July 31, 2007

Best thing since Cop Rock!

The David Feige media juggernaut rumbles to the next level! From The Hollywood Reporter:

Bochco drama has legal dream team

Jane Kaczmarek, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Gloria Reuben lead the cast of Steven Bochco's new legal drama for TNT. Also cast in the untitled project, which was picked up to pilot in April, are Melissa Sagemiller, Currie Graham, Teddy Sears, J. August Richards and Jonathan Scarfe.

Written by Bochco and lawyer-writer David Feige, author of the 2006 book "Indefensible," the ABC Studios/Steven Bochco Prods.-produced drama revolves around young lawyers who have been friends since law school but now work on opposing sides...

Yay, Feige!

July 30, 2007

ID: model probationer

From the Spokesman-Review:

Justice overruled - Our View: Mother needs compassion, not punishment

Kendra Goodrick, of Hayden, has sat in a Kootenai County Jail cell for more than a week, a pawn in a game of brinkmanship between 1st District Judge John Mitchell and Prosecutor Bill Douglas' office. She'll likely be sent to a women's prison in southeastern Idaho for at least six months while she waits to plead her case for release before the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole.

She admits she did the crime, involving felony meth charges, and she deserves the time. But she also has a good argument that she's straightened up and become productive in the 18 months after a legal snafu freed her from prison. She's drug free. She's married her boyfriend. She's given birth to a drug-free baby. She's gotten a job. She volunteers at the Humane Society...

Goodrick has conquered her addiction to date to such an extent that attorneys, friends and family hold her up as a model probationer. "We're taking someone who's dealing with a problem they haven't dealt with before and making a remarkable turnaround, and now we're looking at sending them to prison," said Chief Deputy Public Defender Lynn Nelson. "It just seems like an awful waste of resources..."

Via Huckleberries Online.

July 29, 2007

FL: turning over in Fort Myers

From the News-Press:

Attorney turnover taking its toll - State attorney, public defender fight to retain staff

Look into any Lee County Justice Center criminal courthouse and you’re sure to find as many younger, eager attorneys as older, experienced counsel.

Many of those young attorneys are prosecutors and public defenders. But lingering law school loans, the lure of private-sector salaries and desire to try a new trade are problems State Attorney Steve Russell and Public Defender Robert Jacobs deal with yearly. Turnover is a constant challenge for each office, and both elected leaders have tried increasing salaries, guaranteeing lots of courtroom experience and promoting in-office teamwork as a way to attract new talent.

According to Judicial Administration Commission numbers from 2005-2006, the most recent available, Russell’s office had a 25 percent turnover rate, fourth highest among Florida State Attorney Offices for that period. The turnover rate for Jacobs’ office was 26.5 percent, ninth highest among the 20 public defenders. “The people out of law school have these huge loans,” Jacobs said. “They want to make a commitment, but they can’t. They want to make as much as they can and you can’t blame them...”

July 27, 2007

Forgive us our debts

Good news from Gideon:

Loan forgiveness bill passes Senate!

A bit too late for me, alas, but now Dave and others like him might be able to join our ranks:

This is great news for all of those interested in becoming public defenders, who are forced to spend tens of thousands on law school in order to make very little money thereafter...

IL: the world turned upside down

From the Chicago Reader blogs:

Rule of Law

I hope I wasn't the only one who was floored to read the following quote in this morning's Sun-Times: "This world is upside down when public defenders who represent criminals make more than the men and women in this office."

It's attributed to first assistant state's attorney Robert Milan, Cook County's second-ranking prosecutor. I assume this is just careless venting... (I)t's not like the public defender's office is some feel-good charity set up to soothe the consciences of champagne liberals...

Go Vandals!

Which headline do you think works better, headline - wise?

Simplot Hill defaced by crude vandalism


Someone used grass killer to draw a penis pointing to the governor's mansion in Boise, ID. (Yay! My hometown made Boing Boing!)

Now would be a good time to turn off the sprinklers and restore the native Foothills flora on that sticks - out - like - a - sore - thumb hill. More on the story from the Boise Weekly and the Seattle P-I.

("Go Vandals!" is a registered cheer of the University of Idaho Athletic Association, and is not intended in any way to endorse or encourage the actual practice of vandalism)

July 26, 2007

Sisterhood of the travelling pants

On general principle I don't do many celebrity-related posts, but I just have to, you see, because I've run this defense. In a jury trial. And got a hung jury!

Lindsay Lohan Says Pants With Cocaine Were Not Hers

Lindsay Lohan reportedly has an explanation for the cocaine in her pocket - the star says she was wearing someone else's pants...

It could happen; run with it, Lindsay!

Via Slog.

July 25, 2007

Hidden injuries of Iraq

With Fort Lewis just across the river, a significant number of my juvenile clients are among the "700,000 children" who "have had a parent deployed overseas...," with... "scant resources for the stressed kids who are exhibiting social, emotional, behavioral and academic problems..."

