Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Entries tagged with "court of appeals"

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

Scottsdale’s DUI Machine Malfunctions, Court Of Appeals Doesn’t Care

One of Scottsdale’s DUI-conviction-machines has some serious problems. I first wrote about it in 2012 after a Scottsdale City Court judge prevented me from telling a jury about the problems. The judge demanded an offer of proof before he was willing to admit evidence of anything calling into question the city’s malfunctioning piece of equipment. Instead of making the state bear the burden of proving the test was accurate and admitting all of the information about its problems, he presumed the results were accurate and precluded any information to the contrary. I wrote about it again in 2013, when a Maricopa County Superior Court judge finally ruled that blood test results from the machine in several cases were inadmissible pursuant to Rule 702 of the Arizona Rules of … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

Why People Make Jokes About Arizona

Alessandro Garcia is a killer. There’s no doubt about it. By his own ongoing admission, Garcia was part of the infamous Buddhist Temple Massacre that occurred on August 10, 1991. I have no idea what actually happened or who else was involved, but it’s undisputed that Garcia and one or more others killed six Buddhist monks, two young initiates, and an elderly nun. Apparently, they shot all of the victims in the back of the head at close range more than once. The innocent victims were made to kneel on the floor of the temple before being shot dead, one by one. Some had died while praying. All but the first likely witnessed the others being shot. It was part of a robbery, and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases

He Was Screwed No Matter What

In a recent Supreme Court of Arizona case, State v. Duran, the defendant tried to plead guilty but the trial court rejected his plea. The trial court then royally messed up by saying the prosecutor could use statements Duran made in connection with his change of plea if he testified inconsistently with them at trial. It’s important here to keep in mind the fact the trial court was wrong. Duran’s statements never, ever should have been used against him. The trial court made a mistake, and as a result, the defendant was confronted with the dilemma of testifying and bearing the disastrous brunt of the court’s mistake or not testifying and probably making the best of a really bad situation. A conviction would pretty much be guaranteed … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Courts

Ex Post Facto Registration

I’ve written before about sex offender registration, which is required in Arizona for a variety of offenses. For many defendants, having to register is one of most unpalatable consequences of a conviction. It’s embarrassing. It forces them to remain in contact with the same evil government that rode roughshod over their rights to get a conviction in the first place. They end up living their lives being tracked like animals released into the wild, trying to move on but with a class four felony perpetually hanging over their heads. Strangely, people who accept a plea knowing they face registration may be the lucky ones. Many defendants with old Arizona convictions and people moving here from other states have ended up having to register even though they … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Constitution, Sex Crimes, US Constitution

Poor Charlie Brown

I’ve mentioned Anders briefs before. It’s the defense-lawyer equivalent of licking your master’s hand in submission. A creative lawyer can always find some issue somewhere, and filing a brief more or less saying your client should’ve been found guilty based on the record is just embarrassing. If you aren’t sold on not filing Anders briefs solely because they’re humiliating to any competent lawyer, Arizona’s court of appeals recently provided another reason. In an opinion last week, the court disagreed with an appellate public defender’s assessment that only frivolous issues existed on appeal. The lawyer apparently reviewed the record enough to set forth a sufficient background to reveal potential issues, but he didn’t see at least one issue that the court saw. I can’t imagine much worse for a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Courts

Making Bad Law

I recently had an interesting talk with a prosecutor. I litigated a case against him a little while back, and I thought it had decent facts for a motion to suppress. The officer’s report clearly stated that he had completed the traffic stop, issued a warning, and told the occupants they were free to go before re-initiating contact and asking them, “hey, do you mind if I take a look in the car?” There’s an Arizona court of appeals case from last year called State v. Sweeney. In it, the court held that, after a traffic stop has concluded, an officer must have reasonable cause to initiate a second detention of a suspect. Based on the totality of the circumstances, the officer in my case didn’t have … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Prosecutors, Search and Seizure

Arizona DUI Stupidity

Imagine you’re sitting in the comfort of your own home, enjoying a glass of fine single barrel Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It’s about midnight, and you’re on your third or fourth when you hear the back window of your home shatter. You can hear that someone is trying to break into the house, and you run to call 911. As you frantically rush through the house, you see someone breaking in through the front window as well. You have no time to think, and not knowing what else to do, you swing open the door leading to your garage and jump in your car. You lock your doors, fire up the engine, open the automatic garage door, and speed off while calling the police. Congratulations, you … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes, DUI

Actual Control (Again)

Recently, I was surprised when Division Two looked at an issue very close to (if not the same as) something I previously discussed in a post. The issue in State v. Zaragoza was “actual control,” and most of the commentary I’ve read seems to claim that the opinion narrows the term significantly. Here it is. Although I have no doubt that it’s a step in the right direction and may well assist me in future motions, I am skeptical about how positive an effect the opinion is likely to have. Like any appellate opinion, it can be narrowed by its facts. The time line isn’t entirely clear to me, but I think the officer was on top of things as soon as the defendant got in the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, DUI

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