In Justice?

Has anyone seen commericals for In Justice, a midseason replacement on ABC?

The show follows "the team from the National Justice Project" - a team that sounds quite a bit like the Innocence Project.

Heck, I like the Innocence Project. I did some Innocence Project work in law school. So, this sounds worth a try...

These modern-day heroes are not naïve crusaders. They're led by David Swain (Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks, Sex and the City,), an attorney of questionable ethics but unquestionable talent, and by his chief investigator, Charles Conti (Jason O'Mara, The Agency), a former cop who's willing to put up with Swain's idiosyncrasies in order to make sure that justice is done.
So, the only thing I question is why the leader has to be "of questionable ethics?" I guess because all defense attorneys are, right?

Grrr... But you know I'll give it a chance. And probably even write a review of the first episode.

I've already set my Tivo-brand digital recording device.

*Update: Indefensible has apparently already seen the first few episodes of In Justice and has written about it here and here and in the New York Times too!

Christmas Eve at the Try-N-Save

"Blonde," my mother said to me last week, "I'm so glad you're home!"

"Well, of course. It's Christmas."

"...Because I need you to go to the grocery store with me."

"Sure. Whenever." I figured maybe she needed to pick up a few last minute things for Christmas dinner.

"Right now. Let's go."

"Um... alright." I dropped my bags in my old bedroom and headed back out to the driveway.

As we drove to the nearby grocery store, I asked, "So, what do we need? Do you have a list? Maybe we could split it up?"

The best plan, I figured, was to spend as little time in the grocery store as possible.

"No, we just need to go straight to the customer service desk."

"Why's that?"

Wait for it... wait for it...

"Because I was just there. And I told them, 'I'll be back with my lawyer!'"

Yes, that's right. Talk about embarassing. Of course, there was some kid I went to high school with, still working behind the customer service counter as he probably has for the past ten years. What am I going to do, walk up to this guy in his green vest and say, "You may remember me from algebra class, but I'm a lawyer...?"

In talking to him, it turns out that my mother must go in there every week to quibble about some price in the weekly circular - usually trying to get a competitor's price or insisting that the ad is some sort of "bait and switch."

In the end, I used the skills I've developed best as a lawyer - bargaining and persuasion - and absolutely no law at all, to get my mother half-price on an entire cart of groceries. She was thrilled. Finally having a lawyer daughter became useful.

And the customer service kid was thrilled to deal with me instead of listening to my mother again.

Me? I'm the least thrilled. I know this means that I will be dragged to the grocery store, my least favorite place, every time I go home ever again.

Chronic- What? -Cles of Narnia!

Slate says:

If you haven't seen Saturday Night Live's Chronicles of Narnia rap, then you don't have any friends.
I just finally saw it last night, after it sat on my Tivo for over a week. But since I don't want any of my blog friends to feel friendless (or, to just be more of a loser than me), you've got to check this out.

(Also available on NBC, but I thought the first link was faster.)

There are so many parts to choose from, but I think "It's all about the Hamiltons, baby!" may just be my new all-time favorite SNL line.

*Oh, and by the way: What is Red Vines?

Buzzed Driving Is... Legal

Alright, this new "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving" ad campaign is killing me. And I haven't even seen the first ad yet.

Actually, I have seen this photo of a billboard and I just watched the commercial which is available here from

For those of you who don't want to bother to watch it, I'll give you the rundown:

The scene is a wedding reception, winding down, slow song at the end of the night. You see one young man who is obviously wasted, stumbling around, stumbling up to the stage and banging on the band's drums.

The voiceover says, "It's easy to tell when you've had way too many. But what about when you've had one too many?"

Now you see an apparently sober looking man, drinking a last gulp from his drink before he and his wife head out the door.

Finally, the voiceover says, "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving."

First, let me start with the personal and get it out of the way. I don't condone drunk driving, I don't drive drunk. Throughout college, my friends and I always had a designated driver or just walked home. Now, I'm lucky to live in an area where I pretty much never drive anywhere, so it's not much of an issue. But if I go somewhere and I know I'm going to have to drive, say a wedding, I would probably have only one drink, two at the most, depending on how many hours I'm going to be there. It's fair to say that I err on the side of caution when it comes to drinking and driving.

Now the legal. The point of this ad campaign, I believe, is to draw the following line of thought:

Buzzed Driving = Drunk Driving = Illegal...
Therefore, Buzzed Driving = Illegal

Which just simply isn't true. It's a clear misstatement of the law. In fact, as a defense attorney, when we voir dire in drunk driving cases, one of the things that we want to be sure that every juror understands is that it is not illegal to drink and drive, it is only illegal to drive while legally intoxicated.

So, what is the legal definition of intoxicated? Simple. And very objective. A blood alcohol level above .08 is legally intoxicated.

How drunk is .08? Well, that's the part that's kind of subjective. Different people are going to feel and function differently at .08. This BAC calculator is kind of fun to play with and gives you an idea of what your BAC. Even MADD tells us that:
To reach a .08 BAC level, a 170-pound man would have to drink approximately four drinks in one hour on an empty stomach or a 137-pound woman would have to drink approximately three drinks in one hour on an empty stomach.

That's quite a bit. But, I think the question remains, how do you feel at .08? Do you feel, "Whoa, I'm wasted!" or do you feel, "Hey, I've got a little buzz on, but I'm good to drive?"

In speaking to experts on the subject (and I mean actual PhDs, not just people who drink a lot), it really just depends on the person. Experts tell us that people who drink very frequently may be able to function quite well, even at very high BACs. Likewise, ask around and you'll find that many people have been to parties where the drinks were either very watered down or not alcoholic at all, and yet one person who didn't know this stumbled around saying, "I'm getting sooo drunk!" Are they just faking? No, experts say that a large part of how drunk we feel or act is in our heads.

Other factors, besides a person's drinking history, is how much they've had to eat, their size, the types of drinks, the time period during which they had the drinks and the time period since the last drink.

(For example, imagine someone doing four shots of tequila and then immediately getting into a car to drive just a few blocks. Science tells us that they can't yet be intoxicated - the alcohol hasn't had time to enter their bloodstream. But imagine a cat jumps out in the street, they swerve to avoid it, and hit a parked car. When the police come, they're going to smell the alcohol. And by the time you get down to the station and take the test, he's going to blow a BAC much higher that what he had at the time of the accident.)

So, why is this ad campaign driving me nuts? What's so untrue about it? It's a real under-exaggeration of the legal standard for intoxication.

Look again at the "buzzed" guy. There aren't even any other empty glasses on the table! And he didn't even finish that one drink! True, he kind of bumped into the door. Maybe he's just klutzy. Or being gentlemanly and making sure there's enough room for his wife to get through the door. I don't think there's anything to lead us to believe he's had much to drink except that one gulp we saw - and there's certainly nothing to lead us to believe he has had "one drink too many." Unless we're going along with MADD and saying that even one drink is one drink too many.

Finally, what does all of this have to do with driving? Are buzzed drivers causing accidents? In general, the answer is no.

In the cases I've seen where a DWI arrest is made for someone driving with a BAC between .08 and around .12, nearly 100% of those arrests are made as the result of a checkpoint stop. In other words, the drivers with BACs at or near .08 simply aren't drivers that are causing accidents. Instead, in most of the DWI accident cases I've seen, and there's a lot of empirical evidence to support this, the BACs are higher - usually over .12. These are clients that, even when I interview them hours later, still smell like alcohol, still have slurred speech, and often can't remember what happened.

But I understand that a cutoff needs to be set. And I even agree that it should be set on the lower side, again, erring on the side of caution and keeping in mind that alcohol effects each person differently.

My real problem is with the use of the word "buzzed," a very subjective word, that to some people may mean that first warm feeling you get from just a sip of alcohol, and to others it may mean something a lot closer to "drunk."

(Kind of like some people think "hooking up" is something along the lines of making out or fooling around or whatever, and other people think "hooking up" means actual sex. It's all just slang. It's not like you can look it up in the dictionary and see what "buzzed" or "hooking up" means.)

And it seems that maybe this commercial wants you to believe that "buzzed" could mean one drink or less. There certainly is no further explanation as to how much the "buzzed" man in the commercial has had to drink. And yet, it's being equated to drunk and illegal driving.

It's misleading and it's a misstatement of the law. Many people rely on the media to tell them the state of the laws. When a new law goes into effect, or a law is changed, people expect to hear about it on television. I'm concerned that people will mistake this advertisement for a report on the current state of the law. And, I don't want any juror who has seen this commercial or who believes it, for fear that they may substitute this advertisement's misstatement of the law for the actual law, despite the correct instructions from the judge.

Someone's Been Eating My Porridge Too!

If the boys at Barely Legal let me leave comments (c'mon guys! how about a special privilege for me?), I could have told them that Santa also hit my house that year. And after he dropped off my Barbie Dream Kitchen (TM), he finished off a case of my father's Budweiser!

That Santa, man... just think about how many beers he must drink in a night! Next year, we might need to do an intervention or something...

