Police Commish Arrested

N.J. Councilman Arrested In Child Porn Sting - It's always interesting when the police boss becomes the accused.

As for his defense... I predict it will be something along the lines of "I was going to catch those perverts pretending to be 14 year old girls."

Either way, guess who won't be getting re-elected the next time around.

I'm As Real As They Get

On the subject of appointed versus retained counsel (in this line of comments), Mister DA writes:

What's even more fun is when a qualified indigent gets one of the top criminal defense attorenys in the area as appointed counsel and then gets the family to pool their resources to hire some out of town hack with a big ad in the yellow pages.

I've had a fair share of experience with this, and I'm always left a little torn. I've had cases where I've already talked the D.A. into giving my client a conditional dismissal or where I know the case will be dismissed on speedy trial grounds on the next date, when my client calls me and tells me "I've hired a lawyer," or, worse, "I've hired a 'real' lawyer."

On one hand, I want to say, "Wait! I'm a real lawyer! I was going to beat your case for you!" On the other hand, my caseload is high enough as it is, and private attorneys need work too. So, it's better not to say anything.

But that doesn't mean I can't sit back and laugh though when the hack (oh, I mean "real lawyer") messes up their case.

T.T.S.T. (One More Try)

Alright, loyal readers, I'm going to take one last stab at T.T.S.T., even though I didn't get too many responses last time. Maybe this topic will be better and spur more discussion. (It was suggested by True Believer).

The Question is: What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done in court? (Or, if you're shy, and want to pretend like is was your "friend's" case... What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever seen in court?)

I'll start us off.

This wasn't my case, this happened when I was an intern at a public defender's office. Our client was female, and I can't really remember now what she was accused of. The one thing that stands out in my mind was that she had some problems in the past, but was really trying to get her life together.

So, on the eve of trial, I was there when the attorney had a discussion with her about what the client should wear to court the next day. (Yes, I recognize that the discussion of "what a client wore to court" could provide enough fuel for a whole 'nuther blog, but bear with me here.) Client assured Public Defender that she had a nice outfit to wear. They talked about the details of that outfit. Client said that she had a nice white blouse, and that she would either wear black pants or a black skirt. Public Defender, a woman on the ball, even asked what kind of shoes client had. Client said that she had a pair of black dress shoes that she would wear.

The next morning, trial is set to begin, and client shows up looking pretty sharp. White button-down blouse, black knee-length skirt, little ankle socks, and black patent-leather mary janes. I'll provide a few photo links, since my male readers might not be familiar with these terms. The shoes looked something like these (although those are kids shoes, but they were sort of like those), and the socks looked something like this.

I sat in the front row of the audience. Behind me the courtroom was filled with prospective jurors. Separating the audience from the front of the courtroom was a simple wooden bar.

After only a few minutes, I noticed a little bit of snickering from the prospective jurors behind me. I turned around, and noticed a few of them nudging one another, and pointing to the client. I looked at the client, and it took me a second to realize what they were all laughing at.

The client had kicked off her shoes, and had her ankles crossed so that the entire audience could see the soles of her socks. And the bottom of her white ankle socks were printed with the words "Department of Mental Health."

(What happened? The attorney dismissed the entire group of jurors that had been brought into the room and started again with a new group. This time the client kept her shoes on.)

Not My Sharona

Whoa. Big news from the set of one of my favorite shows - Monk.

Bottoms Up

I spent a few minutes last night watching speeches from the Republican National Convention (and clips of speeches on the news). And I've decided to come up with my very own RNC Drinking Game.

Here's how it works: If you hear any speaker get through any sentence without a mention of 9/11 (direct or indirect), take a sip.

It's a game that will keep you good and sober. Because, after all, these are weeknights, and we have to go to work in the morning.

(Got some time off? You might want to try this RNC drinking game, which is basically the opposite, and guarantees to get you hammered.)

And you thought I didn't talk about politics on my blog...

But For the Grace of God

I'm going to jump in there and respond to this argument at From across the Pond.

(First, let me apologize. I feel like I should comment in your comments, rather than on my own blog, but when your comment window comes up it's so tiny and I just start typing and typing, and before I know it I just feel like it'd be better for me to post over here rather than hog your comments.)

Anyway, From across the Pond sees a disconnect between defending the (probably) guilty and the rationale of "There but for the grace of God go I." Sure, anyone could see that there's little separating them from being wrongly accused of a crime, but what's separating you from being correctly accused of a crime?

I agree. For the most part I only find myself thinking "that could've been me" in cases where my client was factually innocent. (Factually innocent meaning "he didn't do it," rather than "he was acquitted or the case was dismissed.") However, I think the exception lies in cases where the law is unfair, overbroad, or misapplied.

Examples? Generally, I think of crimes that criminalize the actions of the very poor. If I were to lose my job tomorrow, I'm sure that I'd find a way to live comfortably until I found another job. I have an education and a good support system. But, sometimes I see cases where, somehow, a person with an education and a family ends up on the streets. Sometimes because of a tragic circumstance, sometimes because of mental illness, sometimes because of drug abuse. If I found myself in that position - would I shoplift? It's hard to say I wouldn't. Would I jump the turnstile to take the train to a medical clinic or to a shelter or to a soup kitchen? Probably. And then there are the infractions like "taking up two seats on the train" or "obstructing a park bench" or "building an unzoned structure (from cardboard)." These are all cases where my clients are factually guilty but I think that, unfortunately, with a few tragic circumstances, there but for the grace of God go most of us.

