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Rethinking the Plea

I work with all kinds of different prosecutors. When it comes to plea bargaining, the differences often become particularly apparent. A lot of prosecutors send out a letter with the first plea offer saying how any subsequent offers will be substantially harsher. They tell you the first offer goes away as soon as they have to do work, and they may view counter-offers as rejections. They have to think about your proposal, don’t they? Plea negotiations are a game where the plea isn’t intended to fairly resolve the case based on its unique facts and the unique history of the defendant, but to minimize workload and maximize the efficient use of state resources. Some prosecutors make offers that plainly indicate they fear trial and will do almost … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

Movin' On Up

I haven’t had much time to write these past few weeks due in large part to the fact the firm has moved. We are now located in Tempe, much closer to Phoenix and most of the courts where we usually practice. The move actually happened on the 1st of January, more or less, but the transition was still happening until this week. For all I know, it may well continue happening for weeks to come. I say that because it turns out Brown & Little, P.L.C., is the first business in the history of the world to move offices. I know it seems implausible, but I am certain you’d agree if you got to see how more or less every vendor involved dealt with the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Not Just Bad TV

Earlier in the week, I watched a TV program I wish I could un-watch. I fought watching it at the beginning. I made fun of it once it started. I even shielded my eyes and covered my ears when I couldn’t handle the stupidity any longer. For most of it, I was so uncomfortable I didn’t know if I could make it through the whole thing. I could feel my IQ dropping, but I couldn’t leave. Oh, the things we do for love! The show was Harry’s Law. The entire thing was terrible, but one part went beyond normal bad TV. The part that transcended the average prime time schlock in awfulness, unfortunately, was the primary storyline itself. The main character, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Practice in General

Tipping Our Hand

People who don’t practice criminal defense tend to have a number of funny misconceptions about how the process works. Sadly, some people who do practice criminal defense also tend to have a number of funny misconceptions about how the process works. One huge area where non-practitioners and even some practitioners seem to get confused is disclosure. “We’d better not tip our hand,” I hear over and over again. In Arizona state courts, far more so than in federal court, the disclosure rules are quite extensive. The state must comply with all kinds of requirements as the case proceeds. At the arraignment, it must turn over all law enforcement reports as well as the names and addresses of experts and the results of completed physical examinations, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Procedural Rules

Extended Magazines and Politics as Usual

I was sitting in a little restaurant in rural southeast Arizona when I first heard news of the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. I’d driven through Tucson only a few hours earlier, and nothing seemed out of place. There wasn’t the slightest hint something so horrible had happened, was happening, or was about to happen. When we heard, everyone at the table was stunned by the news. Watching the news on TV and then searching Google News on my phone, I could see that stories differed greatly. There was no consensus about anything important, not even about whether she was dead. The number of other victims, the circumstances, and almost everything else varied greatly from source to source. I say almost because one thing remained … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

No Harm in Asking, Right?

I have a little list of things to do and not do that I give people who are going to speak at or write letters for a client’s sentencing. I pieced it together from various sources and have continued to add to it for the past three years. Clients’ families, friends, and employers tend to find the guidance helpful, and I often provide it to other defense lawyers when they ask. It isn’t anything special, but it covers most of the bases. One section seems to hang people up more than anything else. It’s the section having to do with not making unreasonable requests, and it says this: Be realistic. Do not ask for probation if it is a prison plea. If the minimum prison … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts

The Makings of a Great Tragedy

I once received very wise advice to take caution when writing about things close to home. I took it to heart. Years of being told “don’t shit where you eat” didn’t sink in, I guess, but that more subtle, specific advice did. Things far away aren’t so clear, however, so they may be a different story. Circumspection be damned? If I lived in Texas, I would have had a little more background when I read this post by Murray Newman. I was skeptical about what he perceived as a double standard even reading it without context, but that by itself didn’t seem worth a post on my part. When a prosecutor gets charged and defense lawyers don’t just rant about the presumption of innocence, … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Practice in General, Prosecutors

Not Your Normal Request

I recently came across this passage reviewing a client’s police reports: “I started speaking with [client] at about 1453 hours. [Client] had asked for a burrito.” The report goes on to discuss my client’s burrito request in detail. The officer even seemed to go to great lengths to obtain said burrito for my client. Nice guy. I’ve seen people ask for water or a cigarette, but even here in Arizona, for me, this is a first. It actually makes me a little hungry for a burrito. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients

A New Social Media Strategy…Maybe

I went to a suburban chamber of commerce party earlier this month. Networking events like that normally aren’t my cup of tea, but my schedule suddenly lightened up a little. Why not get out of the office for a few hours and have some fun? I had a great time and met some very nice people, but I was surprised by just how many people were there promoting their social media and search engine optimization services. I would bet that more than half of all the people at the event had businesses involving computers or the internet. At least half of those people did SEO and social media work. Even people with businesses that seem very traditionally business-like to me (insurance salesmen, accountants, repairmen) seemed … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing

You Don't Say

I have a tough time not laughing when I think something is funny. I suspect that other people know this and try to make me laugh at inopportune times. Often, they don’t have to try at all. Twice in a row, law enforcement personnel have inadvertently tested my ability to keep a straight face. Given the circumstances, I’m quite proud of myself for suppressing laughter. The first time, I was waiting to get into a maximum security area of a jail after hours. There was some kind of problem with the normal intake area for attorney visits at the facility, so a detention officer had to walk me around the outside of the building to the back entrance for employees. The detention officer was … Read entire article »

Filed under: Police

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