April 30, 2006

Off-topic: procession of the species

A truly Olympia experience:

A natural celebration
- Procession of the Species brings out sun and revelers

This is a town where you can be a mild-mannered bureaucrat 363 days of the year, then one day of the year you march down the street dressed as a squirrel. I think it's a kick. For a town full of lawyers, oddly there were no sharks, but the downtown anarchist kids got political style points for their black cat costumes. Next year our friends plan to dress up: the kid as a bear cub, the mom as a bear, and the dad as a delicious salmon.


Q: "What could possibly compel a grown man to dress up as a squirrel and cavort through the streets of his city?"

A: "It's a furry thing, you wouldn't understand..."

April 29, 2006

CLE by the sea

If you were a member of the Washington Defender Association, you could have spent your Saturday morning by the Pacific Ocean soaking up free CLE's.

You might have preferred a conference room with a big picture window, so you could watch the seagulls outside hang gliding in the cold breeze, but then you might have missed the Power Point presentation, "New Washington Criminal Statutes - With a Spoonful of Sugar," featuring legislative updates accompanied by pictures of cute fuzzy animals.

Favorite slide: "Bestiality - Now Illegal. Still Legal - Putting a Helmet on Your Cat"

You could have learned about the Racial Disparity Project by The Defender Association of Seattle, and heard how two lawyers won for a wrongfully accused African-American client whose only reason for being stopped by the Seattle cops was his bandana, the color of which kept changing depending on which officer was testifying. You would've seen the actual bandana to judge for yourself.

You would have heard super - p.d. Bob Boruchowitz speak and inspire you to do great p.d. things.

Then you could've gone out on the beach to commune with those seagulls. But you might've needed to plot out your tsunami evacuation route first.

You'd also want to look both ways before crossing the beach, also known as one of Washington's public highways. This ain't Oregon - they loves them some beach motoring in this state, even if the speed limit on the sand is 25 MPH. Of course, not all Washingtonians approve of the tidal zone traffic jam.

If you had the time on the way home from your coastal CLE, after learning a bit more about how to help the sad kids and beautiful losers in your caseload, you might have stopped to pay your respects at Kurt Cobain's childhood house, two blocks from the muddy banks of the Wishkah. Then you'd be all set.

April 28, 2006

ID: "building independent life long skills"

Twice in one day, the Twin Falls paper has something optimistic to say about re-entry, recovery and rehabilitation:

What a difference a year makes - Bill's Place changes man's life

One year ago Marshall Hofmann was a jailed, drug-addicted dropout. He didn't have the necessary skills to live on his own, to find a job or clean his clothes. He had lost everything in his life -- both possessions and relationships -- before he found Bill's Place in Twin Falls.

Hofmann said he might still be that way today if it wasn't for Bill's Place, a transitional home for young men who need help becoming independent adults. Instead, next month Hofmann will celebrate one year living in the world of the clean and sober...

If this is a new editorial approach on the Times-News' part, I like it.

ID: road to recovery

Here is the first part of a three-part Twin Falls Time-News series:

Features writer Matt Christensen met with recovering methamphetamine addicts T.J. and Heather (Bloxham) Harbaugh once a week, on average, from early October to late March, interviewing them and observing their efforts to build a new life...

We present the story of the Harbaughs' journey through meth addiction and recovery in three parts:

Today - Two Magic Valley teenagers spiral into the pit.

Saturday- The kingpin dealer and the desperate addict sacrifice all to meth.

Sunday - Two recovering addicts find hope in faith and each other.

People like T.J and Heather rarely get their stories told beyond police blotters and pre-sentence reports. I'm willing to overlook a melodramatic teaser or two to follow this series and see how they turn out. I hope they make it all right

WA: Grant County teenage murderer guilty

This afternoon a jury in central Washington found Evan Savoie, now 15, guilty of murdering Craig Sorger, age 13.

Ephrata teen convicted of slaying playmate

A jury today convicted a 15-year-old Ephrata boy of first-degree murder for a brutal attack on a developmentally disabled playmate more than three years ago... He will be sentenced June 5.

Neil Young remembers

The cool bloggers are linking it - why can't I?

Here's streaming audio for "Living With War", the new album by ol' Neil Young.

(That thing you said about Alabama? All is forgiven.)

April 27, 2006

Karma gets pretend prosecutor

Huzzah for shaming sanctions! Via Public Defender Stuff:

Judge Reprimands Temp Prosecutor for Personal Blog

When a temporary San Francisco prosecutor wrote on his personal blog about a misdemeanor case he was handling last December, he probably didn't think the judge would read it.

But Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow heard about it. And he didn't like what he read... (T)he judge... came down hard on ex-prosecutor Jay Kuo, calling his conduct "juvenile, obnoxious and unprofessional." Karnow also stated his intention to send his written ruling to the State Bar...

"... He sought only to celebrate himself, tout his prowess and to preen his own feathers, as it were, unconscious of other effect..." Kuo's actions were probably reckless, Karnow wrote, because the attorney should have known that his posts might, like private e-mails, eventually be "uncontrollably distributed."

