Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Blog

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

Frustration

Every time I see the news, frustration is the theme. One side is frustrated that America has lost its way on the vague but golden path it started to take in magical, idealized years past. The other is frustrated that most of the country is still living in the past, unwilling to give up a little more freedom to deal with the problems of our evolved, enlightened society. Everyone is frustrated. We each see the problem plain as day and wonder why everyone else can’t do the same. Half of the people beg for economic freedom, freedom from over-regulation and over-taxation. They ask for the government to quit meddling and let them revive the economy with their industry. I can relate to them, but I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Arizona Sentencing Laws Meet My Least Favorite Word: Policy

It’s no big secret to regular readers of this blog that Matt does the heavy lifting around here. Frankly, he does 99.999% of the lifting. I was finally, again, inspired to write out of deep frustration. I often feel as an Arizona criminal defense attorney that I operate in a separate world from attorneys in other states because of Arizona’s especially draconian sentencing requirements. Arizona legislators seem to take pride in steppin’ it up a few notches every couple of years to save our citizens the embarrassment of getting lambasted by Texans laughin’ at our sissy laws. 45 days for a first time DUI if the blood is high enough? We got that. 10 year minimum for possession of a single photo deemed … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Government Rants, Practice in General

That's Him!

I seem to be taking on a lot more cases with major identification issues as of late. As a result, I’ve been preparing quite a few Dessureault motions. In Arizona, a Dessureault motion is what lawyers call a motion challenging an unduly suggestive pretrial identification procedure. Because an unduly suggestive photo or in-person lineup can mean that a witness misidentifies the defendant not merely at the time of the lineup but also at trial, the case law requires that the trial court hold a hearing to determine whether the pretrial identification process was unduly suggestive. At that hearing, the state bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the process was not unduly suggestive. It might seem like the law is relatively pro-defendant in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases

That's Just What They Need

Waiting for a visit at the federal correctional facility in Florence earlier today, I noticed a poster on the wall. Maybe it’s been there for a while, but I’d never noticed it before. It’s a black poster that says “ZERO TOLERANCE” in big, neon green letters. Next to that, I noticed it said something about suicide prevention. I quickly realized it was a poster informing viewers that the facility had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to suicide. There must be something wrong with me, as I found the poster amusing. It took me a second to put my finger on just why that was. Maybe CCA intended to have zero tolerance when it comes to employees who facilitate suicide among inmates, but if … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, jail

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