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» Government Rants

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

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

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

A Victim In The Way

From afar, I’ve been watching a colleague represent the minor victim in an assault case. The “victim” was actually the aggressor, so it behooved him to hire counsel. He and his lawyer have had quite the ride as the case has progressed. I’m sure the prosecutor told the defense attorney that the victim would not consent to an interview because almost every prosecutor does that in almost every case. They almost never ask, however, and this time I knew for a fact that was what happened. The prosecutor never once bothered to consult with the victim about anything. At most, the prosecutor just read what the cops said the victim said, probably not even listening to the actual recorded interview, then acted like an expert on … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Prosecutors, Victim's Rights

Institutional Car Theft

We all know that the government wants to take our money. As I’ve explained before, it sometimes tries to take our cars too. What I didn’t mention is that we don’t even have to be the target of a pending criminal matter for that to happen. A little while back, I spoke with a man who was living at a homeless shelter. He found himself there after being on the streets for some time, but prior to that, he’d been living out of his car. Until the government stole it, that is. They took not just his only means of transportation, but his home as well. It was all because he ran out of gas. After the poor guy found himself stranded by the side of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

The Simpsons Already Did It

I’m about ready to boycott Facebook. I suppose I could marvel at the diversity of my friends’ political views, but it’s mostly just draining. Half of them are stockpiling weapons. The other half are champing at the bit for some sort of action, any action, from legislators. Why they feel the need to share their views in impersonal snippets bound to piss off half of their “friends” is beyond me. Personally, I’ve avoided posting anything about last week’s tragedy because it has seemed far too soon for me to know what lessons I should be taking away from it, if there are any at all. It’s also far easier to make sense of other people’s reactions than it is to make sense of what happened. After I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

The Source

Lawyers as a group tend to be dissatisfied. They’re dissatisfied with the work they’re doing. They’re dissatisfied with the money they’re making. Clients are frustrating, courts are frustrating, and the practice of law isn’t what they thought it would be. Why? The truth is that the work is great. It’s intellectually challenging. Maybe not if you’re shuffling one client after another through an assembly line, but if you’re litigating cases and going to trial when appropriate, it’s everything any bright-eyed law student could ever hope for. It’s an intellectual feast. The money is also great. Even with law school debt, bar exam debt, business-starting debt, and whatever personal baggage you bring in, your time is still worth an enormous amount of money. Good … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

When Justice Is Corruption And Injustice Is The Law

Via one of my favorite blogs, the ever-fantastic Philly Law Blog written by Jordan Rushie and Leo M. Mulvihill, Jr., whose beard-mentoring qualifications give me beard envy and whose fashion sensibilities continue to intimidate me into wearing plaid for every occasion, respectively, came this amazing little report. In case you don’t want to click through, the report details all kinds of favorable treatment given to important people by Philadelphia’s traffic courts. Unlike most thirty-plus page reports about a court in a different state, I felt compelled to read it. I’m glad I did. The report tells a story of judges giving “special consideration” to people with power. It explains that judges routinely helped the politically connected individuals get all kinds of benefits, even when no express request … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

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