Will Blog For Books

When I saw this book review at Public Defender Dude, my first thought was, "Why doesn't anyone ever send me books to review?" Actually, that was my second thought, after, "Hey, this book looks interesting, I'll have to get it."

But, no, seriously, why doesn't anyone send me books?

Then I thought that maybe it's because I never write about books here. But, that's because I worry that someone will read it and say, "Hey, I know a lawyer who has been reading that in court for the past week or two... hey, come to think of it, she's blonde... and she wears pink everyday... whoa. Coincedence? I think not."

Yes, I'm quite paranoid about the anonymity thing.

That, and it would probably take a lot before I'd give some random "author" my real name and mailing address.

So, nevermind, I guess I'm not getting any books to review any time soon. But I will find Death Row Defender and let you know what I think.

Merry Christmas!

There's this woman at my church who sings horribly.

Not that I should say anything, because I'm not exactly the world's greatest singer either. That's like the porcelain calling the enamel white. (How about that one? Do we like that one? I still feel like I can do better.)

But the thing is, she sings really loudly. Very loudly. The-whole-church-can-hear-her loudly. I have to avoid sitting anywhere near her because it will throw my almost-on-key singing off completely.

I was never quite able to figure out whether she doesn't realize how terrible she sounds, or maybe she just gets so into the music that she doesn't care. But then she joined the choir - which made me figure that she just doesn't know. The poor choir director. Just imagine.

But it gets worse. This year, she has taken it upon herself to organize a trip to the local jail to sing Christmas carols for the inmates.

There are just so many jokes to be made here... My mind is on overload... Help me out here, people...

"...Captive audience..."

"...Cruel and Unusual Punishment..."

"...John McCain and the torture bill..."

Ultimately, though, I feel like maybe I have some responsibility to do something. My clients will be the victims here. Maybe I should see if I could get my office to take some action. At least warn our clients.

I keep thinking that I should send my jail clients Christmas cards, that read, "May your holidays be merry, and may your ears not bleed too much!" Probably too late for that.

Luckily for them, though, many of my clients have recently converted to Islam. And after her holiday concert, the rest will soon be headed for that conversion too, I suspect.

Number Two! That's Who Did It!

Hey, did you all get a chance to see this line-up on Tales of a PD Investigator?

I'm the tallest of the bunch! (If you don't count the horns.)

With photoshop skills like that, I bet he can do a lot of good for his clients. If you know what I mean. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge. I've got some pictures of my clients caught in the act that could use some of sanchovilla's treatment.

Go ahead, check it out. And don't be afraid... it's a one-way mirror, the suspect can't see you.

Queer Eye, Take Two

I guess there isn't anything left in this world that can't be commercialized somehow...

With Damon expected to shave his beard before the press conference later this week, Philips Norelco has extended an offer to the newest Yankee.

The company has offered a $15,000 donation to the charity of Damon's choice if he does the deed with an electric shave courtesy of Philips Norelco.

(From MLB News)

Pot, Meet Kettle

I used the expression "pot calling the kettle black" the other night, and the person I was speaking to replied, "That's a racist expression, you know."

Well, I had certainly never heard that, or thought of it that way. I've always just assumed that it came from both a pot and a kettle being black, and, therefore, for one to call the other black is just ridiculous when it is the same thing.

So, I turned to my old friend Google. Here's the best explanation I could find:
POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK - The "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris has more detail about this phrase than other reference books: "There are two slightly varying interpretations of this phrase, which is used figuratively to apply to persons. One theory is that such action is ridiculous because they are both black, presumably from standing for years on a wood-burning stove or in a fireplace. (Note from ESC: iron pots and kettles are already black when new.) So the pot as well as the kettle is black (evil) and neither one is better than the other. This supports the explanation of the phrase as given in 'Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable': 'Said of one accusing another of faults similar to those committed by himself.' The other theory is that the pot was black but the kettle polished copper and the pot, seeing its own blackness reflected in the shiny surface of the kettle, maintained that the kettle, not it, was actually black. In any event, it seems that the best, if slangy, retort by the kettle may have been: 'Look who's talking!' Usually the source of the phrase is given as Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' and simply as 'The pot calls the kettle black,' but another version of Don Quixote comes out as: 'Said the pot to the kettle, get away black-face!' Henry Fielding, eighteenth century writer, reverses the roles in 'Covent Garden Tragedy': 'Dares thus the kettle to rebuke our sin!/Dares thus the kettle say the pot is black!' Even Shakespeare used the idea in 'Troilus and Cressida': 'The raven chides blackness.'"

Here's another good explanation.

The only real mention I could find of the possibility of this being a racist term comes from this discussion board. I, personally, don't rely too much on information from discussion boards - there is no reason to believe that any of the commenters are linguists or historians. For all you know, they can be the same dumb people you wouldn't bother to listen to in a debate in person.

Here's a quote that I liked though:
What is it that you (i.e. the objector, as a black person,) find so objectionable about the phrase? Would a Native American object to the phrase "A stop sign calling a fire engine red"? Would an Asian American object to "a banana calling a lemon yellow"?

Actually, I like that quote so much, I'm thinking about using either of those two alternative quotes now. Or, maybe in the interest of avoiding any possibly racist colors I should make up one of my own. How about "That's like the grass calling the pinetree green?" Yeah, I know, kind of lame. And it might insult the leprachauns. Or the Irish. Maybe I should pick a color that can't possibly offend anyone - but what color is that? I'll have to put more thought into it.

So, anyone else? Any thoughts? I may not trust strangers on a discussion board, but I trust my readers. Anyone else think that this is a racist phrase?

Songwriting 101 - Write What You Know

Here's a song I wrote on my way to work:

Pee River
(to the tune of Moon River)
pee river
running past my feet
you're running down the street

That's all I got so far.

Hey Lady!

Sometimes, when I'm in the pens behind the courtroom, speaking to my client, other prisoners decide that they want to talk to me too. Sometimes they want to know when their lawyer will be there, or if I can relay a message to their lawyer, sometimes they just want to vent: "I've been waiting back here all day!" Um, okay, sorry to hear that.

Of course, they don't know my name. So I've gotten used to a constant barrage of "Hey Lady!"

I'm thinking of getting one of these shirts to wear under my suit jacket.

If only they made a blonde version.

"Some Pig"

If you read any of those law student blogs (there's a bunch of them in my blogroll if you're having trouble finding one), you know that law school can be boring. And, if you're a lawyer who went to law school say, more than 5 years ago, you may not be aware of how technology has changed how students deal with boredom.

My first year of law school, I don't think that we had internet access in most of the classrooms. By the second year, we definitely did, but by then I only took classes I was interested in (that means, mostly only classes that I could see as being applicable to criminal defense), so I either didn't bring my laptop or wasn't that bored. By second and third year, I was also in a lot more small classes and clinic type classes that didn't allow me to hide behind a laptop.

But, first year, I was bored, I had my laptop, and I didn't have internet access. Like the rest of my class, I resorted to endless hours of computer games. My favorite was Snood. And, if you'll allow me to brag just a little, I was good at it.

I'll never forget, that one day after Con Law, when some guy came up to me and said, "Hey, I saw the way you play Snood. You're real good." I finally knew what it would have felt like to be the star of the basketball team.

Another fun thing to do, especially in Civ Pro, which was at the end of the day, when Snood exhaustion took hold, was to paint. Paint is free software that comes with almost every computer, so there's nothing to download. And you can really let your creativity run free. There's nothing you can't do.

I liked to pretend I was the court sketch artist of the classroom, and draw little classroom scenes. Usually with things like "Kiss Ass" written over gunners' heads, that sort of thing.

Sometimes I'd just draw random things. Landscapes, Animals.

Ah, those were the days. When we law students thought we had it so bad. But for months out of the year, we just played computer gams. And then, I'd go home for lunch and take a nap. Aaaah.

What made me just remember all of that?

Oh, I know. Just like I'll always remember the props I recieved for my mad Snood skillz, I'll always remember when a girl who sat behind me in Civ Pro.

"I just wanted to say that I really like all of your drawings. Anyway, I noticed that pig you drew today. I don't know if you know this, but you can tell a lot about a person by the way they draw a pig. That long curly tail you drew? It means you have a great sex life."

"Oh, um, okay." That was really all I could say.

Now you can draw your own pig here, whether you're a law student or not. (Link via The Happy Feminist.)

(Title thanks to Charlotte. And her web.)

True Life Law & Order

Let's talk about the first three minutes of this past week's Law & Order. You know, the first scene, which usually ends with a "witty" one-liner and leads into the theme song.

Ok, so this past week, the scene starts with pages and papers flying around the street. An older woman is clutching some of the pages, and she approaches a police officer, who is writing a parking ticket.

Immediately, the police officer says to her, "It's too late, lady, I already started writing the ticket."

After she tries to explain, he realizes that the pages she's holding have blood on them.

He finds the dead body, Detectives Fontana and Green show up. They talk to the woman briefly about what she saw, and tell her that they'll get a car to take her home.

