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

What The Hell Do They Want?

A former client of mine contacted me a while back asking for help with a situation that makes my blood boil. He’s a smart guy and a good person, but his life has been a constant struggle, a fight to escape a hard life of poverty and mental illness. He never got any of the luck breaks most of us have had at some point or another. For a while, it seemed like he was on the right track, though. Sadly, he found himself in trouble again. That was when he called. I could’ve been disappointed, but I mostly just felt awful for him. I wanted to give him a hug and go back in time to make everything right, but that’s never going to … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

Except For That, Of Course

The silliest part of any guilty plea is the part when the court asks if anyone has threatened or coerced the defendant into pleading guilty. People are inclined to say no when it’s obviously the answer the judge wants to hear no matter what the circumstances happen to be. The desire to please is intense enough when the person asking the incriminating question has a badge and gun, but it’s even more powerful when the person asking sits high above the fray wearing a robe and keeps getting called “your honor” by everyone in the room. Several of my clients have given an admirable hell yes and briefly tried to elaborate before being cut off by others suddenly made aware of the absurdity of the question. I respect the clients … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts

Abusing Science

The government loves science. It should be quite obvious why, as science can very easily be twisted to serve the state’s nefarious purposes while maintaining the illusion of being undeniable and absolute. Science is the smoking gun in many cases, regardless of whether it really is or not. DUI cases in particular are often built on nothing more than government pseudo-science, something without which the state would only be able to prove in many instances that defendants were bad drivers who did a poor job performing parlor tricks for a cop. The results of a supposedly scientific test can instantaneously change a minor civil traffic ticket into a DUI conviction along with all of the accompanying social stigma and various draconian punishments. Most lawyers and judges are … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, DUI, Government Rants

Justice v. Efficiency

The criminal justice system is broken. Many judges are little more than prosecutors in robes. The courts fuss and fume when you need an extra week or two to make a decision. They push you into whatever plea comes your way. In Phoenix City Court, you usually spend the pretrial stages in front of a single judge. After you decide to fight it, though, they shuffle you elsewhere. The order says you’ll be going to trial in thirty days, but the court struggles to get you in front of a judge in sixty. You won’t know which judge you’ll get for fifty-nine. When everyone assumed you’d plead, they rushed you to a decision. After they realized you were going to fight, they stretched it out as long … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, DUI, Trial

Wasting Scottsdale’s Resources

If I lived in Scottsdale and paid city taxes, I’d be picketing the city attorney’s office right now. Some of their policies waste public money like it’s going out of style. I’ve complained before about prosecutors offering pleas with no benefit and defense attorneys enabling them by letting their clients plead, but Scottsdale elevates the non-bargain to an art. They’ve institutionalized extreme ignorance about the concept of bargaining altogether, and the results are amazing. If you’re charged with regular DUI and your blood alcohol falls in the uppermost part of the range, they offer you a plea to 3 days of jail. You’d get 1 day losing at trial. When they aren’t anti-negotiating, they typically offer you the same thing you’d get at trial. Across … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors

Taking a Vacation

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things after the longest vacation I’ve taken since I began practicing law. From planning the vacation, to preparing for it, to actually taking the time off and trying to enjoy myself, the experience taught me quite a bit. It drove home a lot of points about the nature of what I do. I should never view any non-work-related plans as concrete. As hard as that’s been for me to swallow, with my current practice, I know that it’s true. I represent a fair number of clients each year, and at any given time, many of their cases are at very different stages. I’m never at a point where I have no clients, so there’s always somebody who’s my … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General, Solo Practice

We're Gonna Need a Motion for That

Of all the people in the criminal justice system, aside from the actual defendants, private defense lawyers are usually in the worst position to get anything done. We don’t get full access to court information. We can’t access the county or city email directories. We don’t have offices in the same building as the judges. In most courts, we can’t even bypass security. We stand in line with our clients and watch the prosecutors walk to the front of the line, swipe their badges, and glide on through. Despite our lack of access and resources, courts are more than happy to shift the burden of completing various tasks to us every opportunity they get. In some courts, we’re obligated to file transport orders for clients … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

A Policy of Wasting Time

One of the most common frustrations I encounter from week to week is the seemingly ubiquitous court policy of not ruling on defense motions to continue until the time of the hearing that’s supposed to be continued. It defies logic. In the past, I’ve timely filed the motion, specifically said I want the hearing date vacated and reset, and the state has even stipulated, but courts have still insisted on wasting my time and my client’s time by requiring we both attend the hearing before granting the continuance. When I show up for those hearings, the courtroom is invariably overcrowded, the judge is furiously trying to rush through the docket, and there are a number of highly irritable and impatient defense attorneys sitting around. Although the judge usually … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Practice in General

After the Collapse

Defense attorneys, at least the ones I know, regularly speculate about how much time we have before the criminal justice system finally collapses. The argument is never about whether it’s going to happen, but rather about when it’s going to happen. Spend enough time in court with open eyes, and you’ll wonder the same thing. The system is so broken and overflowing with cases that most of us think it can’t possibly last much longer. Always one to embrace a little doom and gloom, instead of talking about how we might prevent the imminent collapse, I’d rather talk a little about how I think things are likely to be after it happens. Here are my predictions: 1) The Bill of Rights as we know it will be just … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

Rules v. Standard Practice

Recently, I amused a judge because I followed the text of a rule of criminal procedure instead of doing what everyone else in the jurisdiction does. He told me I deserved a “gold star,” and I’m not sure how I feel about that. According to the rule, which is very clear, I was responsible for editing a copy of a physicians report within 24 hours of receipt and returning it to the court so it could be made available to the State. Apparently, most attorneys just get the report, redact it at their leisure, and give it to the State a day or so before the hearing. At every step of a case, I tend to look at the governing statue or rule whenever there might be a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Procedural Rules, Professionalism

Articles Comments

Web Design by Actualize Solutions