March 31, 2005

Fred Korematsu, 1919-2005

Fred Korematsu, of Korematsu v. United States, has died at 86.

In February 1942, 120,000 U.S. residents of Japanese ancestry ... were ordered out of their homes and into camps following... Pearl Harbor. Korematsu did not turn himself in and was arrested, jailed and convicted of a felony for failing to report for evacuation.

Korematsu was one of several who challenged the constitutionality of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 authorizing internment. His case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court and, in 1944, the court upheld the order. But, as was discovered many years later, the court — and the nation — had been gravely misled about the potential dangers from Japanese-Americans...

President Reagan in 1988 declared the internment a "grave injustice" and signed legislation authorizing reparations of $20,000 each to thousands of surviving internees, including Korematsu. In 1999, President Clinton awarded Korematsu a presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

The full article is here.

(Thank you to Creek Running North for the news.)

The Crawford in Crawford v. Washington changes his plea to guilty

You know Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004).

But do you know the man in the title? He was back in a South Sound courtroom yesterday:

An Olympia man whose conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court pleaded guilty Wednesday on the eve of a second trial for stabbing a man he thought had tried to rape his wife.

Michael Crawford, 27, ...was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in Thurston County Superior Court to one count of first-degree assault. His conviction and 14-year prison term were reversed... by the nation's highest court.

The Supreme Court set aside precedent and sent Crawford's case back for a new trial, and barred prosecutors from using
(his) wife's taped statement...

"There were indeed problems that both sides would face," Judge Gary Tabor said Wednesday as he accepted the guilty plea. "There were very valid concerns to both sides as to what might be the risks."

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dave Soukup said the prosecution's case would have hinged on testimony from the victim...

But the victim, Kenneth R. Lee, is in the county jail and has a history of crime and drug use. That increased the risk that jurors would acquit a second time around, Soukup said...

Update: Meanwhile in Grant County, Washington, here is what happened to Mr. Blakely after he "won" in the U.S. Supreme Court... 35 years to serve.

March 30, 2005

A lawless pre-lapsarian Shangri-La

Freedom-lovers, libertarians and libertines have flocked to my home state ever since the days of the Civil War draft dodgers. Now it seems that, on the eastern edge of Idaho, there still is a little strip of Eden, a place where a man can stand up and break the law with impunity (besides the Legislature).

The corner where Idaho, Montana and Wyoming meet is beautiful. If you look at the map, you can see the boundary between Idaho and Wyoming, and a second, separate line which marks the western boundary of Yellowstone. Between Line A and Line B, argues law professor Brian Kalt, is "a 50-square-mile swath of Idaho in which one can commit felonies with impunity."

Say that you are in the Idaho portion of Yellowstone, and you decide to spice up your vacation by going on a crime spree. You make some moonshine, you poach some wildlife, you strangle some people and steal their picnic baskets. You are arrested, arraigned in the park, and bound over for trial in Cheyenne, Wyoming before a jury drawn from the Cheyenne area. But Article III, Section 2 plainly requires that the trial be held in Idaho, the state in which the crime was committed. Perhaps if you fuss convincingly enough about it, the case would be sent to Idaho. But the Sixth Amendment then requires that the jury be from the state (Idaho) and the district (Wyoming) in which the crime was committed. In other words, the jury would have to be drawn from the Idaho portion of Yellowstone National Park, which, according to the 2000 Census, has a population of precisely zero.

It sounds perfectly idyllic.

Thanks to Letters of Marque, who got it from Orin Kerr.

Big Pharm trumps law enforcement in Idaho

My fellow Idahoans love to get tough on crime, but not at the expense of making a buck retailing over-the-counter Sudafed:

Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, a retired Idaho State Police officer who sponsored a bill to remove most pseudoephedrine products from drugstore shelves, is dismayed at how lawmakers dismantled his bill so that it barely resembles his hard-line effort to get the stuff out of the hands of criminals. To make it more difficult for meth cooks to get the primary ingredient, Wills and a Nampa physician worked on legislation that would have forced pharmacists to regulate sales of the drug.

Instead, ...the Senate approved a bill that would merely require Idaho's 850 retailers to send the state copies of pseudoephedrine purchases. Then the Idaho State Police could study the receipts to see if sales seem too high with certain wholesalers.

...(P)ressure from the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacists and retailers prompted Wills' peers in the House as well as senators to begin tinkering with Wills' proposal. Ultimately, senators opted for what they are calling a "voluntary" effort on the part of retailers to get a better handle on criminals getting the drug from stores.

March 29, 2005

On sija od sreće

From the coming movie 5 in 500:

Why is this public defender happy? Because he's giving back something to the community.

Listen up, law students, you don't hear that from a lot of BigLaw associates, the happy part or the giving back part.

(Not being consistently happy myself, this 5 in 500 project is very promising, asking "Just what exactly is it that makes you happy?" and stoking my memories of Bosnia and ex-YU people. I'm adding the site to my blogroll after just one visit.)

(Bonus link goes to a photodocumentary site: AFTERMATH: Bosnia's Long Road to Peace)

March 28, 2005

Go public defenders

Okay, so I'm linking to this for two main reasons:

1. good news on the appellate front out of Colorado; and

2. the novelty of seeing this happy phrase in print - Go Public Defenders

That's right. Go Team - Go Us.

