Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Blog

The Coverage Dilemma

I do my best to personally attend every single hearing for every single client I represent. Every lawyer I respect does the same. Despite my best intentions, however, I admit I’ve had to ask for coverage. I’m sure I’ll have to do it again. Trials sometimes go longer than planned, and judges sometimes set things over my objection. Every judge thinks his or her orders are the most important. When a non-lawyer justice of the peace sets a misdemeanor pretrial opposite a felony jury trial that’s been docketed for five months, you can bet I’ll be sending another lawyer to do that pretrial. I’ll send someone I trust, but it won’t be me. Yesterday morning, the tables were turned when another lawyer asked me … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Practice in General

Self-Defense, Depublication, and Uncertainty

In Arizona, felons who haven’t had their rights restored can’t possess firearms. It’s a class 4 felony, and because alleged offenders are obviously likely to have at least one historical prior felony conviction, defendants charged with misconduct involving weapons under the prohibited possessor subsection usually face a pretty significant mandatory prison term. What if they possess the firearm in self-defense though? The self-defense statute justifies “threatening or using physical force against another.” It doesn’t necessarily justify possessing a firearm if you’re a prohibited possessor. Another statute justifies the defensive display of a firearm, again not specifically allowing a prohibited possessor to possess a firearm, and the statute governing the use of force in defense of a residential structure or occupied vehicle and the statute governing the use … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes, Procedural Rules

The Goal

Being a criminal defense lawyer is a funny thing sometimes. When I look at many of my colleagues, I feel like we live in completely different worlds. Some firms have mascots. Some lawyers put signs up all around the jails saying they guarantee the lowest price around. There’s a guy who does every DUI for a few hundred dollars, a guy with a catchy jingle that constantly plays on Mexican radio stations, and a guy who has a business card with a shark on it. Okay, well maybe two of those guys are same guy, but he’s a hell of a guy. Or so I’ve heard. It’s strange to look at someone who’s doing something so vastly different from what I do and realize that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Professionalism

Just Another Double-Standard

Clients who are interested in a plea usually want a probation plea. It should come as no surprise that most criminal defendants would love to avoid prison, and in Arizona, the potential range of prison for the charge underlying the conviction gets suspended while the defendant completes probation. Violate and you face the original prison sentencing range, but in the end, whether you ever end up facing any prison sentence at all is almost entirely in your hands. Probation isn’t all fun and games though. An Arizona criminal defendant can get up to a year in the county jail as part of probation. That’s especially tough considering that many county jails are terrible. Clients often tell me they’d rather spend a long time in state prison … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Courts, Probation

Democracy Doesn't Work

After a whirlwind past two weeks, I decided to only work a half-day today. I went to the gym in the afternoon and decided to mix things up and do some cardio in front of a few TVs. Bad idea. One TV was showing a news program about bullying. The news ticker said Obama was thinking about withholding federal education money from states that don’t enact tough anti-bullying laws. Bullying is apparently an “epidemic,” and we need new laws. The point and counter-point seemed to consist of whether we should pass really ridiculously tough laws or really, really ridiculously tough laws. Another TV was showing a program about people blinding aircraft pilots with lasers. Some federal legislator seems determined to make it a federal … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

So You Want to Go to Law School?

I may be too busy to blog this week and last, but I’m not too busy to post this video: I could do without some of it, but I’ve gotta say that disgruntled young lawyers who got into this profession for the wrong reasons have to be some of the funniest people on earth. H/T Clooch, Koehler … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

"Cloaked in the Shroud of Innocence"

For the most part, Arizona superior court judges instruct juries from the same basic set of instructions. Cases will have additional, different instructions depending on things like the relevant statutes, the facts of the case, and whether there are any lesser included offenses or special defenses involved, but most instructions are the same from one trial to another. There may be little variations, as many seasoned judges do them from memory or get bored reading verbatim, but any lawyer who tries a lot of cases is going to notice right away if a judge isn’t following the typical script. In every trial I’ve done, the judge has given the jury some variation of Arizona’s standard “Presumption of Innocence” jury instruction. Here it is: The law does not require a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Trial

Fix Your Index!

The folks at West and Lexis have a history of sending me things I don’t want. Years ago, I recall getting unsolicited boxes from Thomson Reuters (West) and Reed Elsevier (Lexis) containing books on things like scientific evidence and cross-examination. They were accompanied by invoices designed to make it look like someone at my office actually ordered the items inside. They had call identification numbers for calls Adrian and I never made, and reference numbers for orders we never placed. They may be sneaky over there at West and Lexis, but you have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull a fast one on Brown & Little, P.L.C. We figured out the scam and returned the books each time. In one instance, we … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

What the "Hot-Shots" Do

I judged a law school moot court client counseling competition last week where the competitors were supposed to play the role of a lawyer in an initial consultation. One competitor struggled at times formulating questions, and he told the judges that was because he was concerned about asking too many questions. He didn’t want to know too much. Of the three judges, two of us practice criminal law. The third, a transactional lawyer, deferred to us to instruct the competitor about what to do about that dilemma. I answered by telling the competitor it wasn’t really a single dilemma with a clear answer I could give him right there, but more of a daily reality of practicing law in a field where you represent people. To know what … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, lawyers, Practice in General

Quit Enabling Them

I’m often disappointed with other defense lawyers, but I keep it to myself. Not this time. What I’ve been seeing over and over again in city and justice courts is just too embarrassing to tolerate. I’ve written before about prosecutors offering pleas that no defendant in his or her right mind should ever accept. I’ve also written before about Arizona’s DUI drug statute. I haven’t written about how defense lawyers are enabling and even encouraging prosecutors to offer worthless pleas to defendants in drug DUI cases. A plea should give a defendant some benefit. Otherwise, there’s little if any reason not to go to trial. Prosecutors seemed to know that before, as the standard offer for a first time drug DUI in many courts used to … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Prosecutors

Articles Comments

Web Design by Actualize Solutions