July 31, 2005

Reflecting on a summer p.d. internship

Dorian in Richmond finished a public defender internship on Friday, and sums up the experience:

And more than anything else my experience has given me a better understanding of the heavy truth that people are just people, but sadly we are most definitely NOT all treated the same - and that people on both sides of that coin toss are unaware of this.

July 30, 2005

Sentencing: Tony Serra and others

Here is an interesting post from inside the courtroom with Tony Serra. Great guy, avoidable crime: he was sentenced yesterday to 10 months in Lompoc for his troubles with the IRS. It's written by someone who's been a friend of his for 50 years, though the double-entendre in the post's title - the 'Passion' of Tony Serra - is just a tiny bit rich under the circumstances.

Was it Toma or Baretta who said, "don't do the crime if you can't do the time"? Or was the quote, "render unto Caesar..."? As I remember it, it probably wasn't the client on Thursday who pleaded with the judge, "I can't go to prison" as he was trying to fire me for forcing him to take the plea bargain. Was it that client, with the five priors, or was it the one who called me a "public pretender" in open court? (Or maybe that client was one of yours).

July 29, 2005

What my bumper meant to say was...

Seven months on the new job, and getting some constructive criticism: a co-worker said, "you might want to look at your bumper sticker - I know you and I'm not sure that's the message you want to send..."
Yikes! "Idaho is Great for Hate." I've been driving around the Sound, and in a German car at that, perpetuating the Left Coast's most cherished stereotype about all of us Idahoans. Idaho, I am so chagrined.

For my penance, bonus links go to Your Family, Friends and Neighbors, the Boise-based group that helped beat the Idaho anti-gay initiative, and to Human Rights Idaho, the keepers of the original sticker design, which is supposed to say "Idaho is TOO Great for Hate."

July 28, 2005

"Hooray for the public defenders!"

Jaybeas Corpus is winding up his summer p.d. internship. He gives a link to Injustice Anywhere and U.S. District Judge John Coughenour's inspiring and patriotic statement from the bench in Seattle yesterday, then concludes with a cheer for our side:

I couldn't have asked for a better summer experience. I discovered that I definitely have an interest in criminal law, and I could definitely see myself working in a PD's office at some point in my life... these people do amazing work for their clients, and it's really a major driving force behind the legitimacy of our judicial system. So, in short, hooray for the public defenders!

July 27, 2005

The golden hammer

Mark McGoldrick is a California public defender, and writer and performer of The Golden Hammer: Wounds, Booze, and Forgotten Misconduct:

Come along for a ride through East Bay courtrooms where the funk of the street is processed into... what? Justice? Where we haven't a clue how often we botch the job, or how badly.

The Bay Guardian says:

...McGoldrick wins over his audience with unpretentious charm and quiet intelligence. His latest monologue weaves together three stories revolving around questions of justice and child sexual abuse...

Memory remains fallible and vulnerable, and justice is equally elusive. No doubt it's sometimes a relief for an attorney and his audience to be allowed to walk away with only a productive set of reflections.

Through July 31 at the Marsh in San Francisco. If he brings his one-man show to Portland or Seattle, I'm going.

Former Billings p.d. cleared of malpractice

It's been donkeys' years since I've posted a Montana public defender update. Here you go:

Roberta Drew cleared of malpractice charges

Donna June Enright, who was convicted of (arson and deliberate homicide) in the death of her stepfather... filed the suit... because she said Drew didn't do enough to push through a petition for another appeal... She demanded a jury trial...

(The judge) ruled Drew had not committed malpractice and the jury was excused... because “Enright cannot satisfy the element that but for Drew's actions the result in the case would have been different...”

There you go

A young California lawyer who made the switch:

"I've switched over to criminal law. Civil law was boring and time consuming.... As a public defender, I'm the boss. I'm getting much more experience. It's much more dramatic and exciting. I love it."

(an old post, but I just found this blog. See also "Happy at the public defender's office".)