Update: Here is a good overview of Jay Kuo's undoing, with more excerpts from Kuo's LiveJournal posts, from The Internet Patrol - "Blog Postings Cost Lawyer His Job When Read by Judge".

Frankly, yes

Someone came to my blog today by asking Google,

"should a christian lawyer defend a guilty man?"

I hope that the questioner also clicked on this essay from an Australian criminal defense colleague:

Being a Christian in Criminal Work

My answer is yes, unashamedly and in all circumstances yes...

Is there any job satisfaction for a Christian in a world of criminals and crime? Most certainly there is. Our Christian understanding is based on our own personal failure and unworthiness of God's love. We know that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Yet we also know that as individuals we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and that he is the propitiation for our sins.

A Christian defender with the spiritual understanding that man fails to keep not just God's standards but human ones as well has the rare opportunity to represent another human being. He can, by his ability to tease out the complexities of evidence or to mitigate for a more lenient sentence, affect the future of the person he is representing. Of course, lawyers do not serve the sentence as Christ did for us but their very role of representing others seems to me to be one of the highest callings known to man...

ID: more justice from Judge Beebe

From Tidings Online; if you thought sending a 7-year-old to the lock-up wasn't enough to put Power County on the map:

Awaiting hearings, immigrant's goal is to avoid being seen

Terry Lopez is a U.S. citizen... Her husband, Juan Solis, arrived from Mexico illegally in 2002...

One cold December day, he and his brother drove to work for a change. They were stopped by police because the car's windows weren't properly cleared of ice. Solis was cited for not having an Idaho driver's license, a misdemeanor. Idaho law requires proof of legal residency to get a driver's license.

He went to court expecting to simply pay a small fine. Instead, Solis was fined $500 and given a six-month jail sentence that was suspended on the condition that he waive his right to a hearing on his immigration status. Then he was told by the judge that he was barred from being in the state for two years as a condition of probation for the suspended jail sentence.

Jason Brown, a caseworker for the citizenship and legal services program of Catholic Charities of Idaho, said that in the courtroom that day information about the procedures and what would happen if someone entered a guilty plea was not translated well into Spanish because a substitute interpreter was used. Solis is not fluent in English and he never understood that he faced possible jail time and that he could ask for a public defender...

An immigration judge quickly released him on his own recognizance because of his pending green-card application. But Lopez said when she and Solis returned to American Falls from Denver and went to the courthouse to ask questions at the magistrate's office, they were bluntly informed by the judge's secretary: "You can't be here. Judge (Mark A.) Beebe barred you from being in Idaho for two years. He sentences all the Mexicans to that..."

Beebe, magistrate for Power County... told CNS he commonly bars people from being in Idaho as a condition of probation. "The court deems that, as a condition of probation, ordering someone not to return to the state to be a reasonable condition under state law," he said...

Beebe said he commonly includes that condition in perhaps 50 misdemeanor cases in Power County during the peak season for migrant workers, roughly April through November. "I think it works," he said. "A lot of illegal aliens end up going back home."

I just couldn't be prouder to be an Idahoan...

April 26, 2006

WA: Evan Savoie testifies

In Grant County today:

Ephrata murder trial defendant says victim fell from tree

A teenager accused of murdering a playmate more than three years ago stuck to his story Wednesday when he took the stand in his own defense, saying he left the victim injured on the ground after a fall from a tree and never attacked him.

Evan Savoie, now 15 but just 12 years old at the time of the killing, is among the youngest murder defendants in the state ever to be tried as an adult...

The defense claims someone else must have killed Sorger.

But see:

Teen watched as best friend was murdered - A 15-year-old boy testified Tuesday he saw his friend Craig Sorger murdered by two boys at Oasis Park on Feb. 15, 2003.

WA: changing of the guard

The latest public defender want ads posted by the Washington Defender Association show job openings for the chief position at both the Pierce County Department ofAssigned Counsel and the Whatcom County Public Defender.

Both Jon Ostlund of Bellingham and Jack Hill of Tacoma will be honored at this weekend's WDA 2006 Defender Conference in Ocean Shores.

A blurb for each:

Mr. Hill serves as the Director of the Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel (DAC) located in Tacoma, Washington. He is a graduate of Willamette University School of Law. He has directed DAC since 1982. He has received Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association's Liberty Bell Award for protecting the best interests of our children, and the Local Hero Award by the Washington State Bar Association in 2001.

Mr. Ostlund is a 1974 graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law, and has practiced in Bellingham since then. For the last 19 years, he has been the Whatcom County public defender. In addition to the WSBA board, Mr. Ostlund is a board member for the Washington Defenders Association and the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He served two terms on the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission and has been actively involved in legislative matters on behalf of criminal defense lawyers.

When I was looking for p.d. work on the west side of the Cascades, Jack Hill gave me an hour of his hard-pressed time when there wasn't even an opening in Tacoma, along with some very helpful advice and contacts. Never turn down an informational interview; it can lead somewhere, even years later.


Central Washington's Sparky says that the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho office is hiring for a position in sunny Yakima.

(I can share this with you now, you see; the psychic scars from my tragicomic job interview with them are all faded!)

