August 30, 2007

Go orange, go big blue

My 8-year-old boy brought me a souvenir from my hometown:I now know that the mascot of the hometown team is not the Boise State Bronco; it is in fact the Boise State Aggressive Horse.

The return of Scruffey, real lawyer

From Curia Avisari Vult, which either means "the court took the matter under consideration," or "the judge took a long lunch":

A client told me today, as I visited him at the jail, "Don't be offended, but when I get out of here I am going to hire a real lawyer. *Sigh*

Everyone who does this job has heard that or something like it... The idea seems to be that because I am making far, far less money than a lawyer in private practice that I must not be good enough to go into private practice. So, let's compare...

August 29, 2007

"He pleaded my case"

For your listening pleasure, the O'Neal Twins and "Jesus Dropped The Charges." This is where I first heard, "Case dismissed, case dismissed, saved by grace."

August 28, 2007

"Our office has now reached a new level of weird"

Fasten your seatbelts, the public defender secretary is blogging:

My boss "the chief public defender", whom I'll call CPD, is mentally ill. One of the attorneys diagnosed (and it's unanimously agreed) that he has Asberger Syndrome. On my one year anniversary at this job, he gave me a Playgirl magazine, a cigar, and a 6 pack of beer. Yes, he is also still employed, even after a complaint was filed...


Regrets, they've had a few

In my new state, a few more regrettable acts by public officials, from the P-I:

Hague has habit of blaming others - Records show actions in DUI case, bus crash

King County Councilwoman Jane Hague's recent arrest on a drunken - driving charge wasn't the first time she has blamed others after finding herself in trouble... (O)n June 2 - in an incident that wasn't publicly known until Aug. 21, - an obscenity - spewing Hague reportedly blamed the arrest on her husband, Ed Springman. He was a passenger in her Mercedes convertible.

A state trooper said in a written report that Hague, 61, "became irate and (used) expletives" and "said it was her husband's fault that she was in the back of a patrol car and being treated like a criminal, and her husband would have to find the best attorney" for her. When the officer suggested she could speak to a public defender if her husband - a wealthy Eastside developer - couldn't find her one, Hague reportedly "stated she would not talk to any second-rate attorney..."

King County judge faces ethics charges

A King County judge accused of trading sexual taunts with a defendant in his courtroom and making unusual references to the ethnicity of two others now faces ethics charges.

District Court Judge Mark Chow was presiding in a courtroom inside the King County Jail building on Jan. 23, when a male defendant snapped at him with a vulgar sexual demand. According to charges filed Tuesday by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, Chow replied, "I would if you pulled it out, but you can't find it."

Chow also allegedly asked a female defendant, "What flavor are you?" -- a question about her ethnic background -- and told another, "I think I know what flavor you are, so I'm not even going to ask..."

Senator Craig regrets

In my old state, Senator Larry Craig didn't say he regrets whatever it is he did in the Twin Cities airport bathroom. Nor did he say he regrets handing a U.S. Senate business card to the investigating cop and saying, "What do you think about that?"

No, he said he regrets pleading guilty. Oh, and it's all the media's fault.

Lame. Lame. Lame? Lame!

August 27, 2007

The lives of others, American edition

Resigning today, Alberto Gonzales said,

"I entered public service to make a positive difference in the lives of others..."

Meanwhile, in Idaho news:

Senator Pleads Guilty After Arrest at Airport

Senator Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho, pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge earlier this month after his arrest in June by an undercover police officer in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport...

If only he'd had a lawyer:

“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.

“I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”

It's the "wide stance" in the bathroom excuse for lewd conduct. I had a client back in Idaho who got into a similar spot of bother once: he wanted to run a "towelling off briskly" defense, which was just about as credible.

August 26, 2007

"The Lives of Others"

This weekend I watched "The Lives of Others" (Das Leben der Anderen), just out on DVD. Lead actor Ulrich Mühe, who died last month, drew from his craft and from his personal experience to completely inhabit the role of a Stasi man in the former East Germany. Imagine, living in a country where the state spies on its own citizens in the name of homeland security. Harder to imagine that one of the guys behind the wiretaps might have a change of heart. Watch the transformation - highly recommended.