July 25, 2005

Mass advocacy

Here is a pointer to Professor Giacalone's very thoughtful and very thorough take-down of the protest by Massachusetts court-appointed private attorneys against the injustice of an 81% pay increase over two years.

A New Hampshire public defender comments on the Massachusetts situation here. I want to gather my thoughts further before determining whether I have anything worth adding to the discussion.

Other thoughts, on this situation in particular from Massachusetts, and on appointed counsel in general from Alabama.

Indefensible's David Feige addressed this last year on Slate:

For indigent criminal defendants, low-paying assigned-counsel systems like that in Massachusetts offer the worst of all possible worlds... The Romney administration should consider adopting a public defender system.

Angry summer p.d. intern tells all

At least one public defender intern is having a terribly awful no-good mixed-up horrible work experience this summer:

(deleted by Skelly)

I don't see this intern working as a p.d. after graduation.

Update 07/27/05:

After a flurry of hits yesterday from the State of Alaska, the above links and the underlying blog have been disabled, along apparently with the poster's fledgling p.d. career. By doing a Technorati search for "public defenders" and posting one of the interesting things I found there, I seem to have outed someone to her colleagues and co-workers, and I've got to take responsibility for getting her dooced.

At the same time, there's a certain amount of inevitable discovery at work here. She is, or was, a law student doing a summer internship with the Alaska Public Defender Agency. She blogged her disappointment in her job and surroundings early on. She posted explicitly on her blog, things that would be better said in a letter, in a phonecall, in e-mail, in a restricted-access LiveJournal blog. It turns out that she blogged in an exaggerated way about someone I know online, who's a good Alaska defense lawyer. Her blogging, in a way certain to be revealed in a small state and bar, was not her only lapse in judgment. Before feeling too mad at me or sorry for her, just ask if this is the kind of judgment you'd want in your lawyer or your co-counsel.

Contrast this more positive Alaska p.d. summer internship.

# 2: I deleted the blog entries I quoted - I've done enough damage. And STRM, I'm really glad your supervisor liked your blog! And relieved! Suffice to say, we all need to be careful out there with the job blogging. Whether it's a client, a judge, or a current or future boss, you never know who might be reading (a lesson I've had to learn the hard way myself).

Tis pity she's a defendant

Dang, we p.d.'s don't even get respect from prostitutes:

(Sex workers)... picked up such practical tips as how to read a search warrant, how to have bail reduced and how to make sure a public defender actually defends them.

- from an article about "Whore College", held in San Francisco (of course).

Bonus verse: The article also quotes the excutive director of Standing Against Global Exploitation, Norma Hotaling, an old San Francisco surname. I think I learned this rhyme from my mom, who's a native of The City. It's about the 1906 earthquake:

If God had meant to smite the town
for being over-frisky,
Why did He burn His churches down
and spare Hotaling's Whiskey?

July 24, 2005

Found a job

It was iffy there for a while, but Mr. Brightside got a public defender job, in Bakersfield. His neighbor is of two minds about his good fortune.

July 23, 2005

What did we ever do to Father Drinan?

I 've never had anything against Robert F. Drinan, S.J., even looked up to him in the past. Sadly, he can't make some otherwise valid points about the problem of over-incarceration without getting off a drive-by slur against p.d.'s:

The quadrupling of prisoners in the United States in one generation has occurred silently and surreptitiously, with no mass protests. A few civil-rights groups have complained, but hundreds of thousands of suspects have been allowed by their public defenders to plead guilty and to serve extended sentences in jail.

"Allowed"? Bless me, Father, but some of them may have sinned. Drinan's a Jebbie and a law professor no less, and ostensibly politically close to many of us who do the p.d. thing down here in this broken stacked-deck system, so Professor, I'm listening: what might be the alternative to "allowing" our clients to exercise the choice of pleading or going to trial? Shall we set everyone for trial, even the people who want to plead? Shall I put you down for being on jury duty every day until you die?

