November 30, 2007

ID: the lawyer has a daughter, too

These comments by a criminal defense lawyer really pissed off my wife... from the Twin Falls Times-News:

A Twin Falls man who pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape was sentenced Thursday to four to 10 years in a special section of prison that offers treatment. In six months he'll have a shot at probation. Battling attorneys at the Dustin Owings sentencing hearing argued points in what sounded like two separate cases.

"Boys will be boys and girls will be girls," said Owings' attorney, Harry DeHaan. "And one of the ways girls get attention is they present sex." DeHaan objected to the prosecutor's repeated claim that Owings coerced the girls, saying, "It is only rape because the statute defines it as such."

Owings, now 26, allegedly raped five underage girls during a five-year period in which they were about 16 years old, and he was 21 or older and was their supervisor at Gertie's Brick Oven Cookery in Twin Falls...

...and you really do not want to piss off my wife.

Update: see comments at The MountainGoat Report.

Update: but wait, there's more!

Harry DeHaan, Owings' defense attorney said, "I think the facts contained in the pre-sentencing hearing reports show that these ladies had sex with a number of people. But if they have regrets about their sexual history, somehow it's all Mr. Owings's fault..."

November 29, 2007

I'd settle for scorn AND bigger budgets

I've been waiting for this to go online, from Reason magazine, by Radley Balko:

No Money, No Justice - Do public defenders deserve scorn, or bigger budgets?

If we’re serious about giving everyone a fair crack at justice, indigent defendants need access to the same sorts of resources prosecutors have... If we’re going to generously fund the government’s efforts to imprison people, we need to ensure that everyone the government pursues is adequately defended and protected from prosecutorial overreach...


November 28, 2007

NV: Elko p.d. redux

Elko County, Nevada, is looking for a deputy public defender.

If memory serves, seems that they were looking for one about this time last year.

Elko is lovely this time of year.

VA: up against illness, prickly is good

From Style Weekly:

Boat’s Battle - Prickly longtime public defender John Boatwright runs into a different kind of enemy: hepatitis C

John Boatwright III used to swagger into courtrooms like a lion entering a Roman arena: confident, brash and hungry. Whether it was in the heat of litigation or in the chilly brinkmanship of plea negotiations, his forthright manner often irked opponents. Some things change; others never do...

There isn’t much to say about hepatitis C, other than there is no cure, and it is a miserable, life-altering disease... Boatwright is on short-term disability from his post as capital defender for Virginia’s central region...

November 25, 2007

ID: drug court due process and not-so-incorrigible kids

I don't have much occasion to read up on Idaho caselaw since I, well, no longer practice in Idaho, but I liked these recent opinions:

State v Paul Lawrence Rogers, No. 33935 (October 22, 2007) (pdf file here):

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that where a defendant was required to plead guilty in order to enter into drug court, he had a liberty interest in remaining in that diversionary program, and held that drug court participants are entitled to due process rights such as those afforded to parolees in Morrissey v. Brewer prior to termination from the program. The opinion was authored by one of my old TF judges, Justice Burdick.

In the Matter of Doe, No. 33475 (November 1, 2007) (pdf file here):

The Court of Appeals found that raising one's voice a little is not sufficient to bring a youth within the purview of the Juvenile Corrections Act. I'm pleased as punch to send congratulations to the lawyer who argued and won the appeal, Robin Weeks of the Twin Falls County Public Defenders Office - I hired her, you know.

November 20, 2007

Chased by the law? Use the PD office's convenient rear window entrance

Time for more of the action packed stories of Public Defender In Action:In this pre-Gideon episode, coppers are trying to prevent a responsible client from keeping his office appointment. Meanwhile, Public Defender In Action is taking an action packed drag on his pipe, as if contemplating the ethical do's and don't's accompanying that big rucksack of cash headed his way.

November 19, 2007

WA: what if you inherited many, many $$$$'s?

First you'd quit your p.d. job and invest in something worthwhile... From the Spokesman-Review:

Connect: An urban vision for green living

It was not unlike winning the lottery without buying a ticket. Jim Sheehan was burned out on the law. For 20 years he'd worked as a public defender, and he'd just tried a death penalty case in Spokane. "I was just so finished. Then one morning my sister called from Seattle. She said, 'Are you sitting down, because you better be,' " Sheehan recalled. "Then she said our aunt Verle had died and left us this exorbitant amount of money..."

Unexpectedly wealthy, Sheehan took a year off to figure out what to do with his life. "It was really simplistic," Sheehan said, "because I loved being a public defender. It's incredibly important work. People think it's the prosecutors who wear the white hats and preserve the culture, but in my opinion it's those who represent the charged that we should commend as the defenders of freedom."