Until today, I don't think I'd known a kid client who'd lost someone. Today I met a new client: his older brother was killed in Iraq last November. His father was in no mood to lose his younger son to the juvenile justice system. Thank G_d for diversion.

With that, here is "Jet Pilot" by Son Volt.

And out of respect, here's also "Blind Hope," also by Son Volt.

July 24, 2007

"My clients have been very happy"

From the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier:Dunst encounters smooth transition as new Cumberland public defender

NV: "I can't remember him ever going to trial"

Private indigent defense contractors going for the gravy, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Nye experience highlights system flaws

If not for Henderson defense attorney David Neely, some court proceedings in Nye County might come to a standstill. The county so relies on Neely to take indigent cases that he earned $150,000 in fees during a recent one-year period. That was without ever going to trial...

Though the state created a public defender office for rural counties in 1971, it pays for only about 20 percent of the indigent cases in those counties. In fact only four counties and Carson City even use the office... David Carroll, research director for the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in Washington, D.C., puts it simply: "The state system (in Nevada) is failing..."

Citing concerns over cost, quality, and turnover rate, Nye County left the state public defender system in 1993. At the time, one lawyer covered the entire county, which is the third largest geographically in the continental United States. Currently, Nye employs a four-lawyer firm based in Pahrump on a flat-fee $490,000-a-year contract for an unlimited number of indigent cases.

The contract violates several American Bar Association guidelines for indigent defense delivery. It doesn't provide allowances for travel or hiring of investigators, nor does it limit the amount of privately retained work the firm may do. No extra compensation is paid for work on serious felony cases such as murder and sexual assault. "The contract's enough to pay the rent and bills, and then we can go for the gravy, which is the private work," said Jason Earnest, the firm's head lawyer...

Link via Harmful Error, "Rural counties struggle to provide defense for indigents"

July 23, 2007

Prisonville 96130

From Sentencing Law and Policy, word of this upcoming installment of PBS' POV series, "Prison Town, USA":

What happens when a struggling rural community tries to revive its economy by inviting prisons in? The story of four families living in a modern-day prison town, as told in "Prison Town, USA," is a riveting look at one of the most striking phenomena of our times: a prison-building and incarceration boom unprecedented in American history...

...(A)n article called "An American Seduction" by Joelle Fraser (download a PDF file of the article)... very vividly captured what the town feels like. People in Susanville say it's a world of cops and cons...

Watch the trailer.

I knew someone who spent some formative years in Susanville; how the place has changed.

July 22, 2007

July 21, 2007

P.D. splog

If you're going to try to steer some Google ad dollars your way with a phony little splog called "Public Defenders in Washington State," at least you might want to decorate your masthead with something local, not with the Golden Gate Bridge.

<-- No. Yes! -->

July 19, 2007

KY: "you have got to make ends meet"

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Public defender peddles pizza to pay college loans

Pizza is a meal that might find its way to a lawyer's table during a late-night session of prep work before a trial. But for Barren County public defender Adam Greenway, it puts meals on the table.

"I never thought I would be 30 years old driving pizzas out after graduating from law school," said Greenway, whose second job is delivering pizza for Papa John's...

Here's one point of view: What a great guy...it is nice to see such a hard working person.

And here's another: Public sector attorney pay... Woefully pathetic or just what they deserve?

July 18, 2007

GA: "Supreme Court grants cert to juvenile defender sentenced to 30 days"

"What is the proper standard for determining whether a lawyer's comments during trial constitute contempt of court?"

In Georgia at least, we're going to find out. Southern Criminal Law and Justice has the latest development in the saga of Sherri Jefferson, "the Georgia public defender who was ordered to serve 30 days for sticking up for a juvenile client."

Capital Defense Weekly has been following the case.

WA: FBI spyware nabbed the bomb threat kid

That Lacey youth with the bomb - threat - making hobby? Someone was monitoring his MySpace and Gmail, and it wasn't Sanchovilla.

From Wired: FBI's Secret Spyware Tracks Down Teen Who Made Bomb Threats

FBI agents trying to track the source of e-mailed bomb threats against a Washington high school last month sent the suspect a secret surveillance program designed to surreptitiously monitor him and report back to a government server...

The software was sent to the owner of an anonymous MySpace profile linked to bomb threats against Timberline High School near Seattle. The code led the FBI to 15-year-old Josh Glazebrook, a student at the school, who on Monday pleaded guilty to making bomb threats, identity theft and felony harassment...

