September 30, 2008

CA: police encounter etiquette for kids

From the San Jose Mercury News:

New guide offers advice to teens on criminal behavior, cops

Hoping it will find a place along with "Animal Farm" and "Julius Caesar" in high school kids' backpacks, the San Jose Independent Police Auditor is coming out with an updated edition of the "Students' Guide to Police Practices." (pdf file)

IPA Director Barbara Attard and Police Chief Rob Davis hope the free 36-page pamphlet will help teens learn about how to make the right choices about criminal behavior — whether as a victim or as a potential perpetrator — and how to deal with cops...

MO: p.d. system "on verge of collapse"

It's the swaths that'll kill ya, from the Springfield News-Leader:

Public defenders to reject some cases - Overwhelmed attorneys will turn away swath of clients

On Wednesday, public defenders in Springfield and elsewhere in the state will begin to refuse cases. People accused of violating the terms of their probation could be ineligible for a defender. And indigent defendants charged with certain collections and traffic crimes won't get a public attorney. The change will mark the first time since the birth of the Missouri Public Defender System that defenders will turn away whole swaths of clients...

Via the Missouri Bar (with podcast)

Update: from KSPR, You Have the Right to an Effective Attorney … Maybe?

September 25, 2008

Guantánamo prosecutor quits over Brady violations

From the Washington Post:

Guantanamo Prosecutor Quits, Says Evidence Was Withheld

A military prosecutor involved in war crimes cases here has quit his position, citing ethical concerns about his office's failure to turn over exculpatory material to attorneys for an Afghan detainee... Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld... (laid) out his concerns about the case and procedures in the military prosecutor's office...

"My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery," wrote Vandeveld in his filing. "I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain 'procedure' for affording defense counsel discovery..."

September 24, 2008

NY: 5 boroughs, one p.d. blog

An addition to the blogroll, from some real "Raising the Bar" p.d.'s:

Five Borough Defense - New York City Public Defenders

How can you tell they're real NYC p.d's? Exhibit A (which does not include my wimpy Idaho-person asterisks):

Another client coming to court every few weeks for a year because some *ssh*le called the cops. Client loses money, promotions. The DA calls at 9pm the night before trial and asks if the client wants an ACD. Client does not want an ACD. Then, on the day of trial, the DA dismisses...

September 22, 2008

WA & ID: writing about jury duty

Seattle writer Kelley Eskridge blogs about voir dire (part one) (part two), then gets fan mail from a criminal defense lawyer. Good stuff.

See also Idaho blogger Rob's jury duty perspective.

ID & TX: "Idaho should step up to the plate and bring their prisoners home"

Probing article on the Idaho archipelago, from Andrea Jackson of the Twin Falls Times-News -

Families feel loss as out-of-state prison population grows

- and the same article picked up by the Houston Chronicle:

Idaho's out-of-state prison population grows

Pam Drashner visited her husband every weekend in prison, until she was turned away one day because he wasn't there. He had been quietly transferred from Boise to a private prison in Sayre, Okla. She never saw him again.

In July, she went to the Post Office to pick up his ashes, mailed home in a box. He died of a traumatic brain injury in Oklahoma, allegedly assaulted by another inmate. David Drashner was one of hundreds of male inmates Idaho authorities have sent to private prisons in other states. About 10 percent of Idaho's inmates are now out-of-state...

September 21, 2008

"'Peace Corps 1962: turned village over to Communists' ... Who's gonna hire me?"

The Cougars actually won this weekend. To mark the occasion, here's John Candy singing the Wazzu fight song, from "Volunteers."

I was living on the Palouse at the time the movie came out, and a few of my law school classmates labeled me, "Tom Tuttle from Tacoma." For the life of me, I don't know the reason why.

(Thanks to Ken Levine)

NV: MD or PD, "you help people that need help"

From the Nevada Appeal:

From medicine to law, new State Public Defender is just trying to help

For 17 years, Diane Crow has worked for the State Public Defender's Office in Carson City handling everything from trespassing to capital murder cases. On Thursday, Gov. Jim Gibbons appointed Crow to a four year term as head of the office...

