June 30, 2009

"Experienced lawyers lead the way"

From Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, an interview with Jean Berman, executive director of the International Senior Lawyers Project:

We've done a number of projects involving assisting criminal defense lawyers for the poor. In Eastern Europe we sent lawyers to Bulgaria, Lithuania, Mongolia and Ukraine to help set up the first public defender offices there. We also work with an organization called International Bridges to Justice ("IBJ"), which trains defense lawyers in China. We sent a career public defender from Minnesota to work with IBJ for three months in the fall of 2008 to help train lawyers working in the juvenile justice system...


I'm rapidly approaching senior status myself. Fortunately, I'm very immature for my age.

June 27, 2009

ID: Monday's judgment day for Canyon Co indigent defense

From Nampa / Caldwell's Idaho Press-Tribune:

Commissioners will pick Canyon public defender

Canyon County commissioners will deliberate for the purpose of appointing a public defender Monday morning. They will choose from Virginia Bond, Mark Mimura, Scott Fouser and Chad Gulstrom...


Update 06/29/09: it's Mark Mimura.

June 26, 2009

Joe is 90 today

Happy birthday to my father.

June 24, 2009

VA & ID: volunteering for DP a "fatal attraction"

From the Charlottesville Daily Progress, June 21:

Death request raises ethical, legal questions

Somewhere in the Charlottesville Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney sits a plea agreement that could lead to the execution of a city man accused of killing an 11-year-old boy. One of Waverly “Eddie” Whitlock’s defense attorney has said in court that his client wants to sign the agreement, which would request the death penalty as punishment for a capital murder conviction...

The act of volunteering for the death penalty, although uncommon, has raised legal, ethical and moral issues for others involved in capital cases... Following a client’s wishes can be more difficult if he wants to die.

August “Gus” Cahill, the chief deputy of the Ada County Public Defender’s Office in Idaho, represented death penalty volunteer Keith Eugene Wells in the early 1990s. Wells, who was killed by lethal injection in 1994 at age 31, was the first and only person to be executed in Idaho since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976...

After a judge sentenced Wells to death, Cahill said the case was reviewed and affirmed by the Idaho Supreme Court. Once the post-conviction process began, Cahill said Wells asked to drop any further appeals and fired the lawyers appointed after his sentencing. “He wasn’t suicidal,” Cahill said. “He didn’t want to be dead so much as go through a process that he thought would ultimately be fruitless...”


But see the Charlottesville Daily Progress, June 25:

Defender files motion to quit Whitlock capital murder case

A Richmond-based capital defender may no longer represent a Charlottesville man accused of killing an 11-year-old boy last summer.

Defense attorney David Baugh filed a motion late last week in Charlottesville Circuit Court to withdraw himself and the Office of the Capital Defender as counsel for Waverly “Eddie” Whitlock.

“In support of the motion for leave to withdraw, counsel would assert that there has arisen a conflict of interest between the defendant and his defense attorneys which ethically compels withdrawal,” the motion said...

June 23, 2009

Joe is 10 today

Happy Birthday, son.

June 18, 2009

WA: client in court makes a run for it - what would you do?

From the Spokesman-Review:

Municipal court brawl leads to arrest

A brawl that began when a man tried fleeing a courtroom this morning ended with the man, a deputy and three attorneys falling onto a bench of bystanders, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Micah W. Hasselstrom, 34, ran when Spokane Municipal Court Judge Tracy Staab ordered him jailed with increased bail after he said he didn’t plan on appearing in court again, a news release said.

Hasselstrom’s public defender, Tony Tompkins, grabbed his leg to hold him in place as Deputy John Pederson tried handcuffing him, and a struggle ensued... Public defenders Francis Adewale and Andy Hess joined the struggle, and the group fell onto the bench, knocking a 68-year-old woman to the floor...


There's a lively discussion taking place in the Washington criminal defense bar over the lawyers' actions in essentially effecting an arrest, roughly dividing into "respect the client - let him be free to make his own mistakes" and "protect the client - let him be free at least from a new felony escape charge." Myself, I think I'd go hands-off, but not having been in a moment like that, I'm hard-pressed to second-guess.

June 16, 2009

AZ: "these people annoy me"

The Sloth Bear has been a p. d. for just a little while, but has developed some distinct likes and dislikes in clients:

Categorizing Infuriants

If you ever find yourself speaking with a public defender, try not to be any of these people...

June 14, 2009

All this, and a baby moose!

It's public defender intern season. Here's a report from Alaska, from Justin of Baylor Law School:

Aside from the legal community, Alaska is a great place to intern because of the numerous opportunities for outdoor activity here... It’s not unusual to see a moose or two on your way to work, and sometimes they even come right up to the office.

June 07, 2009

HI: "you can't subject the Constitution to budget cuts"

When it comes to cuts, things are no different in the islands; from the Maui News:

Furloughs leave defendants in a bind - Public defender office closures affecting courtroom schedules

The Office of the Public Defender, which includes a dozen attorneys on Maui, will be shut down three Fridays each month to comply with state worker furloughs required by Gov. Linda Lingle. The closures, scheduled to begin July 1, have affected some courtroom schedules on Maui and Molokai and have raised concerns about representation...

"They have the right to counsel. We have to adhere to the Constitution," said Jim Rouse, one of eight deputy public defenders assigned to... Maui County felony cases. "You can't, just because of budget constraints, eliminate fundamental rights guaranteed to all Americans..."

"It's not like anybody's getting rich being a public defender. You're a public defender because you're idealistic, you believe in the Constitution, you believe people are entitled to help. You do it with passion. You do it with vigor. Now they're telling us you have to do it 14 percent less of the time..."


Individual P.D.'s offices are no different either, it seems. Like the coat rack? Any bets those aren't client go-to-court clothes?

June 03, 2009

Thanks, ACLU! Thanks, AP!

Feeling the love in the Washington Post:

Nationwide, public defender offices are in crisis

"If you can't afford an attorney, and you fall into the criminal justice system, you are really, really screwed," said (paralegal) Demetrius Thomas of the New York American Civil Liberties Union...

June 01, 2009

ID: Kolestani - "I murdered Ehsan"

From the Times-News:

Refugee from Iran admits to murder

(Nastaran /) Majid Kolestani fought to wear women's clothes during a murder trial, but in the end, won't dress for it at all. The 42-year-old transgender Iranian refugee who identifies as a woman pleaded guilty on Monday in Twin Falls 5th District Court to first-degree murder in a plea agreement that will likely send Kolestani to prison for 18 years to life...

"The fact that I went to Goodwin Procter doesn't mean I'm not passionate about doing this type of work"

..but it's a pretty good hint. From Law.com:

Are Public Interest Lawyers Getting Crowded Out by Deferred Associates? - One recent law grad looking for public interest work notes, 'We don't come with a $70,000-plus salary with benefits intact. Psychologically, it's hard to deal with that reality.'

Sending incoming associates into temporary public-interest jobs - with a healthy stipend to cover their costs of living - is intended to be a fiscally smart and compassionate way for law firms to handle an overabundance of young attorneys...

But some recent law school graduates who have spent years preparing for public-interest careers worry that law firms are hurting their job prospects by flooding the already competitive public-interest job market...