Stop! What's wrong with this scene?

Yes, they would've gotten a car for the woman. A police car. To the station. Where she would have been charged for bribery. For approaching an officer who was writing a ticket, while holding papers out to him.

The fact that it wasn't her car, or that she wasn't trying to get him to stop writing the ticket don't really matter. That can all be sorted out after she spends a night in central booking.

And some brand new D.A., who took the job thinking she'll get some trial experience and make a difference in the world, makes a bail application about how this old woman obstructed justice AND bribed a police officer. That she's a flight risk because she has a winter home in Florida. Maybe, with the wrong judge on the bench, her kid will have to come post bail for her.

Don't believe me? Come follow me in arraignments one day.

Book For New PDs

I have a book to recommend for the new public defenders out there.

It's called What Patients Taught Me : A Medical Student's Journey by Audrey Young.

I read it a couple of years ago, when I was a brand new public defender. At the time, I thought it was just interesting timing, how it seemed to tie-in to some of the things I was learning.

Now, working with the brand new public defenders, I feel like maybe they'd get something out of reading this book.

I'll admit, I have terrible reading comprehension. Actually, just a terrible memory. I can't remember the ending of a movie I saw a few weeks ago. (Which is nice, I can watch it again, and it's always a surprise!)

But, here's what I remember from What Patients Taught Me: The author, who is a medical student, is doing her internships or rotations. She meets with the patients, gets their basic information - symptoms and medical history, and then has to go to the actual doctor before she does anything to say, "This is what I think the problem is, this is what I'm going to recommend."

In the beginning, she gets frustrated, because the experienced doctor, always asks her, "Did you check for this? Did you do this? Did you ask this?" and always wants her to boil the medical history down more concisely.

And, eventually she learns how to do it! And then she's a good doctor!

There's a lot more to the book (and it's all good), but that's what I see the new lawyers having a lot of trouble with - looking at a client and their case, and knowing what's important, and what's not.

So, for example, a brand new attorney will come to me in arraignments and say, "Ok, I talked to this client. It's a shoplift. He says he did it."

My response? "Ok, How old is he? Does he have a record? What kind of sentence did he get on his last shoplift case(s)? Could he be ROR-ed? Could he make bail? Drug problem? Drug program?"

And the new attorney's usual response is "Oh, I don't know. Let me check."

And I think that's about learning what's important (for arraignment, you're looking at whether or not the client will be released, whether or not they can or should take a plea, and, if so, what is the best plea you can work out), and what's not as important (whether or not he says he did it).

So, I recommend this book. (I feel like I'm on Reading Rainbow! I always wanted to be one of those kids!)

I will warn you, I remember there being very sad parts to this book. I probably cried. But, then again, I cry at almost anything. Oh, and, the good news: There is no law involved whatsoever. Because you're dealing with enough of that every day.


And The Nominees Are...

The 2005 Weblog Nominees have been posted. I'm sure checking out the list of Best Law Blog Nominees will keep me busy for a few days.

Ahem. No Blonde Justice? That's ok, many of my favorite blawgs are missing, but at least all of the great ones have the honor of being on my blogroll!

The Guards On The Bus Go...

Look at me! I'm up on current events!

A fan, who has been my tipster for a couple of posts now (and who wants to be a Public Defender when he grows up - that is, graduates from law school - because he thinks I'm super cool), pointed me toward this story.

It seems that this woman, Deborah Davis, was arrested in Colorado for failure to show proper identification when riding a bus.

This leads me to wonder... what is the proper identification required for riding a bus? A passport? Driver's license and birth certificate? Proof of citizenship? A letter from your mom?

The case has now been dropped, but a rally is still planned for tomorrow (Friday). People are also encouraged to ride the buses without identification tomorrow (and anytime thereafter, of course).

Not within commuting distance to Colorado? Letters to the editors of the local newspapers are also appreciated, as are donations to the ACLU.

Absolute MUST READ

If I could pick only one blog post in the whole world that I wish everyone, and I mean everyone (especially potential clients, and friends of friends that call me to ask me about their case) would read, it's this one:

Not Guilty: And then I said

Please. Go read it now.

And don't ever whine to me again, "But they didn't read me my rights!" or "But the cop told me that if I just told him where I got the gun, the case would be dismissed!"

Went to a party last Saturday night...

A little dinner party.

Before the party, I put some thought into coming up with an alternate career for the night. But, since I know the host through law school, I thought it might be hard to pull off. I also thought about coming up with another term for my job...

You know, like how garbagemen are now "sanitation engineers," and hairdressers are now "aesthetic assistants," or some crap? I thought maybe if I could make my job title confusing enough, no one would ask me any questions.

I tried to make up something like "case manager for a non-profit" or something... but, no, that would only lead to "What kind of non-profit?" and, then, I'd have to admit what I do and it would probably just make me look like a liar for saying "case manager."

But, as luck would have it, the man I ended up sitting next to never really asked me about my job. Instead, we chatted for a while about his job. He's a stockbroker or investment banker or something. We talked and talked about stock tips, my (non-existent) portfolio, my (nearly-non-existent)retirement fund, and my parents' portfolio.

After a while, I started to feel guilty. I knew I was doing to him exactly what I wanted to avoid.

So, I 'fessed up.

"Ok, I feel bad. I'm a criminal defense lawyer. If you have a cousin that got arrested that you want to ask me about, go ahead."

"No, not really."

"Well, ok, a friend? You? Do you have a case you want to talk about?"

"No, no one I know has been arrested."

"Well, do you want to give me a hypothetical? Ask me if you could get arrested for doing something? Maybe you could ask me about a celebrity's criminal case? Something well publicized?"

"No, that's ok."

And, finally, I felt guilty about not revealing my true identity. But I did get some good stock tips out of the deal.

Or... I'll Get The Reward and Post Your Bail!

I love it when people write to me to tell me how much they love the blog, that they are big fans, or that they want to be a public defender someday. I don't always write back, but that's because I really am unbelievably busy.

A week or so ago, "a big fan" wrote and referred me to this story out of Albany, NY.

It's an interesting read. Definitely sounds like the juicy kind of plot that doesn't come along that often. (Law & Order take note, you might have a potential plotline here.)

It seems that a woman, who was previously a man, has been arrested for killing her mother. When she was a man, she had been convicted of murder, so this is her second murder (but first as a woman). The police didn't have anything but a theory, so they brought in all of the suspects' crack-addicted friends and questioned them, all the while leaving a poster on the table which offered $150,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. The poster also had, in small letters, "This is not real, you stupid crackhead."

The article seems to focus on the use of trickery, in the form of a poster. I don't have a real problem with that. I hope that most people know (and I wish that more people knew) that the police are allowed to lie to you or trick you in whatever way they can think of, to get you to talk.

I am slightly concerned that they thought they'd get anyone to talk to them after using the words "you stupid crackhead." I would hope that most of their witnesses would say, "Hey, I was going to tell you what I knew, but not after you insult me like that." But I guess it didn't stop someone from talking, so who am I to second judge?

More than that, I'm concerned that the police are making an arrest where they don't have any evidence besides the word of one of these "stupid crackheads." It seems a lot like the problem of the jailhouse snitch to me.

Finally, I'm most concerned with this:
Last week, Thompson was released on $100,000 bail after having spent the last seven months in Albany County jail. A grand jury has not reviewed any evidence in the case.
7 Months? They can hold someone for 7 months without an indictment? Knowing that you can indict a ham sandwich, they couldn't throw this case into the grand jury? Maybe someone who has practiced up in this area can shed some light, but that seems like an awfully long time to hold someone without an indictment. The only possibility I can think of is that her attorney waived her speedy trial rights in exchange for... her release on bail possibly?

Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

An attorney came up to me just outside the courthouse.

"Hi, are you Blonde Justice?"

(No, not like she "outed" me. She just asked me to confirm my name. She used my real name. You get it, right?)


"Hi, I have this client... he wouldn't really talk to me when I tried to interview him. The only thing he would say is, 'If you want to know anything about me, just ask Blonde Justice.'"

"Uh oh."

I immediately knew what this meant.

My favorite client has been re-arrested.

Low Point

I had the low point of my little career today.

The thing is, when you're a public defender, you get used to that same old question... "How can you defend someone when you know they're guilty?"

And I usually give the quick and witty response of, "It's easier than when you know they're innocent."

And, I guess because it is quick and witty, I sometimes worry that the listener hears it and just thinks I'm not answering their question. But I am.

Because I do think of it that way. I have clients who easily admit their guilt to me. They'll just say, "Miss Justice, it went down exactly like the cops say it did. What can you get me?" And I have clients who never admit their guilt to me, but I know that they're guilty.

"I didn't hit her. We just be having an argument."
"An argument? Her face is one big bruise."
"She walked into a doorknob."

Fine, they don't have to admit it to me, I know what the deal is. And I still fight hard for my clients, whether I think they did it or not. But, I guess what I am saying is, in the end, I'm not going to lose a ton of sleep when this "doorknob" client ends up doing some anger management program.