From C-Net: FBI remotely installs spyware to trace bomb threat

...(T)he county sheriff's office learned about the MySpace profile - timberlinebombinfo - when the creator tried to persuade other students to link to it and at least one of their parents called the police... In addition, the bomb hoaxster was sending a series of taunting messages from Google Gmail accounts... A representative excerpt: "There are 4 bombs planted throughout Timberline High School. One in the math hall, library hall, and one portable. The bombs will go off in 5 minute intervals at 9:15 am."

The FBI replied by obtaining account logs from Google and MySpace. Both pointed to... a compromised computer in Italy. That's when the FBI decided to roll out the heavy artillery...

(via the Olympian)

July 17, 2007

WA: "have a nice explosive day"

My court commissioner's gaze was unusually baleful yesterday. From the Olympian:

Boy to serve 90 days for school scare

Former Timberline Student Josh Glazebrook has pleaded guilty to identity theft and making bomb threats in the case... Thurston County Juvenile Court Commissioner Indu Thomas sentenced Glazebrook to 90 days in juvenile detention, but he will receive credit for the 32 days he has already spent at the Thurston County Juvenile Detention Center. He also must pay the North Thurston School District $8,852 in restitution for e-mailing the series of bomb threats that caused multiple evacuations at Timberline High School near the end of the school year...

The 90-day sentence is the maximum allowed under the standard sentencing range for juveniles...

July 16, 2007

Satisfied customers

In or just outside the courtroom today:

* The youth is explaining to the judge the source he prefers for legal advice over his court-appointed attorney:

"My mom has been reading law books for five months."

* By the third time that his kid's court-appointed private lawyer has failed to appear, another juvenile's parent has become a bit miffed :

"You know the problem with lawyers? It's the 99 percent of them that give the rest a bad name."

July 14, 2007

ID & TX: Idaho dollars for Texas squalor

Very big expatriate - Idahoan thanks to Scott Henson of Grits for Breakfast for his watchdog work in general, and for his concern for some benighted Idahoans languishing in Texas private prisons:

The blog Texas Prison Bidness has updates on what's happening with Idaho prisoners who were pulled out of the Geo Group facility in Dickens County after a suicide prompted an investigation of poor conditions:

It's a shame when a blogger in Austin cares more about the welfare of some Idahoans than the governor in Boise, but as Scott noted last week:

I guess corrections officials in Idaho figured, "out of sight, out of mind." I often think that's how a lot of folks feel about people in prison, generally...

Bonus link goes to this news item: Prison firms give cash to pols to spur Idaho privatization

Update 07/15/07: fellow Idahoan The Mountain Goat is raising the alarm back home: The Growing Idaho Inmate Scandal

July 13, 2007

Internship awesomeness

From Not for the monosyllabic:

Whew, I've been busy, busy, busy with the PD's office. I've been making appearance in the juvenile calendar lately, which is a lot of fun because I don't just have to sit there anymore. I've also been dubbed the "Friday Jail Calendar Queen" by TS because I'm always on Friday's jail calendar. I told TS I wanted a crown and he said he'd get one from Burger King and write "Friday Jail Calendar Queen" on it for me...

I also told TS that I was planning on sticking around for the next school year and then planning on making TS give me a job. TS's eyes lit up and he said, "You wanna be a public defender?" and I said, "Yeah, I do. Specifically at this office." TS then said, all touched, "You wanna work at this office?!"...

July 12, 2007

"Because sometimes they're innocent"

From The Ice Belongs Out There, Not in Here:

Law Talk: Defending Guilty People Isn't Easy

The problem with people who are genuinely guilty is: they're not going to present like innocent people. The evidence is not going to help you get them off. You will be looking at absolutely overwhelming evidence screaming THIS GUY IS SO GUILTY, and it is so damn hard to put that aside and say I'm gonna do the best job I can...

But sometimes, they aren't guilty...


Missliberry spent over three hours in court, waiting patiently:

The public defender was nice, too. Beleaguered most of the morning, as everybody wanted to do their own defending and talking. He kept saying, "Please, let me do my job!" but as he pointed out later, nobody was listening...

"And nobody comes to support them"

Law student Gopherlawyer has an F. Scott - inspired epiphany on a trip to juvenile detention:

"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

'Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'"

July 11, 2007

ID: "a scary amount of power we put in our citizens"

Here's an Idaho blogger who made it past voir dire and on to the jury - pity, that:

Jury Duty

It was an attempted murder... The public defender in no way tried to prove he wasn't guilty... Made me never want to be in the position of being defended by a public defender. This being Idaho we were all for sending the guy up the river except this one older lady that was in tears because she kept personalizing the guy like he was her own kid. Eventually the 11 of us cowed her into voting him guilty...

July 08, 2007

Weekend harbor seal blogging

WI: "either really gutsy or really, really mad"

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Clash of lawyers coming to a head

The defense attorney exploded.