ID: teen murderer still seeking relief

Saw this coming, just not this soon:

Johnson seeks new appeal to conviction - Claims ineffective legal counsel contributed to guilty verdicts

Sarah M. Johnson, convicted in 2005 for killing her parents in their Bellevue home, has filed court papers that allege mistakes by her attorneys contributed to guilty verdicts against her and led to dismissal of her conviction appeal by the Idaho Supreme Court...

Prior Sarah Johnson posts are here and here.

April 25, 2006

WA: a twist in the Sorger murder trial

From the Columbia Basin Herald:

Teen claims to have witnessed murder - Defense to suggest 15-year-old Cody Cook involved in killing of Craig Sorger

Despite Grant County Superior Court Judge Ken Jorgensen's ruling before the first-degree murder trial of 15-year-old Evan Savoie began that the defense team could not argue another person had the motive or opportunity to kill Craig Sorger, 13, Savoie's attorneys plan to suggest another teen is the alleged perpetrator.

Defense attorneys called Kerry Cook... They questioned her extensively about her son Cody Cook, a 15-year-old with a troubled past who wrote about Sorger's murder while serving time in juvy...

The air up there

Less than a month after a corrections deputy in my county survived a 20-minute struggle for her life while trapped with an inmate in a stuck courthouse elevator, one of the assistant federal public defender authors of Ninth Circuit Blog has offered "Some Thoughts on Shackling":

...I offer some thoughts not on whether we – again, meaning the system as a whole – can shackle defendants, but whether we should...

The risk, while perhaps not absolutely zero, is minimal...

Read the post, it's a good read. It's written with passion, riffing on caselaw and Blackstone, the Gulag and FDR's Four Freedoms, U.S. Marshalls' memos and the Patriot Act. It also bears about as much relationship to my experience as state court does to Cloud Cuckoo Land.

April 24, 2006

Marketing for p.d.s

From Rose Professor:

"I never learned anything about marketing because I came from the public defenders office..."

And now - the punch line.

Not every tidbit educational

Once again, the zombie blogs hit it right on the head:

“The industry related to the topic of public defender is ever growing. We live in an impressive age where public defender related websites is abundantly attainable. Keep in mind, you’re not going to feel that every tidbit of public defender information educational. “

That is so true... (Who sets up a site like this anyhow? No ad revenue even, just computer-generated drivel.)

April 23, 2006

For want of a defibrilator

A few blogs have mentioned the lonesome death of criminal defense lawyer Tom Farris:

Lawyer dies while arguing case in N.C. courtroom

A defense lawyer died of an apparent heart attack Thursday while arguing a drunken driving case in a Wake County courtroom.

Tom Farris, 57, of Wilson, collapsed about 11:30 a.m. and died despite efforts to resuscitate him in the courtroom...

TalkLeft suggests, "This isn't the way most of us want to die."

There are worse ways, certainly, and some days I think there'd be nothing like going out in harness, like my father-in-law, rest him, who was arguing with opposing counsel in chambers that morning, and was gone by that afternoon. Honorable. But then my wife cuts through the legal warrior b.s. and reminds me how it was to watch the paramedics work over him on the floor of his office, and I'm anchored again to the hope for a full life and a happy death.

This commenter on TalkLeft could be describing my father-in-law and the legions of other solos and small business toilers like him:

...Most lawyers don't make enough to pay for health insurance or to restrict their business when they aren't feeling well.

I know of 4 lawyers who have died in court- either in trial or during a motion hearing. Since I have never seen a criminal defense lawyer retire, I am shocked the numbers are so low.

Peace, peace, you lions: Tom Farris, Lloyd Walker, and all the colleagues who've died too soon.

AK: hitting the wall

An attorney-client relationship is getting complicated in the land of Alaskablawg, up Mat-Su way:

Man shot by police having attorney problems

Shawn McCrary and his public defender, Bruce Brown, came before Judge Smith on April 6, saying they could no longer operate as a team. Brown told Superior Court Judge Eric Smith that the level of trust had broken down completely.

Smith appointed the Office of Public Advocacy to take McCrary's case. On April 12, Rachel Levitt, head of OPA in Palmer, came before Smith to argue against her agency's appointment...

Smith said if the Public Defender Agency stayed on the case, the office would have to build a wall around Brown to isolate him from the rest of the office...

I am waiting for the motion to clarify - "So, Your Honor, would that be, you know, a Chinese wall, or a real wall?"

April 21, 2006

ID & WA: Cowboy Mike on trial

Notorious inmate's attempted murder trial begins

The long-anticipated attempted murder trial of "Cowboy Mike," one of the most notorious inmates in the history of Yakima County, finally got under way today.

Michael John Braae, 46, a drifter and aspiring country-and-western singer known as Cowboy Mike, is accused of shooting girlfriend Marchelle Morgan in the head and leaving her for dead on Parker Bridge Road in 2001...

He is serving more than nine years in prison for trying to evade a manhunt in connection with Morgan's shooting, firing at Idaho police during a wild chase and leaping 40 feet off an interstate bridge into the Snake River.

In addition to the Yakima case, he faces a murder charge in Thurston County in connection with the death of a Lacey woman.

