On the Road Again

Sorry to do this to you again... but I'm going on a new year's voyage.

I just thought I should let you all know in advance so that no one jumps the gun in suing over the cuticle cream/lip balm.

See you in '05!

Have a happy and safe New Year's!

Rest In Peace, Jerry Orbach

Very sad news today. 'Law & Order' Star Jerry Orbach has died.

He was great on Law & Order, but he's had me since Dirty Dancing.

Could It Kill Me?

I sometimes put Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream on my lips. Do you think that's ok?

Yes, I realize that they make lip stuff. In fact, I'm a big fan of that too. But I don't have that next to my bed, I have the cuticle stuff next to my bed.

I checked out the ingredients and they all looked like lip-safe things. (Almond oil, beeswax, lemon oil, vitamin E, cocoa butter, rosemary extract, beta-carotene, that sort of thing.) And I don't swallow much of it, but if I get a little on my tongue, it tastes alright. And I was thinking, it must be safe since the label doesn't say anything like "Do not put on lips."

Then I thought, does that make me one of the dumb people that they have to put dumb labels on things for? You know, the people they're thinking of when they put "Remove plastic, eat fruit while still fresh" on the instructions for a fruit basket. Or when they write "Do not put beans up nose!" on jelly beans?

Do you think there was a time when all of the Burt's Bees people were sitting around with their lawyers and the lawyers said, "Maybe you should put, 'Do not apply to lips'" and then the Burt's Bees people said, "Nah, it goes without saying. After all, it says cuticle cream. And we sell lip stuff. Our customers aren't that dumb."

So, do I have any science-type readers who could check the list of ingredients and let me know whether or not it'll kill me? Either way, I've already been putting it on my lips for a few days now. If I stop posting suddenly, you'll know it killed me. And you should arrange for a lawyer to sue on behalf of my estate, of course.

I Dreamed a Dream

I forgot to tell you. I had the strangest dream that I represented Josh Groban.

And I'm not even all that familiar with Mr. Groban, except that I've heard his name around a few times. I couldn't name his songs or anything, and to write this post I wasn't even sure I was getting his name right, I had to look it up.

Anyway, random as it was, Mr. Groban was charged with domestic violence. But he was a very polite and respectful client.

Alas, he had to hire a private attorney. Whom he called a "private attorney," not a "real lawyer." So, I thought that was nice.

I just wanted to share it with everyone that an imaginary Josh Groban made a good impression on me in a dream.

I'm Back

That's right, everyone, I'm back. I hope everyone had a good holiday.

I went to visit my family for Christmas. When I go home, I often think that my mother is like a little kid, running around to show me everything she has or everything she's done. "Did you see the new DVD player? Did you see this thing I made?"

One thing she was really strangely excited about a video tape she made of shows she thought I'd like. "Have you seen Kevin Hill?"

Nope, never heard of it.

"It's about lawyers."

Oh, ok. I like lawyer shows.

But this show made Ally McBeal look realistic. In the episode that I saw, a woman was suing her dance instructor (Kevin Hill's client) for breaking-up her engagement by making eyes at her fiance during the dance lessons. Kevin Hill (played by Taye Diggs) got thrown in jail for contempt... I'm trying to remember... three?... times. And while he's on trial, Kevin Hill is juggling dates with two different women, whom he makes out with in the courthouse, and (sort-of) trying to be a dad, although it seems like it's mostly his nanny doing that, and planning a 1st birthday for the kid. And I never really figured out where he got the kid from, but I know that he's adopted.

I started off telling my mother all of the things that I found unrealistic. "I've never seen lawyers making out like that in the courthouse." "No one would say that, doesn't he have any legal arguments prepared?" "Oh, c'mon, how many times is he going to be held in contempt?" But eventually my brain was screaming "UNREALISTIC TELEVISION OVERLOAD!!!"

Anyway, I'm glad to be back, and I'm glad to see that some of my other favorite bloggers - such as I'm a PD and All Deliberate Speed are back as well. So check that out.

A Defense Attorney At Christmas

Christmas. From a defense attorney standpoint, I guess it has it's pros and cons.

On one hand, your clients certainly are not happy if they end up spending Christmas in jail. Even a short sentence feels much tougher if it means Christmas in jail.

And, of course, I know what the D.A.'s (and some judges') response to that is: If you don't want to spend Christmas in jail, don't commit a crime right before Christmas. As if it was that easy.

But, unfortuantely, I find that sometimes it's Christmas that spurs these crimes or these arrests. Single mothers who (barely) make ends meet all year round, decide that they'd rather risk being arrested for shoplifting than have their kids wake up Christmas morning to a tree without presents. Christmas stress can lead a recovering addict to use again. And Christmas stress can bring about a domestic violence situation in an otherwise civil relationship.

This week, I had one such domestic violence case. My client, the boyfriend/father of the children, and his girlfriend/mother of the children, had been arguing for some time, and the argument finally came to a head this week when she decided to kick him out of the house. He didn't respond well, and was arrested. I called the complainant to hear her story and to find out whether or not she wanted my client back at home. (Being able to say "I spoke to the complainant, and she wants him home" can be a huge point in getting a client RORed.)

Sometimes complainants just need a day to cool off and then want their significant other home. They regret calling the police or think it all got blown out of proportion. I was hoping to hear something like that from this significant other.

"I do not want him home. I hope they keep him in jail for a long time." Ok, that doesn't help. Maybe I should try the Christmas angle?

"He will probably spend Christmas in jail. Don't you want him home with the children for Christmas? Don't you think the children want him home?"

"No! Christmas is the reason I threw him out. I've been telling him to get a job all year, and he didn't do anything. Now we don't have money for Christmas and he's still not doing anything. That's why I threw him out in the first place. Now I can get a new man who has a job and can buy Christmas presents."

Hmmm... good point, I guess. And, just as an aside, that's always a good way to make room for a new man in your life - get your current man arrested.

Fortunately, though, sometimes the Christmas angle can sometimes work with judges and DAs. Sometimes a judge will offer a much better sentence that your client would see at any other time of the year, simply because the judge is trying to make sure your client will be out by Christmas.

Call it the Christmas spirit, I guess.

And, sometimes, you get lucky and the DA is just too busy worrying about his own holiday vacation that your client's case falls to the bottom of his list, which leads to a dismissal for failure to prosecute.

And that can be a Christmas miracle.

Blonde Mom

My phone rings early this morning, and it's my mother calling.

"Blonde?" she asks, "Could you call my cell phone? I've been looking all over for it, and I can't find it."

"Sure."

I hang up and call my mother's cell phone. A few rings later she answers it. "Ok, thanks, I found it."

"Mom, could I just ask you one question?"

"What?"

"Well, you called me from your house phone, right?"

"Yeah."

"So, why couldn't you just call your cell phone then?"

"Well, I never thought of that."

Yes, I hate to say it, but I come from a family of blondes.

More on Amazing Race

The big controversies arising on this season of The Amazing Race have come from a team consisting of a married couple of Jonathan and Victoria. Well, mostly the controversies seem to come from Jonathan. From the episodes I've seen, Jonathan appears to be downright abusive to Victoria. (And, yes, as a disclaimer, I suppose it could all be "the editing," but I sort of doubt it.)

For example, in one episode, Jonathan and Victoria are getting their bags out of the back of an SUV when Jonathan pulled the rear door down on Victoria's head. You know that hurts. But (from what I could see on the episode, at least) he didn't apologize, he just told her to hurry up. He's shown yelling at her quite a bit (yes, most of the teams yell at each other at times, but this seems to be much more than usual). In another episode, he nearly shuts a car door on his wife's hand. Again, he doesn't apologize, but it appears that he thinks this is a reasonable way to encourage his wife to move faster.

Finally, last week, Jonathan and Victoria were running to the finishing line, while Jonathan continued to yell at Victoria. Jonathan reached over and shoved his wife. (There are articles on the issue here on MSNBC, USA Today and elsewhere.) In previous episodes, he had also raised a hand as if to hit her, but then lowered his hand as she pulled back. After the shove, I truly thought that the producers would remove him from the show, but they didn't. (Or, haven't yet.)

The couple has a blog, and, if you want to, you can read Jonathan's it-was-because-of-medicine-or-maybe-it-was-CBS's-editing excuse here.

However, my thought as I've been watching this has been, "If this is how he treats her in front of cameras, and in a foreign country, and when he's working as her teammate, how does he treat her at home?"

Every episode, I've been waiting for local police to arrest him for domestic violence. (I guarantee that if they came to this city, he'd get arrested pretty quickly, but I know that not every country even has d.v. laws.) I guess this is reality at its worst.

Living in Suspense

You know what really sucks?

Picture it: You're snuggled up in your bed, watching your favorite TV show. Things are really getting excited when all of the sudden, out of nowhere...

"To be continued." TO BE CONTINUED? WTF?

I can't wait another week! What, are you trying to kill me?

At least I'll have Television Without Pity to hold me over.

Debt Free

I noticed this story on SoCal Law Blog, about a young lawyer convicted of fraud for using a credit card scam to pay his way through law school.

