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Understanding the System

The criminal justice system excels at creating frustrating situations. It might be the only thing it does well. I recently ran up against a situation that was not only frustrating, but also a perfect example of a Catch-22. To get a client released from custody, I needed to get her accepted into an approved rehab facility. She could only get into the approved rehab facilities by doing an intake appointment. The facilities only set intake appointments for people who are out of custody. Initially, I would encounter similar situations and become angry. I assumed they were caused by incompetence and thought the people in charge would fix it if they knew what they’d done. Although my anger began to diminish as I encountered those situations over … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, Government Rants, jail

Punctuality

When I was a little kid, one of my teachers loved to say this to the class: “to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be dead.” Awfully melodramatic, especially for someone talking to a room full of ten-year-olds, but it must have sunk in for me at some point. I still remember it, obviously, and I’m compulsively early for anything work-related. Starting out in law, a mentor told me one secret to success in criminal defense was showing up on time. Making it to every hearing before it’s supposed to start, he said, would already put me one big step ahead of all but a select few of my colleagues. He told me … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts

The System Doesn't Always Suck

It may seem like I do nothing but complain, but there are times when things do go according to plan. Sometimes the system gets it right. Rarer still, sometimes the system gets it wrong but corrects the mistake with surprising efficiency. That happened in one of my cases on Wednesday. The crime was supposedly possession of marijuana, and my client is a first-time offender. The state has a serious uphill battle in the case, as the stop is questionable, the search is questionable, and the facts are about as good as they get for trial purposes. He may lose, as the odds never really exceed fifty-fifty when you’re playing with a jury, but he has no real risk at trial; he’s ineligible for jail even if … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors

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