October 31, 2007

The honorable Christine Gregoire, penguin-in-chief

Sure, your governor may fight wildfires. Your governor may even win a tight blue jeans contest. But does your governor dress up as Mumbles the Penguin for Halloween?

"Felony mouth"

From the Iowa Independent:

Law Students' Goal: Teaching Youths a New Kind of Street Smarts

Helping minority adolescents learn more effective ways to deal with law enforcement and criminal justice officials is the subject of an upcoming forum hosted by a group of African-American law students at Drake University.

"We felt a lot of minority people in general, not just youth, don't know how to interact with the police when they get confronted on the street," said Lauren Yates, 23, a second-year law student. "We want to show them how to de-escalate the situation so you don't go to jail for mouthing off to an officer..."

Reminds me of my stints as a guest lecturer for Magic Valley Alternative High School; good times, good times...

October 30, 2007

"When you hear hoofbeats behind you"

Heading to trial and stuck with a defense that just doesn't make sense? Read "Loser Truth" at Simple Justice first.Because "sometimes there really is a zebra behind you."

See also "My Truth is No Better Than Your Truth" from a public defender.

October 28, 2007

WA & AK: "a blend of charm and arrogance, spirituality and bravado"

Interesting profile from the Anchorage Daily News of "probably the most well-known criminal defense lawyer in the state (of Washington)":

Kohring's lawyer is known for being flamboyant, effective - JOHN HENRY BROWNE: Attorney from Washington state once defended serial killer Ted Bundy

One thing's for sure about John Henry Browne. Humble he's not.

He's the Seattle lawyer defending former state Rep. Vic Kohring on federal corruption charges, and he is on a roll. "If you can find an attorney with a better record, hire them," says a half-page ad... Now he's trying to keep Kohring out of prison, and he's up against two federal prosecutors on a team that's 2-0 against public corruption in Alaska...

Once I went to a death penalty CLE in a cramped lodge below Mt. St. Helens. John Henry Browne was there, lounging like a lion in repose, power and confidence in reserve, in a way befitting the king of the beasts.

October 25, 2007

CO: RIP Bryan Shaha, "an ultimate class act"

From the Greeley Tribune:

Former head of Greeley public defender's office dies after long fight with cancer

Bryan Shaha fought like a bulldog for his clients. That's how Mike Zwiebel describes his longtime friend: a lawyer who pulled out all the stops to defend those who couldn't afford to defend themselves.

Shaha, 65, died Wednesday after a bout with cancer... After a stint with Colorado Rural Legal Services, Shaha moved to Greeley and the Colorado Public Defender's Office, where he was deputy state public defender before heading the Greeley office. He worked in private practice for five years beginning in 1979, still defending the accused, and later returned to the public defender's office. "There was no ego," Zwiebel said. "It was never for his own glory..."

Update: from the Denver Post, Defense lawyer went to bat for defenseless

The one thing Bryan Shaha couldn't stand was injustice - whether it involved meatpackers or inmates on death row. So Shaha, who died Oct. 24, three days before his 66th birthday, spent almost all his legal career defending those who could count on no other defense...

"It was his soul that made J. Skelly Wright a hero"

Homage to Judge Wright, from Susan Estrich: My Hero

J. Skelly Wright, a self-described "good Catholic boy" from New Orleans, a night-law-school graduate, a working-class kid who took seriously what he learned in school and in church, had been appointed to the federal district court by Harry Truman while still in his 30s because he was the only guy around who thought every ballot was supposed to be counted, once. But no one expected this good ole boy to decide that if separate but equal was inherently unequal, it was his job as a federal judge to order the first blacks to attend LSU Law School, to integrate the New Orleans school systems...

He didn't set out to be a hero. He just believed it was his job to do what was right, to enforce the law... He never got rich... As the Supreme Court changed, he got reversed more and more often. But he never stopped fighting...

Now you know just a tad more about this blog's patron saint.
(shown here with his wife Helen Patton Wright)

October 24, 2007

Cool courthouses of Eastern Washington

As seen on yesterday's drive, the courthouse (1887, 1993) in Dayton, Columbia County (population 4100), together with the bright white courthouse (1901) in Pomeroy, Garfield County (population 2400).

Those early wheat kings had confidence in the law, as great as their hopes for the future.

