» Blog

Tribal Courts

Practicing law in Indian Country is a unique experience. I once had a tribal judge deny a motion to suppress in a possession of marijuana case because she thought my client did in fact possess the marijuana. I also did a change of plea once where the judge asked my client if he wished to change his plea, and after my client said “yes,” the judge said “okay, done” and called the next case. Tribal criminal codes are equally interesting. Where I’ve practiced, murder, possession of marijuana, and running a pyramid scheme are all punishable by a maximum of one year in custody. However, one year is not necessarily the max in tribal jurisdictions, as judges can and do stack counts, and the federal government often … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Indian Law

Please Vote

Not in the ABA Journal Blawg 100 (which you should have voted in already), but for this. Please read the summaries. Someone’s sad about being called a “little girl?” Pissed that someone is making more money than you? Okay, the cyanide one is funny, but does it really matter if someone at Skadden makes more than you do? Tenths of an hour got you down? Don’t like doing the Dew or upset you lost your cushy job? I can feel for all of those people, but the guy who is “Building His Case” has them all beat. No question. Please vote. Vote early, and vote often. He’s a lawyer, and the bitterness is palpable. Does anyone seriously think any … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Unethical Lawyers

A lot of disgraceful attorneys have been making news lately. This post brings up some good points. It also poses some interesting questions. I think that law is for a number of attorneys a very desperate profession right now. A lot of lawyers are greedy, and many more are hesitant about reporting other lawyers’ ethical violations because they worry they might someday find themselves in the same situation. Law schools should do something, as they are primarily responsible for the current state of the legal profession. Unfortunately, I doubt that what they’re likely to do will make any difference. They will probably just add another course to the curriculum. Maybe some smart professors will convince the powers-that-be to change the language of the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, Practice in General, Professionalism

Another Irritating Non-Lesser Included Offense

Felony flight isn’t the only crime with an irritating non-lesser included offense. In State v. Malloy, the Supreme Court of Arizona decided criminal trespass was not a lesser included offense of burglary. Burglary requires entering or remaining unlawfully with the intent to commit any theft or a felony, and criminal trespass just requires knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully. Although criminal trespass does contain the additional element “knowingly,” the Court in Malloy noted that “knowledge in the sense that the criminal act must have been voluntary” is implicit in all criminal offenses. However, the Court thought the word knowingly in the criminal trespass statute “must have some additional meaning” and decided that, in order to convict someone of criminal trespass, “the prosecution must prove not only that the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes

End Drug Prohibition

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of one stupid prohibition, I’d like to suggest we end another stupid prohibition. This one won’t even take a constitutional amendment, as the US Constitution miraculously evolved over the 20th century to allow it to happen with a mere act of Congress. Another act should do the trick. Rather than make my own case against the war on drugs, I’ll defer to someone else’s. There are plenty of smart people who have persuasively argued for legalizing all drugs, but this is definitely one of my favorite articles. Our failed war on drugs is one area where I have very little to add to what’s already been written. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, US Constitution

Releasing Information

I was recently stuck in court dealing with a case that should have been dismissed long ago. The prosecutor thought my client wasn’t complying with the terms of a mental health diversion program, but I had personally verified that he was in compliance less than a day before. To satisfy the state and avoid reinstatement of the charges, I just needed to get some up-to-date written proof. My first step was to try to call my client’s mental health case manager. One person told me the case manager was on vacation, and another told me he was in court. They accidentally hung up on me twice. Eventually, I got through to a lady who seemed to be able to help me. I explained to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Practice in General

An Irritating Non-Lesser Included Offense

I recently discussed lesser included offenses. Although Arizona’s practice of looking to the statute instead of the facts is frustrating enough in principle alone, there are some instances where I am particularly bothered by what a defendant can’t get as a lesser included offense. One instance involves felony flight. In an unpublished decision released this past September, Arizona’s Division One Court of Appeals looked at whether someone accused of felony flight could request a lesser included instruction for failure to stop. The felony flight statute applies to a driver who wilfully flees or attempts to elude a police vehicle with lights and sirens, and the failure to stop statute applies to a driver who knowingly fails or refuses to bring his or her vehicle to a stop … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes

Jury Trial Shenanigans

The US Constitution says you get an impartial jury “[i]n all criminal prosecutions.” The Arizona Constitution says you get an impartial jury “in criminal prosecutions.” A misdemeanor is a criminal prosecution, so you get a jury trial, right? If you agree, it probably means you haven’t had the good fortune of spending three years in law school. Those three years are essential if you want to learn the super-important lawyer skill of looking at something really clear and interpreting it to mean something different from what it obviously means. The most important lesson lawyers-to-be learn in law school is that constitutions, statutes, and rules don’t always mean what they say. Sometimes, they don’t even mean what they mean. Nowhere are those important law school lessons more … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, SCOTUS Cases, US Constitution

Lesser Included Offenses

In many cases that go to trial, it is important to request that the judge give the jury a lesser included offense instruction. That means that you ask the judge to tell the jury that the crime with which the defendant has been charged includes a lesser crime and that, if they feel the facts warrant it, they can find the defendant guilty of the lesser crime instead of the charged crime. For instance, in Arizona, theft is a lesser included offense of robbery, so if you are accused of robbery, the judge can tell the jury that they can find you guilty of theft instead. Some jurors don’t like the fact they only have two options (guilty or not guilty), so a lesser included offense instruction gives … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases

Can't Make Out Your VIN?

If your answer to that question is “yes,” there’s a chance your vehicle is going to become property of the State of Arizona at some point in the future. A.R.S. § 28-4594(A) provides that when the VIN of a vehicle or of a major component of a vehicle has been removed, defaced, altered or destroyed without the permission the Arizona Department of Transportation, the vehicle is contraband. If the state decides your vehicle is contraband, it can seize and destroy it. That might mean that every vehicle with a non-manufacturer or out-of-state VIN on any major component could be seized when driven or ridden through Arizona. When a new VIN is attached by another state to any major part of a recovered vehicle, that vehicle might be … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes

Articles Comments

Web Design by Actualize Solutions