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Preparing for Trial

I spent a good bit of my weekend preparing for trial. It’s a draining experience, though not nearly as draining as trial itself. This particular trial has very high stakes. My client’s earliest release date will be more than seventy years from now if he’s convicted. Being able to speak in public, knowing the facts of the case, and understanding the rules of evidence are rarely enough to effectively try a case. There are countless variables in almost any trial, and anything can happen. Every trial I’ve done has taught me that one of the most important skills a trial lawyer can have is the ability to predict problems that might arise and prepare accordingly. My background is in music. In music, you do your … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Trial

Back to Blogging

In case you haven’t noticed, I have not put up a post in weeks. First there were trials. One made it to verdict, one ended in a mistrial, and one got continued over my objection. After the trials came motions. I think I wrote about a dozen big ones in a week or two. Eighty-hour weeks felt like the norm, and the idea of writing anything, even a blog post, seemed an awful lot like work. As soon as the smoke of trials and legal writing cleared, I left on a motorcycle trip. Adrian and I had been planning to ride to Cabo San Lucas and back for quite some time. We’d carefully set up coverage months in advance, notified all our clients, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Should Be an Interesting Race

Tom Horne officially announced his candidacy for attorney general last week. No surprise there. Andrew Thomas will probably make his official decision soon. No surprise there either. What’s surprising is what I discovered reading about the race in this article. It looks like there’s a third lawyer seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general. That lawyer is none other than Tajudeen Oladiran, whom you may remember from this motion. I usually don’t pay much attention to elections, but with Taj and Andrew Thomas both competing for the GOP nomination, I think I may start following the race. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

A Lie or Just Misleading?

In previous posts, I complained about having to trust prosecutors to set up victim interviews. In case you don’t feel like clicking on the links, I’ll summarize: in Arizona, defense attorneys have to ask the prosecutor to ask the victim if he or she wants to talk to them. As I discussed in those posts, there are a lot of problems with that. I recently encountered a situation that highlighted one big problem. The victim in one of my domestic violence cases has recanted. She is very eager to tell everyone, myself included, that she lied about what happened and wants the prosecutor to dismiss the charges. I know for a fact she told the prosecutor she wanted absolutely nothing to do with the case … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Prosecutors, Victim's Rights

A CPS Nightmare

The prosecutor scratched the charges because my client was not guilty of the crime. This wasn’t one of those maybe-she-did-it-but-we-can’t-prove-it cases. The sum of information available about what happened should have made it obvious to anyone with half a brain that my client did nothing wrong. She did not assault her daughter. My client’s innocence notwithstanding, some of the folks over at Arizona Child Protective Services, either lacking half a brain or bored with nothing to do, decided to meddle. “We just want to get your client’s side of things,” they said. I found out about the meeting exactly one business day before it was set to happen. I don’t represent people in dependencies. I attended the meeting with CPS because I never trust the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Case against DeCosta Dismissed

The case against David DeCosta has been dismissed. Here is the story, and here is the minute entry. I haven’t seen the state’s motion to dismiss, but Arizona Criminal Attorney Russ Richelsoph tells me the state moved to dismiss without prejudice because there was “no reasonable likelihood of conviction.” I summarized the facts of the case here, but Mark Bennett explained it best: DeCosta was set up by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department, and he was almost certainly factually innocent. When I found out the criminal case against DeCosta was dismissed, my first thought was “it’s about damn time.” My second thought was “what’s he going to do now?” In my daily practice, I see how destructive criminal charges can be. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

"Looks Like I'm Out of Judges"

I haven’t been blogging because of my schedule. Too much work, not enough time. The end is in sight though. Or rather, the end was in sight. I was supposed to start a six or seven day felony trial this morning, and my schedule looked pretty bearable after that. The case is in Maricopa County Superior Court, and it’s assigned to the master calendar. I’ve complained about RCC before. The master calendar isn’t much better. Whereas RCC seems designed to make sure most lawyers appear lost at all times prior to an indictment, the master calendar seems designed to rush every case to trial after an indictment without letting the parties see the same judge twice. I haven’t figure out why anyone … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Trial

Trial Reflections

I spent last week in trial. My client was charged with one count of aggravated assault. If he had been convicted and the state proved his priors and its allegation that he was on probation, he faced ten to fifteen years. The theory of the state’s case was that my client kicked his live-in girlfriend in the face five or six times, causing her “temporary but substantial disfigurement.” The jury acquitted my client after a four-day trial and an hour of deliberation. Like any trial, it was an interesting experience. A few things stood out though. I only had the case for about ninety days, and I was the client’s fifth or sixth lawyer, depending on whether you count his third (and last) public … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, lawyers, public defenders, Trial

Adventures in Expert-Land

I used an expert voice analyst in one of my cases last year. I’ve been thinking about writing about the experience for a while, as it left me with grave doubts about the supposed science of voice elimination. For some reason, I started thinking about it again over the holidays and finally decided to write something. It seemed like a good way to kick off the new year and get back to blawging. The case involved an extensive, multi-jurisdictional wiretapping investigation. My client was accused of conspiring to purchase drugs and using a wire communication to facilitate a felony drug crime. He claimed it wasn’t him on the phone. We wanted to use an expert to eliminate my client as a potential match for … Read entire article »

Filed under: Experts

Arpaio Set to Music

For your amusement, here’s a little song someone wrote about Sheriff Joe: (H/T Kris and Bob) … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

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