April 30, 2007

Blogging p.o.

Probation officer blogging, courtesy of Green Wednesday:

p- "Give me the judge's number. I want to talk to him."

m-"He's busy. You can call your public defender when you get home. Make sure you are in by your curfew. I will be checking..."

April 29, 2007

"Happy Sunday, everybody"

Seeing as how this weekend was my kid's First Communion, here's a religious musing from Kara at Around the Subject:

It's not entirely outside the realm of possibility that Jesus has done the ol' "second coming" and is already locked away somewhere. I may have represented him in my public defender days. I may have prosecuted him.

(Actually, I'm pretty sure that if Jesus comes back, he won't be prosecuted for domestic violence. I'm seeing Jesus more as a disorderly conduct kind of guy...)

April 28, 2007

"Can't tell my courage from my desperation"

Welcome to the group of blogging p. d.'s Woman in Black:

So, I decided to blog because in my "spare" time, I like to read public defender blogs. And all the people blogging seem to be young, young, young... I'm not young, young, young. I am older, but not burned out, and maybe I am not a fount of wisdom, but again, maybe I am.

(I think maybe she hasn't ever read my blog, for as those who know, know, I'm middle-aged, middle-aged, middle-aged)

WA: "you have gone from a dangerous criminal to an upstanding citizen"

From the Seattle Times:

Reformed robber lauded, given a light sentence

Lydia Chambers had talked to all the others whose opinions mattered: her friends, her husband, her elderly mother, a bevy of lawyers, even God. It seemed they had all forgiven her for what she'd done that afternoon in 1981. There was only one more person she needed to hear from.

Friday morning, she did. In a hushed courtroom, King County Superior Court Judge Greg Canova told Chambers, 60, that he had spent much time looking at her file and contemplating justice. In the end, he decided a light sentence was the right one.

Chambers, a former drug addict who robbed a Renton bank at gunpoint 26 years ago and then fled the state before her sentencing, was given a five- to 20- year sentence that will be suspended if she completes three years of probation, including eight months on home detention, and 300 hours of community service...

April 26, 2007

WA: grade school, middle school, high school


Police warn parents about Pokemon predator

Police are warning parents about a predator who tried to lure children with Pokemon cards on Friday night at a newly remodeled playground in Greenwood. The suspect allegedly offered a group of seven children a Pokemon cartoon collector card if they would sit on his lap...

14-Year-Old Accused Of Making School 'Death List'

A 14-year-old boy from Hawkins Middle School in Belfair has been arrested on suspicion of felony harassment, accused of making a "death list" of five students and one teacher he wanted to kill, police said. “The list actually had the words ‘death list’ on it,” Mason County Chief Deputy Dean Byrd said...

Gig Harbor school security video use limited after flap over kiss

Restrictions on the use of security videotape have been tightened at a suburban Tacoma high school after images of two girls kissing were shown to the parents of one of the girls, officials say. Keith Nelson, dean of students at Gig Harbor High School, said he saw the students kissing and holding hands in the school's busy commons, checked a surveillance camera and showed the parents the tape because they had asked him a few weeks earlier to alert them to any conduct by their daughter that was out of the ordinary...

April 24, 2007

Thieving from your p.d.

A few days ago, my court had a juvenile respondent who was alleged to have committed a theft on the way between school and a probation appointment (an appointment the kid kept, creditably).

The lawyer at "A Blues Like Down Home" went one better:

Now there's dumb....and then there's ....Stealing from your PD

...(Y)ou reach out of your own wallet in your purse to give "Joey" the $2.00 so he can get home on the bus. "Joey" then asks you if you'd write a note to his father letting him know exactly what happened in court 15 minutes earlier... you oblige... you turn away to get some paper... He's apprehended a short while later with your wallet...

Glad most of my kids have bus passes.

April 23, 2007

ID: Boise courthouse keeps mural of lynching

From KTVB:

Controversial Indian mural to stay put when Legislature convenes

A controversial mural that has angered some Idaho tribal leaders will be on display when the Legislature convenes next year. The mural was painted in 1940 and depicts the lynching of an American Indian at the hands of white frontiersman.

For decades, it's been on display at the former Ada County Courthouse. Its presence is now an issue for some because the courthouse will be the temporary home for state government and lawmakers during the state Capitol renovation...

