Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Archive

Watching The Watchers

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri have drawn a great deal of attention to the issue of police brutality. One idea to address the problem involves equipping all police officers on patrol with body-worn cameras, which people apparently call BWCs. It is beyond me how people are even debating this. Study after study suggests that cops behave better when they wear BWCs. Compared to cops who wear BWCs, cops who do not wear BWCs are involved in many more use-of-force incidents and receive far more complaints. When two jurisdictions right here in Arizona, Mesa and Phoenix, had some of their officers wear BWCs, things were no different. In Mesa, there were 40 percent fewer total complaints and 75 percent fewer use of force complaints for officers with cameras. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Police

How It Really Works

Rule 9.1 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure seems pretty simple. It covers a defendant’s waiver of the right to be present in court and provides as follows: [A] defendant may waive the right to be present at any proceeding by voluntarily absenting himself or herself from it. The court may infer that an absence is voluntary if the defendant had personal notice of the time of the proceeding, the right to be present at it, and a warning that the proceeding would go forward in his or her absence should he or she fail to appear. Reading it like a reasonable person capable of understanding the English language and with even the slightest faculty when it comes to basic logic, the rule pretty obviously allows a court to infer … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases

You’re Screwed Just The Same

Accomplice liability must be a tough thing to grasp, as I often hear defendants argue about how they shouldn’t be sent to prison for various things because it wasn’t totally their fault. They didn’t kidnap the victims, they just continued to hold them against their will after someone else snatched them. They didn’t assault the victims themselves, they just drove their co-defendants to the victims’ house to do it. I could go on and on. Addressing those sorts of arguments, I sometimes hear prosecutors and judges say that it didn’t matter to the victims who made what decision and who took over which responsibilities; they’re awful crimes, and all participants should face the music. In one case, the prosecutor asked, “do artificial distinctions comfort someone in a … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Police

Have Desperate And Ethically Questionable But Possibly Jewish Lawyers Fight For Your Case Now!

I often brag to my tech-savvy friends, “I have a Twitter.” I’m actually not kidding. It’s the place to find out what I have for dinner once or twice a year or to click through to my new blog posts if you don’t already know the URL or are unfamiliar with the antiquated concept of RSS. Anyway, someone or something called @BernieSez followed me a little while back, and the notification included this description: “Take a picture of your traffic ticket and receive bids from lawyers to handle your case.” Curious in a train-wreck-watching sort of way, I clicked through and saw it was like a number of other ethically-questionable, lawyer-demeaning sites where the desperate among us spend money to bid on table scraps. It’s sad, but … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing

Guilty Until Proven…

Oh, who am I kidding? They aren’t even going to let you prove yourself not guilty. Not before it’s too late, at least. I’m talking about the Town of Gilbert again, and this time it isn’t your car or your money that they’re after. It’s your driver’s license. The situation where I was recently reminded of how evil Gilbert is involved a client who received notice from the MVD telling him his license was suspended for failing to appear for a court hearing in Gilbert. If you get stopped for DUI in Gilbert and they take a blood sample, which they probably will, you may have to wait for a summons from the court instead of getting a ticket and a court date right there at … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, DUI

Save The Lawyers!

It seems that news about LegalZoom’s various legal battles has popped up every few months for the last few years. One state will decide that the online service, which is intended to help people create their own legal documents, is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Before you know it, another will disagree. It is hard to keep track. Unfortunately, I also find it hard to stay interested. That is mostly because, on a purely business level, LegalZoom is more or less irrelevant to me. My tiny little niche is never going to suffer one bit because of it. You simply cannot download a trial lawyer. There are no standard forms to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a criminal case, to negotiate the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing, Practice in General

Why It Sometimes Sucks (And Then Doesn’t…Sorta)

It’s often hard to explain the little reasons it can sometimes suck being a defense attorney, so I figured I’d strike while the iron is hot and write about something that happened recently. It should highlight one tiny little reason why the job can suck. It should also highlight why the job doesn’t just suck all the time, but is more of a roller coaster of suck and not-suck. A couple of weeks ago, I had a settlement conference in a case. The goal was to see if the parties could reach an agreement. The prosecutor and judge were both great to deal with, and my client was very reasonable. He was facing a harsh mandatory minimum prison sentence and understood by the end that he … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

Got That?

In Arizona state courts, plea agreements are generally simple. Although a few paragraphs tend to confuse most defendants and require a little bit of explaining, they’ll at least set forth a definite number of years in prison, or maybe a range. Or they’ll say probation and maybe specify a specific jail term. Exactly what the defendant is facing is fairly clear. As I’ve started to do more federal work, however, I’ve noticed that things aren’t always that way in federal court. I wrote before about how silly it is to pretend at the change of plea hearing that the defendant wasn’t coerced when we all know that mandatory minimums cause coercion in nearly every case. That isn’t quite as common in federal cases, but there’s a different … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Government Thugs

I spent last weekend at Too Broke for Sturgis, a motorcycle rally put on by ABATE of Arizona. ABATE is a non-profit motorcycle rights organization that does some really good stuff, and its members are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Pretty much all of the bikers who attend the rally each year are great people. ABATE rents the whole venue and provides both hired and volunteer security. They limit access and strictly enforce a no underage drinking policy. There are no alcohol sales in the event at all. ABATE charges admission, so I had to pay to get in. So did everyone else. Well, almost everyone. Like at most biker events, there were police everywhere. Sheriff’s deputies mostly stayed on the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Bikers' Rights, Government Rants

Another Shameful Win For The Drug Warriors

I gave a client a ride to court yesterday morning. He’d flown into the Phoenix airport from the other side of the country and didn’t have transportation. It would’ve been a record-breaking cab fare for him, so I offered and he accepted. We probably don’t have an awful lot in common, and his English is about as good as my Spanish. He’s an incredibly nice guy, though. He fielded one teary phone call after another from one family member after another during the drive. I tried not to eavesdrop, but there was one thing I couldn’t help but catch: Daddy’s going to work. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. It might be a long time. Be a good boy. Be good … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drugs

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