(some days I just want to tell my liberal and progressive allies, "be quiet and let me do my work in peace.")

Idaho teen murder co-D: 12 to life

Back home in Twin Falls, Autumn Pauls has been resentenced to life in prison, with the first 12 years fixed, for her role in the death of Aleta Ray.

Autumn was 15 at the time of the crime. With credit for time served, she will be eligible for parole in 2012.

July 22, 2005

River's edge

A la Mumia, Evan Savoie and Jake Eakin have answered CBS News' questions, but not about the events of the day that Craig Sorger died. The accused boys were 12 at the time; Sorger was 13. Sorger was beaten with a stick and stabbed more than 30 times in Ephrata, Grant County, Washington:

Does Evan believe he deserves to be incarcerated? “I don’t think so, no. But as you can tell, quite a few other people have different opinions. So my opinion is no...”

Jake Eakin has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and has agreed to testify against Savoie when Savoie goes to trial in November.

(Previous posts on this topic here, here and here)

July 21, 2005

John Adams, p.d. for the damned

In Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, the man accused of kidnapping Shasta Groene and murdering her family has at least one other human being standing beside him:

In the face of intense media coverage as well as vocal and often vitriolic suggestions as to how his client ought to be treated, Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams would not say if he thinks his client can get a fair trial here.

"I believe this city is a sophisticated city, and I believe the people... for the most part believe in the rule of law," he said, "and that justice is meted out in the courtrooms and not in our streets."

Adams would not say if he would seek to move the trial out of the area...

...Steve Groene, the father of Shasta and Dylan, said while he would wish to see Duncan die if he's convicted of the crimes, he would agree to the man making a plea deal which would result in life in prison if it meant Shasta would be spared from having to testify.

"Nobody wants to see Shasta traumatized in any fashion," Adams said after being told of Groene's feelings. "I applaud Mr. Groene's courage standing up for his family."

July 20, 2005

Public defender, stud

Public Defender stands 15.2 hands, as well as for liberty and justice for all. Sorry, no shipped semen available; hand breeding only. $250.

(bonus link: the Appaloosa Museum in Moscow, Idaho
(also home of the finest law school in the state)
(bonus quote: "I don't like them, their butts are too big."
- old law school crush)

Video: Dennis Hopper needs a p.d.

Young Dennis Hopper is in trouble big, and only one person can save him: Public Defender!

So much for early intervention.

(Lv Like Television Blog)

July 18, 2005


In Nashville, Government lawyers try to make ends meet:

During the week, Rachel Sobrero spends her time in a Nashville courtroom prosecuting... On the weekends, the 29-year-old assistant district attorney general waits tables...

Across the aisle... is Assistant Metro Public Defender Mickie Smith Daugherty. ...the 30-year-old lawyer moonlights as a teacher helping students get into college. Daugherty had a third job, she said, until her doctor told her she was suffering from sleep deprivation.

Today my colleagues at work were comparing monthly student loan payments; the winner was $1500.00/month. I'm so glad I got into a state school.

Be civil now

Next week Indiana Public Defender is doing a civil jury trial?

Doesn't she know? Anybody who's anybody must know that p.d.'s are unqualified to do civil work!

You'll never make it in BigLaw!

It pleases me immensely to hear a 21-year-old say this:

"I think i definitely want to be a public defender for a couple of years at least."

Right on. Join us. But beware what the well-tailored lawyers say:

Law students also need to realize that there is a vast difference between a starting job at the public defender’s office or district attorney’s office, as compared to starting at his firm of choice. It takes a thick skin and a strong constitution to work with hardened, penniless criminals day in and day out at the public defender’s office....