So in 1999, he opened the Center for Justice, a public interest law firm. "I was going to use my money to help have the voices of people heard, who never get heard," Sheehan said. "The poor, the disadvantaged, the oppressed, the disenfranchised – which all together is a vast number in our culture. They have no access to the legal system. I thought: I can do something to change that."

...later on, you'd hire the best lawyer you could find, naturally. Again, from the Spokesman-Review:

Attorney, law center join up - Jeffry Finer brings decades of experience to Spokane's Center for Justice

It was a lawyer's peak moment: arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. But Spokane attorney Jeffry Finer was pretty sure he'd lost in 1996 when Chief Justice William Rehnquist abruptly clicked off his microphone and leaned back with a scowl. "I got jumped by nine judges in robes. I lost hugely," Finer said of the case, in which he argued that civil forfeiture and criminal prosecution for the same offense violate double-jeopardy protections in the U.S. Constitution.

Finer, 52, is better known in Spokane for the high-profile civil rights cases he's helped win or settle, including the epic Spokane Gypsy case and a clinic-picketing case pitting the privacy rights of women seeking abortions against the free-speech rights of abortion protesters. Now, in a new step in his 23-year career, Finer is closing his solo practice and joining the Center for Justice, a unique public-interest law firm funded with former public defender Jim Sheehan's inheritance...

November 18, 2007

WA: imagine, an arrest-free port protest

Yesterday we were at the farmers' market, conveniently located next to the Port of Olympia. As the marchers went past, I was turned off by the bullhorn and the upside-down Old Glory, but was heartened to see a demonstration truly non-violent enough to bring your dog.

Bonus link goes to OlyBlog and "Imagine a different protest."

November 15, 2007

Four squirrels and ten Hail Marys

For our colleague the Bardd, some days in Drug Court are joyful: Drug Court graduation for example. Other days feel like eavesdropping on someone else's confession: bless me, Your Honor, for I have sinned, for instance. The Bardd also has issues with Nature's "scoundrelly little opportunist," the squirrel.

Then there's this from the criminal defense lawyer at The Squirrel's Nest: "It would be totally awesome if we could just dispense with the clients"

One more lawyer, Simba's Mom at Unpublished Opinion (motto: "I will try to talk about something other than the cats") has noticed how squirrels are like cats.

And on my back porch there's an uneasy detente between the wily eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and the dapper Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri).

November 11, 2007

IN: a criminal defense lawyer, a recovering meth addict, but not a convicted felon

From the Evansville Courier and Press:

Happe resumes treatment, hopes to restart law practice

For Brad Happe, the moment of truth arrived around 8:30 p.m. Friday as 12 jurors returned to a Vanderburgh County Superior courtroom after four hours of deliberation. If convicted, the 30-year-old Evansville attorney faced six years to 20 years in prison on two methamphetamine - related charges.

"(Defense attorney) John Brinson told me to give my wallet and watch to my parents, because if they found me guilty, I was going to be taken to jail right away," Happe said. "That was the scariest moment." When jurors announced Happe was not guilty on both counts, he first thanked Brinson, then the jury, then his family and friends...

The bumpy road Happe has been down began at a party years ago, where he said he first tried methamphetamine... Happe said a 2006 conviction on a misdemeanor charge of visiting a common nuisance led to his ongoing recovery effort. In that case, he pleaded guilty after being accused of leaving a place where meth was manufactured... "This is a lifelong process," he said of his recovery.

Happe says his plans are to resume his career in criminal defense when he returns to Evansville in several months. "I'll be able to identify with my clients much more now," he said. "I'll understand where they are coming from because I went through the whole process. A client who comes to me will get someone with a unique perspective..."

November 10, 2007

WA: in Oly, it's pepper spray season again

From the Olympian:

At least 12 arrested as protests move to downtown, I-5 entrance

At least 12 people have been arrested today as protests of military-cargo shipments from the Port of Olympia moved to downtown and the Plum Street entrance to Interstate 5... Protesters on foot blocked traffic at Fourth and Plum about noon by jumping in front of 18-wheelers towing cargo containers containing military equipment bound for Fort Lewis. But Olympia police in riot gear moved in quickly, spraying pepper spray in the faces of the protesters, pushing them with their batons and dragging them away from the road...

There are lots of photos to be seen at OlyBlog (here and here) and The Olympian's gallery. Also, you might like to read this OlyBlog post, "I'm sitting on the fence here instead of lining up against it". My past posts on the port protests are here.