As far as overbroad or misapplied laws - this is a little more complicated. This is where I believe my client is factually guilty in that he did what he is accused of, but maybe the accusation doesn't fully make out a crime or a jury might acquit realizing that, there but for the grace of God go each of them.

This isn't the best example - but take, for example, a client accused of stalking. The facts are that when his significant other broke up with him, he didn't take it so well. He called her a few times to say "Change your mind, let's get back together." Maybe he continued to call a few more times after she says "Leave me alone." (I'm talking about 10-20 phone calls, not 1000). Does this fit the definition of stalking? Yes. Is he then "factually guilty?" Yes. Do I see how it's easy to go from jilted lover making an honest attempt to win someone back to stalker? I think so. Do I hope that a jury would acquit? Yes, that's a case that might do ok at trial.

So, there you have it. Just a few examples where I think that sometimes, occasionally, there but for the grace of God go I into being a (probably) guilty client.

(See, that wouldn't have fit in your comments, would it?)

With a Capital P

Now here's a new definition of Pathetic: Man Charged with Stalking Singer Avril Lavigne

Really, really Pathetic.

Memorial Ts

It's an old article, but I thought this story onThe Growing Popularity of the Memorial T-shirt was interesting.

A lot of my clients wear these t-shirts, and I started noticing them a few years ago in the urban area where I went to law school.

It always just makes me think - what's up with that? To me, t-shirts are for concerts, not funerals.

I guess another, more morbid question is - when I die, would I want my picture on a t-shirt? I've decided that nah, I don't really think a t-shirt is the way that I want to be remembered.

Put that in your living will - no t-shirts.


Just happened to find this website - Museum of Useful Things. Definitely some cool stuff there - like a 4-way rubberband.

In other news - blogger has been acting a little funny this weekend. So, if you don't see me around, you know why.

Protesters Beware

A lot of news today out of New York City about protesters being arrested. My guess is that it will only get worse in the coming days.

One of my favorites is here - these kids were surprised to find that jail isn't a friendly place. Hmmm.

(The NYTimes has good stories too, but I skipped those links that require registration.)

Learn Something New Every Day

Things the internet has taught me today:

  • People get pissed when you rip them off. And rightly so. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for someone to take some serious action on this fraud.

  • I haven't seen the worst of client parent experiences. Just for the record, overall, my client's parents are either pretty good or nonexistent. But a few rotten apples, as they say.

  • The blogrolling thing that I have (on the column on your right), isn't all that accurate about putting the stars near the new posts. But it was a cool idea, right?

  • It turns out then when you turn 30, they just don't let you blog anymore. They just disconnect your internet and send you away to... I don't know... play shuffleboard or something.
  • World's Largest Pink Ribbon

    Because I love all things pink (and because I support the fight against breast cancer), I encourage you to check out 3M's World's Largest Pink Ribbon. If you give your name, it will be added on a pink post-it note. 75,000 pink post-it notes will make up the pink ribbon, which will be on display in Times Square in October (breast cancer awareness month). In addition, 3M will donate $1 to City of Hope Cancer Center for each of the first 75,000 people who sign up.

    So, go do it. It's super quick and easy, and it's pink!

    The Lab Results Are In - You're Dumb

    Funny case in court the other night.

    My client is a college kid. White, from the suburbs, wealthy family, good college. He and his friends get stopped for open containers. Officer asks for IDs so he can write the kids tickets. My client gives the officer his fake ID. Thereby proving that you can send a kid to college, but you can't make him smart.

    (The kid's explanation? He said that he thought he couldn't get in trouble "just" for having an open container since it was in a paper bag! So, therefore, he must be in trouble for underage drinking, so showing the fake ID would get him out of trouble. Oh, of course.)

    I don't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing, but this kid's ID was blatantly fake. I mean, it was something you could buy at a flea market that says "State College - Not a Valid ID" across the top. I mean, in a way, I guess it's better than if he went to DMV and got a real fake license.

    Anyway, the officer arrests the kid for presenting a fake ID. The pre-arrest pat down search reveals a big bag of weed in kid's pocket. Oops.

    So, I tell the kid that it doesn't look great. The DA's office is really cracking down on fake IDs, under the assumption that every fake ID is obtained to help sneak a terrorist into the country. Kid tells me to see what I can do - he's in a good college, his parents have money and can pay any fine, blah blah blah.

    "Oh, and one more thing," he says, "my father's out in the audience. Can you let him know what's going on?"

    This is one part of the job I hate. No, I don't really want to tell your father what you got arrested for so that he can tell me that his kid is perfect and it must've been a mistake. Although I guess it's not as bad as when a client asks me to call his girlfriend and tell her that he got arrested for picking up a hooker, and ask her to come post his bail.

    Anyway, I ask the kid, "Does your father know what you were arrested for?"

    And he says, "Yeah, well, he does... but don't mention the weed. He doesn't know that part."

