimes into the adult system is not making anyone safer. it must be true.

August 13, 2008

"I believe detention's in the future"

As a juvenile criminal defense lawyer, I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy about Lil Derrick's 4th birthday party:
Poor Derrick. See you in a few years, mijo.

Found at Cake Wrecks.

Don't fear the p .d. investigator

Sancho the public defender investigator fields this e-mail question from a juror:

I was recently a juror on a trial in *** County. The case is over, and we found the defendant guilty - it was a horrible, violent case. Ever since the verdict, my fellow jurors and I have been contacted by the investigator who works for the defendant... The investigator has called our home telephone numbers and even showed up on our doorsteps trying to speak to us. How is this possible?

The subcommandante tries to offer some reassurance:

(A)s much as I might really like a client, I would never consider risking my job, career, and reputation by doing something unethical or illegal...this includes divulging the address of a juror on his/her case...

August 12, 2008

AK: Matthew 25 too costly these days

Hey, one of my old roommates made the news - the Anchorage Daily News:

Kodiak faith-based shelter shuts down - LIVING ROOM: Falloff in donations dooms refuge for the needy

A Kodiak shelter that has served those in hard times for nearly a decade is closing... The closing is troubling to Allan Thielen, a supervising attorney with the Alaska Public Defenders Agency in Kodiak. He says the amount of crime the facility has prevented in the past nine years by taking substance abusers off the streets cannot be measured...

Say what you will about faith-based operations, they're pretty good about extending hospitality to our clients.

More here from Alaska Public Radio.

August 11, 2008

MT: right to counsel, nickel and dimed

From the Missoulian:

Sheriff, public defenders at odds over free calls

After allowing toll-free telephone calls between Missoula County jail inmates and their public defenders for more than two years, Sheriff Mike McMeekin says lost revenue has forced the arrangement to cease. As of July 1, indigent inmates must call their attorneys collect if they want to chat about their legal embroilments over the phone. Ed Sheehy, Missoula's regional deputy public defender, is crying foul...

"Lost revenue"?:

The phone provider to the Missoula County Detention Facility, AGM Telecom, charges a connection fee of $2.60 per call...

Damned Sixth Amendment doesn't comport with Sheriff's business plan.

"It's lawyers, but, you know... they really care"

Courtesy of "Mad Men," a show I didn't know about, possibly because when it went off the air, I was 4: "The Defenders":

The Defenders was American television's seminal legal drama, and perhaps the most socially-conscious series the medium has ever seen... The series concerned the cases of a father-and-son team of defense attorneys, Lawrence Preston (E.G. Marshall), the sharp veteran litigator, and his green and idealistic son Kenneth (Robert Reed)... Certainly The Defenders exploited the inherent drama of the courtroom, but it did so by mining the complexity of the law, its moral and ethical implications, and its human dimensions...

August 09, 2008

TN: “had you wanted God to send you a boss, He would have sent you Ross”


Metro's public defender dead after accident

The Davidson County public defender who created a “progressive” legal representation system, mentored scores of attorneys and was a dedicated family man died Saturday. Ross Alderman, 56, was hit by a car in Williamson County while riding a motorcycle, an activity he enjoyed for years...

Described by his colleagues as a hard worker who cared about fairness, truth and ethics, Mr. Alderman was the driving force behind establishing several new services in the public defender’s office, including programs that help clients with mental health and substance abuse problems...

Via Grand Divisions.

Update: Nashville public defender killed in motorcycle crash - Ross Alderman modernized office

Update: Nashville Public Defender dies in crash - Remembering Ross Alderman: Nashville's public defender was a champion for those in need of one

August 07, 2008

ID: hellbent defendant, carwreck ahead

At this point, I just want to turn away for a while from the unfolding Joseph Duncan death penalty pro se debacle. If you're interested, Betsy Z. Russell of the Spokesman-Review's Eye on Boise blog has your best running coverage.

WA: "sometimes 130 to 240 cases in a 2 hour period"

From KIMA:

Public Defenders Office Deals With Backlog

Dan Fessler runs the Yakima County Department of Assigned Counsel. They're better known as the Public Defenders. Attorneys there handle all defendants who can't afford a lawyer; both adults and juveniles. That's a huge load.

Fessler says it reminds him of an old TV show. "I like to think of it as the old "I Love Lucy" skit where they're working in a bakery and at first she's going along doing fine," Fessler chuckles, "Then the cakes start coming out faster and pretty soon she's dropping cakes..."

There's news video too.

August 01, 2008

WA: the wrong sort of love from the bench

From Eye on Olympia:

When a "Law and Order" script collides with "The Office"...

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct today decided to censure - or officially call on the carpet for an in-person reprimand - former Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Collen Hartl. Hartl violated the code of judicial conduct, both sides agreed, when she had a sexual encounter with a public defender who appeared frequently in her court...