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Two Different Systems

The recent opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States in San Francisco v. Sheehan hits awfully close to home for me. Just a few days ago, I dismissed a civil suit against a police officer who created a situation where the only possible outcome was to murder someone he never would have “had” to have murdered in any other situation except for the one he created by violating policy. The doctrine of qualified immunity, the same thing at issue in Sheehan, gave my clients no choice but to let that murderous cop completely dodge any sort of consequences for his actions. I am not writing about my case, though, so I will stick with the facts of Sheehan, which are pretty simple. Ms. Sheehan was … Read entire article »

Filed under: SCOTUS Cases

Guilt v. Shame

A witness and I each had pretty remarkable breakthroughs at the same time earlier today. We both suddenly understood things we’d never really considered. When she had her revelation, she shook her head in disgust. On the other hand, I just thought yet again about how ridiculous our justice system really is. To say the witness and I have different backgrounds would be an understatement. We’re generations removed, and even if we shared a birth date in the same year, it would hardly even begin to bridge the cultural gap. On top of that, she’s mostly deaf and entirely mute. An ASL interpreter did not work out, and her writing is very difficult to understand. The “interview” today involved a pen and some … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Uncategorized

Best Served Really, Really Cold

In 1999, Ramon Nelson was riding his bicycle away from a liquor store when someone hit him in the back of the head with a wooden stick, killing him. He had forty little baggies of crack on him when he died. Although it was dark out at the time, a guy named Maurice Johnnie identified a guy named Lawrence Owens as the murderer, first in a six-person photo lineup and then in an actual lineup. Lawrence Owens was the only person from the first lineup who also appeared in the second. A guy named William Evans said there were two people involved in the murder, but he identified Lawrence Owens as one of them in the same two lineups Maurice Johnnie saw. He said the victim spoke with … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

A DUI Victory! (Mostly…Well A Little, At Least)

In 2012, I discussed the fact there were real problems with the scientific evidence offered by the state in criminal cases and that many courts not only let the questionable evidence come in, but even prevented the defense from bringing up the problems. In 2013, I wrote about the problems with a machine used for blood tests in Scottsdale DUI cases specifically, and about how a superior court judge actually ruled that blood test results in several cases were inadmissible pursuant to Rule 702 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence because the scientific principles and methods weren’t being applied reliably because of their equipment problems. Always the skeptic (and usually right), I was less than optimistic about what the appellate court would do. In 2014, I was (sadly) proven right, … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

One Day Of Jail And A Whole Lotta Pain In The Ass

Quite often, criminal punishments are harsh not because they involve a lot of jail time or heavy fines, but because of the irritating hoops you have to jump through to satisfy them. It’s most common in Phoenix DUI cases, and it reaches its irritating extreme for out of state DUI defendants trying to do their jail sentence someplace else. Come on vacation, leave on probation It’s a common little joke around here, and in my line of work, I see it in action constantly. Whether we’re the destination for the Superbowl, a golf tournament, a biker rally, or a high school spring break field trip, we make sure our cops work around the clock so no vacationer escapes without having to respect our authoritah. The poor guy who lives elsewhere, … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, jail

Ignoring The Will Of The People

You would never in a million years see an opinion like State v. Hancock in anything but a criminal case. In it, the Supreme Court of Arizona spent its valuable time analyzing a provision that said a certain group authorized to do a certain thing cannot be denied “any right or privilege . . . by a court” for doing that thing. One party was a member of that group, and the other party was trying to have a court deny her the thing a court by law cannot deny her. It might seem like the Supreme Court’s conclusion is beyond obvious, and it surely should be. The problem, however, is that the party arguing the law does not mean what it says is the State of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drugs

The Enemy Is All Of Us

You’d probably think that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s moral compass is tried and true. It certainly should be, as he leads one of the nation’s largest public prosecutorial agencies. His office chooses who to charge, what to charge, and what pleas to offer in this gigantic county of ours, and for most of the individuals his deputies prosecute, he might as well be omnipotent. Unfortunately, his ability to distinguish right and wrong, and accordingly the good guys from the bad guys, seems deeply flawed. In a recent debate with my friend (and awesome criminal defense attorney) Marc Victor, he called a US military veteran an “enemy” for smoking marijuana. The New Times described the exchange, which occurred during a question and answer session at the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

Calling You Out, Brian Sloan And “The Arizona DUI Team”

As much as I value the information they can provide and respect many of my colleagues who participate in them, I don’t belong to any of the local lawyer listservs. I quickly tire of people bragging about wins, and I find that the ones who brag the most tend to paint less than complete pictures of what really happened. There are occasionally other sorts of misinformation too. Plus, I hate needless drama. It’s exhausting. Earlier today, someone brought to my attention a perfect example of why I’m not involved in listservs. Here it is, a message to a DUI lawyer listserv from lawyer Brian Sloan, who apparently leads “The Arizona DUI Team” (make sure you capitalize the “The,” apparently), trying to “call out” an excellent … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Story Of A Real Victim

This will be the third time I’ve written about the beloved local law enforcement technique of tricking men who are seeking escorts of legal age into making deals with undercover cops pretending to be underage prostitutes. First, I described the process generally, from the state’s shaky cases to the brutal mandatory minimums that universally secure guilty pleas with ease. Then, I explored my creative side with a little poem. I didn’t talk much about the poor people who get caught up in all of this, though, the only real victims in these cases. One victim stands out more than any other. I got a call one Friday night from a distressed friend of a man who’d been taken into custody that afternoon on what the friend … Read entire article »

Filed under: immigration, Prosecutors, Sex Crimes

The MVD Should Not Be Allowed To Have Nice Things

Arizona’s MVD, our equivalent of what everyplace else seems to call the DMV, has been on a bit of a rampage lately. I used to routinely wait months and months to get a hearing on a license suspension, but now they schedule them with such a quick turnaround that they conflict with other things in my calendar more often than not. This notice arrived in the mail on February 23, 2015: By the time I received it, the hearing was only fifteen days away.  Had my client needed a foreign language interpreter, it would’ve already been too late to request one.  Had it arrived just a few days later, I would’ve gotten it after my deadline to move to continue the hearing it set. Noticing it was dated February 12, 2015, … Read entire article »

Filed under: MVD Hearings

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