    I tell the kid, "Look, you'll be getting out of here soon. I'll tell your father that I talked to you, that you're ok, and that you'll be getting out soon. Anything else, I'll leave up to you."

    Finally, kid's case gets called, and he's brought out from the jail cell in the back of the courtroom. The court officer reads the charges. There's a possibility that Daddy Warbucks in the audience doesn't hear the reading of the charges - the court officer reads quickly and the courtroom acoustics are terrible.

    For all drug cases, the D.A. needs to supply the court with a lab report (showing that the drugs are actually drugs.) The D.A. says, among other things, "For the record, I'm filing a lab report with the court." Then the D.A. offers a truly spectacular offer - 2 days community service, no criminal record.

    I quickly consult with client, and tell him he should jump on the offer. I don't think it's likely to be offered again, given the current crackdown on fake IDs. He agrees and accepts the offer. He's released and given instructions for the community service.

    I leave the courtroom and go to another courtroom to do other cases. A little while later, I notice the father sitting in the courtroom, motioning that he wants to speak to me.

    I go out into the hallway to talk to him. I tell him that his son will have to do 2 days community service and that he won't get a criminal record. I tell him that I think it's a great offer. Father says, "But I wanted to know about the lab. They said something about a lab."

    Hmmm... how do I respond to this? Best to punt, I decide. "Well, maybe you could talk to your son about that."

    And he tells me, "I did. I asked him about it and he said they gave him a blood test when he was arrested last night and he said that must've been the lab results. And I really want to protest this. I don't think they should be doing blood tests on people just because they had a fake ID! Who gives them the right? And what exactly are they going to do with those blood test results? His medical history is just out there for anyone to see? His DNA is going to go into a computer or something? They can just use it to plant his DNA at any crime scene?!?" This father continues shouting at me in the hallway of the courthouse about this insane idea that his son had been blood tested.

    All I could think is "That little liar!"

    Honestly, how do I get out of this one? So, finally, after I let him yell at me for way too long, I just said, "Sir, there was no blood test. You need to talk to your son." And I walked away.

    Aarggh. That's why I hate representing the middle- and upper-class white kids from the suburbs. They're nothing but a pain.

    In the light of day, it's kind of funny though. Of all the things he could come up with on the spot, this dumb kid came up with "They blood tested me at the police station." How bizarre!

    A Future P.D. as a Survivor?

    Not often I get to combine my favorite topics of reality tv and criminal defense, but...

    According to cbs.com, one of the contestants on the next season of survivor, a 21-year-old pre-law student who wants to be a public defender.

    Snakes? 40 days without food? I say, you gotta do whatever it takes to prepare you for the mean hallways of the criminal courthouse. And this young lady looks like she has quite a bit of preparation. Quite a resume there.

    It's My Blog, I'll Rant If I Wanna

    This article really got me started. And it just proves my point.

    In my neck of the woods, it's illegal to drive while talking on a cell phone. Unless you have one of those "handsfree" things.

    I think that's totally wrong. Take that to trial and put me on your jury. I'm all for nullifying that law.

    And, this isn't just because I'm a criminal defense lawyer. I was a victim too. I'm serious. A few years back, I was rear-ended by a young woman who was talking on the cell phone while driving her big Land Rover. Did that make me think it should be illegal to drive while you're on the cell phone? No, it made me think that this particular woman wasn't paying enough attention to what she was doing at this particular moment.

    And I can't be the only one. Let's get together and form our own lobbying group of people who want to legalize cell-ed driving. It'd be like MADD, but the opposite.

    Why? Because for a normal person capable of multi-tasking, talking on the cell phone while driving isn't dangerous. In fact, talking on a cell phone isn't any more distracting than eating a big mac or watching a dvd (both of which are completely legal to do while driving).

    This guy killed two people when he caused an accident because he was watching a DVD on his dashboard television. In the article, the prosecutor says that this is an issue that the Legislature should address. What? The legislature should pass an individual law for each possible distraction? If it was proven that this man was watching a movie instead of the road, he would've been convicted of something. They must have "reckless driving" or the like in Alaska. No, Ms. Prosecutor, the jury just didn't believe your case, and there's nothing the legislature can do about that.

    I see people driving down the highway with their kids punching each other in the backseat, mom turning around every two seconds to yell at them, take the toy away from them, slap them. I say when it becomes illegal to drive with your kids in the backseat, then you can criminalize driving while talking on the cellphone.

    Ah, I feel better.

    Wait, one more thing. What about those handsfree cell phones? Those should be illegal. Seriously. Because now, you see people walking down the street shouting, and you don't know if they're just crazy people who talk to themselves, or if they're on the phone.

    Make the handsfree phones illegal, bring back the phones that require you to hold your hand to your head. And that will make people use their phone less, because they get tired of holding their arm like that. Thereby preventing brain cancer. See, it's an all-around good plan.


    *(Time to Share Tuesdays)

    Can you believe it's that time of the week already? Can you believe I remembered?

    This week's topic: Trial (or Pre-Trial) Superstitions or Rituals. I know you have them. Lucky shoes, a particular breakfast, prayer to any deity that will listen? What is it? Let's hear it...

    Oh, and another thing, help me out with topics for future T.T.S.T.s. Thanks.

