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

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

Who Needs Lawyers Anyway?

I came across a fascinating post about the unauthorized practice of law after Mauricio Hernandez at the Irreverent Lawyer wrote a post of his own discussing it. It was the sort of thing that took a little time for me to digest before writing about it. For those too lazy to click through, the original article is about a woman with a very strong background in criminal law who moved here then took and passed the Arizona bar before becoming a capital staff attorney in Maricopa County. Ignoring some off-putting personal attacks that may or may not be deserved and a bizarre part in the closing paragraph that tries to make it a red-state-blue-state political problem, it’s a thought-provoking piece about the flagrant unauthorized practice of law by a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Ethics, lawyers, Practice in General, Professionalism

Institutional Car Theft

We all know that the government wants to take our money. As I’ve explained before, it sometimes tries to take our cars too. What I didn’t mention is that we don’t even have to be the target of a pending criminal matter for that to happen. A little while back, I spoke with a man who was living at a homeless shelter. He found himself there after being on the streets for some time, but prior to that, he’d been living out of his car. Until the government stole it, that is. They took not just his only means of transportation, but his home as well. It was all because he ran out of gas. After the poor guy found himself stranded by the side of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Power Over Life And Death

A brilliant young man killed himself. The defendant in a federal prosecution for downloading nearly 5 million articles from an organization whose mission is “to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge,” his situation was clearly more than he could bear. The “victim” settled all civil claims against him this past summer after he returned the data he had in his possession. The government went ahead with prosecution anyway, reasoning as follows: Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. His family’s statement contained the following: Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Aaron and his family learned in the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

The Stacked Deck

The system isn’t fair. It’s something those of us who pay attention all know, but sometimes it’s more apparent than others. I’m working on a case where the state appealed a lower court judge’s ruling granting a motion to suppress. It’s an uncommon situation due in large part to the fact judges don’t grant motions to suppress all that often. They stretch to find whatever facts best support a denial, knowing that the reviewing court must defer to them. They scour the books for cases that support the state’s position, no matter how old. I’ve seen more rulings for the state finding facts that weren’t really presented or citing ancient cases despite the existence of recent controlling case law than I ever would’ve believed as a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

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

Plea or Trial?

In Arizona, criminal defendants have no constitutional right to a plea agreement. The state does not have to offer one and can discontinue plea negotiations at will. If the state does offer one, it can take it off the table anytime before the court accepts it. That puts a lot of criminal defendants in a very difficult situation. Many defendants have no desire to go to trial. Some want to avoid trial at all costs. A big problem arises when a client doesn’t want to go to trial, has a weak case and a lot of risk, and feels they have a right to a plea they’re willing to accept. The problem is sentencing. Some Arizona crimes carry extreme sentences. If the state is alleging … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General

More on Victim Interviews

I started responding to some comments on this post, but I ended up writing way too much for one little comment. No harm in putting up another post, right? Anyway, to give you some background (for those of you who don’t like reading blog comments), I brought up in a comment that A.R.S. § 13-4433(B) says “the defendant, the defendant’s attorney or an agent of the defendant shall only initiate contact with the victim through the prosecutor’s office.” Andrew Becke asked: “is there a way to initiate contact with the victim through a motion to the court, thus requiring the prosecutor to respond in a pleading that the victim doesn’t want to talk? That might enhance their desire to be honest.” My answer would be that there are a few … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Victim's Rights

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