Larry Craig had a criminal defense lawyer

Pants on fire, from the Spokesman-Review:

Craig hired lawyer before arrest

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig paid top criminal defense attorney Billy Martin and PR consultant Judy Smith $37,350 in early July, and has had them representing him since last February – throughout the time he said he consulted no lawyer about his legal troubles in Minnesota...

“Larry didn’t tell anyone – not a soul,” said his spokesman, Dan Whiting, who said that was “a well-established giant mistake.” Whiting said Craig never told Martin, a renowned criminal defense attorney, of his arrest or guilty plea, even though he was paying him at the time to represent him...

October 23, 2007

ID: "so the money hungry lawyers can retry a killer"

Accused murderer Mark Lankford and I both arrived in Grangeville, Idaho recently. I stayed about five blocks from him - didn't visit. I just left there; he might still be there.

From KTVB:

Lankford returns to Idaho County for possible retrial

Mark Lankford is back in Idaho County Jail this week after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he must be either retried or released because of an error in jury instructions during his 1984 trial...

Judge grants motion to appoint Lankford new lead lawyer

A state judge has granted a motion to appoint a new lead lawyer for a man facing a second trial for his role in two 1983 slayings. Mark Lankford, 51, appeared today in Second District Court while his defense team urged the court to hire a more experienced attorney to supervise the case...

24 years later, the majority of taxpayers in Idaho County seem determined to try to execute this guy one more time around, tax base and other necessary tax expenditures be damned.

October 18, 2007

Gone to Idaho

Heading home to Larry Craig Land after work today. My 20 year law school reunion, imagine that.

October 16, 2007

CA: someone else's pants

Alert reader Erik sent me this link from the LA Times:

'What gun? Oh, this gun? Uh, it came with the pants'

Not everyone is born with the talent to make up plausible alibis on a moment's notice. Take the gang member walking down an L.A. street with a handgun visible in his waistband. Before he donned a pair of handcuffs, he told officers John Banuelos and Manny Sierra that "the pants he was wearing were actually not his and he hadn't noticed that it [the gun] was in there..."

(I'm sure the writer meant to say alleged gang member.)

Thanks for remembering my favorite defense, Erik! In the words of the great Benton Larson, "I know what's in my pants."

ID: paying the overhead

From the Burley / Rupert South Idaho Press:

Public defenders, boiler hit Minidoka budget

Minidoka County Commissioners and Fifth District Judge Barry Wood discussed on Friday possible solutions to the county’s shrinking pool of attorneys willing to serve as public defenders... (P)art of the problem is an increasing number of court cases in which a public defender is required... But Wood said fewer and fewer attorneys are willing to take cases as public defenders because the county pays just $55 per hour, a fraction of what attorneys make on private cases...

But finding room in the existing budget to raise public defenders’ pay may be just as difficult, as commissioners learned the courthouse boiler has sprung a leak and may have to be replaced to the tune of about $20,000...

October 15, 2007

From probation to prison thanks to MySpace?

As you read here at A&C last month, from today's
National Law Journal (link via UW's Trial Ad Notes):

Lawyers in civil and criminal cases are increasingly finding that social networking sites can contain treasure chests of information for their cases. Armed with printouts from sites such as Facebook and MySpace, attorneys have used pictures, comments and connections from these sites as powerful evidence in the courtroom.

"It's going to be more and more helpful in the future," said Mark Diebolt, a deputy county attorney in Pima County, Ariz... Diebolt said an eyewitness recently identified a first-degree murder suspect in a group photograph posted on MySpace... D. Jesse Smith, a solo practitioner in Tucson, Ariz., said... (i)n a recent misdemeanor assault case..., he was able to prove someone other than his client was the aggressor who started the fight because his MySpace page contained a video of him beating someone up...

One defense lawyer said that... the judge relied heavily on MySpace to decide on his client's sentence. Steve Balash of Santa Barbara... said that Jessica Binkerd was sentenced in January to five years and four months in prison after she drove under the influence of alcohol and got into a crash in which her passenger was killed. Balash said he expected Binkerd to get probation, but she received a prison sentence in large part because her MySpace page showed her wearing an outfit with shot glasses and an alcohol advertisement after the accident...

