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

The Life Of A Private Public Defender

Jamison Koehler put up a post this week about prosecutors and professionalism. Here’s the paragraph that resonated with me the most: I am always annoyed by prosecutors who stroll into the courtroom moments before the judge takes the bench. This results in a rush of defense attorneys toward counsel table seeking to speak with the prosecutors before our cases are called. It makes our job that much more difficult. And then the judge chastises us for not having worked out more of these issues in advance. His post was more about prosecutors being discourteous, but I am more interested in the effect on defense lawyers and some major problems with the system in general. There was a time in my career when I took appointed cases and carried a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Judges, Practice in General, Prosecutors, public defenders

In Other News, the Sky Is Blue and Marijuana Prohibition Is Bullshit

FourthAmendment.com put up a link yesterday to this New York Times story. Its title, “Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Data Suggests,” is news to exactly no one. Any perceptive human being who has set foot inside a criminal courthouse could also tell you the racial bias doesn’t end with the arrest. There are some other awful trends that quickly became apparent to me practicing criminal law in Arizona. I saw white defendants caught with marijuana for the first time get misdemeanor citations to appear in city or justice courts. Black defendants in the same position got felony charges in superior court. After charges, white defendants went through diversion, avoiding a conviction. Black defendants ended up pleading to misdemeanors. The second time around, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

No Pie For You

Bad manners aside, sitting at the dinner table and yelling “bring me some pie!” at your significant other while pounding your fists is probably not a criminal offense. Should you happen to have a knife in one hand while you pound your fists, however, you may be in big trouble. Significant others don’t like angry demands for pie, I’m told, and as a criminal defense lawyer, I’ve met quite a few people whose significant others love calling the police for the most trivial things. The story the 911 operator hears will invariably be embellished, and in my example, the angry companion would probably claim you somehow threatened her with the knife. She would say how scared she was. When officers arrive and haul you off to jail, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, Prosecutors

Looking for a Lesson

You’ve probably heard about what happened with Michael Marin. It’s not every day that a Mormon grandfather and amateur pilot, a former Wall Street trader, Japanese business executive, and graduate of Yale Law School who also climbed Mount Everest and collected works by Picasso, supposedly kills himself in court with a poisoned pill after being convicted of arson for burning down his mansion and narrowly escaping in a scuba suit. You can find more background here if you’re interested. On top of its general bizarreness, the whole thing brings up some fascinating issues. Michael Marin presumably killed himself because of the verdict. Had the jury found him not guilty, he would have probably gone out to celebrate. Although I have not looked into the specifics of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

It's All Illegal

Years ago, I thought I knew what was illegal and what was not. Now, I know that what I once thought I knew may in fact be unknowable. Take hindering prosecution, for instance. In Arizona, a person commits the offense of hindering prosecution if, with the intent to hinder the prosecution of another person for any felony, the person renders assistance to the other person. A person can render assistance by knowingly preventing by means of deception anyone from performing an act that might aid in the prosecution of the other person. I have a client who was in custody last summer, sitting on the chain in court waiting for a hearing. An officer came to court to get a handwriting exemplar from another inmate on the chain, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

The Coverage Dilemma

I do my best to personally attend every single hearing for every single client I represent. Every lawyer I respect does the same. Despite my best intentions, however, I admit I’ve had to ask for coverage. I’m sure I’ll have to do it again. Trials sometimes go longer than planned, and judges sometimes set things over my objection. Every judge thinks his or her orders are the most important. When a non-lawyer justice of the peace sets a misdemeanor pretrial opposite a felony jury trial that’s been docketed for five months, you can bet I’ll be sending another lawyer to do that pretrial. I’ll send someone I trust, but it won’t be me. Yesterday morning, the tables were turned when another lawyer asked me … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Practice in General

Senate Bill 1070

Everyone has an opinion about Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably love it or hate it. You may have a strong opinion about it even if you have no clue what it says. If so, you aren’t alone. S. B. 1070 makes it so the government can’t create a policy limiting the enforcement of federal immigration laws. If any part of the government does make a policy restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws, citizens have standing to sue. If they win, they get court costs and attorney fees. This doesn’t mean an officer will be sued just for not arresting a particular person or group of people. There will have to be a policy, not just one officer failing … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, immigration

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

Scary Numbers

I had a sentencing yesterday morning, and I arrived early because I hoped the court would call my client’s case first. The commissioner hearing the case usually likes to start with a group advisement of rights for all the defendants (if they’re all informed of their rights in advance, a judge can save some time because he won’t have to individually tell them what they’re giving up if they choose to enter a plea), but sometimes he’ll do a sentencing or two first if the attorneys get there early enough. While I was waiting for court to start, I had an interesting conversation with the bailiff. She said the morning calendar consisted of 14 sentencings and 90 pretrials. As I sat there, I thought about what those numbers … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, Practice in General

Some Terrifying New Legislation (Maybe)

One thing Bennett Kalafut mentioned in passing in this post over at Goldwater State caught my attention. Is it really possible that Arizona may soon have a law declaring undocumented aliens to be trespassing? Curious, I had a look at the text of the resolution. Here it is. If that ever became law, it would have pretty much everything any frothing-at-the-mouth anti-illegal-immigration-type could ever want. It would make it so that aliens in this country in violation of the federal improper entry statute would be committing criminal trespass simply by virtue of being in Arizona. It wouldn’t matter whether they’re on public or private land. The first time, it would be a misdemeanor, but after that, it would be a class 4 felony. That’s … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, immigration, Legislation

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