Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Entries tagged with "county attorney"

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

Taking The Law Seriously

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has so many policies I can hardly keep them straight. I suspect that few deputy county attorneys even know all of them, as I hear there’s a manual they consult when in doubt. If a defendant files a motion to remand for a new determination of probable case, the policy is apparently to not offer a plea. For certain types of charges, no matter how unique the facts of the case, the offer apparently must involve a prison sentence. Aggravated DUI cases involve a plea to a complicated duo of charges that, quite frankly, makes no sense at all, and repeat offenders get similarly bizarre offers based on a complex and largely arbitrary set of considerations. Most notable, for the purpose of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Legislation, Police, Prosecutors

Are They Breaking The Rule?

About two and a half years ago, I wrote about the Maricopa County Superior Court running out of judges to preside over a client’s trial. It happened again yesterday, but in a different way. At 8:00 a.m., I went to the master calendar assignment judge’s courtroom. If the system was a game show, he’d be the host. He spins his wheel of fortune and assigns your case to the judicial officer who’s next in line. Until that point, you don’t really know who you’re going to get. For all practical purposes, the case is assigned to what I like to call the “Honorable Master Calendar” on my captions. It was a huge docket, and the judge began assigning cases. Unlike the last time I wrote about … Read entire article »

Filed under: Procedural Rules, Trial

“We’re All Victims of the System”

I wrote once before about Maricopa County’s policy regarding the benches in the gallery of each courtroom. They put prosecutors and victims on one side and defendants and their families on the other. They enforce the rules with an iron fist. This morning, I got to see a defendant challenge the system. It must’ve been a heavy docket, as the defendants’ side was absolutely packed. There were so many people waiting for court that the benches outside of the courtroom door were full too. You couldn’t squeeze another person on the defense side. There wasn’t a single person sitting on the other side. One defendant walked in and proudly took a seat on the empty side. He was one of those guys I can only … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

Rethinking the Plea

I work with all kinds of different prosecutors. When it comes to plea bargaining, the differences often become particularly apparent. A lot of prosecutors send out a letter with the first plea offer saying how any subsequent offers will be substantially harsher. They tell you the first offer goes away as soon as they have to do work, and they may view counter-offers as rejections. They have to think about your proposal, don’t they? Plea negotiations are a game where the plea isn’t intended to fairly resolve the case based on its unique facts and the unique history of the defendant, but to minimize workload and maximize the efficient use of state resources. Some prosecutors make offers that plainly indicate they fear trial and will do almost anything … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

Contract Attorney Conflicts

Some Arizona jurisdictions have diversion programs where the county attorney will notify a potential defendant that they are going to be charged with a crime. The state sends defendants a letter explaining they have been selected for diversion and that, if they agree to participate in the program and successfully complete it, the state will not indict them. It isn’t just a dismissal; it’s almost as if it never happened. One county’s program is particularly great. The woman who runs it is knowledgeable, fair, and very easy to deal with. Most importantly, she seems genuinely concerned with making sure everyone she supervises succeeds. Often, I get the feeling diversion programs and probation departments are run by people who hate criminal defendants, see no problem with forcing … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, Practice in General, Professionalism

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