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

Imaginarily Sufficient But Not Greater

It’s always struck me as silly that we as a society have decided that justice is somehow best measured by time in confinement. Speaking with an experienced former prosecutor who spent time in a foreign country helping to set up a “modern” criminal justice system, I was amused when he said they were backwards with punishment and human rights. When someone did wrong, he explained, the punishment might be giving the victim his finest goat. A convicted criminal might even be forced to give the victim his firstborn boy as a slave or his firstborn daughter as a bride for a serious offense. I could only think about how, here in Arizona, we’d just stick the dad in a cage and all but guarantee the son eventually becomes … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors, Sentencing

Real Monsters

I represent an octogenarian cancer patient who is who is likely to die as a direct result of the actions of the State of Arizona. She isn’t on death row or anything like that. She isn’t even a defendant. She isn’t just a witness either, though she may end up one if the state has its way and gets to do what’s likely to kill her. That’s what I’m trying to stop. She’s actually an alleged victim. She’s one of a few victims in a single case, and she’s the only victim of a misdemeanor offense. The other counts are felonies with different named victims. She doesn’t want the case to proceed. She doesn’t want to participate. She can’t participate. Her doctor has said she is in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Victim's Rights

Are They Idiots Or Are They Liars?

I wouldn’t be writing about Mesa twice in row if I didn’t think it was all noteworthy. This time, though, I’m a little less cynical. I refuse to believe the judges at Mesa City Court are anywhere near as simple-minded and unfair as some of the prosecutors there claim. To give you some background, if you are charged with misdemeanor DUI in Arizona and your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.15, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is one day with nine days suspended. If your BAC is between 0.15 and 0.20, it’s nine days with twenty-one days suspended. Any misdemeanor DUI in Arizona could theoretically result in 180 days in jail, but I’ve never seen it happen, heard about it happening, or even realistically considered that any prosecutor could … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, DUI, Prosecutors

Move Along, No Preferential Treatment Here

Last Thursday, we faxed a motion to continue trial to Mesa Municipal Court at 10:02 a.m. We sent the state a copy too, of course, though we’d also told the assigned prosecutor what we were going to do the day before. The court called us at 2:25 p.m. and left a message about getting our position on the state’s motion to continue trial. That’s right, the state’s motion. Not ours. The motion the state didn’t bother faxing us until 3:45 p.m. I called the court back sometime shortly before 5:00 p.m. and spoke with a very pleasant lady. She wanted to know my position on the state’s motion. I told her we didn’t oppose it and had in fact filed our own motion. She asked … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

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

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

What’s Wrong With The Current Approach To Biker Profiling

I’ve been closely following legislation and lawsuits regarding biker profiling for over a decade. In that time, Arizona’s motorcyclists’ rights organizations have been giving it more and more attention. I think it’s fair to say that, for many or maybe even most bikers, it is the single most pressing issue they feel those organizations ought to be addressing right now. In many ways, I’m inclined to agree. I hear new stories about police telling business owners not to allow patches in their establishments almost every day. As a criminal defense attorney, I represent clients who are clearly targeted by officers simply because they ride. Even after charges are filed, bikers are regularly treated far more harshly. In the City of Mesa, for instance, there is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Bikers' Rights

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

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

Jerk or Chump?

I trust very few people to do their jobs competently; it’s the product of a wealth of experience watching people suck at the simplest of things. Indeed, it is often the simplest things that people mess up the most, and of all those things, few are simpler than doing what you say you’re going to do. If you don’t want to do it, don’t say you’ll do it. If you say you’ll do it, then go ahead and do it. It’s so easy, but it’s practically impossible for many. A few months ago, I was dealing with a prosecutor for the first time, and she said she would run something by her boss and get back to me. As time passed, I figured she had either … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General, Prosecutors

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