Maybe that sounds bad. But compare it to when I really believe my client is innocent.

And sometimes I'm wrong about that too. I had this domestic violence case once. It was a weird one, because my client was the wife, who had been arrested and accused of punching her husband.

"No," "No," "No," she swore to me, she didn't lay a finger on him. And I believed her. Because her husband had a motive to lie - they were divorcing and he was fighting to get custody of the kids. And, it was just weird - why would he even call the police after being punched unless he had an ulterior motive? Suck it up, take the girly punch like a man. Anyway, she fought the case, came to court a million times, and swore all along that she never laid a finger on him.

After months of this, she agreed to let her husband have the kids (she was "too busy anyway") and he must have decided not to cooperate with the prosecution. (Which, to me, just affirmed the fact that he had lied to get the kids, and, therefore, didn't bother to continue with the lie once he got the kids.) Finally, the court dismissed the case for lack of timely prosecution.

On the same day that the case was dismissed, I returned to my office and I had an envelope from the prosecutor on the case. He must have sent it a couple of days before the case was dismissed. It was my client's full and complete confession. Of how she just beat the crap out of her husband.

And I felt duped. And I doubted my ability to evaluate the worth of a case.

But that's ok. I guess it's sort of like the "Better to let one guilty man go free..." saying. Better to wrongly believe a client than to wrongly fail to believe a client's claim of innocence. I mean, look at those innocence project and DNA cases - maybe their original trial lawyers are out there somewhere saying, "Hmmm... maybe I should've believed him. Maybe I should have fought a little harder for him."

So I fight hard for all of my clients. And tend to believe them. But, the fact is, there will always be clients that I believe more than others. Whether it's because I relate to them in age (that domestic violence wife was pretty much my age), or because they're more personable, or because of their lack of a criminal record, or, for the most obvious reason of all, because their story is believable and supported by the facts.

Which brings us to two low points in my short (so far) career.

Twice in my career, I've had clients who I have felt, perhaps known, were innocent. In one case, about a year ago, I let the client make the decision - plead guilty and get out of jail (after a few weeks spent in jail), or stay in jail and fight it out. I really wanted him to fight it out. And, he wanted to go home.

I felt so crappy entering the plea. Which, at the time, was the low point of my career.

But it brings me to something I learned in my law school clinic. Our job, as public defenders, is less centered on guilt or innocence, plea or trial, and much more centered on our clients' priorities. And, rarely are our clients' priorities as straightforward as "Clear my name, prove my innocence, go to trial no matter what it takes" or "Admit my guilt, take my plea, no matter the consequences." Almost always there are other factors - criminal record, the sentence to be served, jobs to be had or lost, family members, immigration, and many many more.

Sometimes it's just routine. Like this post on Indefensible describes.

After the case last year, a senior attorney listened to my concern and then asked, "Is it possible that he pled guilty because he was guilty?" It's possible. I never know for sure that my client is innocent. I wasn't there. But, in the same position, even innocent, I'd probably do the same thing. I don't think pleading guilty always means you are guilty.

And, it happened again today. Lower than before, perhaps.

Today, my client, who I really like, and who I really believe is innocent, and who I think would have had a pretty good shot at trial, pled guilty. To get out of jail. And avoid the risk of prison after trial. I understand his reasoning. I'd probably do the same thing.

But, still, I felt really crappy entering that plea. I felt like I was betraying what I came here to do. What I went to law school for, and what I'm proud of. I felt like a bad stereotype of a public defender - although the plea absolutely wasn't at my insistence.

I just felt crappy about it.

I rambled a lot in this post. I think I'm trying to sort a lot of this out in my head. But, I think it goes back to the very beginning of this post. It's not just a quick comeback to avoid a discussion about defending "those" people. I am losing more sleep over the client that I know is innocent. They are the harder cases to deal with.

And I feel crappy about it. So, I've vented here, cleared my head a little bit. Now let's see if some ice cream and the Amazing Race can take care of the rest.

Grossest. Thing. Ever.

Tonight is garbage night. Meaning, the garbage is supposed to go out tonight to be collected sometime very early tomorrow morning.

I decided (after being gently reminded) to clean out the fridge before the garbage goes out tonight. (As opposed to many weeks, when, just after the boyfriend takes out the garbage I start saying "Oh, we should have thrown this out...")

As I cleaned out the fridge, I came across this little container of fresh mozzarella I had bought either on Election Day or Veteran's Day, I can't remember which.

Is it still good? Or has it gone bad? Maybe the fact that it's fresh would mean it would survive longer - since it was fresher at the time of purchase? Or, maybe it would mean it would go bad quicker, since it wasn't vaccuum packaged and whatnot?

I didn't see any obvious blue or green spots. What else can you do besides giving it the sniff test?

I opened the container and took a big whiff.

And my nostrils were engulfed in the nastiest smell ever.

Eeeewwww. Gross.

And there is no way to get such a disgusting smell out of your nose. I tried sniffing other things, like sticking my nose into a container of Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate Mix, but everything smelled like nice stuff mixed with rancid cheese. I'm afraid this smell will be up my nose forever.

I totally need to invent the nasal equivalent of mouthwash.

Just Tell Me Why...

Every frickin' time I go to the movies

And I mean EVERY time

I sit directly in front of

the one person in the whole frickin' theater

who spends the entire movie saying things like

"This is the part where he gets killed."

Thanks, asshole.

Seriously, if I'm doing something wrong, tell me.

Do I have a sign on my back, or what?

Retail Therapy

Last Christmas, I ordered a bunch of gifts from one catalog. It all started because my mother had pointed out one item from the catalog as something she wanted. She's tough to shop for, so I figured I had to buy the thing she picked out. They had some sort of free-shipping-over-some-amount-deal so I picked out a few other things for my mother and for other family members. I called early, definitely before Thanksgiving, and did quite a bit of my Christmas shopping in that one phone call. After every item, the woman taking my order would say, "And... we have that in stock." I got off the phone so proud that I had made a major dent in my Christmas shopping and it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet!

Early December came. And went. Nothing. I called and I was told, "Everything should be shipped already!" Mid-December came, and still nothing. We were getting down to the wire. I called and asked, "What's up with my order?" "Oh, we fell a little behind on shipping... but I checked the status and everything already went out. You should get it any day now."

Finally, it was December 22nd and I didn't receive my items. I called again, figuring I'd probably have to cancel my order. Again, the woman said, "Everything is already shipped! It should be there in time for Christmas."

"Yeah, but you've been saying that for weeks. And I'm leaving town for Christmas. I need everything sooner than Christmas so I can take it with me."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you. It's already left our warehouse."

I decided that I had to go out to a real store and buy gifts the old-fashioned way. And, when I got home after Christmas, I'd just have to return everything I ordered from this catalog.

I ended up running around the crowded stores, cranky that I was stuck in long lines with last minute shoppers, throwing anything I could find into my cart, when I had purposely tried to avoid that situation by shopping early. And my mother wasn't getting that stupid thing she pointed out in the catalog.

So, when I came home after Christmas with my family, I expected to find a big box of the Christmas gifts I had ordered. I figured I'd have to pay to ship everything back. Or, maybe I should hold onto it for next year or birthdays? Then I'd really be ahead on Christmas shopping.

What did I end up doing? Neither! Because, the only thing I received from this catalog was a little postcard listing every single item I had ordered as "backordered" until January or February. The people who kept insisting that everything had already shipped were obviously lying or misinformed.

I was furious. I had all of these ideas in my head about writing a letter to the company or something, but... you know... I got busy and never did anything about it. I did call and cancel every item. They offered me a discount or free shipping off my next order, but, I wasn't even in the mood to make a big stink. I just wanted my money refunded and for it to be over.

Since then, I still get their catalogs about once a month. I get a ton of junk mail, and I seriously spend at least a half-hour every week sorting through my mail and shredding junk mail. It's annoying, and I've tried taking my name off of some of the big lists, but the truth is that I order from catalogs a lot (and subscribe to a lot of magazines), and once your name is out there, it's hard to make it stop.

Anyway, I get catalogs from this particular crappy company about once a month. And every month when I receive their catalog, I think back to last Christmas and feel just a little angry. Angry that they have the audacity to keep sending me catalogs after the crap they pulled last year. (I know, I know, it's not as if someone is personally addressing these catalogs to me, it's just a name on a mailing list, but still, it bugs me.)

A couple of nights ago, I had an annoying commute home in the rain. I was tired, I was cold, I was wet, I was cranky. I got home, checked my mail, and what should I find? That's right, one of these catalogs. As I walked in the door, I picked up the phone and called the phone number on the catalog. I waited on hold while I took off my shoes, my coat.

I was stewing the entire time I was on hold. How dare they play Christmas carols as their hold music, when they obviously don't care if the completely ruin someone's holiday?

Finally, some poor young man somewhere answered and I was ready for him. I just let him have it. I know, again, not his fault. But, guess what, that's some of the crap you have to take when you work in customer service. Believe me, I take all sorts of crap for things that aren't my fault.