Well, thanks for the kiss, I suppose, in a "well, X has a nice personality" sort of way (we get this kind of compliment from our professional betters in the Bar all the time). Now here comes the kiss-off:

Some law students are under the impression that they will gain valuable trial experience as a public defender or a deputy district attorney enabling them to later land a good job with a law firm.... a young attorney who has worked for the government has learned nothing about dealing with individual clients, quoting fees, keeping clients advised, and grasping the many complex issues that are presented by business clients on a day-to-day basis. And while it may also be true that government attorneys learn to think on their feet... this is not good training for handling complex business cases where preparation is the number one priority. Just as important, a government attorney has had no experience billing 40+ hours per week or even keeping track of their time. Thus, working for the government right out of law school often disqualifies young attorneys from ever landing a job at a prestigious law firm.

I weep. All these years of haggling and litigating over people's freedom have left me unequipped to deal with the issues that really matter, like whether Corporation A will pay Corporation B's attorney fees.

Young 'uns, if you truly harbor dreams of grinding away in the law library generating income for your firm's partners, and maybe in two years or so getting to roll a partner's briefcase to court to watch said partner do a trial, then for G d's sake turn back now, and don't follow me!

(This could be a good time to introduce newer A&C readers to the beloved Public Defender Dude essay, "Criminal Law is so much better than Civil Law".)

(I do know at least one former p.d. who's now a success in a big law firm, but that one's name is anathema - we shall not speak it.)

Correction: this post implied that the author of the quoted career advice and his firm hail from BigLaw. By BigLaw standards (and perhaps others), both are in fact rather small. A&C regrets the error.

July 14, 2005

Idaho scalping 'not intentional'

This is a follow-up to a previous post:

Woman says scalping was 'not intentional' - Dahle pleads guilty to spare victim from trial

A Caldwell woman admitted Wednesday she scalped a 15-year-old girl at Kirkham Hot Springs last winter, but said she only meant to cut off the girl's mohawk.

The accused, Marianne Dahle, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery, a felony. She will be sentenced on a later date.


I don't have any words to add about Shasta Groene and her suffering, back home in Idaho.

Now that the justice process has started, I just want to highlight the recent words of one of my first p.d. coaches, Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams:

"The vast majority of people want trial by rule of law in courtrooms," Adams said, not "trial by press and anonymous sources."

"We try to do our litigation in the courtroom," he said.

Good headline, that

Man continues to play musical attorneys

Idaho: among the believers

Johnson gets continued representation for free - Belief in girl's innocence spurs continued work

Following her sentencing June 30 to life in prison for slaying her parents... convicted murderer Sarah M. Johnson was left without official legal representation.

Her appointed public defender, Bob Pangburn, is no longer under contract with Blaine County and has, at least temporarily, faded from the case. However, Boise attorney Mark Rader, investigator Patrick Dunn and counselor Linda Dunn are continuing to represent the 18-year-old for free...

...[T]he long and short of it remains: ... Johnson's defense team does not appear ready to back down.

Update: You can tell going in that a profile of Sarah Johnson which starts with lyrics from "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" - "She hold the shotgun while you do-si-do" - isn't going to be too pro-defense... Yow!

July 13, 2005


An editorial from Lake County, California -

Defending the Defenders

...because, well, somebody needs to:

...[I}t may be that public defenders in Lake County are more to be pitied than censored.

Case overloads, no facilities for meeting with clients, a packed court schedule and a controversial administration have combined to make the work of a public defender in this county difficult at best.

Such conditions create the question: Are the attorneys who work in public defense failing in the system, or is the system failing the public defenders?

The Lake County system, by the way, is put out to bid to private contractors.

New kids on the blawg

A big arbitrary welcome to Gideon's Guardians. Three public defenders, picked to live in a house... find out what happens when p.d.'s stop being polite and start getting real.

Danger: mines

Guilty verdict - possession with intent to deliver, with deadly weapon enhancement.

My guy had to testify if we had a chance of making a defense of unwitting possession of a controlled substance. Luckily, his only prior felony conviction was for simple possession in 2004, and we started with the judge ruling that the state couldn't mention that fact, or the fact that my client had been arrested on a DOC escape warrant. Unless someone else were to open the door.