Update: read the good news on CrimProf Blog.

March 27, 2005

Sometimes in April

Some time in April, if you have HBO, make time to watch Sometimes in April, a movie about the Rwandan genocide, or in the eyes of the Clinton administration, "genocide." ("It all depends on what the definition of 'genocide' is.")

It was filmed on location in Rwanda, in many of the same locations where the killings took place in 1994. It features Idris Elba, actor / uber-mensch who played Stringer Bell in HBO's The Wire (picked up for a new season in 2006).

Then, some time in 2016, make time to watch the upcoming made-for-cable movie about Darfur.

March 26, 2005

Fountain of Youth in Thurston County

As the old beer jingle used to put it, "It's the water and a lot more":

Man, 80, faces charges of selling crack

An 80-year-old man faces drug charges for allegedly selling crack cocaine and methamphetamine from his home off Martin Way East. Police say Calvin D. Ott is the oldest suspected crack dealer they can recall taking into custody. "This whole thing was just a little bit weird all around," Olympia police Detective Sam Costello said.

I love this town.

March 25, 2005

"Everyone has the right to serve more jail time"

Inspired by Public Defender Dude's recent airing of dirty laundry, Alaskablawg lays it out to customers satisfied and dissatisfied in an admirably straight-shooting way.

He's right: on a case that looks like a loser, some clients are more satisfied to go to trial and to go down swinging. Their call; we owe them our best trial work we can muster.

March 24, 2005

Rotting on remand

Here's Ken on the special pre-taste of purgatory that is jail visiting.

Bonus link goes to "Rotting on Remand" by Billy Bragg:

I stood before the Judge that day
As he refused me bail
And I knew that I would spend my time
Awaiting trial in jail
I said there is no justice
As they led me out of the door
And the Judge said, "This isn't a court of justice, son
This is a court of law..."

The limelight beckons!

Some of us have received a most interesting e-mail which seems to be on the up-and-up. With the sender's permission, I'm passing along her proposition:

Dear Skelly:

I am a producer at a New York production company, Stick Figure Productions. We are developing a new television series for Court TV. We are looking for cases for which we will provide - for free -­ the legal services of a renowned defense attorney in exchange for participation in our show. In terms of the case, we are open to different scenarios; our only stipulation is that it not be rape or murder. The case could be criminal or civil ­ it could be a clear case of injustice, or more in the gray zone. The case was (sic) already have a lawyer working on it or it can be unassigned.

Our company's website will give you a sense of the kind of programming we do. We are not 'reality TV' producers: ­ this series for Court TV will be all documentary footage and will in effect showcase the towns and townspeople where the case is taking place, as well as follow a case from start to finish.

If your office is interested in working with us, you can reach me at 212/277-3600.

Many thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mikaela Beardsley

Mikaela Beardsley
Stick Figure Productions
6 West 18th Street 11th Floor
NY, NY 10011
212/277-3600 (office)
212/277-3611 (fax)

Intriguing, no? And who might the renowned defense lawyer be? Anyone out there have a likely case that's ready for prime time? How 'bout you, O.W.? An Alaska crime story would be cool. Or Texas, Texas always has plenty of tales of injustice. What about SoCal: are you in, Dude?

It's not all about you

Our most excellent boss bought us all memberships in the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL), so now I have access to their super-secret "Members Only" zone.

There I found a link to a recent regional p.d. story that I'd missed:

County's public defender to resign - Anne Harper says although system is a national model, legal care is inconsistent

Anne Harper of Seattle is not saying the public defense system in King County is broken... But she says the quality of the legal care offered by public defenders is inconsistent. She says that quality should be the same, whether the defendant is serial murderer Gary Ridgway or the mom charged with drunken driving.

"If they don't believe they are doing a good job, they generally can't fire their attorney," she said. "If the county is not watching, then no one is watching."...

Harper said she is resigning because she says the focus has become "Anne Harper is doing everything wrong," at the expense of making the system accountable....

"There is a fine line as to how far the county can come into our house and dictate how we run our business," said Dave Chapman, managing director of the Associated Counsel for the Accused...

Harper "tried to micro-manage the cases and the agencies," said (Mark) Prothero (former attorney for serial murderer Gary Ridgway). "That rubbed some attorneys the wrong way."

"You will find good public defenders and not-so-good public defenders," Prothero said. "That's true of any profession."

March 23, 2005

Lines our clients feed us

A few minutes ago, I got out of attorney visiting at the jail. Plexiglass is thin, and the booths' Cone of Silence technology is faulty. The guy next door was breaching attorney-client confidentiality by a few decibels, so I heard half of a conversation:

"She's lying! The prosecutor knows she is!"
"This case is a winner! You want to win a trial, don't you? It would be good for your reputation!"
"Aah, you're just working with the prosecutor..."

Bad prosecutor spanked by Idaho Supremes

I don't follow the slip opinions from home as closely as I used to, now that I'm an affiliate member of the Idaho bar. This news, thanks to Crime and Federalism (link via CrimLaw), made me dance a merry jig... figuratively:

You Mean I Can't Lie in the Name of Justice?