Prior A & C posts about the paintings are here.

April 22, 2007


A friend of my wife forwarded this photo of some DPA schwag - with the caption, "Why Editors Are Important."

WA: when is a bank not a financial institution?

From the Olympian:

‘Bank’ robbery ruling voided - Proof of ‘financial institution’ term was questioned

The state Court of Appeals has reversed a Thurston County Superior Court judge’s ruling that allowed a convicted bank robber to trade a first-degree robbery conviction for a second-degree robbery conviction and avoid a potentially stiffer prison sentence. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Paula Casey ruled at the conclusion of a December 2005 bank-­robbery trial that prosecutors failed to prove that Heritage Bank in Tumwater is a “financial institution,” allowing Scott Liden to avoid a first-­degree robbery conviction...

Liden’s attorney had argued that prosecutors had to present direct proof that a bank is a financial institution to produce a first-degree bank-­robbery conviction. The appeals court’s opinion, published Tuesday, says that argument “would produce an absurd interpretation of these ‘financial institution’ statutes...” “We interpret the Legislature’s statutes to avoid absurd results,” reads the appeals court’s April 17 opinion...

(this is an update of sorts to a previous post)

ID: "If you want to fire the public defender that's fine but you'll have one for now"

From KIDK:

Bomber Faces Charges

Farmer: "The whole thing started because I got a gun pulled on me by an officer..."
Judge Walker...: "Do you wish to be represented by a public defender?"
Farmer: "No, sir."
Walker: "These are four felony charges I would suggest getting one..."
Farmer: "It would cost you or the state...I've done this to myself."

That's when Farmer's mother approached the judge and said she needed to represent Farmer because he isn't mentally fit.

Farmer: "You've done it again Mother."

April 21, 2007

Insert your own punchline here

Best. Lawyer. Interview. Ever. From CBC's As It Happens:

LOUD DONKEY Duration: 00:06:34

Texas oilman John Cantrell was fed up with his neighbour's braying, pooping donkey. So he took his beef with Gregory Shamoun to court. But he didn't expect to have his objections overmuled.

Mr. Shamoun, a lawyer, decided there was only one way to deal with the situation. So yesterday, he hauled his ass into the courtroom, and let Buddy speak for himself.

We reached Mr. Shamoun in Dallas, Texas.

(Click on "Listen to Part 1 of As It Happens," then fast-forward to 18:45)

ID: "He's an incredible kid, and horrific as it is, he did some good things"

From KPVI:

Draper Family Makes Statement

The family of Brian Draper made a statement Friday. On Tuesday (April 18th, 2007), a jury found Brian guilty of First Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder for the stabbing death of Cassie Jo Stoddart last September...

In the statement, the Drapers say Cassie's death is the worst kind of tragedy and, "Words cannot say how dreadful we feel about what transpired that evening." The Drapers say their thoughts and prayers are with Cassie's family daily. "We pray, above all else, that they will find peace."

In the statement, the Drapers also extend on open hand to the Stoddart family, offering to help in their healing process. "If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact this (Bannock County Public Defender's) office."

The family also thanks the Public Defender's office. "We would like to thank the wonderful team that has represented Brian, headed by Randy (Schulthies) and Dave (Martinez). The entire office has gotten to know Brian and our family, and seeing them become so emotionally connected has warmed our hearts... without them, we could not be able to survive this terrible tragedy."

Finally, the Drapers say even though Brian changed his story, he ultimately confessed and led detectives to the evidence. "We were promised they (the detectives) would help us as a result of this, and we are still waiting..."

April 20, 2007

Four - twenty myths

From Slog:

Myth #1: “The term ‘420’ originated from some police code for ‘pot smoking in progress...’”

Myth #2: "420 is only celebrated by hippies who crawl into moldy basements and wallow in their own filth while passing around greasy chillums..."

April 19, 2007

ID: fear of a wolf planet

Back home in Idaho, if you attempt to kill federally - protected wolves and in the process, poison three domestic dogs, a coyote, a fox and several magpies, you will do hard time.

Six days hard time, to be exact.