    Smoothie Story Update

    Just an update on yesterday's smoothie story. Last night, I went to a bridal shower. (This is what I do every weekend - wedding, shower, or bachelorette party).

    Anyway, one of the bride's gifts was The Smoothie Pro 700 (it was on her registry). When she opened it, she was really excited about it.

    Which, just as an aside, I think it's kind of a weird thing to watch someone open gifts that they registered for.
    "Oh, here's my silverware. In the pattern I picked out. Thank you, Aunt So-and-so."
    "Oh, my dishes. They're beautiful. Thank you."
    "This one is from my co-worker. Oh, my glasses!"

    But, finally, she got to the smoothie pro. "OOOOH!!! MY SMOOTHIE MAKER!!!" All of the ladies ooohed and aaahed and shouted out things like "Margaritas at your house!" (I, of course, thought about the smoothie maker story.)

    I will tell you one thing, though. When she opened the second smoothie maker, she didn't scream quite as loudly.

    And Now, What You've All Been Waiting For

    *Warning - If Last Week's Amazing Race Is Still On Your Tivo Waiting To Be Watched, Skip This Post And Go Watch It For Crying Out Loud!*

    I am pleased to (finally) announce that Charla and Mirna have been eliminated. It's about freakin' time. Now, I know, I should be upset that I won't have anyone to make fun of throughout the rest of the episodes (or, should I say "make-o joke-os," for you Spanish readers out there), but I was starting to worry that I was becoming such a hateful person. Now I can go back to being normal sweet me.

    Staying In With My Smoothie

    Now that I can make iced chocolate chai at home, I may never venture out of the air conditioning again. It'd be even easier if I had a Smoothie Pro 600.

    Hey, did I ever tell you the smoothie maker story? Fine, I'll tell it, barely exaggerating at all:

    Alright, a few years back, my friend's sister was getting married. She happened to be marrying a young man from a wealthy family. Some kind of bigwig of some kind of big company. So, they announced their engagement and had a little engagement party (which the couple paid for themself). The groom's parents didn't bring a gift.

    They started planning the wedding, and, as most young couples do, realized the wedding was going to cost more than they ever dreamed. The bride's parents offered to pitch in a little and pay some of the wedding expenses. The groom's family declined to help out.

    Around this time, I asked my friend "What's up with that? Don't you think that's a little weird? No offense, but they have so much more money." And he told me, "No, my sister thinks it's because their getting them a really big wedding gift. Like, their first house or something." Alright, sounded good to me.

    After the wedding, I call my friend and ask him how it went. "Good," he said, "Everyone had fun." And of course, I had to ask. "So, what did his parents get them?" Big house? College tuition for their first born?

    "Oh, you're not going to believe it. They got the nicest gift," he told me.
    "Really? What is it?"
    "A smoothie maker. It has different speed settings, and it can chop right through ice. You can use it to make fresh fruit shakes, Milk shakes, daiquiris, it's incredible." It was then that I began to suspect that he was being sarcastic.
    "A smoothie maker? Are you serious?"
    "Yup. A smoothie maker. It's basically a blender with a spigot at the bottom. A glorified blender. The richest man I've ever met, my sister's father-in-law, got them a smoothie maker."

    I always think of that when I see a smoothie maker. I mean, they're nice. But whenever I see one, I always just wonder what in the world moved that man to buy them, of all things, a smoothie maker? And, truly, is it anything more than a blender with a spout?

    Ceasar Wrap, Hold The Ceasar

    Dear guy who works at the sandwich shop where I stopped for dinner,

    If I come into your sandwich shop, and I ask "Do you have the chicken ceasar wrap?" and you respond yes, and then put out the tortilla, and put the chicken on it, and the lettuce and tomato, and then ask me what kind of sauce I want, and I respond "ceasar dressing," and you tell me that you don't have ceasar dressing...

    Then you don't have the chicken ceasar wrap! You could've just told me no in the beginning!

    Blonde Justice

    p.s. Thanks for the free cookies. I know you were just trying to make up for the fact that you LIED about the ceasar. The cookies sort of made it ok, but not completely.

    Wonder and Amazement

    Take this state quiz! I was amazed at the accuracy of my result. Of course, I can't tell you what it was, but I can tell you that I was amazed.
    (Link via Arbitrary and Capricious, who called my blog "kicky".)

    Also, I'm happy to see that Tinkerbell is back home safe and sound with Paris Hilton.

    Time To Share (Again)

    I thought that last week's thought-(and comment- )provoking question was a hit.

    I thought I'd follow it up with another one this week. I thought maybe I could make it a weekly Tuesday thing. But before I knew it, Tuesday had come and gone. Oops.

    So, maybe it'll become a Wednesday thing now. You know, sort of like "Just Because" over at Will Work for Favorable Dicta.

    And conveniently enough, Lewis at From Across the Pond has a question for all of us criminal defense lawyers. He asks, "Why is defending the (probably) guilty important to you?"

    Personally, I've got a million reasons. The biggest one, for me, is because no one else is. I mean, there's an entire police force, an entire prosecutor's office, court staff, and everyone in the court process all out to put my client away (and don't give me this "But I thought judges were out for justice...") and it's just me and my client (an accused criminal) going to toe to toe with them. It's the ultimate underdog experience. I find it to be constantly thrilling, challenging and fun.