A recent Supreme Court decision in Idaho suggests a new line of attack on prosecutorial misconduct.

At an ex parte probable cause hearing a prosecutor named Shari Dodge told a judge that a defendant had once "pulled a shotgun" on a cop. It turns out that wasn't true.

I had my own exposure to this prosecutor during the months I was a p.d. in her county. She struck me as a member of the "let's see how much I can get away with" school of D.A.'s. The niftiest thing was that she had the stones to run against the sitting elected prosecuting attorney (my classmate Dave Young) in last year's Republican primary, while this ethics complaint against her was still pending. That's self-confidence! Better still, the defendant about whom she made her material misrepresentation ran ads against her calling her a liar.

Well, it looks like he was right. When the Supreme Court opinion came down last month, my old co-workers Klaus, Scott, Tom, Dayo et al. probably celebrated with cigars and mariachis. The opinion is Idaho State Bar vs. Dodge, available from the Idaho Supreme Court for the next few months here (PDF file):

Dodge argues that if she is disciplined in this matter it will have a chilling effect on prosecutors, discouraging them from providing relevant information to judges unless every detail can be exhaustively checked...

In response, the ISB argues that as long as there are ethical rules directing lawyers on how to conduct themselves, there will be a chilling effect from those rules. The argument continues that a ruling that one lawyer violated two rules under the particular facts of this case should not, any more than the rules already do, have a chilling effect on prosecutors....

Ultimately, the rules of professional conduct are designed to have a chilling effect, specifically on those types of behavior the rules seek to proscribe. Enforcing those rules may chill desirable behavior in some cases, but the consequences of not enforcing the rules must weigh heavily as well. It is not unrealistic to expect an attorney making a representation to the court purporting to come from personal knowledge to take reasonable steps to assure she is speaking truthfully. It is also not unrealistic to expect an attorney at an ex parte hearing to lay out all material facts, including those that are adverse to the attorney’s position.

This Court declines Dodge’s suggestion that prosecutors be held to a lower standard in providing complete and truthful information to the courts.

As Dave Young said:

"I used to always tell my attorneys 'integrity is easy to lose and impossible to regain' and I think she is experiencing that right now."

Who's schadenfreude-ing now?

March 22, 2005

Want ads

From SW Virginia Law Blog:

Wanted - lawyers to work for low pay and too many clients who may go to jail if you mess up or sometimes even if you don't

(Blogging's been a little light as the boy and I catch up on our viewing: "Totoro" tonight, "The Incredibles" on Friday, and in between, "Legally Blonde" (working title: "Blonde Justice")!)

(And if you do visit Blondie, follow the comments to her request for Bad Prosecutor stories all the way to these empowering rants from newly-minted p.d. Woman of the Law. Don't you just feel warm all over when people tell you, "you're fooling yourselves to think you are usually the ones on the side of justice"? Even when they use one of your favorite words? If Carpundit and Woman of the Law ever square off in the same courtroom, I'll be there selling tickets.)

Unlicensed p. d. wanna-be update

In all the excitement of the Volokh blogstorm this past weekend, I failed to pass along this news from The Legal Reader:

DA to Prosecute Unlicensed Former Defender, Judge Rules

Follow the link to the local coverage here:

"There exists a real possibility that the District Attorney's Office in this case is overreaching and overcharging and overzealously pursuing this particular case because of the fact that they themselves believe they were duped," Brennan
(O'Shea's lawyer) wrote in his motion.

"Motivated by a possible sense of hurt pride and feelings, and a need to save face, there is a strong likelihood that the District Attorney's office is unable to evenhandedly handle this case in the same manner it would handle another type of case in which someone was accused of not having a license and therefore had committed fraud."

"So?" the judge seems to have replied.

Welcome, grasshopper

Two more public defender newbies are blogging about their experiences:

Yellow Snapdragons


Public Defender Law Clerk (easy to remember, that one).

March 21, 2005

Laws my clients told me

Ken Lammers starts a list of things that make him go "Hmmmm" with a short example of the two sources of jurisprudence in our clients' lives: on the one hand, statutes and caselaw and your lawyer's considered opinion, on the other, what your cellies tell you. Guess which one's the more persuasive authority?

"Every single year I have clients who believe the scuttlebutt at the jail which tells them this is going to happen and tell me to my face that I'm wrong when I say it ain't gonna."

I saw a bit of this in action in court today. Co-worker of mine, really good trial attorney and all-around good guy, was standing before the judge with a guy in orange. Guy in orange was bad-mouthing my buddy for supposedly not knowing the law (there was also a bit of poor-mouthing about how he couldn't afford a real lawyer, and how the p.d. didn't care about him because he wasn't paying for the p.d.'s services). Dude told the judge that he'd do a better job representing himself.

Hearing that, I wanted to say, "it's your funeral." I'm afraid that I tend toward the passive-aggressive response when my clients correct me on the law. If I looked at these little impasses as teaching moments instead... presto, I'd be the legal educator I've always dreamed of becoming. Gotta get a laptop and some CD-ROM's of every case in US Reports and Pacific Reporter to take with me to jail visits.