"I've always seen this as a service oriented profession," she said. "It's just like medicine. You help people that need help."

September 20, 2008

ID: spill soda, go to the big house!

Huzzah, my home town made Harper's:

Unexpected Consequences from a Mug of Soda

The latest episode showing the Justice Department’s more than curious notions of justice can be found this week in the pages of the Idaho Statesman. Natalie Walters is now facing prosecution that could put her in prison for six months. Her crime? She poured a cup of Diet Coke on a counter in a Veteran’s Administration cafeteria...

See also Simple Justice, Are the Guidelines the same for Diet Coke?

September 18, 2008

Bearing witness

Something remarkable and sad from The Urban Monk:

Why I Watch People Die

I cannot escape the fact that not far away a man is being taken into a room, strapped down and killed. And he may deserve it or he may not, but he is there not for the lives he took, but because he was the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I know that, and it terrifies me, and it will not leave me alone...

"Magical animals walk among us"

From Dominic Holden at Slog:

Tracking Down Those Unicorns

Last week White House appointee John Walters claimed on C-SPAN that finding people in jail for “first-time nonviolent possession of marijuana... is like finding a unicorn... because it doesn’t exist...” (I)t didn’t take me long to find credible people willing to vouch for the existence of first-time, non-violent marijuana offenders — excuse me, unicorns...

"Circumstances have conspired," but in a good way

Ms. Injustice Anywhere, I'm glad that you're back to blogging.

(and thanks for the birthday greeting, too)

September 16, 2008

WA: "sweatshop defense" and bad breaks in ole Vantucky

A long disjointed post from Washblog on three strikes, two-bit justice and one messed-up life:

A 3-Strikes Story: Abusive Foster Care, Deadly Streets, Broken Public Defense. WE CAN DO BETTER!

If nothing else disproves the 3-Strikes assumption that people convicted of three crimes are irredeemable, it is this response, seen in Schawn
(Cruze)'s case - and also with other Washington's 3-Strikers - of rising above hopelessness, accepting responsibility, and striving to realize his own potential under devastating circumstances...

September 15, 2008

Cannabis counsel pro and con

The gentle herb giveth:

(I)t's ok if you can’t afford private counsel. The often abused Public Defenders are among the very best lawyers anywhere. Their standards are high; their training is excellent. The sometimes higher paid members of the “private bar” often call on them for advice. So that’s a good place to start. You have to judge lawyers, their abilities, and, perhaps more importantly, their interest in you and your marijuana case for yourself...

The gentle herb taketh away:

Few people can afford to go the distance with the Justice Department, and are conducted to their confinement by the Judas Goats of the public defender service, pawns of the prosecutors, understaffed, and paid on the basis of supposed merit by the judges, most of whom are also ex-prosecutors...

I've never heard "Judas Goats" applied to our kind before, particularly not to purebred AFPD's. I'll add the term to my list of public pretender curses.

September 13, 2008

RIP David Foster Wallace

There will be droughts and days inundated
unveilings free from saturation
departures raised with no masquerading.
There will be teachers that die by their own hand
pundits that push headlong for atonement
friends and followers devoted to living.
There will be watchers that plot from in confines
and those committed to society's circles
unwary cogs with no cadence or virtue.
There will be right, there will be wrong.

Jay Farrar, "Medicine Hat"

Right at least to wait 'til the end of Suicide Prevention Week; wrong to leave the wife to cut down the body. Black humored genius, tormented bastard, rest in peace.

September 11, 2008

GA: "the inequity drives me"

From the Dalton Daily Citizen:

Public defenders passionate about work

Public defender Betsey Flack said she doesn’t mind the workload and what some in the legal profession may consider the position’s low pay. To Flack, protecting people’s legal rights is critical.

“Ensuring that they are treated fairly is what I see as my job,” the North Carolina native said. “When it comes to people’s liberties, I don’t think there is anything more important or more serious...”

Meanwhile, from the same newspaper:

Public defender office concerned about budget cuts

September 08, 2008

"What are my options under juvenile law?"