    But it's also because I often relate to my clients. Who's never been accused of something they didn't do? And I'm not just talking about crimes, I'm talking about any accusation. It sucks. And I relate to my clients when they do fuck up and do something wrong. I mean, who doesn't screw up once in a while? Some of my clients are great people. Some aren't. Most don't deserve prison (have you ever been inside a prison?). But for the most part, they're a likeable group of people. They're lost in a confusing system.

    And because I like helping people. I like giving people correct directions on the street in the same way I like guiding my clients through the maze that is the criminal justice system. I love when my clients call me or send me a note just to say "Thanks for your help."

    Did I mention that winning feels great? It gets balanced out with losing, but for however short it lasts, winning, whether you've won on a bail application or a trial, feels great. And I'm a little competitive, so the winning is definitely part of it for me.

    And, compared to other jobs (especially other jobs in the legal profession), I find that it's more interesting than most. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. And I get to be right there in it, finding out what's going on, uncovering the story that no one wants you to hear.

    I remember, when I was in college, being worried that I'd never find a job that I would love. I looked at my parents, who are ok with what they do, but they don't love it, and I just thought "Man, how can you just pick some mediocre job and just do it for the rest of your life -we're talking decades- just to pay your bills?" What a depressing thought. My job is tough at times (a lot of times), but I like to think that when I wake up in the morning I'm excited to go to work. And that's priceless.

    So, that's why I do it. Because I love it. It's not entirely selfless.

    Anyone else want to throw in their reasons? It's time to share (again).

    p.s. I'll try to stay more on the ball with future questions. If you've got an idea for a future topic, you can email me.

    Missing Dog - Reward

    How in the world did Paris Hilton's dog, Tinkerbell disappear? Paris never let that dog out of her sight!

    Well, except maybe when she was making the naughty videos.

    But any other time, she always had Tinkerbell with her!

    Get Out

    After Milli Vanilli was exoposed as a fraud, a lot of people said "I knew it. I knew it all along."

    This morning I saw the video for "Get Out" by JoJo, a 13 year old girl. And I just want to go on the record right now as saying -- I don't really believe that little girl is singing that song.

    When the record skips during her concert, or someone unplugs the mike, don't say I didn't tell you so.

    Back to School Time

    Remember how I said I was going to be a fantastic summer intern mentor? Well, I was. So fantastic, in fact, that my summer intern bought me a little pink gift on her last day. See, I get through to people.

    Now I'm working with a law student on a case. The case had been hers while she was an intern and it was transferred to me at the end of the summer. She had written in her closing memo on the case that she would be interested in continuing to help with the case if she could. I called and left her a message the other day, letting her know that I wanted to chat about the case. She called me back and asked for "Miss [Justice]." Ha!

    Now, sometimes my clients call me Miss or Ms. (and once, even, Mrs., but only once) and I don't stop them because I think it's preferable to clients who call me "Hey lady," or "Hey Lawyer."

    But having a law student call me "Miss" was just weird. I mean, I was just a law student last year!

    Which got me to thinking, when I first started my job last September, clients would sometimes comment on me being young, saying things like "Are you finished with law school?" or "Damn! You the youngest lawyer I ever seen!" And now they don't mention it anymore. In fact, just this week I got the letter adressed to Mrs. [Justice] that I mentioned above.

    So, what's up with that? I've decided that it's not because I'm looking that much older. (Still no gray hairs!) It must be the confidence that I've developed in the courtroom. Yeah, it must be that.

    Oprah Picked

    to Serve on Jury.

    I have to say, I think I'd want Oprah on my jury. She'd remind the other jurors to listen to their "spirit." That'd be good.


    Oprah, and her fellow jurors, convicted. And quickly, too. Oh well, so much for spirit.

    Garden State

    I saw Zach Braff's Garden State this weekend (also featuring Natalie Portman). Loves it!

    I thought it was like a modern day Say Anything. Braff and Portman were really great together.

    And I've added "download Garden State soundtrack" to my to do list. Great, great music. Just like Say Anything.

    Actually, those 2 movies had a lot of similarities. Except that I was too young to see Say Anything in the theatre.

    So, if you liked Say Anything, go see it. Well, even if you never saw Say Anything, go see it.

    Proctologist Wannabe

    I have a hard time putting my work away at night or on the weekends. Honestly, I have to bring work home many nights if I want to keep my head above water (and my clients out of jail). And my clients and my cases and my co-workers are things that I think about all day. So, sometimes it's hard to just stop thinking about trial strategies or things I need to do.

    But this weekend, I didn't bring any work home. And I made a decision that I wasn't going to think about it, or talk about it, or call and check my voice mail.

    Last night, the boyfriend and I went to a wedding. As we do every weekend. Seriously, every weekend I'm either at bridal shower, a bachelorette party, a baby shower, or a wedding.

    My friend that was getting married was a friend from law school. She and I had actually been partners in a criminal defense clinic.

    Before the reception I realize that the only other people that I know (both also from law school), are in the bridal party. Which means that the boyfriend and I would be sitting at a table of strangers. Which I also realize means they're going to ask me what I do. Which always leads to the inevitable annoying question, "How can you represent someone when you know they're guilty?"