After a few minutes, and many many promises that I would never ever receive another piece of mail from their crappy company, the poor young man tried to make his exit from the conversation.

"Well, thank you very much for your call, Miss Justice, and have a nice night."
"Yes, Miss Justice, I've removed you from our mailing lists."
"Ok, so, I've removed you from the mailing list. You have a good night."
"That's right, you won't get our catalogs anymore. Now, if there's nothing else I can do for you tonight... you have a good night."

Fine. Finally I let him off the hook.


And, with that, it was over.

And I felt SO much better! Seriously, it was better than a massage, better than yoga. And it has the added benefit of reducing my junk mail. And reducing my monthly stress when I get their catalogs. And probably reducing a lot of strain on my postman. And reducing the amount of pointless bitching directed at the boyfriend.

Yes, it's a good thing all around. And that's why, I've decided that I'm going to start unsubscribing myself to one piece of junk mail every crappy night. Matter of fact, I'm going to keep a pile right by my phone for when I need a little relief.

Aaah... I feel better just thinking about it.

Yum - My Favorite Part

You Are The Cranberry Sauce

A little sweet, a little sour - you've got the flava!
Though, you do tend to squish in people's mouths...

Wonderful. I love the cranberry sauce.

Actually, now that I think about it, why do we limit cranberry sauce to one meal a year? That's something we should be eating year round. And why just with turkey?

(link via E. McPan)

AR Moment of Zen

And then this week, when I have no time to write whatsoever, Amazing Race is chock full of great quotes.

First, not a quote, but let me say that I can't stand the Weavers and their sour grapes. No one wants to be friends with them (and every clip of them expalins why - they're constantly complaining, negative, and rude to the other teams), yet they're constantly shown whining, "No one likes us." And then saying "We wouldn't want to be friends with them anyway," "No way, we're better than that."

I wonder (and often wonder when watching reality tv) whether they'll end up watching this and saying, "Wow, we're really worse than we thought, maybe we're the ones who should change." But I guess the same people who can misbehave in this way on television and blame it on everyone else probably just won't ever get it. (And, it's different from reality tv contestants who are purposely misbehaving for some kind of notoriety - The Weavers seem to be genuinely perplexed about why nobody likes them.)

Anyway, now for the quotes: There were many many to choose from this week, so first, here's a runner-up:
Weaver Mom: "Utah is the Mormon state."
One of those annoying kids: "Aah! No wonder..."

WTF? Did anyone get this? Is it possible that there was more to this quote that we didn't see or hear?

And... the winner is... Your Amazing Race Moment of Zen:
This quote is from the Linz Family (referring to The Weavers, that annoying Florida family):

One Linz: The wicked witch of the east and her 3 little monkeys.
Another Linz (imitating the Weaver mom): Those Linzes are just nasty!
Third Linz: Someone's gonna come and drop a house on her head.

The One With The Nice Suits?

I guess now that I think about it it would probably bother me more if they just don't have any nickname for me at all.

If I just don't make enough of an impression.

That'd be disappointing.

Or maybe they're just not all that creative.

Probably more likely.

A Horse Is A Horse

Another fall comes, and with it, another new class of prosecutors has started. Mid-November, and they're finally taking their places in the courtrooms, testing out their wings without a trainer-Prosecutor to look over their shoulder.

Whatever I-want-to-help-people mentality they had just a few short months ago when they graduated from law school has been quickly efficiently brainwashed away and replaced with a new No-infraction-too-insignifacant-no-punishment-too-punitive and eager-to-go-to-trial-although-I'm-not-quite-sure-yet-what-that-entails disposition.

This means, of course that it is that time of the year... time to start giving those annoying little prosecutors their nicknames.

Last night, I was walking down the street with a few colleagues and friends.

"What about that one... you know... the one that looks like a horse?"
"Horse? Nah, not creative enough. But she does looks like a horse. Mr. Ed?"
"WHAT? What does that even mean?"
"Smarty Jones? Seabiscuit?"

Finally someone's non-PD girlfriend spoke up.

"Um, you guys think they have nicknames for you?"

Just like that. One little comment. And I spent all day today thinking of what their nickname for me might be... the smart one? the pretty one? the nice one? the one with the really crazy clients?

Yes, I'm sure it's one of those.

Holiday Gift Advice, Please

A friend is having a little holiday get-together. She does it every year (but I've never gone before.)

The invite this year adds, "Let's start a new tradition - a holiday grab bag. Bring a small gift - $10 LIMIT - the funnier the better. You have to bring a gift to get a gift."

The FUNNIER the better? $10 Limit? This is going to be tough.

I probably won't shop online, just because shipping will mess up that $10 limit, so I'm thinking I'll probably start at a toy store or something... but you're all creative. Any ideas?


Gore-gyles? Is that anything like argyle?

Paris Hilton left this in a comment for me, and it is just TOO good not to share...

ebay: Talking bobblehead nodder trading spouses GOD WARRIOR!!

I especially like the part of the ad that says:

"I need you to PRAY for this auction! Please watch this item now to show me your prayers are with me!"

I, for one, clicked on "watch this item."

Now you know what to get me for Christmas.

I Want My AR!

Stupid country music. I'm sorry that your dog died and your truck broke down and your girl left you for another cowboy, but why do you have to mess with my Amazing Race?

That reminds me... I never did a quote of the week from last week's AR. I can't remember anything great really jumping out at me. Anyone have any suggestions?

And, finally, this week's AR hiatus allows me to watch another great show: My Name Is Earl. I got caught up with last week when there was a mini-marathon of 4 episodes before Jason Lee hosted SNL. I haven't laughed so much at a sitcom in a long time.
So, tonight, I'll watch Earl. And TiVo House.

Better watch out, AR, looks like you're pretty easily replaced.

Biting My Tongue

Yesterday I had a case before a judge that I have not been in front of often.

I knew her, and her reputation, but I guess she didn't know me.

I got to the courtroom and let the clerk know I was there. The clerk told me it would be a little while - they had another matter on trial in the same court room, and they were going to try to hear my case quickly during the jury's next break.

I went to the pens and spoke to my client. My client asked me to call his mother - she might be able to make bail for him.

I went back into the courtroom to get my cell phone. I whispered to the clerk that I was going to take my cell phone into the hallway, and that I'd be back in a minute.

"Take your time," he told me, "We just started with this witness."

I took my cell phone in the hallway, made a call or two, but couldn't get in touch with my client's mother. I was about to leave a message, when an officer came out of the courtroom and said, "We're going to take out the body that's on trial and do your case quick. Come on in."

(That's what they call people. "Bodies." Whatever it takes to dehumanize.)

I closed my phone, made sure it was off, and then followed the officer into the courtroom. Except that the courtroom door was locked. Another officer who was standing in the hallway with me said, "They have to lock this door when they're moving a body. They'll unlock it in a minute."

I stood there for about a minute and sure enough, I heard the click of the door unlocking, and I went in the courtroom.

The judge on the bench saw me entering the courtroom. She must have just seen that the officer had literally JUST unlocked the door. Which means they must have JUST taken "the body" out of the courtroom from the case on trial.

And she said to me, "Counselor? Are you here on this case? Well, come in. You're keeping my entire court staff waiting. Not to mention the entire jury for the case on trial. Have you even put your appearance on the record yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Put your appearance on the record!"

I can't tell you how deep the teeth marks on my tongue must have been, but it was killing me.

What could I have said? "Judge, did you want me break in the door? Because it was locked. And the reason I haven't given my appearance yet is because you haven't stopped shouting at me from the second the door was unlocked."

But, I guess part of being a grown-up and doing a grown-up job is that sometimes you have to suck it up, and get yelled at for nothing at all. Responding would've just made things worse for my client.

So, that's what I did. I sucked it up. But that doesn't mean I can't vent about it on my blog.

TV and Celebrity News

First, going back to last Tuesday - how funny was Sen. John McCain on The Daily Show? I've never voted Republican (I have voted Libertarian though), but I just find that guy so likeable.

Second, I've been saying for a loooong time - Rory, you are just too good for that rich no-good spoiled bad boy, Logan. C'mon, Rory, wake up and see the light!

Third, did you see Paris Hilton's car crash? (Video here.) You know, seriously, I've had clients who have been pulled over for DWI and tried the line, "Hey, my passenger is sober, just let him drive us home and we'll be on our way." And it hasn't worked. (Obviously, if they then became my client.) Maybe if they were heiresses. (But then they wouldn't be eligible for a public defender anyway, so nevermind.) Or, maybe more of my clients should try the "We love the police!" air kiss.

How about Ashlee Simpson's McDonald's video? (Video here.) I guess she really wanted her fries.

Oh, and I was just watching E! News Weekend, talk about making me feel old. They had a little segment where they showed "your favorite television stars" got their start. For example? You know Jennifer Love Hewitt as the Ghost Whisperer, but long ago she once played a girlfriend on Party of Five. You know Brian Austin Green as Freddy on his ABC show Freddy, but he was once on Beverly Hills 90210. And, finally, Neil Patrick Harris gets laughs on How I Met Your Mother, but he once did the unthinkable - he played an underage doctor on Doogie Howser, M.D.