When I graduated law school just a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about young lawyers declaring for bankruptcy to have their law school debts erased. Then they could waltz into some big firm making many Gs and not have the debt to repay. I'm not sure if anyone actually did it, but I know that some employers and some state bars were doing credit checks.

It's an interesting idea though. If businesses can use bankruptcy to "restructure," why can't enterprising young attorneys? Not that I know much about bankruptcy, of course.

Why I'm a Lawyer

(and not a CD maker or a computer person or anything like that)

I've gotten a few "What ever happened to that CD you were supposed to make?" and "Hey, did you take our suggestions or not?" questions.

So, the truth is, I haven't burned the CD yet. I've tried, really I have. Let's see. First, I had to install the CD burner software, then I had to install the convert MP3s to WAV software. Then I had to convert all of the MP3s to WAVs. And which point, my hard drive got full.

So, then I decided to use an external hard drive. But, for some reason, it wouldn't save the files over to the external until I uninstalled the converter software and reinstalled it to the external hard drive.

Then, I finally did that and converted all of the songs to WAV files. And, finally, I was ready to burn the CD.

I started the burn process and... I got the blue screen of death. I restarted my computer, and tried it again. And my computer crashed again. I was frustrated, and decided I needed a break.

I'm thinking that now I might try to use my boyfriend's computer to make the CD. Which probably means re-installing everything. (I don't think just hooking up the external hard drive to his computer would be enough, but it might be.)

So, that's where I'm at. I promise, I will be posting my picks soon. Complete with my commentary for each song. Which I will also print, and send along with the CD to the lucky recipient. Just hang in there, I'm working on it.

More Muppet Madness

Talk about strange. First I take a quiz and get this result, and now this...

Would anyone want to bang you?
Name:
Favorite Food:
Wants to Bang you:
This many times:69
Quiz created with MemeGen!

Gingerbread Courtroom

Next year... I am totally making a gingerbread courtroom. That would rock.

(Thanks to not martha for this, my inspiration.)

Just be sure to remind me.

Where's My Money?

You want to know one of the craziest things that I hear from clients?

In cases where clients are accused of committing a crime either at or against their job...

So, for example, the security guard who is arrested for stealing from the store he's supposed to be guarding.

They ALWAYS call later to tell me that their employer won't release their last paycheck and want to know what they can do.

How about this? How about maybe you don't deserve to get paid for the hours you spent at your job stealing from them. Or, maybe you could consider it paying them back for all the things you stole and all of the expense they're going to go through proving it. I dunno, just a thought.

Scooby Dooby Doo

I finally saw it. The episode of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, where Harvey represents Shaggy and Scooby arrested for... what else? Marijuana!

I've been waiting a long time to see this episode, and if it comes on again I highly recommend you catch it. (No pun intended.)

My favorite part? Right before the trial, Harvey is sitting at a bar:
Harvey: There are two lives that depend on me giving the performance of my life in court tomorrow.
Bartender: Scotch?
Harvey: Hell, yeah! Let's get stinko!

Oh, and keep your eyes open for a cameo by George Jetson. Loves it.

I'm Like The Red Sox*

*Except without so much sucking

What, you ask, does Blonde Justice have in common with the Boston Red Sox? I beat up on fat old men? Nope, that's not it. Oh yeah, I remember - My curse has ended.

Yeah. See, I didn't really want to write about it here, but I was having a little bit of a bad luck streak. A little bit of a conviction run. Not that many, just a few, but it was starting to scare me.

I was starting to be afraid of trial, because I was afraid of another guilty verdict. And that's not me. That's not the kind of lawyer I want to be. I want to be the "Give me your worst, I can take anything" kind of lawyer.

But, it's over. In the eternal words of Jay-Z "Not Guilty, Y'all Got To Feel Me."

Go ahead, you can congratulate me.

Help A Sista Out

I'm still using up all of my free time on this mix cd. Hence, no interesting news from me.

But, I'd like to open a question to audience: Best song on the Garden State soundtrack? I figured that since its my favorite CD of '04, I should pick one song for my mix CD. But which one?

Another HIV Crime

I only have a minute, but I just wanted to point out another story of a man who transmitted HIV to his girlfriend. Under a plea deal, the man has been sentenced to probation.

Interestingly enough, the man was in a wheelchair (it's not clear whether this was due to anything HIV related or whether, as the man apparently claimed, due to complications from sickle cell anemia), and his lawyer was planning to go with a "he couldn't have sex" defense.

I just think these cases are so interesting...

Survivor Finale

Only a few minutes until the finale of Survivor, and, as it has been since before the first episode even aired, my money is on Eliza.

Why? Well, first, I've got to give props to a woman who is pre-law and interned at a public interest organization.

Second, she's been on the chopping block at nearly every tribal counsel, but continued to survive. (And isn't that what the game is all about?)

Now, of course, the people I like NEVER win (i.e. Rupert), but still, I've gotta say, Let's Go Eliza!

Mix CD

I'm starting to work on my Mix CD that I'm making for this mix CD exchange.

But now I have some questions. First of all, should I pick my 18 all-time favorite songs? In which case, the CD would include a lot of older songs. Or, should I go with my favorite songs of '04? Because that would be kind of fun, and that'd be a CD I'd be more likely to use, listen to, and keep. (I already have CDs of all of my all-time favorite songs and listen to them a lot.)

So, I kind of like the idea of a "Best of '04" CD, which is also easier because it narrows down my choices for me. But it will definitely be more of a "pop" album then. But that's ok, right? And another problem is that, in picking songs from early '04, some of the popular songs might seem overplayed by now. But that's a risk you run in making a year-end compilation, right?

I'll definitely post my playlist when I'm done. I hope whoever gets it will enjoy it.

Shout Outs

I just wanted to recognize some blogs that have recently recognized me.

First, Public Defender Dude, which I've read for a long time. For a while, I was worried that PDD was no longer going to be a PD, but apparently that's changed now, and he's back. Check that out.

I've noticed a few other new links lately. My guess is that most found me because of the link on The Volokh Conspiracy. Either way, check out: Power and Control, Catastrophic Victory, Various and Sundry, Carpundit, American On Line, mellow-drama and Nudum Pactum.

Now, I've noticed two things. First, Public Defender Dude points out that I'm not as "serious" as him (or, at least, that my blog isn't as serious as his) and American On Line files my blog under "some others" and not under "law links." So, yeah, I talk about TV and pop culture probably more than I talk about law here. I think that part of that is because I worry about writing too much about my job. I just wouldn't feel comfortable writing a "Week in the Life of Blonde Justice" series because I fear that it'd be too difficult to keep both myself and my clients anonymous. But I'm still a lawyer, and I'm still doing the law thing, even if I don't write about it as much as other people do.

And honestly, I'm the kind of person who suffered through law school just so I could do what I do. I survived three years of reading and briefing cases just so that I could be in a courtroom and help my clients. I don't have much interest in reading cases, briefing cases, following developing legislation or discussing decisions, except to the extent that I can apply them to my clients and the cases I handle. And, as I just mentioned, I try not to write specifically about my clients or my cases, so that means I don't end up discussing new legislation or decisions much either.

So, I hope that doesn't disappoint anyone too much. There are a lot of other great blogs to read if you're looking for some serious discussions about cases. And they probably handle it better than I would anyway. So, read those blogs for that law stuff, and then come read my blog for a mix of a few war stories, a public defender's point of view on current events, and a lot of pop culture (especially TV). After all, that's what makes me Blonde Justice.

Thanks to everyone linked to me and who has come here and checked me out. I hope you've enjoyed it.

Everyone's Accounted For

I'm worried about those FBI guys (and girls) on Without A Trace.

You see, I just got around to watching the latest episode, and, would you believe, no one went missing this week?

I don't really like when these TV shows start getting into the characters' personal lives. I just don't care. C'mon, let's go solve some mysteries or whatever it is you do. But, I realize that some viewers must like that, and I'll try to live with it when the episode is sprinkled with just a few lines about the characters and who they're sleeping with or whatnot.

But, honestly, if I want to watch a show about whose sleeping with who, I'll watch one of those types of shows. And when I tune it to Law & Order, CSI, or Without A Trace, I'm tuning in to see some mysteries solved.

Mostly, though, I'm worried for those FBI guys. I mean, a whole week, especially around the holidays, and not one person disappeared? Not even for a minute? I'm worried there will be some layoffs in the Bureau, or, at the very least, transfers to a city with more disappearances. I just hope it doesn't come to that. You know I'll keep you updated.

Look Up

In case you hadn't noticed (yet), I did change the little tagline at the top of my blog. Sorry, Jon Stewart, your time has passed.

The "No Eating, Sleeping, Sitting or Spitting" is part of what the court officers here say when they open court in the morning.

And "Prosecutors Will Be Violated?" I guess that speaks for itself.

Tips for Parents

Parents - Looking for a good way to get your child to help out around the house more?

How about embarassing the crap out of them by moving to the driveway?

Yeah, that should do it.