"He said he got the freakin' message"

A thoughtful post from a good-hearted p. d. colleague, Juval:

Well, as much as I try to resist the temptation to internalize the actions of some of the many idiotic clients that I represent, I find that the human part of me always comes out. Some would say that I believe that I am a superhero in some respects, when it comes to work anyway. So, I've learned my kryptonite, at work, is the young, misguided, but potentially rehabilitated, black male...

When they get released because I've won or gotten their case dismissed, I am very careful to explain the consequences of future crime and generally try to be a good resource for them as they make their way back into society. After all, everyone needs to know someone cares. My imagination is quite vivid. Thus, I actually believe that these young brothas are actually listening to me (please stop laughing). So, you can only empathize with me when I get "the call"...

April 18, 2007

A very special potential colleague

Let me be the first to embrace Jadesr 's most superior classmate:

There is a guy in my class that I have mad respect for... Anyhow, this guy has an awesome GPA and resume. He has offers from an assload of big firms for money I could only dream of making. BUT he has decided to be a public defender because he is troubled that PDs offices are populated with losers and rejects, such that poor people who have to rely on public defenders never really have a chance in criminal trials... that they would... if all defendants actually got access to good legal council...

Wait, it gets better.

So, he gets this job with the PD in a nearby county BUT, they want him to take a drug test... I would bitch a lot, and then go pee in the damn cup. But, not him, he QUITS. Now, they know that he has mad offers for like, 4 times as much $ as they are paying him, so they were all stoked to get him since he is a rock star so they freak out, and are actually considering asking the county to change the policy. I have such respect for him for taking a stand like that!

Well, I'd change a county-wide policy to get this catch, wouldn't you? Yes, we're slobbering all over ourselves in anticipation of how such a great co-worker will uplift our loser and reject selves. Just imagine how he went over in his job interview! Now, which one of us will get to share a cubicle with P.D. McDreamy?

"Almost all of us are in the middle"

Here's a helpful reminder from law student Grace:

Your higher ranked school won't get you a job at the State's Attorney's office or the Public Defender's office if you haven't logged the man hours working there for free. Just like us...

If you feel that you are somehow superior to me because of your law school's ranking, chances are really good that your law school will be the only thing "top tier" about you. Why be mean?

IA: p.d. exonerated

From The Hawkeye, via RadMan:

Public defender found not guilty

A Burlington public defender accused of urinating on the floor of a restaurant was found not guilty this week by a Wapello County judge. James Beres, 51, of Burlington was cleared of public intoxication, drunken driving and public urination charges...

Wapello County Attorney Mark Tremmel argued Beres was intoxicated at about 4 a.m. when he entered the restaurant... Defense attorney Michael Clark... argued Beres was not intoxicated. According to Clark, Beres was acting strangely inside the restaurant due to a medical condition that mirrors some of the signs of intoxication. Clark said Beres was diagnosed as a child with a neurological condition. He took medication to treat it in the past, Clark added.

District Associate Judge Kirk A. Daily of Ottumwa sided with the defense. In his ruling, Daily said a medical examination of Beres indicates he suffers from partial seizure disorder, which can result in impaired behavior...

I take back that thing I said. I was wrong.

Lawyer Street

Best wishes motoring down Lawyer Street, to all the 1L's, 2L's and 3L's about to take finals.(photo from Winchester, Idaho)

April 17, 2007

FL: new Miami P.D.

Mighty congratulations to Scoplaw, newest hire of the Miami - Dade County Public Defender.

RJ's law school blogging has been great, and in the practice of law, he's definitely going to be the anti - Charley Demosthenous. Just be careful down there, Scop; I hear the Justice Building can get pretty turbulent.

ID: Brian Draper, 16, guilty of murder

From KPVI:

Verdict: Guilty for Brian Draper

After deliberating for four and a half hours, the jury in the Brian Draper murder trial has convicted the 16-year-old of First Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder.

Draper's defense attorneys argued their client thought Torey Adamcik was making a movie and he did not know Cassie Jo Stoddart was going to die. They also argued Adamcik was the one who killed Stoddart and not Draper. Their defense was that Draper only stabbed Stoddart after she was dead because Adamcik threatened to kill Draper.

The ultimate piece of evidence against Brian Draper was a videotape he made with Torey Adamcik on the night of the murder...

More from the Idaho State Journal.