Are there really people who don't remember Doogie? Are there really people who think this is some sort of revealing little segment? If so, I am completely old.

And, finally, a movie review. Chicken Little? Overrated and disappointing.

A Day In The Life

I've never done one of these "day in the life" thingees, but there's no time like the present...


Slept till about 10.

Grape Nuts for breakfast. (I remember once hearing a joke, something about how do they get the nuts off the little grapes, or how do you make a grape nuts, or something like that, but I forgot it. Sorry. I tried to google it, but the closest I found was "You mama's so stupid, she thought Grape Nuts was an STD." Like I said, sorry.)

Sat around, looked through a catalog, did a crossword puzzle, read a few pages of a book.

Around 11:30, I got dressed in comfy sweats and went to my favorite neighborhood eatery.

Tomato cheddar soup and a grilled chicken quesadilla. Spicy Mexican hot chocolate to go for dessert.

Went home, gathered up some things (hair brush, deodorant).

Around 1 p.m., Headed out. Stopped at the dollar store. Not the kind of store where everything costs $1, but a kind of misleading dollar store where things are just cheap. Resisted the urge to buy Dove face wash wipe thingees that had English and Arabic writing on them. (And had some kind of Saudi seal of quality on them.) Maybe I should've gotten them to keep in my office?

2 p.m., Got to the spa.

Sat in the relaxation room, waiting for my massage. Read Vogue, the interview with Gwenyth Paltrow and some little story on growing your hair long (what was the name of that fish oil stuff that grows your hair quick that they recommend?) Drank lemon water, and reflected on veterans. How they fought to preserve our right to be lazy Americans. And get spa treatments.

90 minute massage. The lady was kind of rough on me. I tried to tough it out for the sake of maximum tension removal, but I was feeling a little pain. Maybe I should've spoken up. But I didn't.

Good hot shower at the spa using all of the fancy spa brands that I'd never buy for myself.

Got dressed after applying ten different fancy spa lotions that I'd never buy for myself. (Yum, one smelled like pina colada.) (Used my own deodorant, which I brought with me. Can't use a community deodorant, that's gross.)

Good hair blow-drying at the spa, using all of the fancy salon tonics and whatnots on my hair that I'd never buy for myself. Actually, maybe I would buy them for myself if my hair came out noticeably better. But it didn't. So, I won't buy them for myself. (Used my own brush, which I brought with me. Can't use a shared brush either.)

Around 4:30, came home.

Reheated the rest of the spicy Mexican hot chocolate that I didn't finish in the afternoon.

Sat on my big comfy bed, all massaged and relaxed, with my hot chocolate and my laptop.

Played around with uploading my podcasts to my MP3 player, and trying to figure out which ones I already listened to so I could delete them. Maybe I should be deleting them as I go.

Read comments on my blog. Yes, anonymous, I did need some time off.

6 p.m., my summer intern's little friend called. (I don't mean anything by "little friend" other than the fact that he sounded young. I guess he goes to college with her, but he sounded like he didn't hit puberty yet.) He had been arrested, but ultimately was given a summons to return to court. Talked about what to expect on the court date. Meet your lawyer, see the judge, get a new court date, free to go. Be there on time.

But, what about the fact that the summons date is during my winter break, and I'll be flying home? Too bad, you need to be here. Either that, or go to the summons part well in advance of when you leave for winter break and see if they can reschedule you. You don't want a warrant for your arrest.

Finally, 6:30 p.m., sat down with a few files and did about two-and-a-half hours worth of work. No, actually, I worked two-and-a-half hours, but the work that I did probably would've have taken me six hours if I had done it in my office on a regular day - with phone calls, emails popping up, and a host of other distractions.

Wrote some motions, wrote some letters, found a witness. (The advantage of calling someone at 8:30 on a Friday night - they're not expecting it to be a lawyer calling.) Great witness, on the phone at least. Saw the entire incident and arrest, fairly articulate, could have a major impact on my case. The only drawback? He and my client were drinking together before the incident. But, I think that's ok. We'll work with it.

Around 9 p.m., packed it all away, satisfied that I was well prepared for the coming week.

Went out and picked up dinner. Chicken enchiladas, rice and beans. Yes, I love Mexican food. No, not from the same place.

Around 10 p.m., came home, ate dinner. Watched Law & Order (the baby snatching episode from the day before) and CSI (the big shoot-out episode from the day before) on my Tivo. Wondered WTF is up with Nick Stokes' mustache? It's killing me! Hello, '70s porn star. Aaaah! Make it stop.

Throughout the episode I kept waiting for some major joke tie-in. In my mind, he could only have that moustache if it was somehow necessary for the plot. But, no. The most we got was Warrick saying something like, "Check this out, moustache boy," when he found something interesting under the microscope.

Please, someone, make him shave it!

Then, finally, around 11:30, I fell asleep.

Aaaah, a day in the life of a public defender. Massages and Mexican food. Ain't veterans day a wonderful thing?

Seriously, thank a veteran.

Mistrial Thong

I had to share...

I thought this said "mistrial thong."

Why the heck would anyone want that? I mean, sure, a mistrial is better than a conviction, but what about an "acquittal thong?"

I should totally market that...

(Link is completely work safe, I promise!)

The Tell Tale Heart

If you committed a crime and got away with it, what would it take for you to turn yourself in?

Recently I had my first case where my client's crime only came to light when he had a change in heart and confessed. In his case, it's unlikely that anyone would have even known that a crime was committed, much less that he was the guilty party, if he hadn't decided to come clean.

I surveyed other lawyers in my office and found only one who had seen such a case. She told me that many years ago, she had gotten a phone call from a man. The man had gotten her name because she had represented his brother previously, and he felt he needed to speak to a lawyer. He had been involved in a hit and run accident years earlier. He had essentially gotten away with it. Apparently, no one got his license plate and he waited months, eventually years, for the police to come knocking on his door. He finally decided that he couldn't live with the guilt any longer.

The lawyer did some research and found that no one had died in the accident, and, therefore, the statute of limitations had run. Still, she advised her client against turning himself in, but the client persisted and, ultimately they went to the police department together.

The police took his statement, released him, did some research, and ultimately contacted him and let him know that no charges would be brought because of the statute of limitations.

The man asked, then, if he could have the contact information for the victim so that he could try to make some reparations. Ultimately, according to the lawyer, they contacted the family, but the family wasn't interested in anything more than an apology.

None of the other attorneys that I spoke to, though, have had similar stories. So, it seems as though it's rather rare that someone who gets away with a crime later turns themselves in. Or, perhaps it's rare that these cases are prosecuted.

In my case, my client got away with stealing from someone for quite a while. They never noticed, but he eventually stopped. A few months later, he decided to confess and offered to pay back the money he had taken. Unfortunately for him, the statute of limitations hadn't run and the victim decided to contact the police.

My client was very interesting in that he was so resigned to whatever punishment was coming his way. It wasn't a large sum of money, it was only charged as a misdemeanor, he didn't have any criminal record, so I was certain that I could get him a decent plea bargain. But my client kept telling me that he was willing to go to prison, if that's what he had to do. (It didn't come to that.)

Which leads me to a few questions...

First, for the other criminal defense practitioners, are these cases as uncommon as they appear to be? How many cases like this have you seen? Is there any fear of false confessions? If a person came to you and wanted to turn himself in, would you ask for corroborating evidence? What advice would you give to someone who wanted to turn themself in?

Second, to everyone, do you think that someone should be given preferential treatment because they confessed their crime? Should they be offered a better plea bargain because they saved the state the time and expense of investigating the crime? (Although, in the former case, of the hit and run, it appears that the police did investigate but did not have enough information to solve the case.) But what about in the latter case, where even the victim was unknowing and may have remained unknowing if my client hadn't confessed?

Religious Ranting

I've got a rant brewing inside me. It started to peek out in the comments to two of my recent posts (here and here). At this point, I think I just need to put it out there. So, here it goes.

Where should I start? I was raised Christian. Protestant. When I was young, my family and I went to church pretty regularly. We didn't talk about God or religion a lot in my house, but my parents were involved in a bit of charity, particularly through community work. We didn't pray before dinner, except on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

By the time I was in high school, my family became Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers. I went to church a few times on campus in college, but just never really got into the habit.

In my current town, I'm a member of a church. I, once again, go to Church regularly. I volunteer, I do some community work, and I feel pretty strongly, as I've written here previously, that the work that I do has a strong religious component.

But I've always just been very turned off by what I feel are "preachy" Christians. Sure, you've found happiness in your Christianity, and you want to share that. But I feel like there's a time and a place. And, I know, I can see the obvious argument against that. That Jesus didn't just spread the word when the time was right, but He did it all the time. And maybe the fact that I'm uncomfortable with it somehow makes me less of a good Christian.