"Why don't you just be honest and say: You know what, we don't care, folks. We don't care," (Joseph) Sommers yelled at Dane County Circuit Judge Robert Pekowsky, one of a string of judges who presided over the case. "These people (prosecutors) matter. They're the club. They're powerful. They matter. Adam Raisbeck doesn't count.

"Why don't you be -- why don't you just be honest about it, damn it!"

As bailiffs made their way to the courtroom, the judge told Sommers he needed to get control. "I'll bet you if I took a poll in here everybody would say that you are outrageously rude to me," Pekowsky said.

Sommers shot back: "And I bet if you took a poll in here everybody would say this is a kangaroo court..."

(e-mailed from Lisa in WI - thanks!)

July 06, 2007

ID & TX: "they basically put us down here and just dumped us"

From the Seattle P-I:

Suicide shows squalid conditions in privately run Texas prison

After months alone in his cell, Scot Noble Payne finished 20 pages of letters, describing to loved ones the decrepit conditions of the prison where he was serving time for molesting a child. Then Payne used a razor blade to slice two 3-inch gashes in his throat...

Payne's suicide on March 4 came seven months after he was sent to the squalid privately run Texas prison by Idaho authorities trying to ease inmate overcrowding in their own state. His death exposed what had been Idaho's standard practice for dealing with inmates sent to out-of-state prisons: Out of sight, out of mind...

Link via Randy Stapilus' Ridenbaugh Press:

Idaho behind bars

Some years back, when Idaho started getting into the business of outsourcing prisoner control to private contractors, we predicted that investigative scandal stories would be on their way, the only question being how long that would take. Took a little longer than we thought...

July 03, 2007

WA: you'll have to come through me first

I think this is a great photo of what a good criminal defense lawyer does:
And Jim Dixon is a very good criminal defense lawyer (say what you will about his client). From the Olympian:

Shoopman avoids jail time for taking off bracelet that monitors alcohol

A judge decided today that Sierra Shoopman will not go to jail for violating her conditions of release by removing an electronic ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol use so she could board a plane and go to Mexico for vacation...

Shoopman, 18, was convicted in 2005 of vehicular homicide... Since then, she has been accused of violating her probation by driving and... acting discourteously during a court-ordered panel discussion with victims of drunken or reckless driving. Shoopman appeared in court today in connection with violating her conditions of release on a new, 2007 charge of being a minor in possession of alcohol...

Maybe your average similarly - situated indigent defendant would get the same treatment, maybe not.

WA: Thurston County prosecutor’s office - a source of ridicule and contempt?

The Olympian editorial board is sort of underwhelmed by our prosecutors' recent accomplishments:

Prosecutor’s office is losing credibility

What is going on in the county prosecutor’s office? How can a professional organization such as the prosecutor’s office maintain public confidence in the judicial system when the prosecutors themselves are caught up in one scandal after another?

The latest incident involves Deputy Prosecutor David Soukup, 46, who was recently... charged with drunken driving... The fact that he was prosecuting a DUI case in Thurston County within hours of his own arrest has raised significant ethical questions... Soukup’s arrest is simply the latest in a series of embarrassments for Prosecutor Ed Holm and his staff.

Last month, Thurston County District Court Judge Susan Dubuisson dismissed second-degree criminal trespassing charges against 16 (anti-war) protesters... Judge Dubuisson said deputy prosecutors were guilty of “gross negligence” in their failure to turn over police reports to defendants and their attorneys in a timely fashion...

In October, then-prosecutor William Halstead was arrested at Qwest Field after he allegedly was found in a women’s restroom during a Seahawks game... Halstead resigned last December.

That was one month after a Mason County Superior Court jury found that Holm and his staff discriminated against three former deputy prosecuting attorneys because they were women (resulting in a) $1.52 million jury award...

Where’s the accountability for these serious lapses of judgment? The county prosecutor’s office should be above reproach not the source of contempt and ridicule from law-abiding citizens and criminals alike. The public is left to wonder whether Prosecutor Ed Holm is capable of leading a moral and professional office.

Drug of choice

In juvy court, the young adult is explaining to the court commissioner why a breath test won't be necessary:

"I really don't like alcohol, I like drugs."

July 02, 2007

GA: ATL p.d., atty kidnapped

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

'I can't believe that I had gotten kidnapped'

When they left a housewarming party in the wee hours of Sunday morning, David Deganian and Herman Hoying were ready to call it a night. Instead, they were dumped at gunpoint into the trunk of a car, then held hostage for 13 hours while their assailants tried to clean out their bank accounts...

From Jay:

One of my coworkers was kidnapped at gun point Saturday night/Sunday morning. It happened about a mile from my house in East Atlanta. He and another attorney paid the bill at the East Side Lounge, then headed for the car. They were carjacked and driven to a house in Cabbagetown where they were tied up and left for 14 hours...

From Bloglanta:

...(T)he kidnappers were just plain stupid to attack someone who worked with the Public Defenders Office...