Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Blog

Our (Embarrassing) Contribution To The Dialogue

While the rest of the country protests the killing of unarmed black men by police, a group of conspicuously non-black demonstrators in Phoenix had themselves a little “pro-police rally.” The head boot licker organizer offered his enlightened opinion: He said cooperating with police would have prevented each of the incidents that protesters have been demonstrating about. “It’s simple. Don’t go out and commit crimes. Obey the laws,” he said. “If a cop tells you to stop, you do it. If a cop tells you to move to the side of the road, do it. Don’t strike an officer. Don’t get in a physical altercation with her. It’s going to end badly for you.” For those of you who don’t live here, now you know pretty much everything you need to know about … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

We’re Gonna Need The Hardly Boys For This One…

It was a mystery for the ages, the crime of the century. A few scratcher lottery tickets and/or some cash swiped from a convenience store counter. In broad daylight. The nerve! Police interviewed the clerk, who said he didn’t just steal them himself. Being human polygraphs, officers cleared him right away.  Being forensic reconstruction experts too, they reviewed the surveillance video, which showed a lady quite clearly, but not much more. They immediately concluded there had been a crime. They got a lucky break because the clerk, who definitely didn’t just steal some stuff, got the license plate of the regular who committed the dastardly deed. Officers pulled the driver’s license photo associated with the plate and put it in a lineup that might as well have included a few … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

More Than Race

I’m hesitant to write a post making a similar point to my last one, but as one article after another comes out discussing racism in this country in the wake of another white cop avoiding indictment after murdering an unarmed black man, this time with clear video, I worry we’re only having part of the conversation. Race is part of problem. It may even be most of the problem right now. It’s also the reason why most people are even thinking about the issue of police violence. Unfortunately, I worry that it’s not the part of the problem we can fix. Although I’m not as optimistic or congratulatory about our progress, Chris Rock makes some amusing and likely accurate observations about race relations in this country: “When we … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

When It Isn’t A Cop

Police officer Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted for shooting Michael Brown. You shouldn’t be surprised, as Rick Horowitz concludes. Scott Greenfield explains the big lie too many people still believe, the idea that the grand jury in the case isn’t just an indictment machine built into a Potemkin Village of due process for just one case so the masses can go on about their lives. Gideon explores the racial aspect, and Jeff Gamso addresses the silliness of one grand jury dog and pony show promoter. Me? I’m just envious. Here in Arizona, the accused has a due process right to a fair and impartial presentation of the evidence before a grand jury. When the state fails to do that, defense counsel can file a motion to remand arguing the state … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Government Rants, Juries, Police, Prosecutors

A Suggested Policy Improvement

When dealing with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, it’s important to understand that there’s pretty much a policy for everything. Like the “show no mercy” policy of a schoolyard bully or street thug, however, each of their policies is only enforceable to the extent they have an unfair advantage and the resultant negotiating leverage to demand the absurd from their victims. Strong cases produce harsh pleas. So do mandatory minimums, and luckily for prosecutors here, there’s almost always one. For the most part, what the policies do is ensure that only the most dangerous criminals, men and women who do not fear the system or have gone to somewhat successful lengths to avoid prosecution, get great plea deals. The ones with consciences, and especially the innocent, would … Read entire article »

Filed under: immigration, Prosecutors

Solving Nothing

The Arizona Republic recently reported about a Chandler police sergeant who was demoted and agreed to leave the department by the end of next year for ordering her subordinates to single out Native American shoplifters for being booked into jail instead of cited and released. She wasn’t fired, obviously, and it seems she will still be able to enjoy her pension. That’ll teach other officers not to do stuff like that in the future! Kidding aside, the article explains the sergeant’s patrol district borders the Gila River Indian Community and has a chronic shoplifting problem. This passage in the article forecasts what’s sure to be the Chandler Police Department’s new response to the problem: No one would have objected if Freeman had ordered all shoplifting suspects booked as a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Police

Imaginarily Sufficient But Not Greater

It’s always struck me as silly that we as a society have decided that justice is somehow best measured by time in confinement. Speaking with an experienced former prosecutor who spent time in a foreign country helping to set up a “modern” criminal justice system, I was amused when he said they were backwards with punishment and human rights. When someone did wrong, he explained, the punishment might be giving the victim his finest goat. A convicted criminal might even be forced to give the victim his firstborn boy as a slave or his firstborn daughter as a bride for a serious offense. I could only think about how, here in Arizona, we’d just stick the dad in a cage and all but guarantee the son eventually becomes … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors, Sentencing

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

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