August 25, 2007

It's the process (and a lot more)

"The process is the punishment": it's an old phrase, and it's still accurate.Courtesy of Changing the Court, though the original post seems to be down now:

Feeley conducted a year's worth of intensive observation, interviews and statistical research in 1979 at the New Haven Court of Common Claims. Though much has changed since the book was published, the general form of the modern, centralized urban courthouse had emerged by that time. Many of the book's countless observations and case studies of the different actors in the court process and its clear-eyed analysis of adjudications in a high volume, low stakes courthouse ring as true in the Bronx in 2007 as they did in New Haven nearly three decades ago. It's a useful handbook for anyone trying to make sense of the chaotic and sometimes bewildering environment of a large urban courthouse, which can so often seem mysterious and opaque to outsiders and the public...

OH: Judge Plough -" We all must accept some blame for what happened here"

More from the Record Courier:

Plough fines public defender $100 on contempt charge

Assistant Portage County Public Defender Brian Jones was ordered to pay $100 and court costs Friday at his sentencing hearing on a charge of contempt of court leveled last week by Portage County Municipal Court Judge John Plough. Plough immediately delayed the sentence pending an appeal.

Jones, who was surrounded by family, friends and fellow attorneys at Friday's sentencing, was cited for contempt after he told Plough in court Aug. 16 that he was unprepared to move forward on a misdemeanor assault case scheduled two months prior but only given to the Portage County Public Defender's Office the day before.

Jones also was ordered to pay $48.50 in restitution to two witnesses who had to skip work that day to attend the trial.

Cleveland attorney Ian Friedman, brought on to defend Jones in the sentencing hearing, had earlier argued Jones did not intend to obstruct the justice of Plough's court, nor had he ever misbehaved prior to this incident. "The charge is in direct contention with the (law's) requirement of willful disobedience" that can lead to a charge of contempt, Friedman argued. "Brian Jones had no business trying to move forward on that trial."

Plough said he might have been convinced to continue the trial after the prosecution presented its case to allow Jones more time to prepare a defense.

"The court does make exceptions in the interest of justice," Plough said, later adding "this court has to be concerned with everybody's discipline in the criminal justice system ... We all must accept some blame for what happened here."

Plough told Jones he was not upset with the young lawyer who passed the bar earlier this year and has only been a public defender for four months. Plough said he had seen Jones in action in two jury trials that resulted in not guilty verdicts for Jones' clients. "You have a very bright future. You showed more poise than many attorneys I've known who've been practicing law for many years," Plough said...

More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Contempt upheld for Ohio public defender

August 24, 2007

OH: $100 & costs for p.d. "contempt"


Plough fines public defender $100 and costs on contempt charge

Portage County Municipal Court Judge John Plough fined Assistant Portage County Public Defender Brian Jones $100 plus court costs at a sentencing hearing Friday on a charge of contempt of court stemming from Jones not going forward with a court case Aug. 16. Plough also suspended three days in jail and ordered Jones to pay $48.50 in restitution...

August 22, 2007

OH: "Judge Plough is absolutely wrong"


Lager planning lawyer's defense - Portage defender confident of win

Portage County's top public defender will be in court Friday to defend one of his employees on a contempt of court charge leveled by Portage County Municipal Court Judge John Plough.

Controversy continues to brew over Plough charging Assistant Public Defender Brian Jones with contempt for refusing to go forward with representing a defendant in a misdemeanor assault case on less than 24 hours notice.

Portage County Public Defender Dennis Lager said his office is "very comfortable in the manner in which we are conducting ourselves and that we are appropriate and correct in our legal and ethical obligations" to clients, and will continue to provide legal counsel to defendants per their Sixth Amendment rights.

"Judge Plough is absolutely wrong. There was no contempt of court by Mr. Jones," Lager said Tuesday, adding his office "relishes the opportunity" to prove it in court...

"Whereas we are officers of the court, we are not pawns of the court," Lager said. "You can't just have counsel sit there like a potted plant and presume to follow the Sixth Amendment."

At juvy, the policy of truth

Changes of plea this morning -

Court commissioner: "Have you learned anything from this?"

Juvenile: "No."

Two separate clients. Points for honesty, I guess.

