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Then Versus Now

My post this morning at Fault Lines is about cops speeding. Someone who goes by LawDog put up this quote as a comment: “Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself. Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting). Like a lot of snippets from old Supreme Court cases, it’s … Read entire article »

Filed under: SCOTUS Cases

Rock Bottom

At a hearing earlier this week, I mentioned to the judge how a police officer unfairly targeted my client. It seemed to me that the cop was clearly out to get him. The judge laughed, “he’s a motor; of course he’s out to get your client, those guys are out to get everyone.” The prosecutor laughed too. The judge then mentioned how he gets extremely nervous every time he’s driving his car and sees a “motor” sitting there on a motorcycle, just waiting to catch someone for something. “I keep my hands at ten and two, go under the speed limit, and only look straight ahead,” he joked. The prosecutor chimed in, “those guys will nail you for anything; they’d give their own mother … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Let This Be A Lesson

If you read it carefully, the recent opinion from the Arizona Court of Appeals in State v. Woods can tell you a lot about how criminal appeals work in Arizona. In it, the trial court judge did something very unusual and suppressed evidence obtained during a lawful initial stop and subsequent search of a car because the defendant refused to allow the officer to search some boxes and the officer had no information “to suggest a basis for reasonable suspicion as to the transportation of illegal substances.” The officer had first found the boxes in question during a supposed consent search. The appellate court wrote that the trial court “acknowledged” that their “consistency and density” was “consistent with his experience with packaging of illegal substances.” The use of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Drugs

How To (Really) Get Through A DUI Checkpoint

An interesting DUI checkpoint video has been circulating lately. In it, the driver gets through without even rolling down his window, passing by with ease thanks to a plastic bag attached to his car with a string. The bag contained his license, registration, insurance information, and a note saying “I remain silent,” “No searches,” and “I want my lawyer.” As clever as it may be, it’s also dangerous to think it will always be that easy. The most important thing any driver or rider can keep in mind when dealing with police is that the law does not exist in a vacuum. It only matters as applied to the facts, and except in the most unusual circumstances, courts are going to adopt whatever “facts” the officer provides. … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

Just Callin’ To Chat

I often get emails with convoluted stories that appear to have nothing to do with criminal defense. For instance, the sender will discuss her sick dad, her faith, and her wicked stepmother. There will be no obvious relevance to my line of work, but when I call, I will invariably speak with an individual charged with embezzling funds from her dad’s savings account and assaulting his new wife but who couldn’t have possibly done it because she’s a pillar of the mega-church she attends whenever she isn’t in the custody of the department of corrections for various financial and violent crimes. I’m making up the example, obviously, but reality isn’t all that different a lot of the time. One recent message and the ensuing conversation left me really … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients

Formalities, Theirs and Ours

The law is filled with all kinds of silly formalities. They place the prosecutor’s table on the side closer to the jury box. You’re not supposed to touch the judge’s podium. Some courts require that the lawyers wear a suit or sports coat. A jury is supposed to be sworn. That last one probably seems really important to you, but it isn’t. From a post earlier today from Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, I learned about a Tenth Circuit opinion yesterday affirming a conviction in a case where the jury reached its verdict despite having never been sworn. Oops! In the case, the defense attorney knew the judge forgot to swear them in, but he waited until after the verdict to bring it up. The … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Government Rants

Does He?

I’m bad about checking Google Analytics to find out how people reach this site. I hear that tracking such a thing can make a lawyer rich and famous, but I’ve never had the discipline to look regularly. Luckily, I have a funny friend who may just get me hooked on it. This gem showed up in the search overview a little while back: Adrian Little looks like my lesbian aunt The tough thing is figuring out what’s more awesome: 1) that someone finagling those search terms can end up here (it works on my office computer but not on my home computer…no clue why that is); or 2) that someone came up with those search terms to amuse us. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing

The Greater Harm

Early last month, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona issued an opinion about whether driving slowly in the fast lane constituted reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop. FourthAmendment.com wrote about the opinion a few days ago in a post entitled “D.Ariz.: Driving less than the speed limit in the left lane was RS for stop.” Curious, I looked up the case and read the facts. An officer was patrolling the three lanes of westbound traffic on I-10 in Tucson when he saw a pickup truck in the far-left lane going under the 65 mile-per-hour speed limit. The officer noticed other cars were slowing behind the black pickup and passing it in the center lane. When the speed limit increased to 75 miles per … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, immigration, Search and Seizure

Difficult Clients

When I first considered becoming a lawyer, I asked a lot of lawyers for their thoughts about practicing law. Two of those lawyers told me the same thing: “the practice of law would be perfect if it weren’t for clients.” What was particularly surprising about that comment was that it came from lawyers thousands of miles apart practicing in completely different areas of law. They were clearly kidding (kind of), as they’re both dedicated advocates for their clients, but the advice let me know that representing people may be the reason for going into law, but those same people may also be the primary source of difficulty in the job. I do my best to build strong working relationships with all my clients. They trust me with … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General

Super-nosed Cops

I recently had a case where a police officer claimed he was able to smell a very small amount of unburnt marijuana. The amount was the same weight as a level teaspoon of salt, yet the officer pulled over the truck and performed a search of the vehicle without the client’s permission based solely on the odor of unburnt marijuana. The marijuana was located in the back of a closed camper inside two sealed plastic baggies inside a nylon gym bag filled with clothes. I have absolutely no doubt that the officer couldn’t have possibly smelled that marijuana. However, as a defense attorney few tools exist for me to challenge the claim on a scientific basis. I’ve only located one case where a court took … Read entire article »

Filed under: Police, Search and Seizure

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