Why, just today outside the courtroom here, one teenager's parent was talking about wanting to sue the cops for invasion of privacy, because they printed out the teenager's (incriminating) MySpace pages.

LA: "they have never met anyone from here who cares"

Well-written post from Dangerblond in New Orleans:

drugs and tennis shoes

Tonight, there were about 15 prisoners at HOD. Also, Popeye was back, making short work of a po-boy from Mandina’s. The older deputy told me that things had calmed down since this weekend, when there were 40 people arrested on Saturday and 30 on Sunday.

I said, “what happened? Everybody being good all of a sudden?”

He said, “no indeed. The cops just don’t want to arrest anybody...”

October 14, 2007

Pumpkin days

Measuring up last year and this year at the family's favorite pumpkin patch.

Down California way, law student Mieke had the same idea.

October 13, 2007

IN: another p. d. jailed for contempt

From the Fort Wayne News - Sentinel:

Attorney arrested after missing hearing - Public defender said he was in another court

A public defender who failed to appear for a client’s sentencing hearing Friday found himself on the other side of the law hours later – arrested and booked into Allen County Lockup on a direct contempt of court charge. Allen Superior Court Judge Kenneth Scheibenberger ordered an arrest warrant for 43 - year - old Quinton L. Ellis when the lawyer did not show up for the sentencing of Dixon W. Boughman... Boughman was to be released Friday because he had already served enough time in jail...

“I think it was extreme under the circumstances,” said Ellis of the judge’s decision. “I know he has fined other attorneys...” “He’s a good lawyer, an excellent lawyer,” Scheibenberger said. “He’s just not very organized...”

October 12, 2007

FL: "it may have been a mistake to put him in juvenile"

By now you've heard of this:

All-white jury clears 8 in boot-camp death of boy

Acquittal Fits the Pattern in Boot Camp Deaths

I can't find the words...

In other Florida news, this, also from the South Florida Sun - Sentinel:

Public defender intern in Broward had been arrested for sex with teen

A Coral Springs man whose stepdaughter is in Broward juvenile court said he "almost had a heart attack" when he learned her assistant public defender once was arrested for having sex with a minor. "We were shocked," said Steve Potgieter, 38. "We were like, this is the twilight zone; this cannot be."

It turns out Bryan Docobo, 26, is an intern newly hired by the Broward Public Defender's Office... In May 2005, Docobo, then 23, had consensual sex with a 15-year-old Cooper City girl he met on the Internet. He pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to one year's probation...

October 11, 2007

ID & TX: just because a prisoner's from Idaho doesn't make Texas less responsible

From the Houston Chronicle:

Inmate's mother to speak against private Texas prisons

The mother of an Idaho inmate who killed himself in a private Texas prison on March 4 plans to urge Texas lawmakers to stop accepting out-of-state prisoners at their for-profit lockups. Shirley Noble said she expects to speak Friday to the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee. She filed a $500,000 negligence claim against Idaho in August in Scot Noble Payne's death...

Grits says:

Friday's Texas Senate hearing on private prison oversight and the Geo Group just got more interesting...

Hail, College of Idaho!

Dear alma mater: I am dancing a little Coyote jig. From the Idaho Press - Tribune:

UPDATED: It's back to The College of Idaho

Albertson College of Idaho has received the largest donation in the history of Idaho higher education and is returning to its original name, The College of Idaho. College President Bob Hoover announced Thursday that the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation has given $50 million to the school to kick off a 10-year fundraising campaign for the renamed College of Idaho...

The decision was made partly because some College of Idaho alumni didn’t feel connected to the school after the name change...
(ya think?) The private school has long been the subject of jokes referring to its shared name with a grocery store, including zingers such as, “What’s your degree in — paper, or plastic?”... Current students and alumni cheered when Hoover announced the name change...

Just like this alum.Update: The College of Idaho is back, gets $50 million

After 16 years as Albertson College of Idaho, Caldwell’s liberal arts college announced a return to its roots Thursday along with a $50 million donation and the start of a new fundraising campaign. Before a crowd of students, faculty, alumni and dignitaries, President Bob Hoover revealed that ACI will once again be called The College of Idaho...

