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I Hope It's Just The Water

I tried to get through my 1:00 p.m. meeting on Thursday early enough to catch some of the most recent contempt proceedings in this case. You can get additional information about what’s going on here, here, here, here, and here, but I’ll give you a single, run-on-sentence summary of what people are reporting happened: one of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s goons brazenly looked through a defense attorney’s privileged and confidential file during a video-taped sentencing, committed misdemeanor theft stealing papers from the file, and had another henchman make copies before returning the stolen papers to the file, then got caught and perjured himself in subsequent contempt proceedings all the while lucking out with absurd decisions from two judges and a seemingly underwhelming show of outrage from multiple … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

David DeCosta Revisited

After this post generated a deluge of negative comments attacking me and protesting the case against David DeCosta, I responded with this post. That didn’t help matters, and the angry comments continued. Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice chimed in here, and Jeff Gamso at Gamso – For the Defense discussed the situation in this post. As the battle raged on with comments and emails of widely varying civility and rationality, I began reviewing the police reports in DeCosta’s case. Initially, I dreaded the idea of going over them. I was expecting to find overwhelming evidence of DeCosta’s guilt. After all, almost everyone who was asserting his innocence did so by criticizing me. People who try to make their case by personally attacking their opponent … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Missing the Point

You can imagine my surprise yesterday when this ten-day-old post suddenly lit up with new comments. They read like typical troll comments, but they were from lawyers. Local lawyers, in fact, and ones who seem to have quite a bit of experience. I believe I have multiple mutual friends with at least one of them, though I doubt he realizes that. I have no clue what possessed all of them to comment at once. Like typical troll comments, they made ad hominem attacks. One writer accused me of presuming my clients guilty, another accused me of going off “half-cocked” without knowing my facts, and yet another seems to think I merely hold myself out as someone who practices criminal defense and accused me of throwing … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Professionalism

Inequality

Criminal defendants, especially ones who are in custody and hope to enter a plea, love comparing their cases with other criminal defendants’ cases. “My cellmate was facing the same charges and got a deal to probation. Why is my deal to prison time?” In most instances, they’re comparing apples to oranges. His cellmate didn’t have any priors and didn’t commit the offense while on probation. Of course, that’s not always the case. The disparity in treatment may be real, and the two defendants may be similarly situated. Differences could be caused by an ineffective defense attorney. The defendant may have a lazy public defender who sees no point in trying to get a better offer. He may have an appointed attorney who gets paid … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Prosecutors

And The Machine Keeps on Running…

Adrian likes to call Maricopa County Superior Court “an enormous machine of injustice.” I think that’s a perfect description. To some extent, every Arizona court hurriedly shuffles criminal defendants through one after another, but Maricopa County is especially cold and impersonal. Each person being prosecuted is one little thousandth of a percent added or subtracted from some number Andrew Thomas hopes to brag about come next election. Unavailable deputy county attorneys and a crowded master calendar serve to ensure that no defendant’s voice gets heard prior to trial, if at all. More than anyone else, illegal immigrants find themselves on the conveyor belt heading straight into the machine. When sheriff’s deputies pick up a van full of illegals driving through the county, the wheels of the machine … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, immigration

Another One Bites The Dust (Updated)

*** I wrote this post after reading about the case in the news and hearing courthouse gossip about what happened to David DeCosta. The police reports reveal a very different set of facts, which I discuss here. *** About a year ago, a defense attorney named Jason Keller got busted smuggling heroin to inmates. The Maricopa County criminal defense bar was abuzz with talk of his supposed meth addiction and involvement with the Mexican Mafia. At the time, he represented a client named Jesse Alejandro in a murder conspiracy case. His client became his co-defendant. A few weeks ago, another defense attorney, David DeCosta, got busted for doing more or less the same thing. Apparently, he was trying to sneak drugs to a client … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, jail, lawyers, News

Shameful

Texas likely executed an innocent man. That man, Cameron Todd Willingham, was represented at trial by David Martin, a man I now believe to be the most disloyal and generally shameful defense lawyer I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing speak. If you want to hear what he had to say about his former client on CNN, watch the video below. I wouldn’t recommend viewing it if you think you might have problems stomaching a faux cowboy in a deep state of denial proclaiming the guilt of a dead man whose life was once placed in his undeserving and likely incapable hands. The video mostly speaks for itself, but you can read some great blog posts about it here, here, here, and here. Willingham’s appellate lawyer even wrote … Read entire article »

Filed under: Death Penalty, Ethics

Jail: US v. Mexico

I recently met with a potential client who is a Mexican citizen. He doesn’t reside in the United States and is absolutely terrified of doing any time in jail in Arizona. That isn’t exactly an unusual feeling for a person to have, but this guy should be capable of holding his own in a tough situation. He is familiar with our country. I don’t want to say what he does for a living, not because it is illegal, but because I don’t want to impact his career in case someone starts snooping into his life. Suffice it to say, this guy shouldn’t really be worried about a few days in the county jailhouse. It got me thinking. Do people in Mexico fear our jails … Read entire article »

Filed under: jail

Judges Aren't Always Right

A week or two ago, I saw a judge make a ruling completely contrary to the law. It happens, but usually not so obviously. The judge was hearing a number of pleas at once. Two of the defendants were in custody and pleading to aggravated DUI. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-1383(D) and (E), certain types of felony DUI require that a defendant spend a certain amount of time in prison before being placed on probation. In Arizona, prison and jail are different. Jails are run by counties and cities, and felony defendants spend their time in county jail pending resolution of their criminal matters. Prisons are run by the state. You can only go to prison if you are sentenced. Both of those pleading defendants were … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes, Courts, DUI

Plea or Trial?

In Arizona, criminal defendants have no constitutional right to a plea agreement. The state does not have to offer one and can discontinue plea negotiations at will. If the state does offer one, it can take it off the table anytime before the court accepts it. That puts a lot of criminal defendants in a very difficult situation. Many defendants have no desire to go to trial. Some want to avoid trial at all costs. A big problem arises when a client doesn’t want to go to trial, has a weak case and a lot of risk, and feels they have a right to a plea they’re willing to accept. The problem is sentencing. Some Arizona crimes carry extreme sentences. If the state is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General

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