Yakima County, Thurston County, Idaho...shudder to imagine crossing paths with this guy.

Bonus link goes to the retirement party this month for the Malinois K-9 cop who caught Cowboy Mike:

WA: good news from Ephrata

... for a change. From the P-I:

Public defender office improving in Grant County

A new report has found that the beleaguered public defender system in Grant County has taken "significant steps" toward improving.

Seattle attorney Jeffery Robinson, in his first court-ordered quarterly report, concluded there was no need for the court to enforce terms of last year's settlement between the county and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I think they're taking this seriously, and they're trying to do the things necessary to fix the problems," Robinson said Wednesday in a telephone interview with The Wenatchee World...

April 20, 2006

ID: 7-year-old in detention

Speaking of injustice - where do I start? From the Idaho State Journal:

Woman says judge was too harsh on young son

A former American Falls woman says a Power County judge acted rashly when he ordered her 7-year-old son to be locked up for throwing a tantrum at class. Renee Alvarez, 25, said School Resource Officer Fred Harms... instructed her to
(come to) Hillcrest Elementary School because he was transporting... Fabian, 7, to the Bannock County Juvenile Detention Center in Pocatello. “When I got there he was just crying,” Alvarez said. “He said ‘Mom I want to go home...'”

Alvarez said she arrived at Hillcrest 30 minutes before Fabian was taken away and asked to take him home, but was told it was too late - Power County Magistrate Judge Mark Bebee had already issued the detention order. Harms said if Fabian didn't walk to his truck willingly, he would put the 48-pound second- grader in handcuffs...

Fabian Alvarez was transported and booked into the detention center, given an oversized jail uniform and kept isolated away from the older inmates for three nights and four days...

Pocatello attorney Mark Echohawk represented Fabian Alvarez... Echohawk asked Power County Prosecutor Paul Laggis to dismiss the case in the interest of justice and argued that the 7-year-old child didn't have the mental capacity... “That's too young for anyone to stand trial, to help in their own defense and to understand the proceedings against them,” Echohawk said. “And a court appointed expert agreed.” But Laggis refused to drop the charges and a trial date was set.

During the trial, Judge Beebe determined that a psychological evaluation indicated Fabian Alvarez was incompetent to stand trial and did not act with malicious intent, but authorities then launched a child protection case aimed at Renee Alvarez.

Echohawk said Fabian Alvarez, who was transported to jail without a detention hearing, should have been released to his mother. “Fabian was made to feel like a criminal. The fact that we can use nice names like detention to take the edge off, that doesn't change the reality for him.”

Go get 'em, Brother EchoHawk! (and "hi" to your dad)

Righting an historic wrong

The Montana Sedition Project is leading the effort to urge Governor Brian Schweitzer to grant posthumous pardons to 40 men and one woman who, in 1918 and 1919, were convicted and incarcerated at the Montana State Penitentiary for terms of up to 20 years because they criticized the government during wartime. Another 36 persons were convicted but did not go to prison. Seems that they're making headway:

Pardon proponents optimistic they have Schweitzer's support

Although the plot to right a wrong hinges on Gov. Brian Schweitzer's blessing, an air of optimism hangs over a recent effort to pardon 77 Montanans convicted of felony sedition during the tail end of World War I.

Standing at the vanguard of the “Sedition Project” is a group of University of Montana law and journalism students and two UM professors... (T)he group formally petitioned Schweitzer's office, beseeching him to restore a sense of justice sullied by the now-defunct anti-speech law....

And while nothing is certain yet, Schweitzer has publicly denounced the convictions and pledged his support to the project, which has already garnered national attention...

A fine way to combine a sense of history with a sense of justice... The history of the Northwest at the end of the Great War is fascinating, and this project appeals to the p.d. and the history major in me. I've been following it ever since Professor Godsey posted about it on CrimProf Blog.

Bonus links go to

* MT: The Captain Who Fought World War I in Butte, Montana

* WA: Industrial Workers of the World -- A Snapshot History

* WA: Centralia's Union Mural - "The Resurrection of Wesley Everest" Depicts Labor's Side of the Centralia Massacre

* WA: The Seattle General Strike Project

Update 04/20/06:

Professor Jeff Renz of the University of Montana Law School sent out an e-mail message yesterday, stating: "I am pleased to announce that on May 3, 2006, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer will grant full and unconditional pardons to 77 men and women who were convicted of violating Montana's sedition act during 1918-1919 by speaking unpopular words."

Thanks to 13th Juror for the news.

April 19, 2006

IL: "I don't believe he is a criminal"

In the wake of the George Ryan trial, here is a profile from the Chicago Sun-Times of one of my instructors at NCDC and the Darrow College, Andrea Lyon:

'I do not believe he is a criminal and conspirator'

Lyon is about the furthest an attorney can be from that silk-stocking, money-making operation.

At 53, her legal career, 14 years of it as a public defender, could best be defined by all the money she never made on behalf of causes she passionately believed in when nobody else did. "She bleeds defense blood," says her friend and DePaul Law School faculty colleague Len Cavise.

I know that to be true...