April 15, 2007

Yom HaShoah in Oly

Yom HaShoah starts tonight, a solemn time of Holocaust remembrance.

In other news, on Tuesday night my adopted town's city council may vote to adopt Rafah, the Gaza town where Olympia native Rachel Corrie died, as our new sister city. From the Olympian:

Olympia looks at Rafah for sister city

It seems that no potential Israeli sister city is invited.

In still other news, we're back from Idaho only to come home to swastikas in Lotus Land. Also from the Olympian:

No motive given for suspect's racist graffiti

Residents find hate messages sprayed on cars, mailboxes

Update 4/18/07: while the Olympia City Council may have said no to Rafah ties, there's always the sister city relationship between Dayton and Pyongyang.

April 13, 2007

Not without my duck

Here is a rarity - a blog post mentioning a public defender in a mental health / involuntary commitment / civil hearing, from med student 6YearMed:

Public Defender: "Dr. PsychoBabble, could you state for us Ms. X's diagnosis?"

Dr. PsychoB: "Borderline Personality Disorder..."

Ms. X: "He's a liar!! He's a liar, judge!! And he is not my doctor! And I hate him! And I like DUCKS! YELLOW DUCKS! And that doctor called me names.."

April 11, 2007

ID: Lawyer got a raw deal

On our way to and from the Wolf Education and Research Center on the Nez Perce nation, we passed over Lawyer's Canyon, named for Hallalhotsoot, or Lawyer. He was born near here in Nez Perce territory, and died the year before the Nez Perce war.

His father greeted Lewis and Clark. As he watched his country being invaded by European - Americans, Lawyer believed that resistance was futile, and sought to negotiate in the treaties of 1855, 1858, and 1863. The American negotiators proclaimed him head chief of the Nez Perces when he was not. When Old Joseph walked out of the 1863 talks, Lawyer was browbeaten into signing the treaty on behalf of all Nez Perce people. For his pains the settlers named a creek and a canyon after him, broke their treaty commitments and decimated his country. As historian Alvin Josephy said:

"Despite the accommodating role he had played, the Americans had repaid him with only small and niggling favors, and in his later years he had lived close to want. ... He had presided over the destruction of the cultural pride, dignity, and heritage of large numbers of Nez Perce."

April 10, 2007

GA: beneath contempt

From Capital Defense Weekly:

Contemptible: juvie public defender sentenced to 30 days for defending her client

Standing up for one’s client’s is a lawyer’s duty. Building a record for appeal is good lawyering. Apparently doing both in Georgia can get you in jail. Sherri Jefferson, an Assistant Public Defender in the Brunswick Judicial District, was sentenced to thirty (yes 30) days for her conduct in a delinquency hearing.

Granted, contempt happens. Granted, trial courts sometimes do wacky things. Granted, finding a public defender in contempt won’t get it noted here, or much of anywhere, as rarely are such findings upheld on appeal.

A split panel, 4-3. on appeal in In re Sherri Jefferson, 2007 Ga. App. LEXIS 391 (Ga. Ct. App. 2007), upheld...

April 09, 2007

Prison expansion and inequality

Three books in our area of interest are covered in a recent New York Review of Books:

The American Prison Nightmare

Bruce Western makes a crucial point at the start of his important book, Punishment and Inequality in America: "If prisons affected no one except the criminals on the inside, they would matter less." But with more than two million Americans behind bars, the impact of mass incarceration is impossible to contain. Their fate affects the taxpayers who support them, the guards who guard them, the families they leave behind, and the communities to which they return...

Like Bruce Western, the authors of Confronting Confinement emphasize that few of the problems inside prisons truly stay confined. Ninety-five percent of those who go in also come back out. The problems that arise inside prisons, the authors write, go home "with prisoners after they are released and with corrections officers at the end of each day's shift..."

Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen, who understand the vastness of the jailers' reach, follow the story out of the cell and into the voting booth. Locked Out examines how the disenfranchisement of felons shapes American democracy — hardly a hypothetical matter in an age of split electorates and hanging chads...


From Historic Poplar Lawn Association:

Time for the Public Defender's Office to Go!

Everyone has a right to an attorney. Granted. But having a Public Defender’s Office in the heart of our neighborhood is ludicrous...

