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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

Less is More

The temptation is always to keep talking. Unlike many attorneys, I’m not enamored with the sound of my voice. I do care about creating a thorough record for appeal, however. I want to make sure the jury has everything I want it to have before it goes back to deliberate. Those are the interests that I have to balance against brevity’s incredible ability to emphasize a point. Saying the same thing a thousand times along with other things never ends up as effective as only saying that one thing. Sometimes, not saying anything at all is even better. It never feels like that’s the truth, but the more I do this, the more I think it is. I just had a trial where … Read entire article »

Filed under: Trial

Refining the Product

Private practice lawyers learn to play many roles. One role that many people seem hesitant to acknowledge is the role of salesman. Like it or not, if you want to make a living in the private sector representing human beings, it is imperative that people want to hire you. To do that, you must occasionally play the role of salesman. I am no salesman. It isn’t in my genes, I haven’t gone to great lengths to develop any sales skills, and quite honestly, the idea of selling things to people, even if it’s something I believe in, makes me feel a tad bit icky. I acknowledge I must sell my services to stay afloat in this profession, but I generally do that by sticking with … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing, Practice in General

“We’re All Victims of the System”

I wrote once before about Maricopa County’s policy regarding the benches in the gallery of each courtroom. They put prosecutors and victims on one side and defendants and their families on the other. They enforce the rules with an iron fist. This morning, I got to see a defendant challenge the system. It must’ve been a heavy docket, as the defendants’ side was absolutely packed. There were so many people waiting for court that the benches outside of the courtroom door were full too. You couldn’t squeeze another person on the defense side. There wasn’t a single person sitting on the other side. One defendant walked in and proudly took a seat on the empty side. He was one of those guys I can … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

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