Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Courts

Are They Idiots Or Are They Liars?

I wouldn’t be writing about Mesa twice in row if I didn’t think it was all noteworthy. This time, though, I’m a little less cynical. I refuse to believe the judges at Mesa City Court are anywhere near as simple-minded and unfair as some of the prosecutors there claim. To give you some background, if you are charged with misdemeanor DUI in Arizona and your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.15, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is one day with nine days suspended. If your BAC is between 0.15 and 0.20, it’s nine days with twenty-one days suspended. Any misdemeanor DUI in Arizona could theoretically result in 180 days in jail, but I’ve never seen it happen, heard about it happening, or even realistically considered that any prosecutor could … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, DUI, Prosecutors

Move Along, No Preferential Treatment Here

Last Thursday, we faxed a motion to continue trial to Mesa Municipal Court at 10:02 a.m. We sent the state a copy too, of course, though we’d also told the assigned prosecutor what we were going to do the day before. The court called us at 2:25 p.m. and left a message about getting our position on the state’s motion to continue trial. That’s right, the state’s motion. Not ours. The motion the state didn’t bother faxing us until 3:45 p.m. I called the court back sometime shortly before 5:00 p.m. and spoke with a very pleasant lady. She wanted to know my position on the state’s motion. I told her we didn’t oppose it and had in fact filed our own motion. She asked … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

Sucks Not Eating That Cake, Huh?

I covered a pretty amazing hearing recently. It wasn’t amazing because of anything I did. It was amazing because it perfectly showcased the disastrous impact of mandatory sentencing rules and a culture of punishment and cruelty not just on defendants, but on victims. The client was accused of taking money from a family trust. He was left out of it, but his cousins weren’t. He allegedly drained the trust using forged checks. At his first sentencing, the victims said how they weren’t going to get to go to college. He took their college fund, apparently, and now they had to take out student loans. At least one of them wanted to punish him with a long prison sentence. All of them wanted him to repay … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors, Victim's Rights

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Pinal County has some amazingly friendly people working court security. One guy always used to ask to borrow my car. Another would demand a check made out to him for parking in the public lot in front of the courthouse. Once, after a bit of a hiatus from handling cases there, I came back to court with facial hair. As I passed through the metal detector, one guy got on the radio and said, “we’re gonna need a razor down here.” Upon closer inspection of the quality of beard I had, he got on the radio again. “Better make that a child’s safety razor.” The guy standing in the back with an enviable handlebar mustache got a real chuckle out of that one. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

Who Needs Lawyers Anyway?

I came across a fascinating post about the unauthorized practice of law after Mauricio Hernandez at the Irreverent Lawyer wrote a post of his own discussing it. It was the sort of thing that took a little time for me to digest before writing about it. For those too lazy to click through, the original article is about a woman with a very strong background in criminal law who moved here then took and passed the Arizona bar before becoming a capital staff attorney in Maricopa County. Ignoring some off-putting personal attacks that may or may not be deserved and a bizarre part in the closing paragraph that tries to make it a red-state-blue-state political problem, it’s a thought-provoking piece about the flagrant unauthorized practice of law by a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Ethics, lawyers, Practice in General, Professionalism

Veterans Court

In a lot of ways, I really like the idea of a special court for veterans. Treating any group or any individual in accordance with the fundamental concept that some sense of dignity and worth should be afforded to criminal defendants is a great idea in my book, even if most other defendants don’t have the same luxury. I’m not willing to slam a program that does something a little closer to right just because the rest of the system treats people totally wrong. On the other hand, it’s tough to stomach a system that superficially kowtows to people whose lives have been directly ruined by the government, whether voluntary or not on their part, while destroying the lives of those whose lives have been less overtly ruined by … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

They’re Way Too Busy

The West Mesa Justice Court has a fax number. I faxed them something yesterday. Today, the West Mesa Justice Court faxed me a letter saying the court doesn’t accept case documents by fax: Although the court does not have the capability to deal with multiple copies of the same document, they have enough time to send me a fax telling me so. Unfortunately, Brown & Little, P.L.C., implemented a no-fax-acceptance policy of its own this morning. We’ll be faxing the justice court a letter about it later today. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

He Was Screwed No Matter What

In a recent Supreme Court of Arizona case, State v. Duran, the defendant tried to plead guilty but the trial court rejected his plea. The trial court then royally messed up by saying the prosecutor could use statements Duran made in connection with his change of plea if he testified inconsistently with them at trial. It’s important here to keep in mind the fact the trial court was wrong. Duran’s statements never, ever should have been used against him. The trial court made a mistake, and as a result, the defendant was confronted with the dilemma of testifying and bearing the disastrous brunt of the court’s mistake or not testifying and probably making the best of a really bad situation. A conviction would pretty much be guaranteed … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Courts

The Life Of A Private Public Defender

Jamison Koehler put up a post this week about prosecutors and professionalism. Here’s the paragraph that resonated with me the most: I am always annoyed by prosecutors who stroll into the courtroom moments before the judge takes the bench. This results in a rush of defense attorneys toward counsel table seeking to speak with the prosecutors before our cases are called. It makes our job that much more difficult. And then the judge chastises us for not having worked out more of these issues in advance. His post was more about prosecutors being discourteous, but I am more interested in the effect on defense lawyers and some major problems with the system in general. There was a time in my career when I took appointed cases and carried a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Judges, Practice in General, Prosecutors, public defenders

They Just Want Your Money

On Monday, I got to hear an elderly gentleman get sentenced for a first-time super extreme DUI (one where his blood alcohol concentration was over 0.20%) as I waited for the court to call my client’s case. He was so nervous he was shaking, and at one point, he begged the judge to not send him to jail. She told him something about how she would have to send her own brother for jail for that charge because the legislature set a mandatory minimum sentence. She also added a little comment about seeing people with a third of his BAC being involved in fatal collisions. How that could be the case seeing how she’s a misdemeanor court judge and doesn’t seem the type to go to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants

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