Perhaps they can tell me why a Public Defender’s office SHOULD be on one of the better streets of this neighborhood? Perhaps legal aid should have a Kiosk in the park as well, so any of the druggies, drunks and whores who frequent Tulip Alley and the park can deal with their legal representation right on the spot!

April 07, 2007

WA: trusty library, library trusty

Greetings from Whitman County, Washington, more precisely, from the Whitman County Library in Colfax, where I've just seen something remarkable: a person in black and white striped clothes, tops and bottoms, with "WHITMAN COUNTY JAIL" clearly printed in red on the back, circulating through the stacks, not bothering anybody.

I love being back on the Palouse (sadly, Ferdinand's is closed on Saturdays, but I'm guessing that my old law school will be open).

Bonus link to one definition of trusty.

Wholly Moses Lake

Greetings from Grant County, Washington. I love this place: it's given the blog so much material.

Fun fact about Moses Lake: out in the middle of the desert, you might look up to see a big old Japan Air Lines jet swooping in or taking off, training JAL pilots. This would explain all the Japanese restaurants.

Another fun fact: a sign on I-90 claims that Grant County produces more potatoes than any other county in the United States. Now my wife is a fiercely partisan Idahoan, with a nose that can detect a potato processing plant at 20 miles. When she saw the sign proclaiming Grant County spud supremacy, she used not one but two expletives. That was probably the wrong time to announce that the best potato I've ever eaten was in fact a Watato.

April 05, 2007

ID: my people

I'm going back to Idaho for a week, so posting may be scatter-shot.

Bonus links and courage under fire citations go out to fellow Idahoans IdaBlue, Idaho - Hum, Idaho Rocks, the Mountain Goat, F-Words, and the indispensible 43rd State Blues.

Update: more about the photo above from Rob's Idaho Perspective -

I originally thought this was an April Fools joke, but it does not appear to be. The story has a picture of a person sitting behind a "no shooting" sign with a rifle shooting ground squirrels (not surprising). The story goes on to explain that numerous endangered birds have been killed in the area (also not surprising), some private cattle that are still allowed to roam in the area have been shot (somewhat surprising), but the most amazing of all - that national guard vehicles are regularly hit with gunfire in the area.

FL: Go 'Noles!

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Gator Barbie is pre-med and in her spare time she works on fund-raising drives for a number of worthy causes. Gator Barbie wants to become a Pediatrician Barbie so she can make all the sick children of the world feel better.

Seminole Barbie is pre-law and in her spare time she does beer bongs with the Florida State offensive line. Seminole Barbie wants to become a Public Defender Barbie so she can work fulltime for the football team...

April 03, 2007

Law student's lament

The living hell that is law school:

Busy, law school, y'know, all that. I have been busy not going to trusts and estates and getting myself another job, since the handy Public Defender's office in a great New England state decided to place me in an office almost 2 hours away from my beach house...

Our loss I guess.

April 02, 2007

UK: rockin' on remand

Check out Jail Guitar Doors:

Jail Guitar Doors is an independent initiative set up by Billy Bragg with the aim of providing musical equipment for the use of inmates serving time in Her Majesty's prisons. It takes its name from the b-side of the Clash's 1978 single "Clash City Rockers"...

This concept is bound to catch on here in the land of Nirvana: liberate some of Paul Allen's guitars from the EMP, call Death Cab and Modest Mouse, K Records and Sub Pop - we can make this work, people!

Bonus links: "Jail Guitar Doors" apparently is also the name of a Japanese Clash - inspired band.

April 01, 2007

WA: pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will

This one's for my Ohio colleague, whom I once called "Dennis Kucinich":

Presidential primary year 2004, at the caucus I attended, before ultimately switching to John Edwards (where I still am) I signed up for Dennis Kucinich, only to find it was just me and the locally famous teepee - dwelling ex-hippie activist standing up for the little guy. This time and this place, there were about 100 times as many ex- and current hippies in attendance, in an overflow crowd along with Greeners, labor guys, and a few drivers of expensive Swedish cars. The congressman spoke well for his causes, and I enjoyed the sensation of feeling like a moderate in a left - of - center land.

MT: homage to Butte

Something you may not have known about the Montana public defender system: the state capital may be in Helena, but by law the main office must be in Butte.

It fits. I like it.