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Buckeye Needs to Update Its Website

In Arizona, both superiors courts and limited jurisdiction courts can hear criminal matters. Limited jurisdiction courts are “limited” in that they only hear misdemeanors, not felonies. We have both county and municipal limited jurisdiction courts. In a county limited jurisdiction court, or justice court, criminal cases are prosecuted by the county attorney. In a city limited jurisdiction court, they usually have their own prosecutor. In some places, it’s your typical prosecutor’s office. Others just contract with private attorneys to prosecute cases. Some town prosecutors are actually defense attorneys with prosecuting contracts. I couldn’t imagine representing defendants half of the time and prosecuting defendants half of the time. Sometimes, there will be a city court and at least one justice court in the same building. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

The Factual Basis

Hang around most Arizona courts for a little while, and you’re likely to see a plea fall through for lack of a factual basis. For those readers who don’t know what I’m talking about, Arizona’s rules of criminal procedure require that a court determine whether a factual basis exists for each element of the crime to which a defendant is pleading before it can enter judgment on a guilty plea. Evidence constituting the factual basis can come from any part of the record or from a defendant’s statements. There’s no reasonable doubt standard for a guilty plea. Instead, the court just has to find strong evidence of guilt. In a few courts, the plea will simply have a provision that says, “factual basis taken from police report … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Practice in General

Another Brilliant Government Idea

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about state, county, and municipal budget problems. Both prosecutors and public defenders tell me about hiring freezes, forced unpaid vacations, and pay reductions. Judges seem hesitant to sign off on any order that will cost the court much money. One county’s superior court apparently has a new policy of authorizing no more than $200.00 in initial compensation for contract defense investigators, billable at a rate of $20.00 per hour. I’m sure that’s affected the quality of the investigators on the contract list considerably. That same court has a brilliant new policy involving orders. To give you some background, when filing many types of motions, defense lawyers will attach a proposed order with everything filled out except for the lines where … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants

Wonder Dog

This story is absolutely unbelievable. At least a judge finally put an end to it, but how many years have people convicted by such blatantly false evidence had to serve? If these people were convicted by overwhelmingly obvious sham evidence, why weren’t all of the jury verdicts overturned? I’m assuming it was the bulk of the State’s evidence in each of the cases, which I think it is a fair assumption. Tracking over water? Picking up a scent six months later? The officer should be in jail, and the prosecutors should be poster children for why absolute immunity is a bad idea. I don’t know all of the details, and I know I’m making the above statements without investigating the cases and writing in anger. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to Us

Exactly one year ago, we started this blog. The goal was to put up one post per week, and to date, there have been 88 posts. Unfortunately, there have only been 96 comments despite the fact hundreds of people subscribe to our feed and we get thousands of hits each month. The new goal is to encourage more comments. Any suggestions on how we do that? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Don't Do It

I couldn’t agree with this more. I’ve had a fair amount of contact with law students at ASU through moot court judging, hiring clerks and research assistants, and just being an alumnus. I’ve met a lot of bright, articulate law students. I haven’t met a lot of impassioned law students who want to be advocates and truly believe in what they do. Most of the law students I meet, like most of my fellow law students when I was in law school, don’t know what they want to do. They just want a job, and any job will do. Maybe that works if you want to write wills or review contracts, but in criminal defense, that won’t cut it. It’s a calling. It’s stressful, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Law School, Practice in General

Because There Is No Other Crime Here…

We have time to charge and convict people of things like this. Basically, Bishop Rick Painter of Phoenix’s Cathedral of Christ the King was convicted of a criminal noise violation for ringing the bells at his church. Here is more information about the case, with a video. Here is the judgment and sentence order, and here is a press release from Alliance Defense Fund, the attorneys he’s retained for his appeal. If you want to check out the church’s website and listen to what may be the bells that got him in trouble, click here. The law he was convicted of breaking was section 23-12 of the Phoenix City Code, “Creation of unreasonably loud and disturbing noises prohibited.” It provides that “[s]ubject to the provisions of … Read entire article »

Filed under: News, US Constitution

A Tricky Situation

Article 2, Section 22 of the Arizona Constitution says that “[a]ll persons charged with crime shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except . . . [f]or felony offenses committed when the person charged is already admitted to bail on a separate felony charge and where the proof is evident or the presumption great as to the present charge.” Knowing that, what do you say when you know your client’s new offense was allegedly committed while he was out on bond for another felony offense and the judge asks, “counsel, do you have any recommendations regarding bond?” Does it matter if the same judge is assigned to the client’s other case and presumably knows that the client was out on bail when he or she supposedly committed the new offense? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Constitution, Clients, Courts, Ethics, Practice in General, Professionalism, Prosecutors

An Unusual Federal Case

I think this is hilarious. It would be pretty funny if he was doing it to protest the government’s use of his tax dollars or some kind of mistreatment he received, but the fact “he did it because he felt he could get away with it” is priceless. Did he even have to go? I can imagine him standing there day after day, urinating in the corner and in his best evil-villain voice saying, “MUAHAHAHAHA, they’ll never catch me!” H/T: Andrew Becke. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Double Jeopardy Is Okay…If You Are a Native American

If you are Native American and commit a criminal offense on an Indian reservation, it can be a crime in both the Indian community and the federal system. As a result of the United States Supreme Court’s decisions on the matter, the Indian Civil Rights Act, and subsequent legislation, Indians can go to jail (technically, there are no prisons on Indian reservations) and federal prison for the same crime. They can also be fined twice for the same criminal act. The Supreme Court’s rationale is based on their interpretation of the source of Indian governments’ powers and how they interact with the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court was also understandably concerned that an Indian could quickly plead out in an Indian jurisdiction to avoid federal prosecution. This often leads … Read entire article »

Filed under: Indian Law, SCOTUS Cases

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