In the absence of law books on disc, here are some holdings my clients have briefed me on lately:

* If it wasn't performed in the field, it's not a valid field test
(which is more expansive than what was apparently the previous ruling: "They have to perform the field test in a field.")

* If the cop doesn't give you a ticket for the reason you were pulled over, you can't be prosecuted for the drugs in your car (or the DUI, or...)

* If you have a pending charge and the judge orders you to have no contact with the alleged victim, and then you go ahead and have contact, you can't be found guilty of violating the no-contact order unless (or until) you've been found guilty of the pending charge

and an old reliable,

* If the cop didn't read you your rights, then they have to dismiss the case.

There seems to be a trend, at least in the 17+ years I've been at this, let's say, of increasing confidence on the part of many clients in their own legal knowledge and judgment. The corresponding trend, naturally enough, is decreasing reliance on their lawyer's advice. I blame meth and Judge Judy. This confidence does not correlate in any way to actual outcomes, which usually mean incarceration. In fact, over in the clients' parallel law school, most often the instructors with the most prestige are the ones with the most convictions and doing the most time.

They should know.

March 18, 2005

"For mad dogs -- a dog's death!"


"But I ask myself, over and over again, how a person with Eugene (Volokh)´s background, whose family suffered under Soviet repression, and who knows far better than most the brutality of Stalin, could possibly countenance an assertion of a power in any state -- even the good old U.S. of A. -- to torture a person in this way."

- from "A Strange Libertarianism" on Professor Eric Muller's Is That Legal?

"One should remember the instruction of Comrade Stalin, that there are... such times in the life of society and our individual lives, when laws turn out to be obsolete and we have to put them aside."

"We demand the vermin and all their followers be mercilessly exterminated!"

- from "The 'Fragrant Flowers' of Prosecutor A. Ya. Vyshinsky's Rhetoric" by Hugo S. Cunningham.

March 19 Update:

Prokuror akademik Volokh recants:

"But over us, over our happy country, our sun will shine with its bright rays as clearly and joyfully as before."

Akademika Bitch Ph.D says, "yeah, right."

Conservative Blogger for Peace says:

"This is the usual procedure for making the unspeakable a matter of public discussion, and then to make what was unspeakable seem normal... I never imagined that I would hear a constitutional law professor suggest, even tentatively, that we should amend the ban on cruel and unusual punishment."

'Nother update:

Pulp Volokh! (or is it "Volokh Fiction"?)
(Hello, ridicule, bye-bye judgeship)

March 20 update:

John Doe and Exene link to others and join the chorus.

The sleeper must awaken

From Busy, Busy, Busy:

Shorter Professor Eugene Volokh:

Something the Iranian Government and I Agree on

* Killing I like, but public torture followed by slow, agonizing death really gets me off.

lv Miniver Cheevy (child of scorn).

See also Majikthise, Alicublog, The Poor Man, In Medias Res, Consider Phlebas, Balloon Juice and especially Obsidian Wings. Will someone please page me when Volokh's modest proposal is covered on Fafblog?

I have put in my hours in the holding cell with another human being facing the death penalty.

Now the level of rational discourse from the finest law schools is, not only do we embrace torture and capital punishment, but we need to make execution more painful and cruel.

If I don't wake up from this nightmare soon, I'm going to puke.

"Again! Kill him again!" people shouted...

See also
Digby, and So It May Secretly Begin, and Is That Legal?, and Lawyers Guns and Money, and The Mahablog, and uggabugga, and Backwards City, and Terminus, and Mirror of Justice, and Blogenlust, and River City Mud, and John Adams Blog, and Corrente, and The Green Knight, and Robert's Stochastic Thoughts and...

Quite a wake-up call. Thanks, bloggers. Hope others hear the alarm

March 17, 2005

So long, and thanks for driving off all the snakes

A blessed St. Patrick's Day to you and yours.
 Posted by Hello

(and a link to The Onion's Irish Heritage Timeline.)

March 16, 2005

Jurors find Idaho teen guilty of murdering her parents


I don't have anything to add, just thought you might want to know the verdict.

Give me your tired, your rich, your huddled BigLaw associates yearning to breathe free

Huzzah! There is a way out of the salt mines for unfulfilled young lawyers.

Alaskablawg lifts his lamp beside the golden door.

(Shout-out to long-time listener, first-time caller "Dennis Kucinich" for recommending the NLADA job opportunities site for all your legal aid and public defender job hunting needs.)

(And a bonus link to Si Kahn's "The Lady of the Harbor.")

Puget Sound pummelage, PD Dude renaissance

My first South Sound jury trial today.

My first South Sound guilty verdict, too.

We went directly to sentencing, and curiously, the judge gave my guy five months less than the prosecutor was offering.

By the way, Public Defender Dude has been really on lately. Who cares about the Robert Blake prediction? Go check out his Becoming a PD and PD in LA Slashed by Client. Dude, you abide.

March 15, 2005

Lawyer Guy, we hardly knew ye

On Tuesday a funny and acerbic blawg was taken off-line by its author. I wanted to save a bit of his brain and bite on my site, so here, by permission of the blawgger, one of the final dispatches from Lawyer Guy:

I Am Jack's Complete Lack of Surprise.