    Me: "Can't I just lie and tell them I'm something totally uninteresting? And then they won't ask any follow-up questions?"
    Boyfriend: "But what happens when they ask how you know the bride?"
    Me: "Oh, yeah."

    So, we spent the rest of the wedding coming up with jobs where people don't ask follow-up questions. For example, proctologist. No one is going to ask you "Oh, interesting, how did you get involved in that field?" Especially not over dinner.

    Oh, and I know you want to read about this, but I had my most interesting bathroom experience at this wedding reception. Get this - the floors in the bathroom stalls were mirrored. I mean, nothing I haven't seen before, but it's just surprising when you look down and see something like that looking back up at you.

    Spit on This

    Traffic wardens in Edinburgh will be issued DNA recovery kits to trace assailants who spit at them.

    Wow. I don't even know where to start with this:
    -big invasion of privacy?
    -big waste of taxpayers money?

    And in the U.S., we're just getting around to testing the DNA in cases where the conviction occurred 22 years ago. Amazing.

    Lying Liars

    So, I hope this doesn't make me a voyeur or something, but I really wanted to read the Scott and Amber transcripts. I started to read them, but I just didn't have the time. Those two talk a lot.

    I do know one thing though, if Scott wasn't faking a bad connection ("What? What? Must be a bad connection... Can't hear you... I'm hanging up") he definitely needs a new cell phone provider. There is no excuse. I wouldn't date a guy who was always saying, "Can you hear me now?" It just doesn't make for very good communication.

    Then again, he was probably faking it. He also had a whole elaborate "I'm in Paris for New Year's" thing. "It'll be 9:00 o'clock here in the morning and I'm gonna try and call you back on your New Year's," when really he was in the same state as her.

    Which kind of reminds me of Mark Hacking. Here's my advice to men who are thinking of killing their wives - don't lie about more than you have to. I mean, sure, you want to deny the murder and keep yourself out of jail, but you don't need to invent trips to Paris or going to medical school. These things are totally traceable and you're just going to make yourself look like a liar.

    And don't talk so much on the phone. Sheeesh, don't you have better things to do with your time?

    DNA Frees Convicted Rapist

    Once again, all of you potential jurors out there, listen up.

    Witnesses are often mistaken. Jailhouse snitches lie.

    Unfortunately, not every case will include DNA that can be tested. Convict carefully.

    Eleven Angry Men

    Slate Magazine teaches a little on criminal adjudication.

    And, when I say "us," I mean you. Because I already took criminal adjudication.

    Time to Share

    Alright, all you defense attorneys out there... It's time for an open forum. The question today is:

    What is your favorite reasonable doubt analogy?

    Do you like the one about buying a used car - you have to test drive it, and that's reasonable doubt? Do you like the one about going to the doctor and needing a second opinion? Got a better one? Or do you avoid analogy all together and have an easier way of putting it in everyday language?

    C'mon, let's hear it.

    (Yes, this qualifies as working from home. It also qualifies as the trial prep I promised myself I'd do after dinner.)

    Amber Speaks


    I think, as a juror, Frey would be the most interesting witness. But, from a verdict standpoint, she doesn't seem to add much other than Peterson wasn't a very faithful husband. And, we all know that just because you cheat on your wife doesn't make you a murderer. Don't we?

    (Many) Thoughts on Professionalism

    I don't argue with D.A.s. I disagree with them, I debate with them, I negotiate with them, I sometimes engage in a little "back and forth," but I don't argue. In my mind, there's no point to it. If a D.A. and I just aren't going to see eye to eye, I've got other ways to get what I want. I'll take the issue to the judge or I'll take the case to a jury. There is absolutely no reason for me to raise my voice or engage in name calling with a D.A. I've never done it, and I hope I'll never do it.

    Because, in general, I see D.A.s as equals. They went to law school. We sat for the bar exam together. They've got their job and I've got mine. And, for the most part, they do their job professionally. There are some dirty D.A.s, but then again, I guess there are some dirty defense lawyers. I'm just not one of them.

    But from what I see, is that it seems like D.A.s can get away with being dirty (and by "dirty" I mean unprofessional and unethical), without much risk of getting disbarred or other professional sanctions. I guess judges don't really want to take them on.

    When I know a D.A. is acting unethically I'm don't confront him and demand an explanation. I just use it to my full advantage in court. I don't need to hear what his excuse is.

    For example, I had a drug case recently where I found out that the D.A. had forged the lab report. Interesting, right? (And, just as a side note, why did he even need to forge the lab? They own the chemists.) Another defense attorney suggested that I go to the D.A. (who has a reputation for being reasonable) and say "What's up with that?" But why? I mean, what would I do if he said "Sorry, please don't report me," or "Sorry, my supervisor made me do it?" What good would it do? My solution is to push the case toward trial. First, I don't think the D.A. will have the guts to take a case to trial when he knows he can't put a chemist on the stand - and therefore, the case would die a "speedy trial" death. In the alternative, if he's stupid enough to take the case to trial, I have a great witness in the very reliable attorney who learned of the forgery.

