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Unauthorized Practice

So there’s this lawyer named Rachel Rodgers. In June, Scott Greenfield called her out on a few things here. Earlier this week, she wrote something entitled “Ethics Should Not Be Used as a Weapon Against Young Lawyers.” Brian Tannebaum quickly took her to task. I normally stay out of these things, but this is close to home. You see, Ms. Rodgers lists a Phoenix, Arizona address on her website. She offers services that look like legal services. Ms. Rodgers is not a licensed Arizona attorney. I checked. She never explicitly claims to be licensed in Arizona, but she also never offers any kind of disclaimer clearly explaining that she isn’t licensed here. That wouldn’t matter anyway, as I’ll explain in a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics

My New Plan

I’ve been reading the news a little bit lately. Anyone who knows me is probably going to tell you that isn’t a good sign, as the news normally depresses me, but that isn’t the case this time. This time, the news has inspired me. Thanks to the news, I see that I’ve been going about things all wrong. I’ve developed a new financial plan that I intend to implement immediately. From now on, I will purchase whatever I want no matter what it costs. The days of budgeting and saving are over. I will make sure I open many accounts and make my finances as complicated as possible. I will borrow more than I can afford to pay back. I will borrow … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Managing Caseload

Most lawyers plan for when times are bad. We tend to only joke about what we’d do with an enormous caseload if times got great. I’m certainly guilty of making off-handed comments about too much work being a good problem to have, but in reality, when too much work really does become a problem, it’s probably worse than the alternative. Before I had any real experience, I looked all over the place for guidance about caseload. I spoke with public defenders and met some who had 30 open felony cases. I met some with 60. Several public defenders who handled misdemeanors as well as felonies told me they typically had over 100 open cases at any given time. Relying to some extent on the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General

Sounds Great

I’ve noticed that people in law enforcement, much like people in the military, have a tendency to use terms that sound quite impressive to refer to relatively ordinary things. They say “egress” instead of “exit,” and they seem to have acronyms for everything. I was amused by one example of this earlier in the week. There’s been a big issue at one particular jail about attorneys wanting to do visits in the actual pods where the inmates are housed. For some reason, jail staff hate it. They would rather have the lawyers visit their clients in little visitation rooms where an officer has to open a trap every time the lawyer needs to hand the client something. I have no clue why. Because the lawyer and … Read entire article »

Filed under: jail

This Ain’t Texas

D.A. Confidential put up a post yesterday about the role of a judge and the widely held belief among criminal defendants that speaking to the judge might somehow help their case. The judge he appears in front of apparently gives a speech instead of taking a side in plea negotiations. D.A. Confidential concludes his post with these words: A long docket this morning, and I bet at least one inmate will ask to speak to the judge, hoping he’ll sweeten the deal and take the defendant’s side in plea negotiations. The judge won’t, of course, he’ll give his usual speech. But think about it the other way around. Imagine if the judge weighed in on our side, pressured the defendant to take our deal. That possibility, I trust, makes … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, Prosecutors

And in Other News, Our Tigers Were Given a Special Summer Treat of Food and Water

A little segment on the news at the gym caught my eye earlier this morning. It was about some polar bears at some zoo getting a “special summer treat” of snow. The contrived whimsy of the situation was painful. They showed footage of the bears rubbing themselves in the snow as delighted zoo patrons watched them with big smiles. Moments earlier, another segment covered the horror of some animal being saved at the last minute after being left in a hot car by some monster of an owner. I understand that polar bears don’t have to be in the snow to survive. I also understand that animals die far too frequently, especially in Phoenix, because their irresponsible owners left them in the car in the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized


When I was a little kid, one of my teachers loved to say this to the class: “to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be dead.” Awfully melodramatic, especially for someone talking to a room full of ten-year-olds, but it must have sunk in for me at some point. I still remember it, obviously, and I’m compulsively early for anything work-related. Starting out in law, a mentor told me one secret to success in criminal defense was showing up on time. Making it to every hearing before it’s supposed to start, he said, would already put me one big step ahead of all but a select few of my colleagues. He told … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts


Over the past couple of years, I’ve become interested in auto sports. Not racing, really, but just taking a car around a road course. It’s a major niche market for the firm, which is why I started it and why I continue to do it, but it’s also a good time. I’m certainly no expert. However, I have learned quite a bit. As is often the case when learning something new, I’ve been continually surprised by how much there really is to learn. Driving once seemed so simple, but I now know that it really isn’t. How much braking power do you have? How much acceleration do you have? How does the road surface feel? How does your car feel? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants


Figuring out when and to what extent to involve a client in the inner workings of a trial can be tricky. It’s his life and they’re his objectives, so you obviously can’t ignore him. He should know what’s happening and at times even have a say in what you do, but you also shouldn’t spend all of your time leaning over explaining why you can’t use your peremptory strike on the prosecutor or why the prosecutor’s “prejudice against gang-bangers” doesn’t bring up equal protection issues. Like pretty much everything in the world of criminal defense, it’s all about balance and exercising well-reasoned, independent, professional judgment in the midst of the institutional chaos of trial. Voir dire is a time when client input seems most important to me. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Trial

We Can’t All Be Weiners

I could make childish jokes about congressman Anthony Weiner all day long. With a name like “Weiner,” it takes every ounce of control I have not to go to just go to town writing pun after pun about the poor guy’s love of sending x-rated photos of himself. Maturity has never been my strong point. I still laugh inside seeing the ubiquitious word “Camelback” here in the valley of the sun because it’s close to the word “cameltoe.” Yeah, that’s the level of sophistication you’re dealing with here, readers. I’m going to exercise some self-control, luckily, and write more than bad jokes. You see, representative Weiner wants to take leave from the house of representatives. I’m disgusted, and it isn’t because of the photos. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

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