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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

More Victims of the Drug War

Local news was filled with stories about Chandler Police officer Carlos Ledesma after he was killed in the line of duty on July 28, 2010. The stories describe a former Marine and Persian Gulf War veteran, a proud father and husband with two young boys. He was shot while conducting an undercover “reversal operation” in Phoenix. From what I’ve read about the case, the facts sound all too familiar. An informant tells the police he has buyers who want to buy a large quantity of marijuana. Police set up a meeting where the informant meets with the buyers and establishes the terms of the deal. The buyers check out a sample of weed provided by officers and prove they have the money. Later, at the … Read entire article »

Filed under: News, Police

Ups and Downs

Private practice can be a roller coaster. The turns may widen and the grades may diminish as time passes, but the financial uncertainty never goes away altogether. Your threshold for risk will diminish as your practice grows. Traditionally, summer months are the hardest for me and Adrian, but this summer has been an exception. We’ve seen unexpected growth during a time when we usually hunker down and prepare for the worst. We’re lucky, but even if every month is a relatively good month compared to when you started out, you still never know what the next month holds. A lot of money can pour out of a business very quickly when times are slow. Running a small firm isn’t for the faint of heart. Running it … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing, Uncategorized

Poor Guy

Sometimes, I have to respect spammers. Perhaps my favorite spam comment to date comes from “vimax,” who writes as follows: I’m currently being held prisoner by the Russian mafia [penis enlargement] and being forced to post spam comments on blogs and forum! If you don’t approve this they will kill me. [penis enlargement] They’re coming back now. [penis enlargement] Please send help! [penis enlargement] I think I just saved a life by posting this. You can thank me when they free you, vimax. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing

A Victim of the Drug War

I recently had a settlement conference for a client I really like. He’s a nice guy who never ceases to make my days a little brighter each time I see him. When I first met him and asked if he had any criminal history, he told me, “I have a terrible criminal history…terrible!” He said it like he was Richard Pryor in the middle of a stand-up routine, but it turned out he was right. Indeed, he was no stranger to the system. Based on his honesty, however, I knew was going to like him. He had a lot of prior felony convictions. Looking through his past, though, I could see that he never really hurt anyone except himself. He was an addict, and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Government Rants

What Do You Mean I Can't Complain?

I don’t vote. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, I choose not to vote in any local, state, or federal elections. It isn’t because I’m lazy or too busy. It’s because I think the system is broken and find almost every option on almost every ballot so terrible that I would feel overwhelming guilt and remorse if I voted for any of them and they actually won. Every politician is going to do something during his or her time in office that makes life worse for someone. I don’t trust politicians to do what they say they’ll do, and in general, I’m insufficiently educated to know what kind of impact most policies will have on the real world. I’m incapable of figuring … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

No Life Experience Needed

I sat in the hallway outside a jail visitation room trying not to listen to the conversation going on inside the room. I really didn’t want to eavesdrop. I just wanted to get in and get out. I had three more visits before the day was over and couldn’t do my visit while the room was occupied. Inside, a probation officer was interviewing a defendant for a presentence report. He pled guilty, and she was getting information for the judge who was going to sentence him. She wasn’t very good at keeping the volume of her voice at a reasonable level and kept saying “okidokie” to the guy’s responses. She was probably in her late twenties, and she was overweight. She had a social … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Practice in General

Paper Tigers

Arizona’s rules of criminal procedure explicitly give courts authority to preclude evidence if a party violates the discovery rules. However, the Supreme Court of Arizona has stated that “preclusion is rarely, if ever, an appropriate sanction for a discovery violation.” As a result of that language, Arizona trial courts almost never preclude evidence, especially when that evidence is a witness who was untimely disclosed or failed to participate in a deposition. I’ve tried arguing that preclusion is frowned upon because most published opinions deal with defendants noticing witnesses at the last minute. Defendants have a Sixth Amendment right to present witnesses, so the courts need to avoid preclusion so as not to infringe on defendants’ constitutional rights. I usually provide a string cite of cases frowning upon … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

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