But, I feel like some people spend too much time talking about what good Christians they are, and not enough time being good Christians. And I feel that actions speak louder than words.

Last week, I was waiting in the doctor's office waiting room. A woman came in, went up to the desk to check in for her appointment, and I noticed that she was up there for a long time, talking to the receptionist. She then went and started talking to a woman in the waiting room. I assumed that the woman she was talking to was a friend that was waiting with her. I could overhear parts of her conversation.

"Ever since I found God in my life..."
"The Lord is my Shepard..."
"I am a woman of God..."

It was none of my business, so I tried not to pay attention. But she was loud. She was talking about how she had moved to a new neighborhood last year. And before she even moved in, she had printed up flyers. "To tell them about me, about my kids, about my miracle of how I found God..." She invited everyone in the neighborhood, through these fliers, to a meeting at her house because she wanted to organize a neighborhood watch group. "I wanted them to know what my car looks like, and know what their cars look like, so if Satan comes to take our children, we're on the lookout." (Wow, Satan drives a car now?) To her surprise, no one from the neighborhood showed up at her meeting. "I guess they couldn't face a woman of God, knowing that they're all sinners." Hmmm, gee that's it. I couldn't help but think, "Or maybe they already had a neighborhood watch group. How about that?" But, like I said, none of my business. I just wanted to read my crappy magazine from two years ago.

She then got up, though, and went to an empty chair near two other women on the other side of the waiting room. And I could hear her talking again. I started to pay more attention, because I realized she wasn't with any of these people, she was just evangelizing to them.

I could hear her telling them this story. Her kids, apparently, had either called the police on her or went to court about her. (Or both.) "I never beat my kids," she said. "Sure, I spanked them, when they needed to be spanked, but I never beat them." I don't know much about family court, but her children must have gone to court and gotten a restraining order and permission to live with their aunt.

"My sister! My sister! And she's a thief. She used to steal from me all the time. And she's not even a Christian!" So, the police had come to her house, and served her with the papers. She started telling them about the word of God, and one of the police officers said something along the lines of, "Yes, we were warned you were a lunatic."

And, now the woman was shouting in the waiting room. "I told him, you can call me crazy. You can call me a Jesus freak. But you cannot ever ever, I mean ever, call me a lunatic. Because that is what they called My Lord. And I'm not even half as good as Jesus Christ to fill his sandals!"

All I could think was "WTF? When did they call Him a lunatic? And, even if it's in your Bible, isn't that just a translation, when maybe a translation of 'crazy' could've been just as appropriate?"

Well, finally, someone in the little reception window looked out to see what was going on, and I heard her say, "Ethel, she's at it again, you have to go get her."

And, with that, they called the lunatic's name to bring her into the doctor's office.

And as she walked in, she turned around to the entire waiting room and said, "There's too much sin here on earth. You've all invited Satan into your hearts. And that's why you're sick and in the doctor's office."

Me? I was just there for a physical. But I think we can all guess who the sick one is.

That very night, I happened to catch this crazy episode of Trading Spouses. One of the women was a Christian (the woman you see screaming in the commercials), and the other was more... spiritual. (She classified herself as a Christian, but she also believes in astrology, hypnotism, etc.) The Christian woman was very upset to be in a "darksided" home.

But what upset me more was the way that the Christian woman's friends treated the hypnotist lady. They're in Louisiana, and the hypnotist lady invites all of the Christian lady's friends over for a dinner. She hopes that it will be good for her to get more insight into the family she's staying with, and ways to connect with the kids.

One of the women, as soon as she walked in, said "Are you a Christian?" The hypnotist answered, "Yes." The woman asked, "Well, do you believe in (finger quotes) 'God' or do you believe in (finger quotes) 'a higher power'?" The hypnotist lady answered, "I believe in God." "Well, when was the last time you went to Church?"

The hypnotist explained that she was raised Catholic, and that she's now a member of a Unitarian congregation. "Well, what do they believe?" the Christian friend asked.

"We believe that all people are created equal..." before she could even finish, the woman interrupted, "What? Like the terrorists and the pedophiles?"

I just think this is so hypocritical. First of all, this woman is welcoming you into "her" home. (No, it's not really her home, but it is for the time being.) And before you even get in the doorway, you're interrogating her, interrupting her, and judging her? To me, that's not Christian. The hypnotist woman is a better Christian, because she's the one who is taking the time to get to know other people, and to try to understand them and connect to them.

Then, finally, on that same night, was this episode of Amazing Race, which, through the miracle of Tivo, I didn't watch until the next night.

This season, there's a family called The Weavers (also known as "the Florida family"). They make for the best television, and I think that all of the dumb American quotes that I've featured here have been from them.

And, as you can see from the comments, they're rude to other teams, make fun of other teams (not that I wouldn't), and then say, "Why doesn't anyone like us? We're good Christians!"

Being a good Christian isn't something you just say, it's something you do. In fact, I think that the more you have to say it, probably the less you're actually doing it.

And, as my father says, "Be nice, those people chose your President." I guess he's right. I guess there's some majority in this country of people who are more comfortable saying "I'm a Christian" and telling others how to live a Christian life, then they are just living a Christian life - accepting others, and practicing peace.

And they chose one for President too. He can sure talk about Christianity, all the while standing by while people get killed in war and by the death penalty, obviously ignoring the commandment, "Thou shall not kill." But, maybe he figures if he gets someone else to do it for him, it doesn't count?

So, that's all for my rant. I'm annoyed at these people. I think they give a bad name to Christians everywhere.

Trading Spouses

By the way, did you see the Trading Spouses with that crazy screaming lady?

It turned out to be part 1 of 2. I've got to set the Tivo now for the second half so I don't miss it.

But how crazy is that woman???

Photo Search Meme

I really liked this Meme from Arbitrary & Capricious:

Go to Google Image Search and type in the city and state/province of the town where you grew up, no quotation marks. Then select the picture you like best from the first page of results and post it on your blog. Here's mine:

Next do the same with the town where you currently reside. My result:

Next your name, first and last, but no quotes. My result:

Next your grandmother's name. My result:

Next your favorite food. My result:

Next your favorite drink. My result:

Next your favorite smell. My result:

Lastly, your favorite song. My result:

Amazing Race Zen

So, yes, it's true, I completely forgot to give you last week's Amazing Race Moment of Zen.

But I think I can make up for it this week.

So, let's see... what should it be?

"I'm sick of doing things I can't do!"
Nah, I think it was this week's title. Too obvious.

"Right-o or left-o?"
Nah, the "El Spanish-o" was so overdone by Charla and Mirna, that I can only hope that it was tongue-in-cheek.

Oh, here's a good one... (Paraphrased, because I already deleted the tivo-ed episode.)
"We're good Christians. We won't sink to their level."
(One breath later)
"Oh, let's just make fun of everyone. Gee, I hope those boobs didn't cost you too much!"

Nope, not the best. In fact, I don't think the best A.R. line this week came from a contestant. It came from me.

The Weavers (looking at the photo of the Paolos): "They're in front of a garbage truck! What losers. They're in front of a garbage truck!"
Me: "Still better than being in front of a racecar, though, isn't it?"

Ha! I crack me up. With my heartlessness.

Drop the Arm & Hammer!

Last night, after work, instead of going home and crawling into my warm and comfy bed, I went to the jail to see one of my clients.

And thank god I did.

Because, as it turns out, I didn't know a single fucking thing about criminal law until I met with him.

I was clueless.

You've heard of a jailhouse lawyer? Well, apparently one week in jail has made this guy some kind of jailhouse law professor.

Yes, that's right.

And I learned such important tidbits as this one:

"Possession with intent to sell? I can beat that! I can beat that! I can beat that! I can beat that! You don't understand, I can beat that."

"Why don't you tell me how you think you can beat that?"

"Well, it was cut. I cut it. I cut it. I cut it. I cut it. I cut it. (Obviously, he has a problem with repeating himself. And spitting when he talks, which is hard to portray to you through a blog.) Therefore, they cannot prove purity. And it is an imperative element that they prove purity."

"What kind of purity do you think they have to prove?"

(See, I'm using the reverse-socratic method. He's the law professor, but I'm asking the questions. Gee, I'm glad I spent my evening on this, instead of eating dinner. )

"Obviously, they have to prove 100%. 100%. 100%. 100%. The statute doesn't call it 'Possession of cocaine and baking soda,' the statute is called 'Possession of cocaine.' That means nothing more. That means nothing more. That means nothing more. If I was charged with intent to distribute cocaine and baking soda, then maybe they'd get me."

It's funny, because most of my clients attack the "intent to distribute" part of the statute.

"But, do you think that maybe the fact that it's cut with baking soda only goes to show the intent to distribute? People don't cut their own cocaine that they're keeping for personal use."

"You don't know the law. You don't know the law. You don't know the law. You haven't read the law. I have. I have. I have. It's not a crime to have baking soda."

Dreamed A Meme of Time Gone By

I got stuck doing this meme by Sanchovilla. Here's to hoping his dog's tail doesn't fall off...