Practice tip for juvenile defenders (like myself)

In an effort to be a more practical blawger, here is a word of advice:

When, after saving your client many months of freedom, your client's parent tells you, "I don't think you did a very good job representing my son," you do not get to reply, "I don't think you did a very good job raising him."

(had to remind myself of that recently)

August 20, 2007

"It's a Mountie thing"

Due South? Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP, relocated to the States, remember that show?

"You are innocent," Fraser tells Willie. "The police have no reason to incarcerate you." And the public defender... says tiredly, "Not from around here, are you?"

I liked that show.

August 18, 2007

OH: justice held hostage update from Portage County

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Portage County Judge Plough criticized for arrest of public defender

A controversial Portage County judge has drawn the ire of national and state lawyers associations because he ordered the arrest of a county public defender. Judge John Plough ordered sheriff's deputies Wednesday to take Assistant Public Defender Brian Jones into custody because he was not prepared to go to trial. He was held five hours be fore he was released on bond...

See also National lawyers group condemns Portage County judge for arresting public defender

August 17, 2007

OH: "the public defender's office is not going to impede justice in Portage County"

From the Record-Courier:

Plough has public defender arrested - Attorney told judge he was not ready to try case he had for less than a day

Portage County Municipal Court Judge John Plough ordered a Portage County public defender placed under arrest for contempt of court Thursday. The order was given after the attorney said he was unprepared and unable to begin a scheduled trial, having only been appointed to represent a defendant the day before the trial was scheduled to begin.

Brian Jones, an employee of Portage County Public Defender Dennis Lager since May, was held in contempt of court during an afternoon trial at Portage County Municipal Court in Kent after he told Plough he was unable to go forward with the trial. Plough ordered a Portage County Sheriff's deputy to remove Jones from his courtroom in front of his client, spectators and courthouse employees...

Via John Wesley Hall Jr.s' Law of Criminal Defense.

August 16, 2007

Caseload cacophony

In court from 9:00 am to 5:15 pm today: four bench trials, three detention hearings, two changes of plea, and one probation violation (kids don't get jury trials in this state).

Four teenagers, four trials: not guilty on the robbery 2, not guilty on the assault 4 and malicious mischief 3, not guilty on the misdemeanor harassment, and guilty on the other mal misch 3. Won three, lost one. Seeing as how I went into the courthouse this morning expecting to walk out with one win and three losses, I'm fairly content with how the day worked out.

Tomcat blogging

For an antidote to the previous post, here's a good tomcat:

August 15, 2007

CA: cool old hippie

From the Daily Democrat:

Yolo County's public defender: Yesterday and today

Yolo County Public Defender Barry Melton has been recognized in the publication, Northern California Super Lawyers, as being among the top five percent of northern California lawyers. This year the magazine featured Melton in a special section entitled "From the '60s to the Sixties" which highlighted Melton's social activism in the 1960s as the aquatic member of the band County Joe & The Fish, to today as he heads the Yolo County Public Defender's office...

August 14, 2007

DUI? 紅色角落!

Sometimes even a soul-less pseudo-blawg can stumble on an oddball insight.

Like this one: you're minding your business drinking and driving, you get pulled over, and suddenly, you're Richard Gere in "Red Corner."

Bochco, Feige lens p.d. pilot

The Indefensible Man's TV show is going before the cameras! From Ashleigh Raine:

This was the first day of filming for this pilot and I gotta say... if I hadn’t been told, I never would’ve known that this was day one. It was waaaaaay smooth. I played a ‘public defender’ in an office setting... If this pilot actually airs, I’ll likely be in it. I counter-crossed Mark-Paul Gosselaar a few times.

WA: other than a bad case of the munchies, they all were fine

From KOMO:

Pot-hunting deputies found after night in forest

Ten sheriff's deputies who got stranded in the woods of southwest Washington while busting a marijuana-growing operation were rescued Sunday...

August 12, 2007

Badgering the witness

Much obliged to Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyer for this illustration:
"Badger, badger, badger..."

ID & TX: prison disease "just part of the 'pleasant surprise'?"