(A Little) More on Traffic Court

It's my blawg, so I will answer all of the issues raised here, in response to this post, here in a new post rather than in the comments. Because I can.

First, no you're not entitled to an attorney in traffic court (under the Constitution I believe you must be facing jail to be entitled to an attorney, but individual states can set lower standards if they'd like). But that doesn't mean you can't be represented by an attorney. In honor of all private attorneys trying to make a living out there, I'd like to state that you can hire an attorney for pretty much anything you'd like to. Seriously, if you want to hire an attorney to come into the bathroom with you and make sure everything comes out ok (yes, dirty pun intended), you can do that, if you can find at attorney willing to do that. And I'm sure you could. In fact, there are some attorneys (I'm sorry, but we call them "rotunda rats") who will take your money to do just about anything.

Second, as far as whether or not you'll get a public defender in traffic court, I'm gonna say no. You're not entitled to one, that's pretty clear. And, as far as this idea about a public defender volunteering to do it - I agree with the poster who said that this would probably violate their malpractice insurance contract. That doesn't mean that a PD can't represent himself or a friend in traffic court, but he'd probably have to get permission to represent a friend, and representing a whole slew of strangers would probably be frowned upon.

However, I don't see any reason why a lawyer who's trying to start out on his own couldn't do this kind of thing to get some business rolling. The court, if significantly slowed down, might try to dissuade you, but I can't think of any ethical reason why you couldn't set up shop in the hallway of traffic court.

Finally, someone mentioned working on a $50 contingency fee. Eh... I don't really like that idea. I know, I know, parkingticket.com does it, but I know that it's considered an ethical violation to represent someone on a criminal matter on a contigency fee. I'm not sure that the same applies to traffic court, but it might. I'm not going to do the research right now, but maybe if I have some gunners in the audience who aren't kept busy enough by studying for finals, maybe you could look into it and post a comment?

Either way, you could make some good money I suppose. Most people would probably rather pay an attorney than the court, and, at the very least, avoid points on their license. And traffic trials are quick - I recently saw one that took about 20 minutes. An officer came, he said that he saw a driver change lanes in the middle of an intersection, nearly hitting another car. The defendant had brought an attorney, primarily, I believe, because he was a cab driver and a reckless driving ticket could hurt his career. The defense attorney asked a few questions of the officer - where were you when you saw it, how fast were they going, how fast were you going, how much later did you stop him, etc. The defendant then testified that, basically, he cut into his lane, and he moved slightly to one side to avoid hitting that car, but that he didn't move far enough to effect traffic in the next lane. The judge took a minute, flipped through the code books, and came back with an acquittal. My guess is that she probably erred in the defendant's favor, not simply because the prosecution had the burden of proof blah blah blah, but because she didn't want to see this man lose his livelihood.

Ok, that's enough about traffic court. (Although, blogging about traffic court has been HUGE for my numbers, thanks in no small part to this link on volokh.com - today was my highest traffic by, oh, about 20 times over.) Anyway, I'm through with traffic court, and I'm now moving onto bigger and better things - picking a jury!

Like A Girl

Ha! I just love this t-shirt!

I Fought The Law...

Alright, now for MY traffic court story. About a month-or-so ago, I got a parking ticket for parking in a "driveway." Everything on the ticket was wrong - the color of my car, the address where it said I was parked, the name of the street, what the ticket was for (on one part it said I was parked in a crosswalk, on another it said I was parked blocking a driveway), and I was given the "Officer's Copy" of the ticket - which didn't even say what day I could come to court to fight the ticket.

That's it, I decided, I'm going to traffic court to fight this crap. And I'm broke enough that it's worth it to fight tooth and nail to save $50.

But first, a little background. A few years ago, when I was still in law school and my boyfriend was just starting off his career as a clerk, money was tight. (And it still is, by the way.) I, in my usual helpful way, would often advise my boyfriend on ways to save money. The primary way that I suggested was that he needed to start brown bagging his lunch. No, he refused. That boy will not eat sandwiches, will not touch leftovers. Instead, he insisted in going to a little Italian deli in the neighborhood of his office where all the Italian men gathered to watch football. The upside? On occasion, he'd bring home fresh mozzarella. Again and again, I explained that if he was spending $5-10 on lunch everyday, he could save $25-50 by packing his lunch. Nope, not happening.

But now, I suppose, it paid off. We walked into traffic court, and the court officer waved us out into the hall. Uh oh, trouble already. Maybe I'd been busted as a PD and would be forced to wait all day to see the judge. Instead, though, the officer turned to my boyfriend, "Hey! Remember me?" It turned out that the Italian Deli guy's son was all grown up and now working as a court officer. Apparently, he had also heard yesterday's story, and told me that he'd put my ticket at the top of the pile.

The judge seemed like a nice woman. I suppose she was a part-time practicing attorney and did the traffic court gig on the side. (I meant to remember her name so I could look this up, but I forgot. It was some kind of weird name. Sorry.) I sat in the audience while she heard a few cases and noticed that she was dismissing most of the cases. She seemed to acknowledge that the traffic cops were wrong most of the time. Even in cases where people admitted their guilt, if they had more than one ticket she would say, "Alright, pay the oldest one and I'll dismiss the rest."

Which almost made me wish I had gotten more than one ticket. I mean, I figured if I was going to end up paying this one ticket, maybe I should've done some more bad things.

Finally (after waiting all of 10 minutes), I saw the Italian Deli Officer lean over to the judge, hand over my ticket, and whisper something. Then my case was called. I had seen in the previous cases that the judge liked seeing photos and, luckily, I had photos.

"May I approach, Judge?" The judge stopped and looked up at me.
"Come on up, counselor." Whoa, how did she know?

I showed the photo and began to explain. Wrong address, no driveway...

"Dismissed"

...no crosswalk, wrong color car...

"Counselor, it's ok, it's dismissed."

"...and to be honest, judge, I thought this ticket was some kind of joke when I first saw it."

"Ok, counselor, calm down, dismissed."

So, yeah, I was nervous. I'm not sure why. I was more nervous fighting for my $50 than I am in criminal court fighting to keep my clients out of jail. But, in the end, it worked out - Case Dismissed, and an extra $50 for Christmas shopping in my pocket.

Outside, my boyfriend turned to me and said, "Well, I was right and you were wrong. Aren't you glad I refused to bring my lunch?"

And, now I know that if my current job doesn't work out, I can always try for a job at parkingticket.com.

Adventures in Traffic Court

Hey, did you hear the one about the criminal defense attorney who had to go to traffic court?

Yeah, the story goes like this. She shows up in traffic court, and I guess she figures, "Hey, I'm a PD, I'm friends with some court officers where I appear in court, maybe I can get myself out of here quick..." She approaches a court officer and says, "Hey, I'm a PD, I'm missing court, do you think you could get me out of here quick?"

"Ha!" The court officer laughs. "A P.D.? You'll wait till the end of the day." And, with that, the court officer took her ticket and put it at the bottom of the pile.

The attorney, not easily deterred, then stood up and addressed everyone who was waiting in the courtroom. "Can I have your attention please? I'm a defense attorney and I've just been informed that I will be here all day. Therefore, if anyone wants a free attorney today, please follow me into the hall and give me your information." The attorney proceeded to gum up the works by helping each person and standing up on every case, citing rules and laws that were unheard of in lowly traffic court. The court, which usually closed in the morning, remained open all day. Tickets that were routinely paid had to be dismissed.

And that, my friends, was the last time any defense attorney had to wait in traffic court in that city.

Plane Tickets? Check.

I just bought my airline tickets for my next big vacation. I won't say when or where I'm going, but boy, am I excited. Hopefully I can make it to vacation before this burn out that I've been trying to fight off finally takes over.

All About the Benjamins

A lot of other bloggers have discussed what public defenders make and whether that's a reasonable wage, etc.

"Overworked and Underpaid" is an oft used expression, but maybe it doesn't give enough context. Want context?

Today, I walked passed a Starbucks. I found myself thinking, "Hmm... if I could work one day on the weekend, and maybe two nights a week..." and "if I could work 20 hours a week, I'd get health benefits..." This continued for a while.

Tonight, I come home, turn on my laptop, and check my bank account. "Bingo. One hour left until payday and I made it!"

That's context. I'm poor. Send money.

Now, if I only got paid per plea, as some of my clients would have you believe...

Real? Real Ugly.

Hey, what's the deal with the guys on The Real World this season? Could they have found uglier guys? Not Willie and Karamo, of course, and cute gay guys are good...

But Landon and M.J.? Not attractive. Want proof? Check this out. It amazes me that they get chicks. And they do. Cute chicks too. Amazing.

Don't worry, I am working on a post on law-related TV shows. But, tonight I'm watching my Tivo-ed Real World episodes.

Just Leave A Message

So, here's something I don't get. Maybe if you have the 411 on urban life, you can explain it to me.

During my lunch hour, I have about a half hour to eat my lunch, sort through my mail, maybe send a fax, and return all of my clients' phone calls.

As I've stated before, I have no problem taking as much time as needed to explain my client's case to them as many times as they need to hear it. I don't mind laying out the options again and again.