The rules are as follows:

1.Go into your archives.

2. Find your 23rd post.

3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

My 23rd post only had 5 sentences, so here's the 3rd:

But, if it works, it sure saves everyone a lot of time.

I have to pick 5 people? Maybe I only have to pick 3, since I used the 3rd sentence. Let's try Woman of the Law, Not Guilty (if she's around), and Leslie's Omnibus (if she hasn't done it already). No pressure, of course.


Happy Halloween

I just have one thing to say about Halloween costumes.

Halloween is not a holiday about just dressing mis-matched. If you're wearing striped pants, a paisley shirts, and a houndstooth jacket, you're not dressed as anything, and I'm going to assume it's not a Halloween costume. Nope, you just look dumb.

And another thing, ok, yes, this is two things, but this is one is directed to the women who were taking their kids trick-or-treating in my neighborhood tonight.

I don't know if that was your Halloween costume, or you just won't have time to change before work, but did you ever stop to think that maybe your kid doesn't want to see his mother dressed as a ho?

Eat Me

You Are Thai Food

Trendy yet complex.
People seek you out - though they're not sure why.

(Inspired by E. McPan)

Thanks For Your Support

I lost my trial. It was ok, I knew that was a long shot, but my client and I thought it was worth a trial. I wasn't too upset by the result, I was kind of expecting it, and I thought that we gave it a good shot.

After, I called my mother and told her about the verdict.

"Guilty, mom."
"But did he really do it?"
"Well, maybe. Probably. But that's not the point. I thought there were some good issues-"
"Good then. If he really did it, that's good then, right?"
"Um... I guess it depends on how you look at it."
"So, congratulations! That's good!"

Nah, she doesn't get it.

Sorry, but I'm...


(that's "on trial")

I'll have a lot to catch up on over the weekend.

I'm hoping blogging, reading blogs and emailing will be among them.

Turn Up The Miracle Ear

I made the boyfriend go with me to see In Her Shoes.

Actually, I tricked him into it. Ladies, take note. It was about 6 p.m. on Sunday night. We were sitting around, probably doomed to another night of football. I said, "Hey, want to see a movie?" He said, "Ok." I went to the website and read off a list of movies.

"What's that?"
"I don't know, Bend it like Beckham girl."

"Never heard of it."

"Isn't that just Panic Room on a plane?"
"So, no. Next?"

This went on, alphabetically, until...

"In Her Shoes?"
"Chick flick."
"Does that mean no? It starts at 6:20, we could make it..."
"Can't you see that with some girl friends?"
"I guess. Ok, I'll keep reading."

Finally, I got to...

"Wallace and Grommit?"
"Sounds good! When does it start?"
"Perfect, let's go."

So, we put on our shoes and jumped in the car. We got to the movie theatre and the boyfriend bought 2 tickets for Wallace and Grommit.

We took our tickets and tried to walk into the theatre.

"Sorry," the ticket taker said, "theatre's not empty yet. Come back in 10 minutes."

We hung out in the little food court/arcade area for about 10 minutes, bought some popcorn and soda, and then went back to the ticket taker.

"Sorry," the ticket taker said, "We're not showing that movie tonight."


"You can get your money back in that line over there." She pointed to a long line hanging out in front of the ticket stand.

We walked over to the line and chatted with the people standing around for a few minutes. It turns out that the threatre had booked too many movies for the same time - and Wallace and Grommit was the one to be cut. The people had been standing around for ten minutes - and the ticket booth kept selling tickets for it, even as the manager was giving refunds.

We stood around for a few minutes, and finally, I said, "Well, let's just see In Her Shoes, since we're here."

And ta-da! That's all it took.

The movie was pretty good. Cute, funny.

The only downside was that it attracted the Shirley MacLaine crowd. (Also known as the crowd that stalks APL at the movies.)

Some grandma a few rows behind us kept asking,

"What did she say?"
"Can you hear her?"

Despite everyone in the theatre (yes, that means me and my boyfriend) "Ssssh!"-ing her, it continued.

"It's so cold in here."
"Do they have the heat on at all?"

And, then, obviously not getting the movie at all.
"They're sisters?"
"Is that their mother?"
"Who is that?"

Even in the bathroom, after the movie, I heard her saying, "Were they sisters?"

(And no, for the record, I was not at the movies with Fresh Pepper.)

Good Night, Rosa Parks

I am very sad to learn that Rosa Parks passed away this evening. It had been nearly fifty years since she refused to move to the back of the bus.

I'm sure that over the next few days, we will be hearing many wonderful quotes from Mrs. Parks as we celebrate the many things she did for freedom in our country.

I'll share just one.

"Each person must live their life as a model for others." -Rosa Parks

Never Have I Ever...

Omnibus Driver wants to play "Have you ever..."

(To play, just cut & paste the list to your blog, and bold any of the ones that are true.)
  • smoked a cigarette

  • crashed a friend's car

  • stolen a car

  • been in love

  • been dumped

  • shoplifted (But I once got home and realized I still had a pair of sunglasses that I tried on in the store on top of my head. But we won't count that. It wasn't intentional. But I didn't go back and try to pay for them either. But we'll consider that possession of stolen property.)

  • been fired

  • been in a fist fight

  • snuck out of your parent's house (snuck in late, though)

  • had feelings for someone who didn't have them back

  • been arrested

  • gone on a blind date

  • lied to a friend (we won't count surprise-party-type-lies or no-your-haircut-looks-great-lies)

  • skipped school (cut class, but never a whole day)

  • seen someone die

  • had a crush on one of your internet friends

  • been to Canada

  • been to Mexico

  • been on a plane

  • purposely set a part of yourself on fire

  • eaten sushi

  • been jet-skiing

  • met someone in person from the internet (just recently)

  • been moshing at a concert

  • taken pain killers

  • loved and missed someone

  • made a snow angel

  • had a tea party (not that I can remember, at least)

  • flown a kite

  • built a sand castle

  • gone puddle jumping (absolutely not in my nature)

  • played dress up (much more 'me')

  • jumped in a pile of leaves

  • gone sledding

  • cheated while playing a game

  • been lonely

  • fallen asleep at work or school

  • used a fake id

  • watched a sun set

  • felt an earthquake

  • touched a snake

  • slept beneath the stars

  • been tickled

  • been robbed

  • been misunderstood

  • petted a reindeer/goat

  • won a contest

  • run a red light/stop sign

  • been suspended from school

  • been in a car accident

  • had braces

  • eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night

  • had deja vu

  • danced in the moonlight

  • liked the way you looked at least at one point in time

  • witnessed a crime

  • questioned your heart

  • been obsessed with post-it notes

  • squished barefoot through the mud (sure beats getting your shoes dirty)

  • been lost

  • been on the opposite side of the country

  • swam in the ocean

  • felt like dying

  • cried yourself to sleep

  • played cops and robbers

  • recently colored with crayons

  • sung karaoke

  • paid for a meal with only coins (Long story. Not a regular thing, I swear!)

  • done something you told yourself you wouldn't

  • made prank phone calls (3rd grade)

  • laughed until some kinda beverage came out of your nose

  • caught a snow flake on your tongue

  • danced in the rain

  • written a letter to Santa Claus

  • been kissed under the mistletoe by your boy/girlfriend

  • watched the sun rise with someone you care about

  • blown bubbles

  • made a bonfire on the beach (didn't make it, but have been to one)

  • crashed a party (but had a party crashed)

  • gone rollerskating

  • had a wish come true

  • worn pearls

  • jumped off a bridge

  • ate dog/cat food (another long story)

  • told a complete stranger that you loved them

  • kissed a mirror

  • sang in the shower

  • had a dream you married someone

  • glued your hand to something

  • got your tongue stuck to something

  • kissed a fish or a frog

  • sat on a roof top

  • screamed at the top of your lungs

  • did a one handed cartwheel

  • talked on the phone for more the 6 hours

  • stayed up all night

  • not taken a shower for a week

  • picked and eaten an apple right off the tree (an orange, though)

  • climbed a tree

  • had a tree house

  • admitted you are scared to watch scary movies alone

  • believed in ghosts

  • had more than 30 pairs of shoes at the same time

  • worn a really ugly outfit to school just to see what others would say

  • gone streaking

  • gone dingdong ditching (Don't even know what that means)

  • pushed into a pool/hottub with all your clothes on

  • been told you're hot by a complete stranger

  • broken a bone

  • been easily amused

  • caught a fish

  • caught a butterfly

  • laughed so hard you cried

  • cried so hard you laughed

  • laughed so hard you pee your pants

  • cheated on a test (high school! I swear it wasn't the bar!)

  • had or do you currently have a Britney Spears CD

  • forgotten someone's name (all the time!)

  • french braided someone's hair

  • been kissed by someone you didn't like

  • gone skinny dipping in a pool /lake

  • been threatened to be kicked out of your house

  • been kicked out of your house

  • Not too bad, huh? And most of the bad ones are very explainable.

    Who's next?