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I’ve Been Writing

It might seem a bit dead around here, but I’ve actually been blogging more than ever since the beginning of August. It’s all over at Mimesis Law, however. Here are tl;dr synopses of the posts, with links: Sometimes judges do a good job with rulings involving technology. Black people matter more than lions. Courts couldn’t care less about the horrific life of a defendant. Screwing people more gently isn’t really such a big deal. The Black Lives Matter agenda could do a better job of putting the power in the hands of victims and their families. There’s no such thing as too crazy for “justice.” Kim Davis is committed, but she’s hardly worthy of praise. Sometimes, stopping government overreaching trumps prosecuting perjury and convicting the guilty. Close to home is easier than fair. Not every senseless murder supports your position. For … Read entire article »

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Guilt v. Shame

A witness and I each had pretty remarkable breakthroughs at the same time earlier today. We both suddenly understood things we’d never really considered. When she had her revelation, she shook her head in disgust. On the other hand, I just thought yet again about how ridiculous our justice system really is. To say the witness and I have different backgrounds would be an understatement. We’re generations removed, and even if we shared a birth date in the same year, it would hardly even begin to bridge the cultural gap. On top of that, she’s mostly deaf and entirely mute. An ASL interpreter did not work out, and her writing is very difficult to understand. The “interview” today involved a pen and some paper. … Read entire article »

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Best Served Really, Really Cold

In 1999, Ramon Nelson was riding his bicycle away from a liquor store when someone hit him in the back of the head with a wooden stick, killing him. He had forty little baggies of crack on him when he died. Although it was dark out at the time, a guy named Maurice Johnnie identified a guy named Lawrence Owens as the murderer, first in a six-person photo lineup and then in an actual lineup. Lawrence Owens was the only person from the first lineup who also appeared in the second. A guy named William Evans said there were two people involved in the murder, but he identified Lawrence Owens as one of them in the same two lineups Maurice Johnnie saw. He said the victim spoke with the … Read entire article »

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Calling You Out, Brian Sloan And “The Arizona DUI Team”

As much as I value the information they can provide and respect many of my colleagues who participate in them, I don’t belong to any of the local lawyer listservs. I quickly tire of people bragging about wins, and I find that the ones who brag the most tend to paint less than complete pictures of what really happened. There are occasionally other sorts of misinformation too. Plus, I hate needless drama. It’s exhausting. Earlier today, someone brought to my attention a perfect example of why I’m not involved in listservs. Here it is, a message to a DUI lawyer listserv from lawyer Brian Sloan, who apparently leads “The Arizona DUI Team” (make sure you capitalize the “The,” apparently), trying to “call out” an excellent lawyer … Read entire article »

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A Terrible Idea All Around

It seems that ABATE of Arizona, which I would like to think of as a rights organization, has decided to support a statewide law against texting while driving. The proposed statute would create penalties of $100.00 for a first offense and $300.00 for second and subsequent offenses, and fines of $500.00 where there is an accident and $10,000.00 where death results from the accident. The proposed law is not only pointless and maybe even dangerous, but it is more or less guaranteed to further erode our rights. It is not the sort of thing any purportedly freedom-loving organization should ever support. First, as others have noted before me, we have plenty of laws to deal with the problem already. If your texting results in even the slightest … Read entire article »

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A Superbowl Sex Sting Poem

As a warning for those who might think it wise to blog after judging a beer competition, I present without further ado a Superbowl sex sting poem for your enjoyment: ‘Twas the night before the Superbowl, when all through the state, Not a hooker was stirring, who wasn’t a fake; The cops posted their escort ads on the internet with care, In hopes that potential Johns soon would surf there; The police were nestled all smug on their hotel room beds, While visions of entrapped soon-to-be sex offenders danced in their heads; And Adrian straightening his tie, and I in my suit, Had just settled down to field calls about police houses of ill repute, When from our office phones there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter. Away to the jail I … Read entire article »

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Times Must Be Tough

Our receptionist walked into my office with a sheepish look on her face. “Do you have four dollars and twenty-seven cents?” Confused, and then sheepish myself, I said no. Not exact change, at least. Not even a five or a ten. “I don’t keep cash on me. Why do you need it?” She explained that the mailman was waiting and someone didn’t pay enough postage. She then came in with the parcel in question. Here’s what I saw: This wasn’t the occasional person not sticking on enough stamps. Or one of the less common but more creative people with cash-on-delivery tricks. Things must really be tough when the gubmint doesn’t have enough cash to pay its own postage, when the U.S. federal executive department responsible for the enforcement … Read entire article »

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Got That?

In Arizona state courts, plea agreements are generally simple. Although a few paragraphs tend to confuse most defendants and require a little bit of explaining, they’ll at least set forth a definite number of years in prison, or maybe a range. Or they’ll say probation and maybe specify a specific jail term. Exactly what the defendant is facing is fairly clear. As I’ve started to do more federal work, however, I’ve noticed that things aren’t always that way in federal court. I wrote before about how silly it is to pretend at the change of plea hearing that the defendant wasn’t coerced when we all know that mandatory minimums cause coercion in nearly every case. That isn’t quite as common in federal cases, but there’s a different … Read entire article »

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Today’s Lesson From Jail

Walking into Maricopa County’s lovely Fourth Avenue Jail earlier today, it occurred to me that you don’t really see that many fanny packs outside of county jail waiting areas anymore. Sweat pants, too. There was one lady with a wispy brown mustache sporting purple sweat pants and not one, but two fanny packs. One had a broken zipper and a jumbo pack of Zig-Zag rolling papers poking out of a hole. The other was bulging but closed, filled no doubt with all kinds of fascinating objects. She was quite upset she couldn’t bring her fanny packs and their contents into her video visit. That lady would ordinarily be the pièce de résistance of a wait to do a custody visit, but this time I was fortunate … Read entire article »

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I Don’t

Forbes, and more recently Oliver Burkeman, have both discussed the important and interesting difference between “I don’t” and “I can’t” when it comes to breaking bad habits. They note that studies have actually shown that saying something like “I can’t eat that extra cookie” is far less effective at preventing you from eating that extra cookie than saying “I don’t eat extra cookies.” It works in all kinds of other areas too, apparently. Although both articles talk about why that is, each explaining in different ways how “I don’t” is a choice while “I can’t” is a restriction, neither touches on a potential deeper reason for the difference or explores its broader implications. Consider the implications about who the “you” is in the statement when you’re saying “I … Read entire article »

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