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» Entries tagged with "guilty"

Guilt v. Shame

A witness and I each had pretty remarkable breakthroughs at the same time earlier today. We both suddenly understood things we’d never really considered. When she had her revelation, she shook her head in disgust. On the other hand, I just thought yet again about how ridiculous our justice system really is. To say the witness and I have different backgrounds would be an understatement. We’re generations removed, and even if we shared a birth date in the same year, it would hardly even begin to bridge the cultural gap. On top of that, she’s mostly deaf and entirely mute. An ASL interpreter did not work out, and her writing is very difficult to understand. The “interview” today involved a pen and some paper. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Uncategorized

Another Shameful Win For The Drug Warriors

I gave a client a ride to court yesterday morning. He’d flown into the Phoenix airport from the other side of the country and didn’t have transportation. It would’ve been a record-breaking cab fare for him, so I offered and he accepted. We probably don’t have an awful lot in common, and his English is about as good as my Spanish. He’s an incredibly nice guy, though. He fielded one teary phone call after another from one family member after another during the drive. I tried not to eavesdrop, but there was one thing I couldn’t help but catch: Daddy’s going to work. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. It might be a long time. Be a good boy. Be good … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drugs

Veterans Court

In a lot of ways, I really like the idea of a special court for veterans. Treating any group or any individual in accordance with the fundamental concept that some sense of dignity and worth should be afforded to criminal defendants is a great idea in my book, even if most other defendants don’t have the same luxury. I’m not willing to slam a program that does something a little closer to right just because the rest of the system treats people totally wrong. On the other hand, it’s tough to stomach a system that superficially kowtows to people whose lives have been directly ruined by the government, whether voluntary or not on their part, while destroying the lives of those whose lives have been less overtly ruined by … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

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

Defining a Win

There’s a mostly-written motion still up on my office computer screen. When I finally close the file, I’m going to try not to read it. It will just make me angry. My client’s case was dismissed on Friday, but there were strings attached. He agreed to a $200.00 forfeited collateral on a new citation in exchange for a complete dismissal of his federal criminal case. Compared to a lot of defendants, the result was great. In most cases, I’d be happy. This case is a little different. It shouldn’t have been charged in the first place. The statute containing his supposed violation is so broad it could mean almost anything. I might be violating it by writing this post, and you could be violating … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients

Great Expectations

Part of my fee agreement explains how my fee in each case is based in part on a variety of considerations, one of which is the expectations of the client. Many of the other listed factors, like the urgency of the matter and the necessity of declining other work, once seemed far more important to me. Over time, they have come to pale in comparison with client expectations. For the client who wants to walk, beating the main charge but being convicted of a lesser is a massive disappointment. It doesn’t matter if they’re avoiding a murder conviction in favor of a lesser charge or just beating the part of the DUI charge that would have made it a felony. Any conviction is a failure. It’s the same … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients

Doing It All

I had a long weekend of work, but I’m ready for trial. The work I completed over the weekend wasn’t trial prep, though, because that was done long ago. I spent the weekend tying up loose ends. Trial is like a really shitty vacation. You have to make sure all your ducks are in a row so you can take some time off. Instead of dipping your toes in the water and watching a sunset with your adult beverage of choice in hand, however, you get to endure grueling combat all day every day for days on end. It’s a break from your daily stress during which you forget about your normal troubles in favor of some more pressing troubles. Did I mention that … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Trial

Getting Away With Nothing

Local news reported yesterday about a scientist who successfully appealed his failure-to-stop ticket by explaining how it may have appeared to an officer that he didn’t stop when he actually did. The title of the article was “California scientist uses physics to dodge ticket,” and it explained that “[a] University of California San Diego scientist was able to use his math and physics knowledge to argue his way out of a $400 traffic ticket.” The emphasis is mine. Here is the scientist’s paper, which is both clear and convincing. The guy is obviously well-educated and articulate, and based on his analysis, it’s tough to disagree with his conclusion that the officer’s perception of reality did not properly reflect reality. After reading the paper and assuming the officer … Read entire article »

Filed under: News

Judge or Jury?

Apparently, a recent study has confirmed the findings of an older study: The researchers made three primary findings: Judges tend to convict more than juries in cases of “middle” evidentiary strength. Judges acquit more than juries in cases in which judges regard the evidence favoring the prosecution as weak. Judges convict more than juries in cases in which judges regard the evidence favoring the prosecution as strong. Here’s the conclusion: In sum, criminal defendants are benefited by opting for a bench trial when the evidence is weak, and a jury trial otherwise. It seems to me that the studies confirm what’s probably somewhat obvious to most lawyers who’ve tried any appreciable number of cases to verdict before judges and juries. Juries are unpredictable. I’ve had juries convict clients when I felt the state utterly failed to meet … Read entire article »

Filed under: Trial

Bad Reporting

Someone forwarded me this story recently. They thought I would be interested in the topic because I’m involved in related litigation. I was interested. Unfortunately, what I got from it wasn’t just information about what happened in the case, but also concerns about the abysmal quality of the reporting. “After 6-hour trial, Snowbowl protester still guilty,” the title reads. It’s amazing the words “still guilty” made it through editing. I assume that the author intended to somehow emphasize that, despite what she perceives to be a lengthy trial, the defendant did not prevail. “Snowbowl protester found guilty after 6-hour trial” probably would’ve conveyed that just fine. It also would’ve avoided the frustrating misconceptions that abound from the title she actually chose. Her title suggests the poor guy … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, News

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