By e-mail from Grits for Breakfast, your Texas-based source for Idaho corrections news:

"Mysterious illness" afflicting inmates at private Del Rio prison that Idaho corrections director called a "pleasant surprise"

So let's get this straight: Just a week ago the Director of the Idaho Department of Corrections visited the Geo Group private prison facility in Del Rio and pronounced it a "pleasant surprise" compared to what he'd expected. Now, we learn from the San Antonio Express News medical writer Don Finley ("Fatal Del Rio illness baffles authorities," Aug. 10) that even while he was there, officials already knew about: "A mysterious illness at a Del Rio detention center that has killed two inmates and hospitalized two others..."

The process is the punishment

Every new public defender should have this much insight; from Scoplaw:

Loss of Liberty

I hear ‘loss of liberty’ used in the courthouse. I’ve used it myself. But I often wonder if someone sitting in the jury box really knows what that means, what the “loss of liberty” truly costs a person... I often wonder if they know what the accused may have endured, just to get to this point. To take a step back, here’s a quick overview of the “cost” of a criminal accusation (just the accusation, not a conviction)...

Blonde Justice, the next chapter

Happy trails to you, Blondie.

August 10, 2007

IN: copygoat crime

It seems that the recent goat - at - large arrested in Twin Falls, Idaho was not the first, just the latest, of a wave of hooved delinquents. Last month's most wanted, from the Herald Argus:

They got their goat! - Animal that wandered across highway Wednesday taken in by Howmet employees

Billy was apprehended by police shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday outside Howmet. According to La Porte City Police Officer Nate Thode, no charges will be filed against the goat. He was taken away without incident, he said.

“He’s in custody,” Thode said with a smile. “We’re not charging him with anything.” The goat incident even resulted in a police report. No word on whether the goat got a copy, and if so, whether he ate it...

August 09, 2007

WA: cops' DUI's - bear stickers, free passes

<--- Correct.

Incorrect. --->

From the Seattle P-I:

That 'bear sticker' on the window signals, 'Hey, I'm a cop'

Undue Influence: Bear stickers and other cop-outs

One way some police officers get favoritism from other cops is small, round and sticky. P-I reporter Lewis Kamb gives the story behind the story of those bear stickers.

Bear stickers, other cop-outs: Lewis Kamb

The stylized, striding bear is a wink-and-a-nod to other officers, meaning: "This car's owner is a cop..."

And all this time I thought these were parking permits for the local high school, home of the Bears. I can be so dumb.

The whole "Undue Influence" series - "when cops let fellow cops drive drunk" - is here.

My dad the public defender

Caroline's dad is doing such a good job in trial, Caroline's mom called to say:

"dad was great! he made two witnesses cry!"

August 08, 2007

ID: some days I miss Twin Falls

From the Times-News:

Goat on the lam nabbed in downtown TF - Animal was missing since Saturday

A goat is in custody after a harrowing escape from a Twin Falls livestock yard and three days on the lam, police said Tuesday... (T)he goat had finally been captured. "Yeah, they got it," said Sgt. Anthony Barnhart with city police. Barnhart did not say if the goat would be charged with a crime or if it was being held for questioning. But the goat is unlikely to face serious punishment.

After all, it's just a kid.

August 06, 2007

OR: tigers and bears blogging

Uploaded from our Saturday trip to the Oregon Zoo:

August 05, 2007

Weekend new cat blogging

Courtesy of Feline Friends, please welcome Al the Cat:

August 03, 2007

ID: my hometown's going to hell, iPod edition

An alert reader e-mailed this one, from

iPod knife-man stalks Boise through Craig's List?

A man advertising a free iPod on Craigslist asked to meet a woman at the park late Friday night. Police told her later he was wearing a ski mask and waiting with a butcher knife. The woman apparently tells her side of the story in an email circulating through Boise...

From the Boise Faux News channel:

A Boise woman's intuition may have saved her life over the weekend when instead of heading into an Eagle park Saturday evening to pick up a free iPod, she called police...

From the Idaho Statesman:

Ad for free iPod leads to arrest - Woman became suspicious of delivery that was to take place at a park at night

"So, could this be my way out?"

Well, what do you think, should former prosecutor Chuck try to become a public defender, or as he puts it:

should i join the dark side?