Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Blog

Picking the Wrong Lawyer

Yesterday wasn’t such a great day for me. After losing a bench trial I doubt I would’ve lost had it been in front of a jury, the judge informed my client the she had a bench warrant for failing to appear in another pending case in the same jurisdiction. There was a police officer waiting in the gallery to take her into custody. My client had hired one of those firms with billboards and posters everywhere to handle her first case. Dissatisfied with the representation, she hired me to handle the second. She complained about how hard it was to reach her other lawyer and how she felt he kept her in the dark about everything. My experience trying to stay in the loop with the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, Ethics, Judges

Jerk or Chump?

I trust very few people to do their jobs competently; it’s the product of a wealth of experience watching people suck at the simplest of things. Indeed, it is often the simplest things that people mess up the most, and of all those things, few are simpler than doing what you say you’re going to do. If you don’t want to do it, don’t say you’ll do it. If you say you’ll do it, then go ahead and do it. It’s so easy, but it’s practically impossible for many. A few months ago, I was dealing with a prosecutor for the first time, and she said she would run something by her boss and get back to me. As time passed, I figured she had either … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General, Prosecutors

It’s Not Just About Them

I’m no expert at dog training. If you come to my house, the pony-sized dog will mercilessly lean on you while drooling. If she’s had any water recently, you will probably wish you were wearing a wet suit. If you don’t have one, consider bringing a change of clothes. All we have to show for our multiple failed attempts to train her are lots of hurt feelings. All hers. Any mild correction results in her pouting off to bed for about a day and looking like you’ve beaten her. Any failure to positively reinforce, even when she hasn’t done anything remotely resembling what you wanted her to do, results in her pouting off to bed and looking like you’ve beaten her until you feed her … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants

Chris McCann Is So Gonna Sue Me

Chris McCann is a California lawyer who really doesn’t think very highly of my blog. He only recently found out about it, I think, as he just started bombarding me with emails and waited until yesterday to leave a bizarre comment. Chris’s problem is that he’s upset about a post where I mentioned his name in passing over thirteen months ago. He may be a little slow working the interwebs, as he also just stumbled across one of Brian Tannebaum’s old blog posts too, the one I had cited as the basis for my thoughts. Chris left a bizarre comment there yesterday as well. No one can accuse Chris McCann of not being proactive. Getting back to the real issue here, why he’s upset, I think it’s probably … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, lawyers

The Great Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is a hero. No doubt about it. You think you don’t have anything to hide, but you don’t know what we’re looking for. You think you don’t break the law, but you don’t know all our laws. No one does. In a few short weeks, we’re going to be celebrating our independence, an event marked by a bold declaration of beautiful ideas, not by the installation of some new regime or the drafting of some supreme law we’ll eventually come to ignore as we see fit after we all feel safe and fat and happy and want to stay that way. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

In Other News, the Sky Is Blue and Marijuana Prohibition Is Bullshit

FourthAmendment.com put up a link yesterday to this New York Times story. Its title, “Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Data Suggests,” is news to exactly no one. Any perceptive human being who has set foot inside a criminal courthouse could also tell you the racial bias doesn’t end with the arrest. There are some other awful trends that quickly became apparent to me practicing criminal law in Arizona. I saw white defendants caught with marijuana for the first time get misdemeanor citations to appear in city or justice courts. Black defendants in the same position got felony charges in superior court. After charges, white defendants went through diversion, avoiding a conviction. Black defendants ended up pleading to misdemeanors. The second time around, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Life’s Too Short

Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice put up a post earlier today about the disturbing phenomenon of new lawyers teaching continuing legal education courses. It’s a must-read that brings a story to mind. Pretty much every year I attend the Arizona Public Defender Association’s Annual Statewide Conference. I am perpetually surprised by the lack of the experience of many of the presenters and the depth of experience of most of those who sit in the audience. One particular situation arising from that continues to amuse me years later. For a few years, I’ve frequently sought advice from an appellate public defender I met through my wife. To say I admire him greatly would be an understatement. He’s amazing. He’s been licensed since 1975 and is an encyclopedia … Read entire article »

Filed under: CLE

The Shame of Doing Wrong

If you’re ashamed of what you’re doing, maybe you should reconsider doing it. It seems simple enough, right? I frequently deal with people who have serious substance abuse and mental health issues. They are usually fairly aware of their problems. Although many are incapable of fixing them, I see complete denial less often than I would have expected before I began practicing law. The shameful rock bottom moment, typically the moment that led to them needing my services, is the sort of thing that makes most of them shudder. The embarrassment can help commit them to change, but it can also depress them, leading right back onto the destructive path that caused the problem in the first place. Whether awareness of the need to change … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

No-Effort Marketing

I get a lot of emails trying to sell me online services. I ignore most of them, but this one caught my eye: It appears to be some sort of service allowing me to compare other lawyers’ online marketing with my own. I’m not positive because I have absolutely no interest in exploring the depth of other lawyers’ desperation in a slow economy. The service itself wasn’t what interested me, anyway. What interested me was the first lawyer listed in the email, a “local competitor” they claim is using online marketing to “attract customers” away from my business. I find that statement problematic because that particular lawyer was recently disbarred and is presently being held without bond after being charged with sexual abuse, sexual misconduct with a minor, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing

It’s Lonely Being Perfect

I set aside a few hours on several different days during my recent hike to make sure everything was okay back at the firm. On those partial “work” days, I mostly made sure my clients were happy and everything was going as planned in their cases. I returned calls from a few prospective clients as well. At first, the prospective clients would leave polite messages. They’d ask that I call them back at my convenience, acknowledging that my voice mail greetings said I would have limited availability until May. A few wished me well on my walk and said they’d be contacting Adrian because time was of the essence. What nice people I get to meet sometimes. At some point after climbing onto the Colorado Plateau, however, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General

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