I feel bad for the kid, but still, it's been too long since I've linked to a public pretender post:

Right now my stepson is on home detention and awaiting arraignment on the 18th at which time we will have to settle for a public defender as we cannot afford a lawyer...

Free legal advice from strange lawyers who don't know you or your case - since 1995, more trusted than asking your own p.d.

September 07, 2008

Weekend worriors

Public defender Amb Imb wishes he didn't have to go into the office on weekends, while public defender Ken lays out one danger associated with the practice: going to the restroom and locking yourself out of your office, which happens to contain your wallet, car keys, cell phone, brief case, and badge (parental advisory: Ken says f*ck more than once).

I didn't go in this weekend, but do I have a doctor's note. I'm probably the oldest person around who still gets ear infections; antibiotics are proceeding nicely.

September 06, 2008

ID: "start winning your case at the preliminary hearing"

Back in the home state, they're hanging on to one of those "quaint" checks in the system of checks and balances (one that Idaho has and Washington State doesn't, by the way), from Idaho Criminal Defense Blog:

Preliminary Hearings Safe In Idaho

I just returned from a meeting of the Idaho Criminal Rules Committee during which we considered a question posed by a Magistrate Judge: Why do we waste valuable court time with preliminary hearings? Couldn't we just eliminate them and reduce the court's work? Sure - and maybe we should just get rid of those nagging, time consuming jury trials!

September 04, 2008

ID: tears of a clown

From the Spokesman-Review:

Mistrial declared after tearful opening argument

A prosecutor’s emotional and tearful opening argument in a domestic violence case prompted a Kootenai County judge to declare a mistrial Wednesday. First District Judge Fred Gibler initially assumed Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank’s voice was cracking because the prosecutor was “possibly forgetting some witnesses’ names.” Then, when Greenbank asked for a tissue, Gibler “assumed it was an allergy.”

But as Greenbank continued... Gibler became concerned the prosecutor was emotionally involved in the case and that it might influence jurors, according to minutes from Wednesday’s trial of Grant Gosch on domestic violence charges. Gibler said Greenbank “crossed the line...” Defense attorney Staci Anderson sought the mistrial... “The state was crying during its opening statements and asking for a tissue,” Anderson pointed out. “If Mr. Greenbank is not ready to handle this case, then possibly another prosecutor can come down...”

The judge said Greenbank’s “emotional involvement with the case was affecting the jury...” “In recent case the Court of Appeals has singled out the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office for appealing to the passions or prejudice of the jury,” Gibler said. “The entire system has a right to expect the prosecutor to conduct their case in a non-prejudicial manner.”

Via Huckleberries Online.

Support criminal defense in Cambodia

This looks like a good cause, from

End indefinite detention for 80 regular Cambodians

If you were suspected of a crime, would you be treated fairly? In Cambodia... the likely answer is no. This project gives 80 long-term detainees a trained defense lawyer and their day in court...

Check out the Cambodia archive (with great photos) of International Bridges to Justice's blog.

September 03, 2008

Juicebox for the Holy Ghost

So I've scavenged my wife's Sirius radio from our trade-in, and popped it in the pick-up, and tonight I'm driving around with the boy listening to the Kids Stuff channel, when this whimsical bit o' Seattle sound comes on: here's Mark Lanegan with "Sneakers."

Children's tunes by ex - Screaming Trees: a most awesome concept. (unfortunately, Youtube embedding is disabled on this one, but you can watch it here)

September 02, 2008

ID: "suprise, suprise"

Spell-check's broken on the KMVT website:

A suprise in court today

A man who faces 1st degree murder charges in the death of an 18-year old Twin Falls resident was back in court... John McElhiney's court appearance was short and took a surprising turn... Current attorney, Marilyne Paul and county prosecutor Grant Loebs met with Judge Bevan before the hearing took place. Once court was in session Judge Bevan said their
(sic) was clearly a irreconcilable conflict between the defendant and public defenders office...

In other Twin Falls murder news:

Transgender Iranian refugee charged with murder in shooting

A man previously described as a woman was rolled into a Twin Falls courtroom on Friday in a blue wheelchair to face a murder charge...