Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Victim’s Rights

Real Monsters

I represent an octogenarian cancer patient who is who is likely to die as a direct result of the actions of the State of Arizona. She isn’t on death row or anything like that. She isn’t even a defendant. She isn’t just a witness either, though she may end up one if the state has its way and gets to do what’s likely to kill her. That’s what I’m trying to stop. She’s actually an alleged victim. She’s one of a few victims in a single case, and she’s the only victim of a misdemeanor offense. The other counts are felonies with different named victims. She doesn’t want the case to proceed. She doesn’t want to participate. She can’t participate. Her doctor has said she is in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Victim's Rights

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

Bad Facts + Time = Bad Law

There is an old saying about bad facts making bad law. It is probably true, but luckily, that does not have to be the case. Look no further than the recent Court of Appeals of Arizona case of State v. Lucas and its predecessor for proof. They also show that nearly-identical bad facts will eventually, even before the same court, create bad law sooner or later. The facts of both cases were simple. Victims have a right to refuse interviews in Arizona, and courts can designate a victim’s representative by law when the victim is a minor. In State v. Lucas, the grandmother was the victim’s representative, and the victim reached the age of majority. The defense wanted to interview her. The law provides the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Victim's Rights

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

A Lie or Just Misleading?

In previous posts, I complained about having to trust prosecutors to set up victim interviews. In case you don’t feel like clicking on the links, I’ll summarize: in Arizona, defense attorneys have to ask the prosecutor to ask the victim if he or she wants to talk to them. As I discussed in those posts, there are a lot of problems with that. I recently encountered a situation that highlighted one big problem. The victim in one of my domestic violence cases has recanted. She is very eager to tell everyone, myself included, that she lied about what happened and wants the prosecutor to dismiss the charges. I know for a fact she told the prosecutor she wanted absolutely nothing to do with the case and … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Prosecutors, Victim's Rights

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

More on Victim Interviews

I started responding to some comments on this post, but I ended up writing way too much for one little comment. No harm in putting up another post, right? Anyway, to give you some background (for those of you who don’t like reading blog comments), I brought up in a comment that A.R.S. § 13-4433(B) says “the defendant, the defendant’s attorney or an agent of the defendant shall only initiate contact with the victim through the prosecutor’s office.” Andrew Becke asked: “is there a way to initiate contact with the victim through a motion to the court, thus requiring the prosecutor to respond in a pleading that the victim doesn’t want to talk? That might enhance their desire to be honest.” My answer would be that there are a few … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Victim's Rights

Trusting Prosecutors

In Arizona, victims can choose whether or not to be interviewed by a defendant or his attorney. In pretty much every case, I send the prosecutor a letter asking whether the victim would be willing to submit to an interview. Victims almost never want to speak with me, so I’m forced to trust that the prosecutor actually asked them about consenting to an interview. I’m not a very trusting person, and I’m especially suspicious when there’s no way to verify what someone tells me. That’s the case with victim interviews. I bet a lot of prosecutors never bother asking victims, but in most instances, I have no way of proving it. I can’t later seek out the victim and find out. That would be a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Professionalism, Prosecutors, Trial, Victim's Rights

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