July 31, 2009


The blog is five years old now. It's had a few good years, and a few years of gentle steady decline. It's given me a place to post about representation, depression, transitions, and a few odd obsessions (and post about the kid, dogs and cats). It's made me some excellent new friends and brought me into contact with some quite remarkable lawyers, investigators, law professors and others (if I skipped a link, look for yourself in the blogroll). And now it's time, arbitrarily, capriciously, to give the blog a rest. There were so few public defender blogs back in 2004; it's great to think how many followed, and how many there will be to come. This site will stay up, and maybe it even will be relaunched. Until then, happy trials to you, 'til we meet again.

- "Skelly"

Happy Trails - Roy Rogers

July 19, 2009

CA: don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge

From the Ventura County Star:

Public Defender's Office close to edge - Any death penalty cases will trigger need for more help, says Dammeyer

I just liked the message in the headline, I guess.

July 15, 2009

Hope for community corrections

In this month's Washington Monthly:

Jail Break - How smarter parole and probation can cut the nation’s incarceration rate

If we want to end the era of mass incarceration and replace it with a regime of less punishment and less crime, drug testing is only one of the ways to apply the central lesson of HOPE ("Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement"): that clearly communicated threats of swift, certain punishment really can change behavior, even when the punishment is modest. By thinking creatively, we could transform the entire range of community-based punishments into effective alternatives to incarceration. That would have a profound impact on offenders’ lives, on the number of people behind bars, and on the crime rate...

The book is When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment, by Mark Kleiman.

Via The Second Road, "where life intersects with recovery."

July 05, 2009

Methland = USA

Oelwein, Iowa, described in Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding, gets the Manhattan condescension treatment via New York Times book review:

The madness stalking tiny, defenseless Oelwein may eventually come for all of us...

Methamphetamine already has come for "us," Princeton boy. It's in Iowa and it's everywhere, even in places that matter to regular New York Times readers. Reding first picked up the trail in Idaho. From the Los Angeles Times review:

Journalist Nick Reding stumbled into Gooding, Idaho, in 1999, to report a magazine story about ranching... It was there that Reding first encountered crystal methamphetamine, and he didn't just see it in one place. It was everywhere... (A)s the meth epidemic exploded across small-town America... (a) book took root in his mind...

The book is excerpted here and here. Also reviewed in the Seattle Times and the Boston Globe. Remember, as the Washington Post review says:

(B)ig-city ignorance - fueled by the media - toward small-town decay is both dangerous and appalling.

Via Think Outside the Cage and The Real Costs of Prison Weblog

July 02, 2009

40-some years in 20-some songs

Artifacts excavated in response to this meme:

Down In The Boondocks - Billy Joe Royal: the earliest pop song I can remember. Loved the word "boondocks" - had no idea what it meant.

Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan / The Byrds (tie): with an older brother and four older sisters, songs like this, "Puff The Magic Dragon," and "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am" were my nursery rhymes.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles: apart from a vague recall of The Ed Sullivan Show and Gemini launches, my first memory of a big cultural event, as my sisters went to the Grand Central on State Street to buy this album the day it came out.

Mr. Big Stuff - Jean Knight: "The VCR the DVD, there wasn't none of that crap back in 1970." AM radio was wondrous when I was my son's age. I loved my family's radios, Radio Shack stereo, record players, player piano, reel-to-reel tape recorder. Years later I was delighted to hear Everclear sample this song.

Baba O'Riley - The Who / Wasteland - The Jam (tie): of course later I morphed into an alienated and angst-ridden underachiever who took himself way too seriously (the term "emo kid" had yet to be invented).

Blitzkreig Bop - The Ramones: I snuck into a bar to see them senior year of high school. What an unexpected place to find such a gust of fresh air.

Don't Worry About The Government - Talking Heads: happy college days, looking forward to a proud future in public service (this was just before Morning in America).

The Walls Came Down - The Call: "They all stood there laughing... They're not laughing anymore!" I galumphed around my dorm room to this on the morning of graduation.

Independence - Gang of Four: "It's enough, but less than I imagined." Post-college days, soundtrack to ramen dinners.

Gulf Coast Highway - Nanci Griffith: studying for the bar, a true friend sent me mixtapes which (along with "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd") got me through.

Free Nelson Mandela - Special AKA: Great song still captures my shared basement office with the Mandela picture, and a good era for watching walls (and The Wall) start to come down.

Runaway Train - Soul Asylum: I reacted to a request for a marriage proposal by high-tailing it to the Baltics. I swear Margi paid every radio station in Rīga to play this song non-stop to bring me back to my senses (and her). It worked.

About A Girl / All Apologies - Nirvana (tie): another gust of something fresh, this one Olympia-scented. I drove around singing along with the Unplugged CD on the morning of my wedding, the first and only, to the aforementioned Margi.

If I Were Brave - Shawn Colvin: "Would I be saved if I were brave and had a baby?"

Lord Protect My Child - Bob Dylan: the answer to the previous question, for my wife and me - "Yes."

Into The Fire - Bruce Springsteen: September 11, 2001, my Brooklyn-born mother-in-law called us to turn on the TV immediately... "May your strength give us strength, may your faith give us faith, may your hope give us hope, may your love give us love."

Ne Klepeći Nanulama - Nedžad Salković: less than four months later, January 2002, sadness and selfishness, noble and ignoble motives found me thousands of miles from my wife and toddler volunteering in an ethnically cleansed city in Bosnia. I came back. Bosnia stayed in me.

Twin Falls - Built To Spill: My wife the TF native hates this song. She also hates when I preface warm feelings for the town where I started my little family with, "As much as I hate Twin..."

Olympia, WA - Rancid / NOFX (tie): For the first time in decades, I don't wish I was on the highway to anywhere else.