WA: drinking and driving deterrent

A man in prison for vehicular homicide, his family, and his victim's family, have created a website to try to prevent others from repeating their experience:

"What if you killed someone tonight?"

My name is Steve and the wife of the man I killed is Nancy Jo. There are others that were injured in the accident I caused, too. Nancy Jo and I have joined together to prevent you from making a deadly mistake. We also would like the opportunity to talk to you. Our goal is to save even one life, maybe yours...

De nada

YAY for public defenders

"I just want to say thank you to all public defenders everywhere! Mine got me off 2 of the traffic charges and got me a minimal fine on the last one. So my court date went well..."

April 18, 2006

The kids = all right

I'm in week 3 of an extended rotation at Juvy, and not minding it at all. I think it was Hans Christian Andersen, or was it Peachy, who said,

I may well be taking over the Juvenile calendar... the ones who are left didn't want it... I think I'm the best one suited for it in the office. They're all worried about losing their bite, since Juvenile focuses a lot more on compromise and is a lot less confrontational. For me, as much as I love being competitive in the courtroom, at my heart I am a compromising kind of person.

This may well make me a lot less marketable. But who becomes a public defender because they want to be marketable?

Quite right. I think the change agrees with me, for some of those same reasons. I've done my murders back in Idaho, and my fair share of jury trials here, so I don't think I have to prove that I can bite. Some of my younger colleagues are more anxious to show off their chops anyhow, and as for some of the biting, hating, Brady - violating personalities I've left behind at the main courthouse, my new developing speciality has taught me that they may only be lacking a little Aggression Replacement Training.

I also want to acknowledge how much I'm enjoying hearing the word "rehabilitation" in a courtroom again. It's been too long. Even stranger, today I heard, "we're about redemption here," and from the bench even. I'm liking it.

I'm reflecting on how much there is to learn, and taking pleasure in finding things out. I want to thank my fellow Idahoan Liz of "I Speak of Dreams" for helping me out here, and sending me these latest links on juvenile justice:

From the Special Education Law Blog -

New Study on Juvenile Justice and Special Education

A new study from Indiana reveals severe short comings in the juvenile justice system. Overworked public defenders who lack sufficient training and motivation are among the findings. Many children go without representation or at best perfunctory representation in court. For special education students the findings of the report are especially troubling... (R)eceiving an education in juvenile jail is quite challenging to say the least...

A link to a newspaper article about the study is here.

An index of studies is here.

Being a p.d. and a dad and all, I'm determined not to be one of those "overworked public defenders who lack sufficient training and motivation..." Wish me well.

WA: attacked officer speaks

Officer Teresa Benefield, who fought off an inmate for 20 minutes while trapped in the Thurston County Courthouse, has given an interview to the Olympian:

‘I thought I’d be dead’ -
Jail officer breaks silence on life-or-death fight in elevator

April 17, 2006

Blog slag - advice wanted

My defense-inclined sistren and brethren:

You know I spend an unseemly amount of time browsing the various search engines for the latest tidings of public defender joy from the internets.

Usually I share the day's most angst-inducing examples with you. Usually I'm more than ready to link you to an ignorant post that pisses me off, say, one that contains the phrase "Tomorrow he goes to trial for his 3rd offense DUI and plans to have his public defender ( not a lawyer, just a public defender)..." or "So i am freaking out a lil bit.. becuase i did not have the money for a real lawyer i got a public defender..(free lawyer) which i dont really trust them..." Charmed I'm sure.

Tonight, though, I found a post slagging a criminal defense colleague and naming names, written by an extremely disgruntled family member of an incarcerated accused. I'm not linking, but here's the flavor:

His "Defense Attorney"... just wants him to "cop a plea..."

These attorneys are, for the most part very eager to settle the case. With exceptions, they're normally not the sharpest knife in the drawer...

Lather, rinse, repeat.

So I'm asking for your comments here. Do I share this link with my colleague (I like this colleague)? Would you want to know? Would you just as soon not know?

Update: Thanks to everyone for the good comments and advice. Today I did give the link to my colleague, who took the news much better than I would. Was amused in fact. Shared the printed-out post with other colleagues in fact. We crim-def types are a thick-skinned lot.

April 16, 2006

April 15, 2006

WA: Maldonado gets his new lawyer

New lawyer will defend mall shooter

Dominick S. Maldonado has a new attorney.

Veteran defense lawyer Ray Thoenig will defend the man who opened fire and held hostages in the Tacoma Mall on Nov. 20. Maldonado is charged with 15 crimes, including attempted murder, kidnapping and assault...

Thoenig, who typically will say little about the high-profile cases he often works on, returned a call to The News Tribune this week only to say, “No comment.”

The man's a mensch.

April 13, 2006

WA: Thurston courthouse security changes

After Officer Teresa Benefield was assaulted while transporting an inmate to court, some of my thoughts were, "Why were they short-staffed? Why no belly-chains?"

I wasn't the only one. From the Olympian:

Elevator attack spurs change
- County considers new rules for inmate transfers

County corrections officers will no longer escort inmates alone while transporting them between jail and court, corrections officials said Wednesday.