But you know what I don't have time for? Getting a client's answering machine, and, instead of an outgoing message, it just has 3 minutes of a rap or hip-hop song playing before the beep. What's up with that?

I guess the one upside is that it keeps me up-to-date on the music my clients are listening to.

In my clients' files, I document my messages received and the date and time that I returned each call (basically to cover my ass in the event of an ethics complaint). Just once, though, I'm going to write "Tried to call back, couldn't wait through song."

And, of course, that one time - that will be the one client who files a complaint. And when the Review Board goes through the file, they will find the notation and say, "What could this mean?" Because I'm sure that the attorneys on the Complaint Review Board do corporate work and have never once called a client only to listen to three minutes of "You Will Always Be My Boo."

Gifts Galore

I saw this on AI, and needed to pass it on:

Check out this holiday mix-CD exchange. I'm doing it, it sounds cool. And cheaper than this Secret Santa.

Cheap is good.

Turkey Day TV

Alright everybody, calm down, I'm back. And, thanks for missing me.

I went to see my family for Thanksgiving and had a lovely, relaxing holiday during which I hardly thought about criminal law or my clients or court or my cases at all. That was nice.

I did, of course, think about criminal law while watching television. (As in, "That wouldn't be admissible!" or "You'd think they would've heard of privilege!") My father and I watched a lot of television. That's his thing.

One funny point came when we saw a commercial for the T-Mobile Sidekick. In the commercial, Snoop Dogg isn't sure how to use fabric softener. He uses his sidekick (some sort of phone-IM-type device) to ask, among others, Molly Shannon, Paris Hilton, and Wee Man. It's not clear to me whether you can use the sidekick to send messages to many people at once (like a chat room?), or whether all of those people were forwarding messages to each other, or what. If you could send the messages to everyone at one time, then that was probably the point of the commercial, and I missed it.

Anyway, after the commercial, I said to my father, "Wow, they had a lot of celebrities in that one commercial."

And my father responded, "Yeah, I'm going to have to get that fabric softener."

Talk about a commercial not getting its point across.

Miss Me!

I'm headed out of town for a few days. I hope that you'll all be able to find ways to entertain yourselves. (If you need inspiration, I like the links on the right.)

I'll be back again next week, full of exciting stories. Promise. I even already have a few in mind.

Just Let Me Vent

You want to know my biggest pet peeve? D.A.s (and the general public, but mostly D.A.s) who think that my clients like jail or want to go to jail.

Yes, I know there's this urban legend about poor people committing crimes to get a roof over their head and a hot meal. I don't know if it happens in other places, but I don't believe that it happens here. I have never once met a client who said, "You can just leave me in here." Instead, they all say, "Get me out of here." Even the homeless, even the sick, even the poorest people I see. Perhaps that's because our city has a decent shelter and food-pantry system, and, quite frankly, a crappy jail system. Or, perhaps it's because all people (yes, even the poor) value their freedom.

But, ok, let's just say, for the sake of argument, that I can believe that there are some homeless people who would rather spend a night in jail than on the street. That does not mean that all poor people would rather spend time in jail than at home.

Take, for instance, a client I had last week. Older guy, lives with his wife and their grandchild, has an apartment and a full time job. He got arrested for a stupid petty offense. The DA pretty much admitted to me that he thought it was a stupid case, but then told me that he was going to ask for a lot of jail time.

I looked at the D.A. and said, incredulously, "Are you serious?" And he responded, "He probably likes it better in jail."

Ok, buddy, listen up. I know that his apartment probably isn't as big as yours. And his job isn't as comfy as yours. And his family isn't as white as yours. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't love his life and want to be able to go home at night. You are not the arbiter of the standard of living, and it is not for you to decide whether or not someone's life is better or worse than you imagine jail to be and then do them a "favor" by sending them to jail.

So, f- you now. You can take your jail recommendation and shove it. Because you, and your lame ass recommendations will not be seeing pleas from me or any of my clients. You want jail time? You're going to have to get off your lazy ass and beat me at trial.

Thank you, that is all.

Overworked and Underappreciated

I've thought about whether or not I would want a client or D.A. to find my blog. (The answer is no, and that's why I try to keep my blog a little vague.)

But I've never given any thought to finding a client's or D.A.'s blog.

Well, tonight, it happened.

I wasn't searching for a client's name or anything. Actually, I was looking for a particular news article I had seen awhile ago. Among the hits I found a "Free [My Former Client]" website.

(Side note: We're talking "free" as in "free me from prosecution," not "free me from jail," because he's not in jail.)

Anyway, I say former because this client has hired a private attorney. So, what did the website say about me? Nothing much, really. All it said was that he was trying to raise money for a private attorney because his court appointed attorney was overworked.

And, that's true. I'm overworked. And I fully believe that anyone who can afford a private attorney should hire one. It supports the private attorneys who are trying to make a living and it frees up my time for clients who truly need my services.

So, nothing surprising. It's not like I found an inmate's blog talking about his hot lawyer or anything. Just that I'm overworked.

But still, I never really thought anyone was writing about me. I'm going to have to keep my eyes open more.

Funniest Part of the Day

Sitting in church this morning. During the sermon, I hear a little girl a few rows behind me start whining.

"Mommmmmmmy, I waaaaaaaant my mmmphupuph." (Whatever that is.)

Someone (mommy?) whispers patiently, "Ssshhh, you have to be quiet."

But the whining continues. "Mommmmmmmy."

Again, mommy shushes the kid.

And the whining continues. "Mommmmmmmmy." Honestly, you'd think the kid was dying the way she slowly stretched out the word in such a tortured whine.

I guess Mommy had enough because the next thing everyone in the church hears is Mommy saying, just a little too loud, "JESUS CHRIST! BE QUIET!"

Ha!
_______________
UPDATE:
I just realized I forgot the funniest part of the story!

Then, a little later in the service, there's a part where we pray for particular people. First, the pastor prays for sick members, people in our church who are going through difficult times, etc. Then the pastor says "And all whom we name before you now, either silently or aloud."

Most people stay quiet, but you can hear a few people muttering the names of friends and loved ones.

At the very end of quiet moments, right before the Pastor started to speak again, we also heard "Mommy" in the back praying for, "My daughters."

A few people in the church couldn't keep themselves from laughing.

Held In Contempt

Here's a judge that took "quiet in the court" a little too seriously.

Extreme Exoneree Makeover

I'm sorry, but there's no other way to ask this...

What has our country come to?

You'd think by now, there'd be no surprising me. But, here we are.

This just speaks volumes about the state of criminal law and due process in our country, AND, moreover, the state of "entertainment."

Grilled Cheese - Now with Photos

Important Update!

This page has a photo of the 10-year-old Grilled Cheese. And it's woman.

Honestly, for 10 years wear, the grilled cheese is looking better than the woman. I guess it's the cotton balls?

And, perhaps more importantly, what's up with that lipstick?

Thank You, Seal-A-Meal!

All I really want to know is...

How the heck do you keep a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich from molding over?

Whatever she's got, I need one of them. Picture it - you could spend one Saturday in a grilled-cheese-sandwich-making marathon. Make hundreds. Then, use whatever this lady's got - call it divine intervention or vacuum fresh sealing - and you've got a decade's worth of delicious meals.

Yum. Grilled cheese.

More on Kiddie Prosecutors

A friend who is also friends with the kiddie prosecutor mentioned this morning, "You know, apparently, [the juvenile prosecutor friend] isn't happy at her new job."

"Really?" I asked.

"No, she doesn't really like the people she works with."

At this point, I could just not hold back. "Why? Because they're all... prosecutors?"

"I guess she thought there'd be more people like her..."

"And it turns out there all just a bunch of people who get off on locking kids up and throwing away the key?"

"Pretty much."

Hmmm...

Actually, it reminds me of another kiddie prosecutor story. A few months ago, I went to a seminar on Criminal Trial Advocacy. The professor (a criminal court judge) wanted to get a sense of everyone's practice area and experience level so he asked every to go around and say their name, where they work, and how many years they've been practicing. (It was a small crowd.)

There were a few law clerks and people looking for jobs, a few prosecutors, a few public defenders, a few people at firms (some exclusively criminal, some general practice). Most stated their information nonchalantly and seemed to find the entire process boring.

Then, we got to this one girl. I'm telling you, it was strange. As we went around the room, she seemed like a nice young lady. But then, when it was her turn, all of the sudden her pupils dilated, her face turned red, her hands curled into fists, and she growled, "I am Kathryn and I've been a juvenile prosecutor for 3 years."

Honestly, my first thought was, "Gee, I'm glad no one here brought their kids." I had this mental image of her running around the room, red cape and big basket, snatching up children and eating them for dinner, fairy-tale style. This crazy thought actually made me laugh out loud.

These are the kind of people our juvenile prosecutor friend works with. God help her.

67 cent Mashed Potatoes

Tell me what you make of this...

I'm at a fast food restaraunt this evening, picking up some dinner to bring back to the office. (Sad, isn't it?) At each register, they have a little flat screen television monitor thingee. And there's a message flashing on there like, "What can you get with your change?" Around the message were pictures of different side dishes. I thought it was like a "dollar menu" or something.