"God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

So apparently law firms are struggling with the influx of Gen Y folks that don't want to be associate-monkeys. Allow me to retort.

Why the fuck would they?

Admittedly, there is a very stark generational gap right now in the legal field. You have the old battleaxes, who spin yarns about working 20 hours a day "back in the day," and then you have the younger generation, who always have one eye on the door. Both don't appreciate either's work ethic. Obviously, I can't speak for the older generation, but I can offer my two cents for us younger folk. And the Firm, like any other, is good in some places, bad in others - so this is really more a rip on the state of big-firm law and the culture you find everywhere....

1) It's not a profession, jackass - it's a business. Older attorneys will wax poetic about how the law used to be a profession, a guild, blahblahblah. What they ignore is that, in the 50s, 60s, & 70s, sure - I'll agree it probably was. But with the shift to the corporate philosophy in the 80s, and the massive firm mergers in the 90s, the law became a business. That's it - it's a job. Older attorneys end up talking about living and breathing the law & striving to improve the profession, but simultaneously demand, at all costs, under penalty of termination, that associates bill at least a couple thousand billable hours (and more) every year. The free time to read legal journals and go to things like Inns of Court vanishes when you're struggling just to keep at par with other associates so you can keep your job. We have the factory mentality because your generation made it into factory work.

2) People? What are they? With the increased size of firms, and the jacked-up fees required to meet the overhead, associates don't see other human beings. We rarely see other associates except in 10 minute increments, we never see clients (because the "press the flesh" is the domain of the rainmakers only), and we certainly never see the courtroom (clients don't pay firm rates to send an associate in front of a judge). So, associates wind up getting most personal with their computers and their phone - do you think I'd rather go out for a drink with a client, or an associate, or whatever, instead of blogging? Hell yah. You dehumanize the job, you make the associates detached - that's just how it is.

3) Bitch work - no thanks! We're breeding a whole generation of associates that will be absolutely incompetent in a courtroom. Where associates in firms started out with jumping right into court with small subro actions, now you have no hope of trying a case (even as a second chair) until you make some sort of senior associate status (or have some flukey case fall in your lap). Nobody - and I mean nobody - went to law school fantasizing about sitting alone in a cold office under flickering flourescent lights ad nauseum pushing paper. That's a fucking accounting/insurance adjusting job (sorry, accountants and insurance adjustors). Dammit, we want to be in a courtroom, blowing some silly witness up on cross-examination!!

4) Um...look at you. We're not retarded. We can see what's happened to partners - dismal family lives, no extracurricular activites (no, golf and Rotary club don't count - that's "networking"), etc. Our generation, on the other hand - we want to have the family lives that we probably didn't have growing up; we want to do other, non-job things that have meaning, be it getting involved in church more than Christmas/Easter services, or spending an afternoon at the food bank; we want to get out and blow off steam, because we've all seen the old lawyers that have had 3 heartattacks by the time they're 50; and most importantly, we want to be well-rounded - we don't want to be lame fuckers on the golf course every Saturday talking about comfortable shoes. Fuck that. We're all acutely aware that big-firm, civil litigation does not make us a better person in life.

5) Life Principle Number One. Nobody dies wishing they'd worked more.

It's a little funny this article came out today, because Replacement Associate gave me the full hour, closed-door "crisis of faith" confession today. She's simply burned out - she billed well over 200 hours last month (which had only 19 official billing days), was out of town at a meaningless, last-second depo over the long weekend when her dog died, and is watching one of her best attorney friends tear her hair out about whether she'll lose her job for taking more than a month of maternity leave (hard to make up that lost month of billables!)....she's looking around, taking an inventory, and realizing that she doesn't want to wake up at 45 and wonder, "What the fuck happened with my life?" (doing that really quickly, of course, so she only loses .1 on her billings for thinking of something other than the law).

And, honestly, I had nothing to argue with her. Every point she had (pretty much all of the above) is perfectly valid.

So, while I'm sluffing out tomorrow on those pre-meeting-meetings and huge stacks of document discovery so I can hang out with friends, watch movies, drink, and generally fuck off -

Well, I'm not going to feel bad for "the law" in the slightest.

"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis."

Skål, Lawyer Guy. Takk for minnene.

Vanya Handsome

This morning was the sentencing hearing for a mutual client of D__'s and mine who looks exactly like

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov

Poor devil - no wonder he's so violent and anti-social. Oh, if only the legislature would spring for this alternative sentencing.

March 14, 2005

Public defender slashed in court by her client

G d-dammit, this has to stop.

: LA Times article here.

When courthouse security gets to the point that judges have to be able to return fire

"Out of order!"

In the shadow of the Fulton County courthouse, Mike at Crime and Federalism has a modest proposal:

Let judges pack heat in the courtroom.

We have got to fix this, but in addition to the concerns voiced in the comments, I have one of my own:

What if the judge is drunk?

(there's also the flailing around in the robes to get to the holster to consider.)

In Idaho, I recollect that the majority of judges exercise their Second Amendment individual right to possess firearms, but just not in the courtroom. But then, they don't have to go through the metal detectors, so who really knows what's under the robe?

"Jury gets more wiggle room to convict Johnson of murder"


Because in a first-degree murder trial, what you want to do with that beyond - a - reasonable - doubt thing is to give the jury more wiggle room.