On the witness stand, apropos of nothing (and also non-responsive):

"Well, I was arrested on a DOC warrant, they told me it was for escape, but I told them I never escaped..."

Then, "When they showed me those drugs, I was so afraid I'd lose my job, because I'd been a (name of skilled trade) for years and years, and I never had something like this happen..."

What was I going to do? Move to strike? Ask for a curative instruction - "The defendant misspoke, and the jury will disregard the defendant's damaging admissions"? I felt sick. I felt like I'd sat down with my client and a map of a minefield, and told him where all the mines were buried. Even after the judge as much as warned him in open court, "don't step there, there, or there," off he went, boldly and confidently striding forward.


P.S.: caution: you may experience acid reflux and stomach upset when a prosecutor in closing argument holds up something like this,

says, "I don't know, does that look like a kitchen knife to you?", and several jurors chuckle.

July 11, 2005

Plead or go to trial

I am in trial. It certainly is not going the way my client predicted to me that it would. A wise federal p.d. once told me, "each jury trial is really three trials: the trial you prepare to do, the trial you do, and the trial you wish you'd done."

Before the next time I am in this situation, I am going to re-read Alaskablawg's latest post about persuading clients to plead. As he puts it,

"how much is it appropriate for defense lawyers to 'lean' on their clients to plead?"

Excellent question. I have been doing a spate of trials lately. Each case has had one or more serious vulnerabilties from a defense standpoint. For instance, I would count a Miranda'ed, admissible confession as a bad thing to deal with in trial, wouldn't you? And each case has had a determined, autonomous individual at the wheel behind it, exercising his absolute right to go to trial. So we go to trial, my client and me.

I wish I knew the answer to Alaskablawg's question, and I worry that I need to re-calibrate just how much I 'lean.' His post has me thinking back to the very worst thing I've done professionally: I had a murder client, and I didn't lean hard enough. Close to trial, the state offered my client manslaughter, maximum of 15 years, and I didn't lean hard enough on my client to accept it. We went to trial instead, and my client's predictions about how the trial would unfold didn't come true. This client is doing life now.

I'm tired. Back to the latest trial in the morning. Crimlaw's thoughts on Alaskablawg's experience, and tangentially, mine, are here .

Srebrenica 2005

This is the tenth anniversary of the war crimes at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Here is a site in English, from Bosnia, dedicated to the thousands killed and missing.

One of these days perhaps we'll say Never Again and mean it.

July 09, 2005

Off-topic: neighbors / susjedi

Bosnian lamb roast
(in BiH, not in Idaho - note the Yugo - and a lamb, not a dog - read on)

My last night of my last time in Bosnia and Hercegovina in 2003, in a wooden ski lodge at the base of Bjelašnica, my local colleagues served us an amazing roast lamb on a spit. The mood was convivial, cheerful, reflective, and melancholy all at once, an aspect of BiH character and life that I treasure and miss.

I really miss at least one aspect of Twin Falls, Idaho life: Bosnian-Americans. About three hundred families from former Yugoslavia live there now, aided by the CSI Refugee Service Center. A great bunch of people, bringing a needed pinch of paprika to what used to be a bland Southern Idaho casserole.

And the food! At one time, Twin supported not one but two Yugo restaurants, where I could take family and friends for cevap and conversation. There are two caffe-bars still there, with a grocery store with umbrella'ed tables for hanging out out front, bringing a little bit of continental cafe culture to south-central Idaho. I'd dress my kid in soccer shirts I'd brought home - carefully balanced among Red Star Belgrade, Dynamo Zagreb, and FK Sarajevo and FK Železnicar - and get a kick out of the warm reception we'd get from our new neighbors. Most of the Bosnians in Twin left the divisions of the war behind them , many were in mixed marriages, and all were working hard at building a new American life.