    Now, I've considered that maybe this is wrong or unethical of me. Maybe, under some rules of professional responsibility, I have an obligation to report the unethical behavior. But the problem there is that I don't know of it personally and, more importantly, I'd be jeopardizing my client's case by pointing out the weaknesses in the case to the D.A. I think my loyalty is with my client, at least until the case is resolved.

    The whole "forged lab" case was a bit of a tangent, but I think it's a fair portrayal of my relationship with D.A.s and how I don't feel that I need to confront them or argue with them.

    So, the other day, I had a case where the D.A. (a different D.A.) and I just weren't seeing eye to eye. He was making a ridiculous jail recommendation on a first arrest of an old man. We went back and forth, we negotiated, I shared more of my case then I probably would've wanted with the hopes that I could get a better offer. It just wasn't happening. But I didn't want to try the case.

    As another tangent, I guess that's where I lose my advantage - when I have a case that I can't win. I lose my best tactic when I just cannot say "Then we'll take it to a jury" (and mean it.)

    Anyway, it was a case I couldn't win. In the end, my boss called the D.A. to try to get an offer. It turned sort of weird. My boss was really tough on the D.A. He didn't raise his voice, or engage in name calling, but I think he... how to say this... was a little more aggressive than I would be. And maybe that's because he didn't see the D.A. as an equal, he saw him as "You're a new little punk D.A. just starting out, and I'm a big criminal defense lawyer who has been practicing for decades."

    It made me put a lot of thought into where exactly that line is, between professional and unprofessional negotiation. Obviously, there's the extremes - name calling, yelling, hanging up being extremely unprofessional. And there's the other side, being so unwilling to offend a D.A. that you're really not effectively negotiating for your client. Something along the lines of "Will you please make an offer? No? Oh, well, then, ok." That's almost unprofessional in the other direction.

    Then there's this middle ground - which includes raising your voice slightly and a bit of bullying. And, just as a side note, it's effective. My boss was able to get a disposition that I wasn't able to get.

    But, examining the tactic, I'm not sure that it's either strictly professional or unprofessional. I guess the thing I realized from watching it be done to this D.A. is that it's just not my style. It's not something I could engage in. Not at this point in my career at least. Which may be unfortunate, because it's not as if I can always call on my boss and say "Can you get this D.A. to make an offer?" But, I try to judge my behavior by the golden rule, and I decided that I really would not be ok with a D.A. supervisor calling me and using the same tone with me.

    In the end, it's better that I know what I stand for, and that I know I have a reputation for professionalism. D.A.s and defense attorneys and judges respect me because of my reputation. And, I'm a bad ass in my own way - I get what I want from the judge and from the jury. And that's what matters.

    Going to White Castle

    Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was SO funny.

    I also enjoyed this article, which gives us the truth behind New Jersey geography and White Castle locations.

    Ok, so I'll admit... I've never tried a White Castle burger. There used to be a White Castle not too far from our house, but my dad said that the burgers would give you a "stomach ache." That's warning enough for me.

    Squirrel Name

    As if my Pirate Name wasn't enough, I've just learned that my "squirrel name" is Sergeant Nutless.

    Sorry, I'll come up with some actual content soon.

    Call Me Kidd

    Arr. I totally needed a pirate name. According to this, my pirate name is Dread Pirate Kidd. Honestly, I was hoping for something cooler.

    Find out your pirate name here.


    Rick James Died. Yow.

    And by the way, when the day comes for someone to write your obituary (or a news story on your death), if the best ending the writer can think of is "In 1998 he also underwent hip replacement surgery," you've got to wonder what kind of impression you made.

    Hero Cop Update

    Just wanted to give this update on NYPD Officer Delacruz. Delacruz is on trial with the NYPD (a trial on whether or not he can keep his job, from what I gather) for refusing to arrest a homeless person.

    Good luck to Delacruz, and I'll add updates if I can find any.

    Hacking - Another Unfortunate Name

    Hacking - now there's another unfortunate name. Especially when your wife's gone missing.

    According to this story on yahoo news, "The husband of a missing pregnant woman told a 'reliable citizen' witness at a psychiatric ward that he killed his wife as she slept and then threw her body in a trash bin." Reliable... Psych ward? Interesting. Defense counsel, make a note of that.

    Also, "Mark Hacking was arrested Monday on suspicion of murder, even though his wife's body has not been found." Reminds me of a story I once heard. Defense counsel, time for more notes:

    A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. In his closing argument, defense counsel attempted to explain reasonable doubt to the jury through a simple demonstration.

    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you," the lawyer said as he looked at his watch. "Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom." He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened.

    Finally the lawyer said, "Actually, I made up the previous statement. But you all looked on with anticipation. That is reasonable doubt. You each have reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and, therefore, you must return a verdict of not guilty."

    The jury retired to deliberate. Only a few minutes later, the jury returned and delivered a verdict of guilty.

    "But how?" inquired the lawyer. "You must have had some doubt - I saw all of you stare at the door."

    The jury foreman replied, "Oh, we did look, but your client didn't."

    Pieces of Ashlee

    Just a message for readers who found my blog by searching for "Pictures of ashlee simpson with blonde hair" and "pictures of just ashlee simpson with just really blonde hair!!"

    I'm with you. I really liked the blonde hair, the dark hair is not nearly as cute. And it's not just because I'm partial to blondes.