In addition, all inmates headed to court will be required to wear chains linking their handcuffs to their waists, county corrections Chief Karen Daniels said...


April 12, 2006

ID: Boise's WPA courthouse murals offend

From the AP:

Murals of lynching stir debate - Legislature's move to Ada's courthouse could force decision on Indian murals

For 66 years, two murals depicting the lynching of an American Indian have hung in a now-abandoned county courthouse in Idaho's capital...

Starting in 2008, the Idaho Legislature plans to meet in the courthouse as its century-old Statehouse undergoes a $115 million revamp.

Historic preservationists say they'll fight attempts to remove the murals, products of the Works Progress Administration Artists Project... The 1940 works are part of the building, some historians say.

Still, Indian leaders and many lawmakers say turning the old Ada County Courthouse into Idaho's most public building, even temporarily, will force the state to confront the future of the murals, which one local judge in the 1990s found so offensive he draped an American flag over them.

I'm not sure how you'd go about leaving the murals uncovered and intact, short of placing a live docent in front of them and engaging passers-by (and legislators too) in a lively teaching moment about Idaho's Indian wars.

Here is a link to some pictures of the other courthouse murals (other than the mural showing the lynching).

Here is a previous news item about the murals.

Update: An earlier version of the AP article, titled "Monuments of intolerance," refers to the murals as "monuments to prevailing attitudes that once dominated the West." Later versions in the Denver Post and the Boston Globe modify this to "reminders of the bloodshed that accompanied America's westward expansion." I think this is more accurate. I think that it's possible to read the murals as a bit of New Deal - era culture jamming, a subversive artistic critique of lynching and anti-Indian bias, smuggled into a courthouse of all places, a bit like Diego Rivera painting a portrait of Lenin in a mural at Rockefeller Center.

To leave the murals up would require an imaginative work of curating and historiography beyond Arthur Hart's, I'm afraid. It would take more room than an explanatory paragraph on the front of each one. You'd want to interpret at least three threads of history:

1. the experience of American Indians in Idaho in the 19th Century, for instance, the Bear River Massacre which resulted in more victims than Wounded Knee, but whose historical record is obscured and contested

(compare this marker at the site and this marker, which speaks of "90 combatant women and children."), and see the undated monograph from the Idaho State Historical Society website, Battle (sic) of Bear River (pdf file), which crows, "This military action completed one of the most successful expeditions of the West against hostile Indians.... since the Cache Valley Shoshoni were wiped out, the settlers of Cache Valley were freed from further Indian difficulties...");

2. the ways that experience was represented and refracted in works of art such as WPA paintings in the 20th; and

3. how Indian people in Idaho interpret and portray both eras in the 21st.

It may be a better idea to bring down the curtain on the murals, at least in their present location. They're canvas - conceivably they could be moved to the state historical society. As a former visitor to that courthouse, I don't remember anyone revering the murals as monuments. Instead, people would point them out to others, scratch their heads, and say, "can you believe this?" (Or to be anachronistic, "WTF?") The cover-up by the American flag, symbolic as that sounds, was not controversial or unwelcome at the time. However, the story of how two generations of Boise lawyers walked past the murals up to that point without a bye-your-leave is a mini-history of its own, one I share. Yes, I was a history major, and I guess I'm still an Idahoan.

Hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch

A choice quote from the NY Times'

'The Poem That Changed America: "Howl" Fifty Years Later'

" 'Howl' still helps young people realize their actual ambitions... not to become a poor poet living in a dump but maybe to become a physical therapist when you are expected to become a lawyer, or maybe to become a lawyer when everybody expects you to fail at everything."

One day in the Carter Era, my high school Western Civ teacher was standing around with my friends. He turned to each one of them in turn saying, "Yale for you." "For you, Georgetown." When he got to me, he said, "have you considered the Navy?"

That same year, I must have been cutting class and hiding out in one of the used book stores downtown one afternoon, when I found a thin book with a strange, foul-mouthed, fiery poem, barely comprehensible to an Idaho kid. I bought it, read it, and as you see, here I am.

Years after that, Allen Ginsberg came to Boise for a reading. Wish I'd gone up and shaken his hand.

April 11, 2006

WA: Grant Co. teen murder opening statement

From Ephrata:

Defense points finger at police

Monty Hormel, (Evan) Savoie's attorney, asked jurors to look at the "very narrow timeline" of events and said there wasn't enough time for the boys to commit the brutal murder and return home when they did...

Hormel criticized the Ephrata police investigation. "There were a lot of people around and the police hardly interviewed anyone," Hormel told jurors. "They focused on these two boys to the exclusion of everybody else..."

ID: two losses for Sarah Johnson

From the Mountain Express:

Authorities conclude Johnson lied about rape charge - Supreme Court dismisses murder conviction appeal

Blaine County authorities have concluded that convicted Bellevue murderer Sarah M. Johnson lied about being raped or having sex with another inmate while she was awaiting trial in the county jail in Hailey...

In another development, the Idaho Supreme Court last week dismissed an appeal on Johnson's murder convictions. The high court ruled Thursday that the appeal "was not timely filed."

