Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Prosecutors

Imaginarily Sufficient But Not Greater

It’s always struck me as silly that we as a society have decided that justice is somehow best measured by time in confinement. Speaking with an experienced former prosecutor who spent time in a foreign country helping to set up a “modern” criminal justice system, I was amused when he said they were backwards with punishment and human rights. When someone did wrong, he explained, the punishment might be giving the victim his finest goat. A convicted criminal might even be forced to give the victim his firstborn boy as a slave or his firstborn daughter as a bride for a serious offense. I could only think about how, here in Arizona, we’d just stick the dad in a cage and all but guarantee the son eventually becomes … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors, Sentencing

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

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

An Epic Pinal County Scandal

A little more than a week ago, Scott Greenfield wrote a post at Simple Justice about how a deputy at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office shot an unarmed man in the back despite the fact the man had his hands in the air and was clearly surrendering. If it hadn’t been caught on camera by a bystander, it would never have been news because the sheriff initially lied about the facts, insisted the deputy was justified, and let the deputy return to full duty after only three days of paid administrative leave. Luckily, the footage couldn’t be clearer: CBS 5 – KPHO Scott wrote about the deeper message the sheriff was sending by approving of the officer’s clearly unjustified actions, which is indeed the more important thing to consider. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Police, Prosecutors

99.9996 Percent Of Prosecutors Are Better Than That

I wrote last week about the first of a great series of articles at the Arizona Republic tackling the subject of prosecutorial misconduct. A surprisingly touchy and defensive group, apparently, some of the biggest-name prosecutors in the state shot back with a group response entitled “Hard-working prosecutors don’t deserve this ‘hack job.'” It went on to read, “Attorneys: Let’s set the record straight, in the interest of justice.” As much as the sassy title probably drew an “Aw, snap!” from every prosecutor whose delicate feelings were bruised by the mean old Arizona Republic’s thought-provoking article, the response from prosecutors didn’t really have much going for it after the title. In fact, it lost me in the first paragraph with this ridiculous statement: A prosecutor’s first duty is to justice, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

Prosecutor of the Year

A wonderful article from the Arizona Republic discusses prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases in Arizona. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but one little part in particular knocked the wind right out of me. It discusses Noel Levy, a former “Arizona Prosecutor of the Year” who seems to have done his best over the years to put people in prison or on death row using every sketchy prosecutor tactic in the prosecution playbook. One particular case involved Ray Krone, who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. Krone was convicted and sentenced to die based on a videotape about bite mark evidence that the defense didn’t have time to review. At Krone’s second trial, Levy got another conviction but only a life sentence. Krone, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Death Penalty, Prosecutors

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

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

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

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