I was fortunate to come to know several Bosnian people through my work. My interpreter was my best guide. A Bosnian Croat from Sarajevo, she helped me with my vocabulary and my understanding, and brought a bit of European dolce vita to our courthouse. Through her, I got closer to understanding my Bosnian clients. One was a cheerful funny Bosnian Serb who overindulged in rakija, women, and song, one of which regularly subjected him to random BAC's. Another was a veteran of the Armija BiH. He was sleeping through loud music when the cops arrived, investigating a neighbor's complaint. When the cops opened his door, shined their flashlights at him and woke him up, he pointed a gun at them, and was arrested for a felony. Maybe alcohol was involved, but when I was able to explain specifically what my client had been through in the war, the prosecutor gave me a misdemeanor, and the judge gave him no jail and a $10.00 fine.

Unfortunately, by and large, Twin was never the most embracing of newcomers. When I did my little slide shows after the times I came back from BiH, I tried to convey some sense of what the refugees from the Yugoslav wars had lost, and what they added to Idaho. I'd get asked, how soon are they going back home? I'd say, this is their home now. The lucky ones were the ones whose house back in Bosnia had lost its roof, because they could raise a new roof and move back in. The unlucky ones either lost their whole house and land, or had a house which was undamaged by the fighting, but now occupied by strangers.

So you can imagine how I felt to read this :

TWIN FALLS -- What's roasting over your neighbor's barbecue pit? For some, it might not be what you think.

In a June 3 letter to the editor, Linda Collins of Twin Falls said, "There are people living in Twin Falls who eat dogs." She also said some of her son's neighbors were barbecuing a dog.

Collins called the sheriff's office and reported the incident, but was told nothing could be done about it. The Collinses were told there are laws concerning cruelty, but no laws concerning killing and eating.

Even if it involves a dog.

Collins' letter added a warning for people to watch out for their dogs.

"If you have a dog you are trying to find a home for, please make sure it is going to a good home, not for these people's dinner."

Her son's neighbor, Resid Begić, said they were not roasting a dog, they were roasting a lamb. They roast lambs as part of Bosnian celebrations, he said.

(Janjetina - lamb on a spit)
(what the neighbor might have seen)

Begić said deputies laughed when they learned it wasn't a dog being roasted. He also said even as bad as things got during the Serbian war, they didn't resort to eating dogs, that dogs are bad.

Did any neighbors ask the Begićs what they were roasting? "No," Begić said, they don't understand Bosnians and their traditions.

When asked if she would change her opinion if she knew they were lambs and not dogs being roasted, Collins said, "No, there are people in this community that eat dogs and cats."

Okay, let's review:

Idaho lamb - mmmmm! Prijatno!

Idaho dog - not halal, no way

And that has to be my favorite part of the story: after being corrected and told that the critter on the spit was in fact a tasty lamb, and not a dog, the complaining party stuck to her uninformed guns anyhow and refused to change her mind about her neighbors. Her loss - that lamb is delicious! I give the newspaper reporter high marks for seeing through this ridiculous woman's letter and having the gumption to go out and get the rest of the story. With ignant folks like this, I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused. Willful ignorance and proud bigotry: aspects of small-town life that I didn't mind leaving behind.

Update: Dog-eaters! Financed by the federal government!

July 07, 2005

NCDC from the inside

This is cool for alums of National Criminal Defense College - a blog entry from one of the actors:

i played a homosexual framed for murder in chicago's grant park, a c.i.a. special agent..., a cross-dresser being cross-examined over a double-crossing client, and a bad cop willing to say anything... all without changing my hair or wardrobe.

What the summer p.d. intern's really up to

While the summer intern may seem to be working hard on that laptop sitting there in that courtroom, you might want to check the intern's blog.

Video: KY P.D.'s buried under caseload

Top story from WYMT in Kentucky: 97 seconds profiling some overstretched public defenders:

The Pike-Floyd County Public Defender's office has four potential death penalty cases coming up. That's in addition to three thousand other cases. There are only four lawyers to handle it all.

