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» Entries tagged with "maricopa"

A Suggested Policy Improvement

When dealing with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, it’s important to understand that there’s pretty much a policy for everything. Like the “show no mercy” policy of a schoolyard bully or street thug, however, each of their policies is only enforceable to the extent they have an unfair advantage and the resultant negotiating leverage to demand the absurd from their victims. Strong cases produce harsh pleas. So do mandatory minimums, and luckily for prosecutors here, there’s almost always one. For the most part, what the policies do is ensure that only the most dangerous criminals, men and women who do not fear the system or have gone to somewhat successful lengths to avoid prosecution, get great plea deals. The ones with consciences, and especially the innocent, would … Read entire article »

Filed under: immigration, Prosecutors

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

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

Prosecutor of the Year

A wonderful article from the Arizona Republic discusses prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases in Arizona. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but one little part in particular knocked the wind right out of me. It discusses Noel Levy, a former “Arizona Prosecutor of the Year” who seems to have done his best over the years to put people in prison or on death row using every sketchy prosecutor tactic in the prosecution playbook. One particular case involved Ray Krone, who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. Krone was convicted and sentenced to die based on a videotape about bite mark evidence that the defense didn’t have time to review. At Krone’s second trial, Levy got another conviction but only a life sentence. Krone, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Death Penalty, Prosecutors

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

The Simpsons Already Did It

I’m about ready to boycott Facebook. I suppose I could marvel at the diversity of my friends’ political views, but it’s mostly just draining. Half of them are stockpiling weapons. The other half are champing at the bit for some sort of action, any action, from legislators. Why they feel the need to share their views in impersonal snippets bound to piss off half of their “friends” is beyond me. Personally, I’ve avoided posting anything about last week’s tragedy because it has seemed far too soon for me to know what lessons I should be taking away from it, if there are any at all. It’s also far easier to make sense of other people’s reactions than it is to make sense of what happened. After I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Carbon Copy Criminal Defense

Arizona has pretty good discovery rules. The state has to disclose quite a bit fairly early in the process compared to many jurisdictions. The defense also has a duty to disclose, which mostly consists of providing the state with a list of witnesses, exhibits, and defenses that may be offered at trial. Courts generally don’t enforce the rules as they should, but they’re still quite helpful. At the very least, the defense gets enough to prevent nasty surprises in most cases. The notices themselves contain a lot of boilerplate language. Writing a disclosure notice from the ground up would waste time. Plus, things like diagrams of the scene and maps of the area aren’t normally the first thing a lawyer thinks about when mounting a … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers

Stay on Your Side

In each Maricopa County courtroom, the side of the gallery behind the defense table is for defendants and their families. The side behind the prosecution is for victims, law enforcement, and other people there for the prosecution. When I’ve been in trial, the sides either tend to be equal or they overwhelmingly favor the prosecution’s side. The policy doesn’t seem too ridiculous then, as it makes sense to keep a defendant’s family from sitting right next to the victim’s family. I can see how there might be some potential for trouble. During a court’s regular law and motion calendar, where it’s nothing but scheduling conferences and release hearings, the policy creates a different result. There may be forty out of custody defendants on the calendar. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts

More from the Land of Sheriff Joe (Updated)

Out-of-state bloggers beat me to it again. Bobby Frederick, Jeff Gamso, and Scott Greenfield write about how Judge Donahoe has refused to unseal the documents deputy Stoddard took from a defense lawyer’s file and how Sheriff Joe issued an inaccurate press release attacking Donahoe and has apparently refused to put deputies in the courtroom where all of this started. Also worth noting is the fact that two county supervisors with a supposed history of problems with Sheriff Joe have been indicted on numerous felony charges. I don’t have much to add, as the absurdity of the situation here speaks for itself. We have elected a sheriff who thinks he has unlimited powers and a county attorney who seems to support him. The courts can’t control either of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

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