Then, it flashed things like "Save 40%" and "Save 60%" I didn't really know what that could mean, so I started touching it, but that didn't do anything.

Then, the woman rang up my order. I got a sandwich combo and it came to $5.33. Then a message appeared on the screen. It said "Make it $6 and get:" Then there were 2 choices: mashed potatoes or some dessert pie thing. And then, underneath each of the choices, was the percent I would save by buying that item at 67 cents rather than full price.

It was bizarre, but definitely a good idea. I felt like we were on Let's Make a Deal. How many times do people just leave their change behind, and instead, they could now get an item for it? And I wondered, if my meal came to $5.99, would I have the option to buy a side dish for one cent? And, do you think the employees are going to see a drop in their tip jar when people could use their change to buy another item instead of dropping a few cents into the tip cup? I also wonder whether this will be the way of the future (like "Would you like fries with that?") or will it only be at this one restaraunt? Perhaps most importantly, I'm talking about it (free advertising, if only I'd mention their name, which I won't because it might ruin my geographical anonymity thing) and I'm even tempted to go back there and try it.

I will keep you posted.

Christmas Wish List

In case you were having a hard time coming up with something to get me for Christmas... I've thought about it, and I'd really like something like this.

It doesn't have to be that exact model or brand (there are a lot more out there, so you'd want to look for the most memory for your buck), but I like the idea of a little portable USB drive. (Although, most seem to be USB 2.0 and I'm not sure that I have that.)

Here's why: For example, right now, if I'm working on trial prep. When I'm at the office, I'll start working on a direct exam, for example. When I'm ready to go home, I email it to myself. I get home and work on it some more, and email it back to myself so I can get to it in the office the next day. That's a pain. Then I have all of these files on my email and I have to worry about whether I'm using the most recent update. And, heaven forbid, email is down, am I going to end up at trial saying "Uh... um...?" And, then, there's times when I get home and say "Oh, I should've sent that other file too." This way, I don't have to worry about that.

Just a suggestion. Thanks.

Lyrical Eulogy

I dedicate this to all the pretty girls. All the pretty girls in the world. And all the ugly girls too. 'Cause to me your pretty anyway.

Today we mourn the passing of Ol' Dirty Bastard. O.D.B., I will always remember your immortal lyrics, such as "If you wanna look good and not be bummy, girl you better give me my money."

R.I.P., O.D.B. You may be gone, but you'll never be forgotten.

Pilgrim Sandwich, Part 2

I almost forgot to give you an update to Wednesday's Very Important Post: On Friday, I followed my readers' advice and walked right in to the not-so-friendly sandwich shop and asked for my free pilgrim sandwich.

And I got a free pilgrim sandwich. And chips. And a large drink. All free. Sweet.

Overheard on a Saturday Morning

"At some point on a Saturday, you have to get up and take a shower."
"And then go back to bed?"
"Yeah, but then it's considered a nap."

____________________


"What if they don't have Incredibles toys?"
"Screw them then!"
"But, what do you want?"
"I dunno. A Big Mac and fries?"
"Oh yeah, you're really screwing them."

Lawyer Sues 'Law & Order' for $15M

You know, if there was a $15M lawsuit to be had every time Law & Order portrays a criminal defense attorney as "crooked," we'd all be raking in a lot more dough.

Every lawyer who has ever defended a high-profile case, or a criminal case in New York City, and New York City's public defender organizations, for that matter, would be set for life. Which would be good - because none of them would ever get hired if defendants/clients believed how defense lawyers are portrayed on L&O.

And I'll admit, I've fumed a few times about the way that L&O portrays defense attorneys. Obviously, it's a very prosection-oriented show. But as a defense attorney, you begin to see that life is very prosecution-oriented.

They say all publicity is good publicity. And now, this lawyer just got publicity from (1) being portrayed on L&O; (2) having his lawsuit publicized; and, most importantly, (3) by having the suit mentioned on Blonde Justice.

Call to Get Your Degree Now!

I'm sure everyone gets the same spam, but you know what really cracks me up?

Spam with subject lines like, "Improve your career with assoc degree in crim justice."

Oh really? You think that might help?

And The Awards Goes To...

Best new show on television?

Motormouth on VH1.

Set up your Tivo, and you will never ever feel sad again. Guaranteed.

Very simple concept: Hidden cameras catch people singning along with their radio as they drive. You've got the White guy belting out "I will survive," the little Asian lady jamming to 50 cent's "P.I.M.P.," a young pastor taking off his shirt to Britney Spears, and the African-American mother busting a groove to Missy Elliot, much to her daughter's dismay.

I'm telling you, it's hilarious. And it'll make you think twice the next time you start to sing on the highway.

Thanksgiving Feast On a Roll

This is really important, so listen up.

I get my lunch at the same sandwich shop every day. And it's good. They're nice there, they know me, they know my order, and they start making my sandwich as soon as I walk in. It feels nice to get my lunch where everybody knows me. And, more importantly, the owner/manager will throw in a free bag of chips or a soda from time to time. And I like to patronize businesses where the customer service is good.

But recently, I noticed that a nearby competitor sandwich shop had a sign up for a limited time special, called the pilgrim sandwich. This sandwich is made with turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing. And, since these are some of my favorite foods, I decided to stop in and try a pilgrim.

I felt a little conflicted, of course. I thought maybe the people at my regular sandwich shop would see me walking by with their competitor's bag and be sad or jealous. But, I rationalized, that's their fault for not offering a similar thanksgiving-feast-on-a-roll. I also promised myself that I'd go back to my regular sandwich shop right after Thanksgiving (or whenever this "limited time" ends.)

Then I ran into another problem. The people at the pilgrim sandwich shop just weren't nice. I'd come in all smiles, but leave there feeling annoyed. Here's an example:

One day I went in for the pilgrim sandwich. Since I had bought it... oh, say 3 times that week, I knew exactly what the total would come to. And, it came to that amount exactly. $4.33. So, as the young lady rang up the total, I got out a five dollar bill and a quarter, a nickel and three pennies, thinking that I could lighten some of the change out of my wallet.

The girl took my money and gave me a handful of change in return. I explained to her that there had been a mix up, and asked her for a dollar bill. She hemmed and hawed (Ha! that's a funny expression, isn't it? Sort of southern, I guess) until finally some obviously more senior employee came over and said, "Just give her the money."

I didn't really like the way I was treated, and I faced a dilemma - Is it more important to patronize friendly businesses with good customer service, or is it more important to eat tasty pilgrim sandwiches for a limited time only?

Well, today I finally gave in and went back for a pilgrim sandwich. Yes, all this turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce is a little sick, I know.

After I ordered my pilgrim sandwich, there was another lady trying to decide what to order. She too hemmed and hawed (I'm loving that expression!) and I turned to her and said, "You should get the pilgrim. It's delicious, I love it." And she did - She ordered the pilgrim.

When she walked away from the counter, the employee told me, "I am the manager here. Tomorrow, I give you a free pilgrim sandwich because you said you love it."

"Really?" I gushed. (Although, in my head, I was thinking, "That's the least you could do to win me over after the rest of your employees are so rude.") And Mr. Manager said, "Yes of course. Tomorrow, you say that I give you a free pilgrim sandwich."

Now, here's the final dilemma in this string of pilgrim sandwich dilemmas: TOMORROW IS VETERANS' DAY! And I'm not going to work!

Do you think I should march right in there on Friday, as if it was the next day (which it sort of is, in terms of business days), and ask for my free pilgrim sandwich?

Help me, anybody!

Yick.

And, another thing, don't even think of trying this Holiday Spice Pepsi.

Yick. Makes me want to go gargle something.

And Throw Away The Key

A lot of my clients take drug programs instead of jail. This works out for everyone. For clients, who get treatment, and who like the programs better than jail. For clients' families, who get a new clean dad or husband or wife or mother, instead of one that just languished away in jail. For the judges and the courts, who get to feel like they're actually doing something good for once. And for defense lawyers, who get to say to the client, "Well, it looks like you'll be avoiding jail."

Except that, a lot of times, it just doesn't work out. Overcoming an addiction is terribly difficult and most people don't make it their first time. Or their second or their third. In speaking to family members or attorneys who have never used drugs, I draw the analogy of quitting smoking or going on a diet. Many people try over and over before they get it right - if they are ever successful.

But, many of my clients are looking at jail if they screw up. That's not to say that their program won't give them chances. Most programs will allow a relapse or two. But, leave the program when you're not supposed to, or sneak contraband into the program, or have too many disciplinary problems, and you might be discharged to do your jail time.

For some clients, the threat of jail is the extra incentive they need to clean up. For others, its an added pressure that drives them to use.

I had a client recently avoid jail by agreeing to enter a residential treatment program. In negotiating the deal, I had spoken to his wife a number of times. She had a new baby and had told her husband that he wasn't welcome at home until he cleaned up. She and I had spoken extensively about her husband's addiction.