And from the Statesman: College cuts ‘Albertson' name - The College of Idaho goes back to its original name and gets $50 million from the Albertson Foundation

Albertson College of Idaho students say there will be no more jokes about their grocery store college or using their preferred savings card when paying tuition... Michael Danielson, class of 1989, said he is "ecstatic." "It will bring some interest by alums back to the college," he said. "(Alumni) felt it wasn't their school."

Diane Raptosh, professor of English and 1983 alumna
(and my cool classmate!), agreed. "I understood the reason (for the 1991 change) and respected it," she said. "But like many other alumni, I felt a little bewildered and longed for The College of Idaho." Faculty is mostly focusing on the endowment, Raptosh said. "It will allow us to look like a top 100 liberal arts college and allows us to strive toward that goal."

October 10, 2007

WA: strike avoided - my clients' counselors still on the job

That was close! And what a relief for my kid clients, many of whom get help from BHR. From the Olympian:

BHR and SEIU union employees reach tentative agreement

Behavioral Health Resources and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW today reached a tentative agreement on a contract covering BHR’s over 200 community mental health employees in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties...

Previously, from What This Town Needs:

Bedlam Begins Thursday

Tomorrow morning, the staff of Olympia's only mental health provider, Behavioral Health Resources, are going on strike. They have over 3000 clients, for whom mental health services are a basic need. These clients will be left without their case management, counseling, medication management, and payee services(which means their rent can't get paid). If you're going to have a breakdown any time soon, I'd recommend holding off or relocating to another county...

So with the news, maybe now, Bedlam starts to end.

WA: I ♥ Oly

Tonight I'm standing in the check-out line at the Canned Foods Grocery Outlet on the west side, and the friendly Greener who's scanning my off-brand linguiƧa and cat treats notices that I'm still wearing a go-to-court tie, and so asks me what I do for work. I answer, and we have a pleasant chat about discussing our state's juvenile prisons in seminar compared to visiting them in person.

I swipe my debit card and say thank you, and my checker replies, "thank you for what you do." I love this town.

It's a fair cop, innit?

E-mailed by Liz at I Speak of Dreams, from the British Psychological Society's Research Digest Blog:

Just how good are police officers at detecting liars?

We had just sat through a presentation by a proponent of the Reid Technique, a potentially psychologically coercive method of persuading a suspect to confess, used widely in North America (although not in the UK). The North American police officers, in the majority at this international conference a couple of years ago, loved it. British police delegates and we psychologists shifted uncomfortably in our seats...

As Grits for Breakfast reminds us,

Juvenile Interrogation Tactics Ignore Developmental Vulnerabilities

Another significant criticism of the Reid Technique is that juvenile suspects (as well as those who are mentally retarded or mentally ill) are especially vulnerable to deceptive and psychologically coercive interrogation techniques now standard because they are more compliant and suggestible. There is significant research to show that juveniles are more susceptible to false confessions, but Reid training does not address the relevant differences between kids and adults, and indicates that their standard methods are appropriate for juveniles...

October 08, 2007

Polako, polako!

Innovative law enforcement idea from Slovenia: cardboard cut-out policemen!Still a few bugs in the system...

Courtesy of The Glory of Carniola.

Pay for your Martindale-Hubbell® rating or we'll shoot this dog

I got an urgent (unsolicited) letter today, urging me not to miss the boat on a major legal concern's new business model™ - yesterday's price = free; today's price = $50.00:

Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ - 2nd Notice

We recently notified you of an annual $50 administration fee associated with the maintenance and upkeep of your Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings listing displayed throughout the Martindale-Hubbell® Legal Network.

While we assume this nominal fee remains unpaid through an oversight, you should know that if it not paid by 11/01/07, your rating will no longer be displayed in our online and print resources. This would not eliminate your coveted rating; however it would exclude your rating from being seen by over 1 million that reference Martindale-Hubbell® when evaluating and selecting a legal resource...

Let this sad post stand like Ozymandias' statute to show the world that I once attained a coveted BV(T)® rating, and that for a few shining years my glory was known to every and all. Now that most coveted distinction, for which I labored and lobbied so hard, will flit through cyberspace unseen and alone. I weep. Lord knows what a blow it will be to all the teenagers in my county who seek public defender services by first turning to Martindale-Hubbell®.

I'm so grateful I'm not alone.