Quotes from the judge (outside the presence of the jury, I damn-well trust):

"The hypotheses 'no blood no guilt' has always been curious to me."

"I'll let you argue to the jury how she was asleep in the room and how someone else came in and planted bullets and got the robe," he said to the defense attorneys.

(By the way, he's also the administrative judge for the whole judicial district back in Idaho that I just fled.)

March 13, 2005

Last frontier p.d. internship news

Meanwhile up in Anchorage, law student Monica answers an ad for "public defender intern," only to find herself in the first week thrown into the deep end of court and dog-paddling like crazy.

It's a good read, and a good description of a "total immersion" introduction to criminal defense work.

: Oops! I hope that's a paid internship!

Fall on your sword 2: the last frontier

Spoken from the heart, a contribution from Alaskablawg to this long-running conversation amongst ourselves about ineffective assistance of counsel and personal character of p.d.'s.

I think that the lawyer who writes Alaskablawg is one of the admirable ones. Read him, and read the comments that follow each of the links.

Got 'im

Prosecutor Ragged Edge goes off on Indiana PD, prompted by the Atlanta killings, and the capture of the killer:

IPD #1

Ragged #1

Ragged #2

I afraid that, as tiresome (and self-aggrandizing, and self-congratulating, and self-deluding) as prosecutors' claims are to be upholding the Truth, this prosecutor gets the better of my colleague this time.

As criminal defense lawyers at times like these, we've traditionally been too quick to haul out cliches like "the bloodlust of the government" and "legal barbarism" while the bloodlust and barbarism of our client is ringing in everyone's ears. We need to pause and reflect on the grief and suffering of others just a moment before we jump on the defend-the-defense-lawyers high horse. I'm horrified by what the shooter has done. I continue to believe in my heart that the system has no claim to put him to death, but I would have felt no grief, and in fact great satisfaction in my gut, if he had been gunned down by law enforcement. I acknowledge the impulse in my gut without ever wanting it to be enshrined in the law.

So, I would expect these new murder charges to go to trial, where I would no more expect the defense lawyer to hold back any "mental gymnastics" in service of the client (and the integrity of the system) than I would expect the prosecution in pre-trial negotiations to take death off the table.

March 11, 2005


When I read the news, I first thought of my brother-in-law who practices criminal defense out of Peach Tree City, then of today's victims, then of the judges, court reporters, and deputies I've known personally.

Rest in peace. Catch the killer quickly.

To live outside the law

I'm in a reflective mood, and I still have the pedal steel part to "Like a Rolling Stone" from last Tuesday night playing in my mind. Each week Google sends this site a trickle of visitors who are looking for references to this bit of good advice, "To live outside the law, you must be honest." Today I followed their tracks back to Google, then beyond, and found a thoughtful disquisition on the theme:

“What on earth was Dylan trying to say? Shouldn't law and honesty be put together, rather than to suggest that living outside the law demands honesty?”

“Living outside the law, not as an outlaw, but as a free and responsible citizen means that the writ of the law need not blanket the entire universe with a moral mandate. The challenge and indeed the premise of democracy is that we do not require the policeman on every corner, we do not require a law about every small thing, in order to live as honest citizens, in order to realize a life of freedom.”

It's from Jean Bethke Elshtain's 2003 Meador Lecture in Law and Religion at UVa. Much more there to think on than I have time for at the moment; I will return to the article, and hope to find a complete copy of the lecture.

(Bonus link goes to the Dietrich Bonhoeffer web page, a personal hero, held out by Elshtain as an exemplar of an honest person living outside the law.)

March 10, 2005

Montana true believer, top criminal defense lawyer

Good story about public defender Randi Hood, named Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' outstanding defense attorney of the year. The article also gives a good general sense of the job, and portrays a conscientious - and a little care-worn, I think - person hard at work doing it.

Hood says that while most people don't understand her willingness to defend such clients, her years in the public defenders office have taught her that offenders are people who deserve legal representation, no matter how monstrous the acts of which they are accused...

Along with her successes in the courtroom, Hood has had her share of losses. She's always disappointed for her client when she doesn't achieve her desired outcome in a case.

But she says the only time she really gets discouraged is when she works diligently to get a client a good deal in court only to have that person return to her office a few weeks later because he or she didn't abide by the rules established by the judge. She has a number of repeat customers.

"You go to the well with the same person a lot of times and that gets you down a little bit," Hood said.

True that.

March 09, 2005

Habemus volcano

(too cloudy yesterday to have seen it from here)
(Thx Bliss for pix)

Frickin' sweet

 Posted by Hello

"Orchpt" = orchestra pit = the place closest to the stage = spittin' distance = close enough to track the progress of a big ol' drop of sweat forming and falling off the tip of the Inscrutable One's nose.

First song:

"Oh, help me in my weakness,"
I heard the drifter say,
As they carried him from the courtroom
And were taking him away.
"My trip hasn't been a pleasant one
And my time it isn't long,
And I still do not know
What it was that I've done wrong."

Well, the judge, he cast his robe aside,
A tear came to his eye,
"You fail to understand," he said,
"Why must you even try?"
Outside, the crowd was stirring,
You could hear it from the door.
Inside, the judge was stepping down,
While the jury cried for more.