The court offered my client 6 months jail or a 6 month residential program. The catch is that if he failed to complete the 6 month residential program, he'd face one year of jail.

It is always difficult to counsel clients on this decision. Very few of my clients successfully complete the program. The rest are setting themselves up for "jail on the installment plan." Most clients cannot see it this way. Most look at the short term and see "leaving jail today," not "possibly coming back to jail for a year." Every client believes that they'll be the one to be successful, that this is their chance (or maybe they don't even believe it, they're just saying it), and who am I to tell them otherwise? I lay out the choices, and the consequences, and let my clients make their own decisions.

Anyway, this one particular client - the one with the new baby - chose a program. He knew that even if he served out his jail time, he'd need a program before he could come home. He figured that he might as well get some treatment during his time. As usual, I spoke with him and his family about the options and the consequences. After it was set up, I spoke to his wife again, and she agreed to bring some of his belongings to him at the program.

This was a few weeks ago. We're scheduled to return to court in a few weeks for a progress update from the program.

Last week, while I was on trial, I got a voice mail. It simply stated, "I'm just calling to let you know that Mr. Client is smoking crack again. [Click]." No name, no phone number, nothing. The message wasn't long enough for me to be sure, but I felt fairly certain the message was from his wife. The only other possibility I could think of was that the program called me, but they would've left more information and would have also informed the court.

Monday I'm in my office and I get another call. I answer, and a woman states, "I just want to let you know. Mr. Client was seen back in the neighborhood. I know he was getting high." I reply, "Ok... thanks for letting me know." At this point, I'm thinking, what does she want me to do, go down there and pry the crackpipe from his hands? There are a few things that I consider outside the realm of my profession, and that's one of them. I ask, "Can I ask who's calling?" And the woman replies, "Consider this an anonymous tip," and hangs up.

Now I'm positive that this is my clients wife. But the next question is, what does she expect me to do? Call the court and rat him out for leaving his program? They'll know when he doesn't show up with a progress report. Go stop him? Again, there's a lot I'll do from my clients. I'll play social worker, therapist, and family counselor if needed - but I don't pry the crackpipe from anyone's lips.

Today, the answer comes to me in the form of a voicemail. "Miss Justice. I am just calling to let you know that I saw it for myself and Mr. Client is out smoking crack again..." (Now I'm getting frustrated. How often is she going to call? And what the heck does she want me to do about it?) "...He's at the corner of [this street] and [that street]. You need to get out here and lock him up."

Ha! Lock him up! It's so funny because so many criminal defendants (and their families) say again and again that they believe that their public defender is part of the system, or trying to get them to cop out, or trying to keep them locked up. But it never ever occurred to me, that my client's wife, after all the conversations I had with her, believed that I had a pair of handcuffs that I could use to lock up my own client when I so chose.

Tee-hee. I'm still laughing. Lock him up? Ha!

Stupid People Suck

I'm kind of interested in these "Assault by HIV" cases.
 
On one hand, of course it's a horrible thing to knowingly spread such a deadly disease.  But, on the other hand - that's the risk you  take when you have unprotected sex. 
 
Would he be just as guilty if he had never been tested, and went around having unprotected sex, not knowing he was spreading HIV?  No.  So, therefore, he's being penalized for being tested? 
 
And I'm not saying these women got what they deserved.  But... well... he had sex with a lot of people.  It doesn't say how many in the article, but it says that he could have infected up to 170 people, including partners' partners.  So... he had sex with a lot of people... and if just never occurred to these people to think back to their 9th grade sex ed class, or the posters they saw on the bus, and think "Hmm... maybe we should use a condom," then shame on them.
 
I think everyone is out to blame someone.  And where there's blame to passed - it's easier to say "That guy did something to me," then to say "Man, was I dumb."  Because in the end, these people aren't alleging rape (that, of course, would be a very different situation), but they're alleging that they were dumb.
 
Just my take.  Anyone else?

Suggested Reading

Yesterday's New York Times includes this nice story about a public defender who regularly works the night court shift in New York City.

(As usual with the NYTimes, sign-in is required.) Enjoy.

My Brush With Reality Fame

Ok. One more reality tv story. But that's all for tonight, you hear?

In the interest of full disclosure, I figured that if I'm writing about other people's brushes with reality tv, it'd only be fair to share my own experience.

A few months ago, I got an email that Fox was casting a reality show and was looking for young lawyers. And, yes, I went on an audition.

What was I thinking? I guess I thought it might be fun. I like reality tv, and when I'm watching it I often wonder about the audition process. Where do they get these people? And what do they tell them?

At the time that I got the audition appointment, I had no idea what the concept of the show was supposed to be.

Actually - it was kind of funny. My boyfriend was waiting for me when I came out of the audition.
"How'd it go?"
"Well, it was kind of good. I don't know. At first, they wanted to take some pictures, and they wanted me to take off my jacket."
"Ok, and then what?"
"Yeah, then they wanted me to take off my shirt. I figured, you know, it's Fox."
"WHAT?" He freaked out until I had to tell him, calm down, none of that happened.

Anyway, I found out later that the concept of the show was to pit ivy league lawyers against public interest and public school lawyers in different competitions with the ultimate reward being some big firm job, sort of like The Apprentice for the legal field.

Eh, I had no interest in that. First, I'm somewhat competitive, but I've never seen the point in competing in hypothetical situations like mock trial. My time is much better put to use helping actual people. Second, what kind of reward is a big firm job? Sounds more like a punishment to me.

I noticed that the emails searching for lawyers continued for months and figured they were having a hard time casting the show.

Finally, I guess the show morphed into a spoof of the original The Apprentice concept, because the same production company - Rocket Science Laboratories - is now responsible for My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss.

I caught the first episode last night, and it was pretty entertaining - but definitely not something I'd want to be associated with. The contestants are ivy league types being put through humiliating tasks for the ultimate prize of a position with an (imaginary) company. There's a scene from a future episode where the contestants are being hit with paintballs at a desk in a field while trying to fax a document.

"Paper Jam! Paper Jam!" they're yelling. Priceless.

Mom of The Year

There's this woman that I met in my neighborhood. She's a mom to all boys. That right there should say enough about her. But, in addition, she's just a really cool kind of mom. The kind of mom you've always wished you could have.

She takes this really cool laissez-faire approach to mothering which is really refreshing in an age of piano-boyscouts-tennis-chess-soccer-moms. Her general attitude is "Let 'em do what they want, they'll figure out something good."

For example, the boys have lots of pets. At least one of everything you could think of. And when they bring something home and say "Can we keep it?" She says "Sure." If the boys want to wear tie-dye, or mix and match, or costumes, "Who Cares? As long as it's not hurting anyone."

And her kids are cool. Primarily as a result of this.

When I first met this mom, she was working on a knitting project. I asked her what she was working on, and she told me that she was knitting a rope - because that's what one of her boys had asked for. Later, I asked what he did it with - he used it as a jump rope, and hung from it, and built stuff with it.

When the school decided that one of her boys was just too "difficult," she decided to home school him.

I'm sure all of this sounds scary to your average "My home must be perfect and my marriage must be perfect and my child must be perfect" moms.

This past summer, one night I met up with this mom and she seemed bothered by something. It turned out that she had just received a phone call from someone casting a new reality tv show. The concept of the tv show was to find a household in dire straits and give it (and, in particular, the children) an obedience makeover.

She turned down the offer - which included quite a bit of cash. She just couldn't see allowing cameras into her home and how foolish her family could be made to look. Moreover, she was distressed that someone knew her, and knew her family and thought that they were in need of a makeover.

Because, when it comes down to it, she may live in a cluttered messy home with animals running all over and kids' and their projects on every surface - but she's raising happy children - not spoiled Stepford children who excel at every actvity and don't know what it means to just experiment and play and have fun.

According to the Daily News:
The concept of "Nanny 911" ... is to descend upon parents who are so utterly ­irresponsible and clueless that they A) allow their young children to run roughshod over them, and B) think nothing of allowing a TV crew into their homes to document all the bad behavior.


I'm proud to report that my neighbor, and her very lovely, very real children, will not be a part of it.

Life Imitating Art

Am I the only who thinks Arafat is already dead?

Or, have I just seen too many movies like Dave and Wag the Dog?

It Is What It Is

Alright, Alright, everybody calm down, I'm back.

I was busy this past week. Jury trial. I lost.

Actually, let's be more accurate here. My client lost.

Then came the time when my supervisor had to tell me, "Lawyers win trials, clients get convicted." And, in this case at least, that was true. I fought that case as hard as it could be fought. And, in the end, neither the facts nor the law were on my client's side. It was a loser of a case, but my client had no choice but to go to trial because there was no offer on the table.

I had an excellent clinic professor when I was in law school who would always say, "It is what it is." And, at that time, I remember thinking, "What a dumb phrase."

But now, now that I am an actual trial lawyer (loves it!), I know exactly what it means to say, "It is what it is."

But, that's over now (thank goodness!), and I'm way behind on my blog reading and writing. I'm going to go see what my favorite bloggers were up to this week, and I'll get around to writing more here soon.