Update: one reason why Martindale-Hubbell® needs my $50.00: to pay for flying the Martindale Hubbell-Lexis Nexis Legal Advisory Board to Madrid and treating them like royalty.

October 05, 2007

One meme, ten good blawgs

It started with Blawg Review. It spread to Where's Travis McGee? (where? Afghanistan! Read Brad Parker's dispatches) Now, somehow, it's reached me: the meme of the moment, the Top Ten Best Blawgs project.

It's hardly fair, being limited to a list of only ten, and having to avoid blogs already named (which unreasonably excludes the wisdom of Minor Wisdom and the blonde-ness of Blonde Justice) and non-law blogs (you'll miss the coyote's siren song of Creek Running North, the firebell in the night at Orcinus, the curious absence of monkey or disaster in Monkey Disaster).

So, facing the limitations of the playing field as any good public defender should, here's a list - not the list - of Top Ten Legal Blogs:

* Angry Pregnant Lawyer - co-starring Not So Angry Husband, Angry Boy, and Angry Little Baby. Law makes guest appearances.

* CrimLaw - of course. Defended then, prosecutes now, doesn't miss a thing.

* Grits for Breakfast - "Welcome to Texas justice: You might beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride." This blog gets results, reforming Texas courts, jails and prisons.

* Public Defender Stuff - the aggregator of my people.

* Sentencing Law and Policy - my "serious" choice, from Professor Douglas Berman at Ohio State. Essential and influential.

* The Bardd Before the Bar - indigent defense, indignant cats (turn down your speakers!).

* The Imbroglio - Big Sky vistas stretch out in front of this starting-out lawyer.

* The Menagerie - small-size practice, medium-size dogs.

* The Thirteen Juror - with the most recent post titled "How to Be a Successful Homeless People," a rage against injustice just behind a civil Floridian smile.

* Woman of the Law - "I'm a fast-talkin' hell-raisin' son of a bitch, and I'm a sinner and I know how to fight." Not my words, hers.

* Woman Wearing Black - shot a lawyer in Reno just to watch him die.

That's eleven! I'm arbitrary like that. Sad to leave out a few too many other worthy blogs (these among them), but still, here's a pretty good list to get you started.

Update 10/5: after I put this post and myself to bed, I tossed and turned agonizing, how could I leave out The Invent Blog? Or Simple Justice? Or The Underdog Blog? Or, or, or... as I fell into a listless slumber. Small wonder that memes are considered viral: catch one and it'll make you sick!

Update 10/6
: this morning while watching Conference on KBYU, I was seized with a compulsion, yea, even as unto a most powerful magnet, to return to this post and bring you the good news of Law of Criminal Defense by John Wesley Hall, Jr., Scoplaw, Do Not Pass Geaux, Fight 'Em 'til We Can't, my blogfather Public Defender Dude, and so many more - check out my blogroll.

October 04, 2007

ID: sit down, man, you're a bloody tragedy

The self-inflicted humiliations of Larry Craig continue:The Minnesota judge's Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Withdraw Plea is here (pdf file).

I'd thought that the written plea form was a bit iffy on giving notice of the right to counsel, and the waiving of same, but in determining whether Larry's plea was uncounseled, the judge noted:

The Defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of, at least, above-average intelligence. He knew what he was saying, reading, and signing... The Defendant is an educated adult, who was advised by the prosecutor himself to consult an attorney. He knew of that right when he went back to the POC to get the prosecutor's information so he could have his "attorney contact him." The fact that the Defendant chose not to consult an attorney, to his detriment, does not render his waiver invalid.

Knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily given, and supported by the evidence: now, Senator, will you please leave?

Sound like your office?

PD Secretary wants to know if any other public defenders are hiring:

My files and notices are piling up and I just can't seem to get caught up with everything. Everyone is wearing on everyone else's nerves and it's like walking on eggshells...

Found out today that one of the muni court judges (former prosecutor) tends to think of CPD as a canine friend. He told one of the office attorneys that really the only way he could bring himself to deal with CPD in the past is to treat him like a dog. No, off, good boy, sit, stay, and the like. How embarassing...

October 01, 2007

P.D. parents ♥ their kids

Woman in Black explains how her children make her a better public defender. And she has some pretty cool kids, too.

Bonus link goes to Brats on the Beat: Ramones for Kids