"Oh, stop that cursed jury,"
Cried the attendant and the nurse,
"The trial was bad enough,
But this is ten times worse."
Just then a bolt of lightning
Struck the courthouse out of shape,
And while ev'rybody knelt to pray
The drifter did escape.

(Set list here.)

Update: Comments are screwed up, so here's a reply.

"Haggard" - seldom has a person been better named, but man, could he honky-tonk! Merle was a great old spirited wreck of a musician, lots of fun to watch shimmy and smirk. He's a credit to ex-cons everywhere. He and the old boys in the Strangers took me back to when I was a little kid growing up, with a pasture and horses behind our house, back when Dylan was top 40 on KFXD and Merle was top 40 on KGEM. Yeah, Hag was good.

March 08, 2005

One man's credit card fraud is another man's artistic vision

Thanks to that ol' devil meth, an increasing share of my caseload these days is made up of identity theft, theft in general, and the other ways you can violate the social contract using names and financial transaction cards that don't belong to you. Imagine how much more fun the world would be for everyone concerned if we all could agree to look at these transactions not as crime, but as art:

(click on the cards for high good fun - link via Prof. Godsey of CrimProf Blog)

March 07, 2005

We accept you, one of us!

Sounds like Aaron's job interview with the Legal Aid Society of New York went very, very well.

YEE-HAW (as they say in the Texas NLG)! Another public defender in our midst, with a cool blog no less - congratulations!

Not in it for the money

From CrimLaw's hustings, a good Q&A session with a Virginia p. d. who specializes in death penalty work:

Public defender finds reward in being clients' advocate.

On the other side of the aisle, a deputy prosecutor in St. Louis who's "a poster child for loan forgiveness."

Remember, law students, a bad day in criminal court beats a good day as a first-year BigLaw associate every time.

March 06, 2005

The power of one

One lone juror has spared the life of an Idaho murderer. Sometimes "arbitrary and capricious" kicks in from the outset of the process, in the luck of the draw of the jury panel you get.

Jason McDermott won't get the death penalty for the execution-style killing of 18-year-old Zachariah Street on May 2, 2003. Eleven of 12 jurors agreed Saturday that McDermott's crime carried at least one of the three aggravating factors needed for a death sentence. But the jury must unanimously agree to sentence someone to death, so now a judge must decide on a lesser sentence.

My former colleague Ed Odessey told the jury, "Bring that mercy that you have for people — for damaged people — to bear here." He reached one person.

"It was a little puzzling," the victim's mother said. "But either way you look at it, the guy's not going to have a nice life." Elsewhere, she's quoted as saying, "[There was] one juror that wasn't being honest with the prosecutor's office and herself. She had her doubts, and she should not even have been on the jury."

I won't come down on a victim's mother for saying so, but she's voiced the presumption behind death-qualifying juries: individuals who will vote for life are dishonest, and people who have their doubts about death shouldn't be on capital juries. Take the same facts, same trial, and change nothing from murder to verdict save one individual on the jury, and Jason McDermott would have been killed rather than spared. Arbitrary. Capricious. I think I've said it before: some people may deserve to die for what they've done, but no earth-bound system is fit to decide who that should be.

March 05, 2005

Ubiquitous musical meme - now with bonus hyperlink action!

20 random and arbitrary selections, care of "Shuffle Play":

Alex Chilton - The Replacements
Raining on Sunday - Radney Foster
Recycled Air - The Postal Service
Prawy Do Lewego - Goran Bregović and Kayah
Electric Green - Kim Richey
Everywhere with Helicopter - Guided by Voices
Silver Road - Sarah Harmer w/ The Tragically Hip
It's a Wonderful Life - Sparklehorse
I Hear a Choo Choo Coming - Ralph Stanley
It's Such a Small World - Rodney Crowell with Rosanne Cash
Ceremony - Galaxie 500
Hackensack - Fountains of Wayne
The Golden Age - Beck
Jessica - Allman Brothers Band
E, Moj Druže Beogradski - Jura Stublić i Film
4AM - Richard Buckner
Powers That Be - Will Kimbrough
Late Century Dream - Superchunk
Willin' - Uncle Tupelo
Willamette - John Doe

(p.s.: I've got a golden ticket! Bob Dylan, this Tuesday night at the Paramount!)

: Dobrodošli, Hrvati! Here are the lyrics you are seeking.

March 04, 2005

By common (implied) consent

Here in the Evergreen State, the signs on the road say, "Litter and It Will Hurt."

Apparently, if you read DUI Blog (and if you do DUI defense, you probably already do), Utah has come up with a more aggressive campaign: "Drive Drunk and We Will Hurt You. Physically."

They're training troopers to be roadside phlebotomists. Drink a little First Amendment Lager and blow a stop sign, and before you know it, you're a blood donor. As much as I hate needles, I may never drive in Zion again.

Friday camel blogging

 Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Inspired by Perpwalk, link via Is That Legal?

March 03, 2005

"When you go to law school, then you can feel free to chime in."

Another satisfied customer, and this one's a public defender client!

Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal for a public urination ticket - not a bad piece of legal work. And jokes from his p.d., too! I'd say the guy got some value out of the attorney-client relationship.

Write about what you know

How often do satisfied criminal defense clients set up websites singing your praises? ________ is crazy about his, and he's not afraid to say so. He's also not afraid to spell "defence" the way the Brits do.

According to ______, the law firm of Russell and Hill will "...leave you assured you are useing a experienced trail attorney." Particularly reassuring in wilderness areas. Think of it as inssurance. Okkay, I willl.

According to the author, though it took him 6 years of school, his lawyer is very experienced, freindly and well liked by his peers and is beleieved to be one of the finest in washington state.... He was admitted to practice in Washington in 2001.

Accept no substitutes! Especially not one of those sucky public defenders:

Who wants to have public defence when it is a serious charge.

Public defence is notiourous for making it a point to root for the easy way out of everyhting but dont take that for granted but to some extent this is true...

And when it comes to doing all that just go private because if you get found guilty the status of your attourney depending on your record seem to play a role at times and keeping a clean record can sometines be dependant on the type of defence you have.

This is unfair but true so think ahead.

Unfair indeed. Also, don't forget to follow this satisfied client's advice in one of his other blogs:

Ask yourself : Is everything on my site spelled correctly?

March 02, 2005

Bob Dylan for the defense

My first year out of school, I worked with a kind and funny lawyer, a venerable long-haired Legal Aid lifer. I think he started me on the habit of trying to find song lyrics to suit every legal occasion. He was a specialist in both Bob Dylan and landlord-tenant, so there were many moments when he'd break out with, "Honey how come you don't move?"

The latest New York Review of Books has a fine essay about Bob Dylan by Luc Sante, inspired by Dylan's new memoir, Chronicles, Volume One, which I'm rushing off to put on reserve at the Lacey library. I was pleased to see this blawg's guiding aphorism get a mention:

The ability to hatch an epigram—the way "To live outside the law you must be honest" emerges right in the middle of "Absolutely Sweet Marie," between two lines twisted from Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and the refrain—is a function of that unconscious frame of mind, that willed trance state, that educated lurching, not of the wish to construct an epigram.

Well, it makes more sense in context.

There is so much raw material for the taking to build a Dylan-based jurisprudence. The man has spent years thinking about the law. He also loves our clients, guilty or not. I thrive on this stuff:

"What time is it?" said the judge to Joey when they met
"Five to ten," said Joey. The judge says, "That's exactly what you get."

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom

Outstanding. Fifty bucks to the next person who weaves Dylan lyrics into closing argument (payable on receipt of transcript).

You can dip in anywhere, it's all on point. Hell, in Europe, they're using Bob Dylan to teach legal English.

Many, many lawyers have favorite eight-tracks running through their heads while they're lawyering. Back in Twin, Paulie favored "I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali / I'm going back to Cali.. (hmm, I don't think so)," especially for extraditions, while Casey's theme song for his clients was Neil Young's imponderable "Why Do I Keep F***ing Up?" Back East, some state Supreme Court justices get CLE's for listening to Springsteen. For me, the most resonant on-the-job listening has been provided by Bob Dylan.

Why do the righteous suffer?

I want to send out some admiration and support for a former colleague who was a victim of a violent crime this past week.

Mike Duggan has been a Legal Aid lawyer, a public defender, and a private practitioner. He is an evangelical Christian, one of the most fundamentally humane humans I've ever worked with. Mike truly is a gentleman, that is, a gentle man. We all marvelled at how selflessly he loved his clients, extending every bit of care and hospitality for them, even to the point of taking them in and giving them a place to stay. As the news story said, It was Michael’s dream to open his home...and turn it into a place where young Christians could live together.

After lawyering for years, Mike went to divinity school, and I don't know any lawyer who's done a better job of trying to lead a Christ-like life, or of ministering by his own example.

So why should this happen to such a decent man?

It was last Friday and Glenda and Michael Duggan were getting ready for work, when they say the man they had rented a room to - entered their home. The victims say he attacked Glenda first with a bat, then an ax. But she was saved when her husband pulled the man away.

Both Glenda and Michael said they never saw this coming. They were scared of Paul Cardinale and that's why they asked him to move out of their home, but they never imagined he would return with a vengeance.

The couple was left with cuts, scratches, and bruises as well as a burnt house. Police say Cardinale set the home on fire then slit his throat with the butcher knife and drank some kerosene. He still remains hospitalized.

More news with video here and here (site may require registration).


The defense has opened by stating "no blood, no guilt" in the not-unbloody case of the Idaho teen-ager accused of murdering her parents. The judge previously denied a defense motion to introduce a videotape showing a coconut being shot with a rifle as evidence to depict what happened to one of the victims when she was shot:

...(S)tate's witness Glen Groben, a pathologist with the Ada County Coroner's office, (stated), "Can you compare a human head with a coconut? It's like apples and oranges."

Rocky Mink, a forensic scientist who had assisted in producing the video, defended the use of the coconut to replicate a head.

"Did your coconut have a brain in it?" asked prosecutor Justin Whatcott, referring to prosecution's contention that a coconut is unlike a human head.

"Not that I know of," Mink said.

March 01, 2005