November 09, 2007

Bless the beasts and the firefighters

From the Idaho Statesman, photo by Chris Butler:People, pets saved after fire breaks out at apartment

When Boise fire fighters say they work to save lives and property every time they are called out to extinguish a blaze, that includes pets. Boise fire fighters rescued two cats from an apartment fire Friday morning and resuscitated one of them with a special breathing mask, much to the relief of residents of the apartment complex...

Nothing about work here, just moved by the photo and the story. HELP Animals, Inc. is one charity that helps provide animal oxygen masks to first responders.


O welche Lust, in freier Luft
Den Atem leicht zu heben!

"Oh what joy to breathe freely
in the open air!"

November 08, 2007

"Please don't laugh at us when we yell 'bad bear!'"

This public service reminder from the Bear Whisperer and your friends at the Mammoth Lakes Police Department:

"There are no problem bears, only bears in problematic situations."

(Curiously, "Bad Bear!" is something that my wife has been known to yell at me.)
(hat tip to NPR)

November 07, 2007

No vegans need apply

Today in court, our pro-tem was trying to encourage one of my high school clients to get more involved in one of the various extra-curricular activities:

"Heck they even have a Beef Club - they sit around talking about eating meat."

November 06, 2007

"Not because it is easy but because it is hard"

Reasons for becoming a public defender, from Inherent in the Concept of Ordered Liberty: that I could advance the cause of social justice...

...(to) see human dignity as a greater value than guilt or innocence... order to be a voice for the voiceless...

...because I suffer from an excess of empathy...

November 05, 2007

ID: a hard sell for in-state private prisons

Idaho news from the Spokesman-Review, via Eye on Boise:

Prison proposal draws criticism - Otter's plan allows out-of-state inmates

The idea that Idaho could import out-of-state murderers, rapists and other criminals to serve time at new profit-making private lockups in the state makes some key state lawmakers squirm.

"I have some questions about the advisability of doing that – I think a lot of people do," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Denton Darrington, R-Declo. "I'm not sure it would be well-received by the citizens of the state..."

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said..., "I have a problem modifying the statute to allow a business or industry to bring in persons who have proven to be capable of very serious criminal misconduct. It's not something that I'm a fan of."

Idaho has sent hundreds of its own prisoners to out-of-state private prisons in recent years because of overcrowding in state prisons; 550 Idaho inmates are in such facilities now, and hundreds more are headed out in the next few months. Problems have included escapes, abuse complaints and an inmate suicide in the past two years at private prisons...

Mark the date: this is one time I agree with Denton Darrington of Declo.

November 02, 2007

A love letter from Martindale-Hubbell®

"You know what a love letter is?":
We recently notified you of an annual $50 administrative fee associated with the maintenance and upkeep of your Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings indicator displayed throughout the Martindale-Hubbell® Legal Network. If this fee is not paid by 11/9/07, your rating will no longer be displayed in our online and print resources. While this may not eliminate your rating, it will exclude it from being seen by over 1 million visitors that reference Martindale-Hubbell when evaluating and selecting a legal resource. You can submit a credit card payment for your 2007 administration fee via or by calling us at 1-800-892-6998. If you have already paid this fee, please disregard this notice.

(This one goes out to my little friend at LexisNexis®, who's been visiting the blog every weekday since I got Martindale-Hubbell®'s previous letter.)

November 01, 2007

Experts decry what we juvy p.d.'s do with the hand we're dealt

E-mailed from the blogkeeper of I Speak of Dreams:

Study cites troubles with juvenile courts

Children accused of crimes in the U.S. juvenile court system often find themselves represented by lawyers who know nothing about their cases and under pressure to plead guilty, experts said on Wednesday.

"People would be outraged by many of these practices if they occurred in an adult system," said Cathryn Crawford of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School.

She was one of the authors of a report that looked at the juvenile court system in Illinois timed to mark the 40th anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that children accused of delinquency are entitled to a lawyer and due process in the courts...

Reaction from one Illinois juvenile public defender:

After reviewing the study, Brian Dees, an assistant public defender assigned to Sangamon County juvenile courts, said, “I don’t think it’s indicative of what we do here.”

Dees said defense attorneys normally meet with juveniles and parents before the first court hearing. Plea bargains are not forced on anyone, he said, and juvenile defendants don’t plead guilty on their first appearance. “We like to win trials,” said Dees, who has represented juveniles for eight years in Sangamon County. “We do everything we can. I’m not sure what they’re talking about...”