    My tip for finding blonde Ashlee Simpson photos (not that I don't want you to find my page, of course), is to search on Google images.

    Glad I could help. And for the person searching for "what size are Ashlee Simpson's boobs," sorry, can't help you there.

    Law and The Amazing Race

    This is law related. Stick with me here.

    So, for those of you who don't watch Amazing Race (and why wouldn't you?), here's some background. The concept of the show (in case you live under a rock) is that teams of 2 people, each with a pre-existing relationship, race around the world to compete for one million dollars. The race is divided into legs, each leg has its own challenges, and whichever pair comes in last in each leg of the race is eliminated.

    One of the pairs this season REALLY annoys me. I feel mean watching the show and rooting for them to lose. And it's a little hard to describe, but I feel like I hate watching the show because I have this hatred for these people, yet I can't stop watching because I hate them so much. Anyway,the pair that I hate are named Mirna and Charla (awful names, really, and we've already survived one Charla on reality tv). Anyway, one of them (Charla) is a "little person." That has nothing to do with why I don't like them, of course.

    Oh wait, it does. You see, Charla goes on and on about her goal in this race is to show what little people can do. But, meanwhile, she constantly tries to take advantage of being a little person (for example, they should get a ride somewhere because she's little, while everyone else walks). Likewise, when any other team does anything to advance themselves (they're supposed to - it's a race!), Charla and Mirna whine that the other team isn't playing fair or is cheating or should be helping them (because, after all, the one thing we learn from this is that little people need a lot of help). And another thing that *really* annoys me, is that they both try to speak "Spanish" without knowing a word of Spanish. I know, you could say "at least they're trying," but it's really annoying. "Where-o is the boat-o?" is *not* Spanish. And it's really not even trying.

    So, they're kind of psycho and weird and they really annoy me. You'd have to watch an episode to get just how annoying they are.

    Here comes the legal part. On the most recent episode, another contestant was rightfully in front of Charla and Mirna in a line to buy bus tickets. When C&M's turn came up, there were no bus tickets left. C&M were upset, and Mirna started calling the guy that bought the bus tickets "a criminal," and then adds "I can't stand criminals." Now, as a person who sees a lot of (accused) criminals, this is totally beyond me. Someone is a criminal because they bought bus tickets? Hmmm... I've seen strange cases, but this is really something.

    But wait, it gets better. Later she says (this is Mirna, the one calling people "criminals"), "As a lawyer, I'm used to dealing with disgusting people." Whoa. A lawyer? And she doesn't understand the concept of what a criminal is? Amazing.

    Anyway, I did a search on Martindale. I thought maybe she was a D.A. (which might explain why she feels so strongly about criminals), but, no, according to Martindale, she's with a firm and her practice areas are Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Elder Law, and Medical Assistance Planning. Are there really a lot of disgusting people in these areas? And, one more thing, the most surprising part is that Mirna isn't even her first name, it's her middle name.

    I understand that sometimes people have a good reason for using their middle name. Maybe it sounds better, maybe it's less confusing. But if my first name was Lara and my middle name was Mirna, you could bet I'd go by Lara.

    So, see, the point is... I'm learning more about other practice areas with every episode of Amazing Race. Now I know to avoid those areas because they're filled with disgusting people. I don't know whether she meant opposing counsel, or maybe her clients. Either way, keep that in mind when planning a change in career path. No Estate Planning.

    Loves It

    I just found this blog: I'm a PD.

    As Paris and Nicole would say, "Loves it."

    I Scream for Ice Cream

    Did you catch this story? Kansas City Police were pulling over good drivers to reward them with a coupon for a free ice cream cone.

    Call me a skeptic but my first thought was "Sure, 'reward' them by looking in their car." I can see it now... the new cover for racial profiling will be "I pulled over the minority driver to tell him that he's a good driver and offer him an ice cream."

    I wonder what would happen if the officer approached and smelled alcohol or weed from the driver, or saw illegal weapons on the backseat. Is this ice cream scheme really a reasonable predicate for a stop?

    Hey, True Believer, let us know if you come across any DUI cases where the driver was stopped to be given an ice cream coupon. (And that, my friends, was my plug for this great DUI defense blog.)

    (Link to story via Favorable Dicta.)

    Defending Good People

    Catching up on my blog reading, and loving this post about the criminal justice system over at Ernie the Attorney. I think it'll be my new go-to post in response to "How can you defend those people?" Truth is, most people (and most of my clients) are like Ernie's friend - good people who made a mistake (and, therefore, "not the sort of person our justice system should be processing.")

    All Quiet On My Blogging Front

    I apologize. I've been MIA from the blog for the past few days. Life's been busy.

    Anyway, I'm back. And as soon as I think of a few things to say, you'll hear more from me. So, don't go anywhere. And, when I do think of something to say, I'll try to keep in mind the feelings of those (ok, so maybe it's just one, not "those" but "he") who have (or has) a blog-crush on me. (By the way, I know a lot about baseball.)

    And maybe I'll even throw in some red herrings as to my location. How about all that snow this week? (Hey, it's possible.)

    But for now, I want to go read all of these new criminal defense blogs. Maybe I'll even update my links. Eventually.