Excuses

Sorry, I'll be too busy to blog for most of this week.

When I get back, I'll try to remember to write about my interesting voting experience.

In the mean time, remember this pearl of wisdom:

You can pick your jury. And you can pick your nose. But you can't pick your juror's nose. Well, I'm not sure that there's really caselaw on that, but, even so, it's probably still not advisable.

Know What I Love?

You know what I love?
 
The really annoying clients?  The ones who call you all the time and just cannot leave you alone?  The ones that hound you and hound you and then have their girlfriend call you and hound you?
 
When you do a great job and finally get their cases dismissed... it would never occur to them to say "Thanks." 
 
It kills me.

Trick or Treat (or Abduction?)

Did you see this?

Virginia is trying to keep its registered sex offenders from giving out candy to trick or treaters. The story says that it can require the sex offenders to attend a meeting from dusk until 9 p.m. or it can require the sex offenders to keep their porch lights off and not give out candy.

Maybe I'm not up on the caselaw, but I'm pretty sure that when the Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of Megan's Law statutes, it didn't anticipate that offenders wouldn't be allowed to turn their porch light on.

My prediction for Monday's news: Sex offender is coming home from his mandatory meeting, and trips on his porch steps because his light was out, as mandated by the Virginia Department of Corrections. Personal injury lawyers, prepare to hand out your business cards.

I Have a Cell Phone, and I Vote

I believe that Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager, was the first to point out the potential problem of polling this election raised by cell-phone only users.

This story, Cell Phones Slow Down Election Pollsters, adopts the idea as its own.

One interesting point in the article is:
Both surveys found that cell phone-only users tend to be younger, non-white and lower income. They also tend to work part-time or not at all and typically live in more urban areas.


Maybe I'm the anomaly, but I consider myself to be a cell-phone only user. I do have a home phone, but I don't give out the number and, therefore, have no reason to answer it when it rings. I fit the above description in that I'm younger (Younger than whom? Than many Americans, I guess), and I'm of lower income (lower than whom? Um, richer lawyers mostly. And doctors.) I also live in a more urban area (more urban that Boise, that's for sure.) However, I'm also white and I work waaay more than part-time.

And I vote.

It's All About Moi

piggy jpeg
You are Miss Piggy. You are talented and the center of attention. At least you'd like to think you are. You're really just a pig.

FAVORITE EXPRESSIONS:
"Moi", "Moi" and "Moi!"

LAST BOOK READ:
"Women Who Run With Frogs And The Frogs Who Better Wise Up Quick"

FAVORITE MOVIE:
"To Have and Have More"

DRESS SIZE:
If it's expensive, it fits.

BEST FEATURES:
Eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, nose, cheeks, hair, ears, neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, hands, fingers, legs, knees, ankles, feet, toes and so on and so forth.

SPECIAL ABILITIES:
Singing, Dancing, Directing, Producing, Writing, Starring, and Being Famous.


What Muppet are you?

Celebrity Justice

If you worked in a jurisdiction that sometimes heard celebrity cases, you know what'd be funny?

If the DA thought he was hot shit because he was prosecuting a celebrity, but none of the news stories even mention him.

You know what'd be even funnier?

If, then, that DA lost.

Ok, ok, that was mean, I know. I should delete this. But I won't. I'll chalk it up to blowing off steam.

Loves It

I'm in love with these pumpkins I found at not martha.

Man, are they the greatest pumpkins ever, or what?

Bum Rap

I'm a PD has a new post about representing clients who aren't really eligible for a public defender. Like I'm a PD, I hate that too.

Because she's right. Those people are always jerks. They treat their PDs with disdain (because they're too good for a PD), yet they deny having the funds to hire a private attorney. You can't have it both ways, buddy.

One day, I represented a woman at arraignments who had a very high income. I was representing her for arraignment only, and then she'd have to hire a private attorney. She insisted that she couldn't afford a private attorney. (Yeah right, you make more than me and don't have student loans.) As I often do when a client is being difficult on a particular issue, I decided to table it and asked her a few questions about the incident to prepare my bail app.

She was arrested for possession of a forged instrument. Often, in these cases, the DAs are more interested in the suppliers who are mass producing authentic-looking fake documents, and want to know where our clients bought them. The client was interested in finishing the case and not having to come back (and hire a private attorney). So, I thought that maybe if I got some info I could share with the DA, we could work out at a plea right then. So, I asked the client where she got it, and she said "I bought it from some bum."

Honestly, I was offended. All I could say to her was, "Some bum? Those bums are my clients! I represent those 'bums.' And that's exactly the reason why you need to hire a private attorney!"

Alright, that's enough from me. Go read what I'm a PD has to say on the issue.

Help Me Help You

Dear Tony La Russa,

Won't you please let me go with you the next time you go to pick out a new pair of glasses?

I really think we can do better than this.

Love,
Blonde Justice

p.s. Go Cardinals!

Found!

I'm totally loving Found Magazine.

(I found it via someone else's blog, but I can't remember where, so, sorry that I can't give credit where credits due.) But, either way, enjoy!

Must... Blog... About... Ashlee

So, the big news of the morning, for those of you who slept through Saturday Night Live last night, is about Ashlee Simpson.

And, since so many people find my blog by searching for Ashlee Simpson, I thought I'd better post about it. (By the way, if you're just looking for pictures of Ashlee, read this.)

So, as you know from reading this blog, I like Ashlee. I loved her show, I think she's cute (but was cuter when she had blonde hair), and yes, I even think she's talented. I think it's kind of cool how she overcame her sister's shadow and started her own successful music career. (Although, I understand the converse argument that she may've never had access to the people and opportunities that she did without her sister.)

Anyway, Ashlee was the musical guest on SNL last night. I tivo-ed it. And, here's what happened:

For her first song, she performed "Pieces of Me." If I had to guess, upon watching it, I would've guessed it was probably lip sync-ed. Mostly because I'm a little suspicious when a live artist's performance sounds exactly like the album version. I just think that if I were to sing the same song over and over one thousand times, you'd hear the slightest variation in every version. Anyway, so she sang (or "sang") Pieces of Me as her first song.

Later in the episode, it's time for Ashlee's second song. She's on the stage, dancing around as the music starts. But, the song is Pieces of Me. Again. Obviously a mistake. Then the vocals start. Yup, the same vocals from the first song. And Ashlee doesn't even have the mic to her mouth, because she's too busy looking lost. Her band is behind her, still strumming their guitars as if they're playing the same song again. Ashlee walks off the stage, leaving her band there, still playing their instruments.

About a minute into the song, SNL goes to commercial.

And, here's the strangest part... at the very end of the episode, when everyone comes out to say their goodbyes, Ashlee says, "Sorry everyone, my band played the wrong song..." What? Yeah, if by "band," you mean "CD." And how classless is that to blame it on her band? They were out there looking just as foolish as she was.

If you missed it, cnn.com has the video on their Entertainment page.

I'm going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I'd never lip-synch. It's just not me.
- Ashlee Simpson in Lucky Magazine


Of course, this raises questions of whether Ashlee has been lip syncing all along and we were all Milli Vanilli-ed all over again. I don't really think so. Either way, I was pretty fooled by all of the studio shots of her on her show, Ashlee. Besides, if she was faking that, why would she fake making herself sound terrible and messing up so many times?

It may also raise the question of whether or not Jessica Simpson also lip syncs, since they're both managed by their father.

So, what should Ashlee's next move be? She needs to go on Leno or Letterman or Ellen or The View (or whatever show will take her, frankly) as soon as possible. She needs to be really candid about the fact that she was lip syncing and explain why. She needs to come across as sincere and apologetic and not just blame it on her band, SNL, or her "people." Then, right then and there, she needs to stand up and perform her song a cappella. In my mind, that's probably the only way she's going to overcome this.

But, I guess if all else fails, she can just blame it on the rain.

Politics & Friendship

I have this friend. I've known her for a few years. She's really smart, funny, nice, all of those nice qualities you look for in a friend. Most importantly, she's one of those people that gives everybody a chance and tries to see the good in everyone. I think that's a really admirable quality.

We know some people in common. If I were to ever complain about any of those people (even if they were people she didn't particularly like) she would invariably respond, "Well, maybe she..." and try to come up with some explanation for their actions. In fact, there have been times when I thought she gave people too much benefit of the doubt. Times when she's complained that one of her friends was mistreating her when I've wanted to respond, "Well, if she's treating you like crap, why are you still friends with her?"

Anyway, fast forward to today. Well, last month actually. This friend took a job as a prosecutor. Not just any prosecutor, a child prosecutor. (Meaning that she prosecutes kids, not that she is a kid, obviously.)

Now, one way to look at this is that we're lucky to have someone so compassionate as a juvenile prosecutor. Maybe she'll be one of the few to give kids a chance, try to help them and their families with their problems, and try to give kids alternatives rather than jail.

But, having spoken to her a few times now about her training, I don't see it that way. I think that her new employer and her new workplace will change her and that within a few months on the job she won't be the same compassionate person that she used to be. In fact, maybe she'll be more of a "compassionate conservative," if you know what I mean.