The poor p.d. interviewed already looks pretty tired. She said,

"I've been known to sleep in the breakroom to get it done, to prepare for a big trial coming up."

Yeah, public pretenders don't give a damn. Tell me another one.

July 06, 2005

Off-topic: CPAP

A word of non-legal advice:

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a wonderful movie.

However, if you watch it just before going in for a sleep study, your rest will be troubled by thoughts of med techs dancing around you in their underwear instead of watching your EKG.

All this time I prided myself that my world-weariness was because I have the soul of a German Romantic poet. Turns out I just have sleep apnea.

July 02, 2005

Imaginary attorneys

Magic is alive, and the public defenders are afoot!

The other day, the charmed GentleEleos wrote:

I, apparently, am not a real attorney.

So, I must be imaginary. Like a Unicorn. Or a Griffin.

It makes me feel quite fanciful and free, being imaginary. In your Big Book of Fantasy and Make-Believe Creatures, Public Defenders are on page 27, right there between the Hydra and the Siren, with a headline on the page reading Public Defender: The Imaginary Attorney.

Thankfully, for those of us who do not have The Big Book of Fantasy and Make-Believe Creatures, she has excerpted the entry here:

Public Defender comes from an archaic Latin phrase that, loosely translated, means "one who represents the rude and unwashed who cannot afford non-mythical counsel..."

A Public Defender has many notable powers:
1. the ability to absorb attacks of anger and rudeness... that would make a mere mortal cringe,
2. The ability to multitask at lightning speed...,
3. the ability to weather attacks from judges, prosecutors, and their own clients all at once. A true Public Defender is well-armored.
4. the ability to fight for the rights and lives of people they find, personally, unpleasant.
5. the ability to accomplish 5 impossible things before lunch.

I (big puffy heart) Musings and Rants.

July 01, 2005

Somos todos magos

When I heard about her resignation, the house started spinning and lifting off the ground, and I must have taken quite a knock on the head.

When the house touched down and I awoke, I was in Spain, where I had become a magician and illusionist.

And you were there! And you! And you!

In the abyss of the maw

From a South Carolina post-conviction relief petition:

... the Petitioner was cast into the abyss of the Public Defenders maw, to be masticated as if grizzle...

I've never been that hungry, nor shall I ever be.

There can be times, and clients, when it's mutual mastication. Ken Lammers knows what I'm talking about, as does every other colleague of ours, I imagine. For some clients it may be that every one else in their perception has jerked them around, so now into the attorney visiting area here comes the latest jerk, the p.d. (and not even a real lawyer). Maybe these clients look at me and launch some pre-emptive mastication as a form of self-defense. Unfortunately, it's hard to shake hands when someone's chewing on my ass. Why the clients who use this strategy believe that it will leave them in a better position than before, I have yet to understand.

I got to thinking about defensive driving after reading Borenstein's Law. I imagined this freeway that we're all driving, and the wrong exits my clients take. Once my client takes a wrong turn off the freeway, it can be fiendishly difficult to find the side streets that lead back to the main road. Take another wrong turn off one of those side streets, and you may never make it back. Now and then, one of the signs on the freeway says, "Exit Only." It's coming up, it's coming up closer, zoom, you take the exit. Now what?

There's a stranger who comes up to you and offers you some directions to get back on the freeway. You don't know whether or not to trust the stranger. Maybe you'll argue with the directions. Maybe you'll display your superior understanding of navigation. Where does it get you?

Or say the stranger shows you a road map. The stranger puts a finger on the map and says, "this is highway X." Look at the map. The number next to the stranger's finger is X. You stand up to the stranger and say, "Oh, you can't fool me, the last person who tried that tricked me, that number is Y." Where does it get you?

Yeah, I can feel a bit lost too, and weary from the road, and I'm really sorry. I'm not the one at the wheel, though.

Update: Listen to CrimLaw. He's not trying to scam anybody. He has the right directions.

Canada Day blogging

Thanks, neighbor. Happy birthday.