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

Why It Sometimes Sucks (And Then Doesn’t…Sorta)

It’s often hard to explain the little reasons it can sometimes suck being a defense attorney, so I figured I’d strike while the iron is hot and write about something that happened recently. It should highlight one tiny little reason why the job can suck. It should also highlight why the job doesn’t just suck all the time, but is more of a roller coaster of suck and not-suck. A couple of weeks ago, I had a settlement conference in a case. The goal was to see if the parties could reach an agreement. The prosecutor and judge were both great to deal with, and my client was very reasonable. He was facing a harsh mandatory minimum prison sentence and understood by the end that he … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

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

If That’s What He Says, What Does He Think?

Imagine a case where a guy gets popped on drug charges and the cops say they’ll not submit anything for charges if he catches a bigger fish for them. The guy holds up his end of the bargain, but the cops screw up the sting. The cops then go ahead and submit everything to charge him. A prosecutor later needs the guy to testify against the bigger fish when the cops finally catch him. The guy and his former lawyers both claim she promised him no jail or even a dismissal if he did what she asked. Again, the guy follows through, this time securing a conviction. The prosecutor makes him an offer to jail anyway, denying she made any promises and pointing out nothing is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Judges

Sucks Not Eating That Cake, Huh?

I covered a pretty amazing hearing recently. It wasn’t amazing because of anything I did. It was amazing because it perfectly showcased the disastrous impact of mandatory sentencing rules and a culture of punishment and cruelty not just on defendants, but on victims. The client was accused of taking money from a family trust. He was left out of it, but his cousins weren’t. He allegedly drained the trust using forged checks. At his first sentencing, the victims said how they weren’t going to get to go to college. He took their college fund, apparently, and now they had to take out student loans. At least one of them wanted to punish him with a long prison sentence. All of them wanted him to repay … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors, Victim's Rights

Why The Work Never Ends

I started work today with the best intentions. I had a list of what I had to accomplish along with a realistic plan of attack. After I sat down and finished my first task, a call came in: CLIENT: A detective came to see me and I pled guilty ME: What? CLIENT: It’s an emergency. I pled guilty. ME: You mean you confessed? CLIENT: Yeah, I pled guilty. I told him all the other stuff I did. ME: Did you say you had a lawyer? CLIENT: No, I just talked to him. He read me my rights and stuff. ME: Why did you talk to him? CLIENT: I don’t know. We’re gonna need to add the new charges to the current plea. ME: What new charges are there going to be? CLIENT: It doesn’t matter, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients

They Just Want Your Money

On Monday, I got to hear an elderly gentleman get sentenced for a first-time super extreme DUI (one where his blood alcohol concentration was over 0.20%) as I waited for the court to call my client’s case. He was so nervous he was shaking, and at one point, he begged the judge to not send him to jail. She told him something about how she would have to send her own brother for jail for that charge because the legislature set a mandatory minimum sentence. She also added a little comment about seeing people with a third of his BAC being involved in fatal collisions. How that could be the case seeing how she’s a misdemeanor court judge and doesn’t seem the type to go to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants

The Shame of Doing Wrong

If you’re ashamed of what you’re doing, maybe you should reconsider doing it. It seems simple enough, right? I frequently deal with people who have serious substance abuse and mental health issues. They are usually fairly aware of their problems. Although many are incapable of fixing them, I see complete denial less often than I would have expected before I began practicing law. The shameful rock bottom moment, typically the moment that led to them needing my services, is the sort of thing that makes most of them shudder. The embarrassment can help commit them to change, but it can also depress them, leading right back onto the destructive path that caused the problem in the first place. Whether awareness of the need to change … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

Real Change

For the first time in a little while, I left court this morning feeling like everything turned out okay. The whole experience was quite surprising, honestly. A lot of things could have gone wrong, but they didn’t. In most cases, even a positive result has some major downside. Not today. My client had absconded from probation long ago. He left the state and started a new life. There was nothing for him in Arizona but bad memories and worse influences. The new life he created for himself, on the other hand, was filled with stability, good people, and direction. He had been sober for a long time. He had a job and a support network. He finally knew what he wanted … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors

Trusting Judges

For most felony offenses in Arizona, a person sentenced to a term of probation can be ordered to serve up to a year in the county jail. When prosecutors intend to seek jail time as a condition of probation, they usually say so up front. If it’s a guarantee, the plea will say “defendant shall serve…” before describing the amount of time, whether it’s a deferred term, and whether the defendant gets credit for time served. In other instances where jail is possible, the plea will say “the state anticipates requesting an initial jail term” or something along those lines. Occasionally, the prosecutor changes his or her mind between plea and sentencing. They will also say so if that’s the case. Other times, the probation department’s presentence report … Read entire article »

Filed under: Judges

A Fundamental Shift

A particular way of thinking dominates among people inside the justice system. The idea is that the state accomplishes the noble goals of the people, and wrongdoers deserve the punishments the legislature created for doing the things the legislature told them not to do independently of the state’s wrongdoing in catching and prosecuting them. The system’s objectives are good and pure and worthy even when its agents and their methods are questionable. That view is apparent in courts everywhere. When prosecutors erroneously ask for dismissals with prejudice instead of without prejudice, courts quietly correct the mistake because defendants shouldn’t benefit from such things. Most of them did it, after all, and the laws say they shouldn’t have. Even when a prosecutor willfully conceals evidence, courts are … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

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