I'll give you an example. We're required to turn over any notes made during any conversations with our witnesses or written statements by our witnesses before a witness begins to testify. For this reason, many attorneys avoid taking notes when speaking to a witness or take notes that are vague at best. Other attorneys take accurate notes and turn them over - what's the harm if your witness isn't going to change his story?

Recently I asked this friend how her training was going, and what she was learning about. She told me that they were learning about getting victim's statements. But, she said, it's very hard because we're not allowed to take any notes.

Well, I told her, you could take notes, you'd just have to turn them over. And, I said, if you're goal is really to fairly prosecute the right person, you would. So, for example, let's take a fairly common scenario that a kid is walking home one night when two other kids come up to him. One starts hitting him and takes his gold chain, the other acts as a look out. You ask him which was which and he says "The kid in the red hat was the one hitting me, the one in the blue hat didn't." Let's say you don't write it down. The only way that benefits you is if the kid changes his story on the stand. Then you could say to yourself, "Gee, I'm glad I didn't write this down, at least now I'll get a conviction on one of the kids." On the other hand, if you did write it, all you're preventing is the wrongful conviction of a kid (they don't call it a conviction, actually, they call it an 'adjudication,' but whatever).

She responded by saying that she was glad that they were training her to be ethical by training them that they would have to turn over anything they write and that they couldn't destroy or conceal any of their notes.

For the past few weeks I've been feeling really conflicted about the whole issue. I had lunch with her the other day and felt like I should avoid talking about my job or her job because it could just create a conflict. And, trust me, it's very hard for me to avoid talking about my job. I also wondered if she would get in trouble if any of her kiddie prosecutor colleagues saw her eating lunch with a defense attorney.

So, what's my point? First, I guess I wonder how much you change your job and how much your job changes you. If I really believed the argument that it's a good thing to have a compassionate friend as a juvenile prosecutor, then I think that, by the same argument, all of my liberal friends would be better off working for the Bush administration or the DAs office or big tobacco - on the premise that they could do more good by making changes from the inside. And, if that's true, then why should I be a public defender? Who needs another liberal public defender? Would I do more good for society as a prosecutor? And would I still be a liberal after a few weeks, months or years in a DAs office? Or would I just be a frustrated and miserable liberal?

Second, is there anything I can do to prevent her from changing? Aside from the intial conversations I discussed above, I haven't really pushed the issue much further. I mean, this is her job. It's not like I expect her to quit or change their entire office policy or be insubordinate because of my views. And I guess I'd rather just keep my mouth shut than ruin our friendship by calling her out on all of this.

And I'm not going to end our friendship just because she likes to lock little kids up in prison (where they learn about worse crimes and then someday they're released to become my clients...). Honestly, is her job morally worse than what my friends at big firms are doing, except that my friends at big firms don't really talk about what they do because it's boring even to them?

Hmmm... I guess at this point I'm just rambling about this. I guess I thought writing about it might help me somehow sort something out, but it doesn't seem to be. So, what about my readers? Any thoughts?

Thanks for Noticing

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to direct your attention to the banner at the top of my page. It's new.

See, it used to say
"Did you ever stop to think that maybe there’s more to life than being really, really, really, really ridiculously good looking? I mean, maybe we should do something more meaningful with our lives . . . like helping people."
-Derek Zoolander.

I really liked that quote. Zoolander is a funny movie, and I thought the quote was appropriate for this blog.

Recently though, I changed it to the quote from Jon Stewart's America (the book). Because I thought that quote was funny too. And it accurately portrays just how overworked we PDs are. And because I appreciate the fact that Jon Stewart appreciates that.

So, how recently did I change it? Well, I searched my gmail account (don't you love being able to search your emails?) and found that I got an email saying "Love the new Jon Stewart quote" back on September 29th.

It's ok if you just noticed it though. It's more important that you care enough to notice. Maybe you've been busy for the past month or so. Maybe you just weren't around. Maybe you were kicked out of the blawgosphere, who knows.

On that note, I am also in need of a haircut. When I get one, be sure I get my compliments promptly.

The Thinks I Think

Santa Claus has a first name. (Santa, of course.) But does Mrs. Claus even have a first name?

Because if not, I think that's sexist. Mrs. Claus needs to come out and form her own identity and be her own woman. And she should start by getting a first name.

More Job Search Advice

In response to yesterday's post, a reader asks:

Any hints for how to seek out and interview for aforementioned jobs?

I've got a few. First, mention to everyone that you talk to what you're looking for. (Whether that be something specific like "A job at the PD's office" or "Any internship I can get.") You'll be surprised who knows someone - in the end, it might be your mechanic that's married to the PD's hiring attorney.

Second, I found that (at my law school at least), the clinic staff was more helpful than the career services staff. A lot of the clinic professors had been in the field more recently and still had great connections. I sought out a clinic or two that fit my interests and tried to make good connections with the professors. They were great resources. Right now I actually work in the same office that my clinic professor used to work in. The same is also true for adjuncts who are in a practice field that interests you or new professors who were recently in practice.

Oh, wait, just as an aside - Take classes that interest you or that are relevant to your field. Do not take classes because they're on the bar. You're going to do better in classes that interest you, you'll be more likely to make potential job connections, and most importantly, it probably won't help you on the bar anyway. I took every class that could be relevant to criminal law, and I didn't touch any classes that weren't. (Tax? Trusts and Estates? No thanks.) I passed the bar just fine, and you can too.

Back to clinics - I think a clinic is a great thing if you can find one that fits your interest. My advice to pre-law readers out there (especially those that want to do something other than the big firm gig) is to check out a law schools' clinics - make sure they have a good clinic that interests you. How could you impress a potential job more than to say - yes, I've already done this work, I already know that I enjoy it, I've already worked with real clients just like yours, and I've already been meticulously trained and supervised in this field?

Finally, I know it can be a little intimidating, but don't be afraid to just introduce yourself to someone and volunteer yourself. For example, get your local law newspaper (or local to where you want to practice), local continuing legal education brochures, and local bar association schedules of seminars. If you look, you're sure to find LOTS of classes and seminars, many of which will be free or cheap for law students. Find one (or a few) that interest you, and afterwards, introduce yourself to the professor, tell him or her that you're interested in getting into the field and ask if they would (1) give you any advice; or (2) let you come to their office to talk to them; or (3) let you follow them around for a day; or (4) have you as an intern. Most practitions would love some free or cheap labor (I know I would), and most are pretty flattered that a law student is interested in their work. I knew a few people in law school who found their dream jobs by going to continuing legal education classes or symposiums.

If you have the time, you could also consider setting up a speaker to come to your school. You could go to career services and say "Hey, I'm interested in the work this attorney does, if I get her to agree to come to the law school to talk about what they do and how they got there, could you set up the rest?" I think (or at least I hope) that part of the reason that most career services offices are so clueless about the non-firm jobs is because they just don't get what students are interested in. That would be one way to show them.

That's just a few ideas off the top of my head - I hope that helps!

Loving My Job - Advice for Job Seekers

Ok, first on the agenda, let's clear the air. I don't like bickering blogs, so I'm not going to have one. Everyone's friends again, and we're over it. (And, if you're not, go do it on your own blogs.) Good? Good. Moving on...

A few days ago, a question was posed on Will Work for Favorable Dicta (a blawg I love to read) regarding job happiness, how you got there, and how you're loving it.

I think anyone who's read this blog knows that I'm pretty much a public defender in a very big city and I love my job terribly. I like being in court a lot, I love a trial, I love the stress and the ups and downs. If you weren't bipolar when you started in my office, you will be within a few months. I say this not to sell you on being a public defender (I truly believe that it's one of those things that's either in your soul or it's not), but by way of explaining how I found my perfect job.

Back in college, I had no idea that I wanted to be a lawyer. It had never crossed my mind. I got an internship in a PD's office for college credits, mostly because I thought it'd be kind of fun. Within a week or two of being there, I just knew "This is what I need to be when I grow up." I lived, ate, and breathed the cases I worked on, I followed the PDs around as much as they'd let me, I brought files home, I just couldn't get enough of it. I loved how when you get a case, it starts out looking like one thing. You start investigating it and the more you dig, the more you find that there's a whole 'nuther story under there.

Other people commented about their hours. "Regular" hours at a government job versus crazy hours at a big firm. I work crazy hours. But it's because I love it and I want to do a good job and if I'm not working, I'm thinking about work anyway. (Ever notice how lawyers have blogs about the law, while people in other professions just have regular old blogs?)

I don't think I could've settled for a job that I didn't love. And I was lucky to find a job I couldn't live without. (The only question after law school was, I know what I'm going to do, where should I do it?) But I think the best way to find that is by doing and by trying. There are a lot of jobs that look good from afar, but if you gave it a try for a few days you'd know it wasn't right. On the other hand, you might get lucky and find your perfect fit.

My best advice is do as many internships as you can. No one turns away free or cheap labor. Try out everything for a few weeks. I think that's the only way to find a perfect fit.