Attorney Bob Pangburn, a member of the Johnson defense team, told the Express Tuesday that the deadline for filing was confusing because there was an amended judgment after Johnson was sentenced. Furthermore, he said Johnson told him the appeal was going to be filed by the State Appellate Public Defender Office, but he filed the appeal himself, hoping there was still time, after he found out it hadn't been done.

Next comes the ineffective assistance phase...

When I knew her, she drove a BMW

The Happy Feminist on former public defenders:

(T)rue to the stereotype, many of them wear Birkenstocks, listen to folk music, and have bumper stickers that say "Question Authority..."

(this one goes out to my old co-worker Denise G., former p.d., now lawyering for people with disabilities at Co-Ad.)

CA: a heartbreaking brief of staggering chutzpah

Have Opinion, Will Travel brings us the cautionary tale of a California lawyer who lost a juvenile / dependency hearing and took it very, very badly. The appellate court did not care for the therapeutic outlet used by this lawyer - a 76,235 word screed - slash - brief. Some highlights:

While exaggeration may not violate rules of court and standards of review, it is not an effective tool of appellate advocacy...

Counsel should never misrepresent the holding of an appellate decision. Not only would that be a violation of counsel’s duty to the court... it will backfire because the court will discover the misrepresentation, particularly when it relates to a decision issued by that court...

Aside from counsel’s apparent attempt to mislead this court, the only discernable claim of legal error... is the assertion that “...it would be impossible to find any of the allegations of the petition ... supported by substantial evidence.” Not so.

(T)here is no excuse for the uncivil, unprofessional, and offensive advocacy employed by appellant’s counsel, which is all the more unconscionable because it falsely attributes offensive language to others...

Spread out over 81 pages is a contemptuous attack by appellant’s counsel on the mental competence of appellant’s daughter. The attack is stunning in terms of its verbosity, needless repetition, use of offensive descriptions of the developmentally disabled minor, and misrepresentations of the record...

Appellant’s counsel also describes the minor’s testimony, and her responses during the MDIC interview, as “jibber jabber,” “meaningless mumble,” “mumbles, in a world of her own,” and “little more than word salad.” Not only are all the words used by appellant’s counsel offensive, they are inaccurate...

(A)ppellant’s counsel sets forth what seems to be a rambling stream of consciousness of repetitious venting about various aspects of this case...

...(T)he Clerk/Administrator of this court is directed to send a copy of this opinion to the State Bar of California.

Yow! The opinion is In re S.C. / Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services v. Kelly E., Cal. App. (3rd District) 04/07/2006 (pdf file)

Google suggests that this lawyer is private, not a p.d. Dear colleague, perhaps it's as the sign says:

"It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."

Update: I posted this before reading Reports from Poisonville, which got the news from Law.com's "Calif. Court Shreds Lawyer for 202-Page Brief".

April 10, 2006


An Idaho job announcement from the eastern edge of the Magic Valley and the northwestern edge of Zion:

The Mini-Cassia Public Defender Office announces a job opening for a Deputy Public Defender. This is a full time opening with county benefits. Work will include adult misdemeanors, child protection, mental commitments and other assigned matters. Contact the office at (208) 878-6801, or Job Service, for a complete job description. The annual salary range is from $32,000 to $36,000 and depends upon the experience of the applicant. Interested persons need to submit resumes and application forms. Forms are available from the Public Defender Office in Burley or the Cassia County Court House. The job becomes available 4/17/06 and applications will be taken until the position is filled. Applications can be mailed to PO Box 188, Burley, ID 83318 or delivered to the office at 111 West 15th Street, Burley.

Remember, you can practice under a limited license before you pass the Idaho bar.

CA: "Your Honor, I’m disheartened here."

From the mean streets of Los Angeles County Superior Court, this post (and accompanying memorandum order) from "Black Robed Hooliganism":

Brave Public Defender Michael Pentz risks contempt to protect his client; Commission on Judicial Performance Vindicates His Honor.

P.D. veteranos will know the feeling, when the judge's sentencing ship has sailed, and you haven't spoken yet.

April 09, 2006

WA: Grant County teen murder trial starting

Evan Savoie's murder trial begins Monday in Ephrata. He's being tried as an adult in the murder of Craig Sorger. Sorger was 13 at the time, Savoie 12. Co-defendant Jake Eakin is expected to testify for the state.

WA: Yakima County's annus horriblis

Poor Yakima County. These things seem to come in waves, and this one is partially meth-fuelled:

2005 was a 'horrible year' for crime -

Drug users and gang members drove a double-digit percentage increase in Yakima County's crime rate during 2005, law enforcement officials said this week after annual statewide statistics were released.

"It was just a horrible year," Sheriff Ken Irwin said...

Police in Seattle reported 25 homicides in 2005, just one less than the total reported across Yakima County last year. The local annual average over the past decade has been closer to half that...

The place has been reeling lately. I hope this doesn't take the locals back to the days when CBS News could set up a camera on top of Chinook Tower and film daylight drug transactions on the street corners in Southeast Yakima below.

April 08, 2006

Off-topic - blogstars in Oly, WA

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD came to Orca Books in Olympia tonight to promote the ideas in their book, Crashing the Gate...

