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» Courts

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

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

Victim Safety

Last year, I had in a Pinal County felony case where the plea agreement stipulated to probation and the state agreed to release my client to pretrial services at the time of the change of plea. After my client entered his change of plea, however, the court refused to release him, citing victim safety and the violent nature of the crime. When I later met with my client, he was irritated by the court’s ruling, but not for the reasons I expected. His question was, “if they’re so worried about the victim, why did they make him my cellmate?” My eyes grew big, and at first, I didn’t believe him. Later on, I found out that, sure enough, the victim had indeed been picked up by the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, jail, Victim's Rights

A Policy of Wasting Time

One of the most common frustrations I encounter from week to week is the seemingly ubiquitous court policy of not ruling on defense motions to continue until the time of the hearing that’s supposed to be continued. It defies logic. In the past, I’ve timely filed the motion, specifically said I want the hearing date vacated and reset, and the state has even stipulated, but courts have still insisted on wasting my time and my client’s time by requiring we both attend the hearing before granting the continuance. When I show up for those hearings, the courtroom is invariably overcrowded, the judge is furiously trying to rush through the docket, and there are a number of highly irritable and impatient defense attorneys sitting around. Although the judge usually … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Practice in General

Scary Numbers

I had a sentencing yesterday morning, and I arrived early because I hoped the court would call my client’s case first. The commissioner hearing the case usually likes to start with a group advisement of rights for all the defendants (if they’re all informed of their rights in advance, a judge can save some time because he won’t have to individually tell them what they’re giving up if they choose to enter a plea), but sometimes he’ll do a sentencing or two first if the attorneys get there early enough. While I was waiting for court to start, I had an interesting conversation with the bailiff. She said the morning calendar consisted of 14 sentencings and 90 pretrials. As I sat there, I thought about what those numbers … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, Practice in General

Good Times in Municipal Court

I practice in a number of different courts throughout Arizona. Although I focus on felonies, which means I’m usually in superior court, I handle enough misdemeanors to regularly visit some of the state’s smaller municipal and justice of the peace courts. Sometimes it can be an amusing experience. Recently, I had to do a hearing in a very small municipal court which had just moved locations. As I pulled up to the new court building, I thought I was in the wrong place. I would describe the court as being in a strip mall. At best, it could be called a professional complex. Regardless, you could have put a Quiznos next to the court and it would’ve fit right in. I walked up to the court … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

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