...which left Margi and me thinking, if they were to go to Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls, Idaho, now that really would be something. (however, they will be in Salt Lake on April 25th)

Update: Jesus' General was there.

NC: Durham gets new chief p.d.

Judge appoints public defender:

Lawrence Campbell on Friday received a four-year appointment as Durham's chief public defender, replacing a predecessor who recently resigned after a female assistant accused him of sexual harassment.

Campbell has worked there for seven years, and has been the acting chief since December.

April 06, 2006

SC: another good p.d. passes

Public defender dies:

Spartanburg County Public Defender Mike Bartosh... died unexpectedly of natural causes at his home early Wednesday. He was 61...

Solicitor Trey Gowdy... was impressed by Bartosh's faith, which was his basis for standing with a defendant who often had no one else to support him.

"That was what happened with the Chris Hampton case. Mike was there when no one in Hampton's family was," Gowdy said. "He felt it was his Christian obligation to speak for people who had no one -- no matter what sins or crimes they had committed..."

"I still see that man of faith, and he was open about his beliefs," Gowdy said. "I still have that image of Mike, standing next to someone who did not have anybody..."

April 05, 2006

P.D. $$$!

From today's online ABA Journal:

BIG MONEY IN INDIGENT LAW? - Newspaper Shows Some Lawyers Make Six Figures, But They Point to Their Heavy Caseloads

Now the BigLaw kids will be flooding into our line of work!

(Remember, you read it here second (or third).)

Two lawyers, one licensed, one not

From CrimLaw -

Dear Mr. Jailhouse Lawyer:

"I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one..."

April 04, 2006

WA: more hq moves for p.d.'s

From the Herald-Republic:

Public defenders' office moving to bigger space

The Yakima County department that provides attorneys for poor defendants plans to move to the former Halverson & Applegate law office space at North Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue. Dan Fessler, who heads the office of Assigned Counsel, said he hopes to complete the move of his 19-member staff by July 1...

"We have a few people double-bunked in here," he said. "We are out of space with no room for expansion..."

For years they had been crammed in a narrow little shoebox across from the library, and across the parking lot from my former employer. If the new building is the one I'm thinking of, it will be a few steps farther to the courthouse, but a big step up for morale. It's nice to see p.d.'s getting private law firm - grade accomodations now and then.

WA: Olympia court updates

I saw the KING 5 satellite truck outside Juvy today.

Teen gets light sentence in vehicular homicide case (with video):

An Olympia teen was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days detention for her reckless driving that killed a man...

The juvenile had the benefit of a good defense lawyer, Jim Dixon. A link to the most current Washington juvenile disposition manual can be found on this page.

Tonight's channel 5 news also had more details on Friday's attack inside the main courthouse:

Court papers tell of violent attack on jail guard

Sixty-two-year-old Carl W. Vance faces a(n)... assault charge. Meanwhile the 35-year-old corrections officer he's accused of assaulting remains in an Olympia hospital because of injuries suffered in Friday's escape attempt...

Updates 04/05/06: from the local paper -

Girl gets 30 days for fatality

Inmate faces possible life sentence in assault case

‘She’s going to be OK’ - Sister of injured officer recounts day

April 03, 2006

CA: may you stay forever young

From the North Coast:

Public defender set to retire after nearly 30 years:

Humboldt County Public Defender Jim Steinberg is resting his case, set to retire after nearly 30 years...

”So as Dylan says, when you got nothing you've got nothing to lose.”

”I've loved my job,” Steinberg said. “I've been lucky to be able to put into effect some beliefs about our community and culture. I like to think what we do helps to equalize people in the law.”

To last 29 years as a p.d.: cool.

To last 29 and retire by quoting Bob Dylan: beyond cool.

WA: pen dogs, good cause

The Tacoma News Tribune took a field trip to the Washington Corrections Center for Women to see the Prison Pet Partnership Program at work.

Inmates make prison pet pals:

The program at the Purdy prison has allowed more than 75 inmates to train, groom and board thousands of dogs. Only one of the program’s graduates has reoffended since being released...

(photo by Russ Carmack /The News Tribune)

April 02, 2006

WA: more on Oly courthouse attack

Today's Olympian paints a scary picture of what happened on Friday when an inmate attacked a corrections officer in our courthouse:

Jail staff looks to prevent future assaults - Corrections officer returns to hospital after Friday’s attack at courthouse; inmate sent to Shelton

The officer was escorting the handcuffed inmate from jail to court in an elevator Friday when he pushed an emergency-stop button while between floors in the Thurston County Courthouse. He then went for her gun.

The officer fought him off for 20 minutes, her cries for help echoing through the elevator shaft. Officers and court personnel outside were powerless to reach her because the elevator doors had jammed shut.

When officers finally opened the doors, Vance had ahold of her gun and had pointed it at her. Officers tackled him before he could fire a shot...

No gunshot after all; no good regardless. I hope that the officer will be well.

April 01, 2006

Lammers' latest

If you haven't read Ken Lammers' latest installment of "Life as a Criminal Defense Lawyer" at CrimLaw, you ought to.