2006 Public Defender Blog Awards

PDs just don't get the acknowledgment they deserve. You can do your part by getting over to PD Stuff and voting in the 2006 Public Defender Blog Awards

(I am in no way lobbying for votes. I haven't even voted yet - but I will. I'm really enjoying reading all of the PD blogs, some of which I hadn't seen before. And I'm still really torn on the Best Blog by a Public Defender Investigator category.)

Whoever you choose, get out there and vote. Polls are open until midnight, Friday, January 5, 2007.

Untitled Follow-Up

Well, it's been almost one year and I am finally ready to follow-up on the Untitled post from last January.

The friend that I was thinking about when I wrote that post is finally pregnant (shout out to modern science), and far enough along that I feel safe writing about it.

The acquaintance whose newborn died has since had a healthy and happy daughter.

And the final commenter is now counting two little blessings.

What a difference a year makes.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from Blonde Justice!

I'm out of here, see you when all this is over!

T.G.I.F.

Friday! Finally! And this is the big one!

Stop me if I've told this one before...



Why did the blonde write "T.G.I.F." on her shoes?



So she could remember...



Toes Go In First.

Ready For Christmas

I have a feeling that this Christmas is going to turn out just fine.

Despite the fact that I never got organized enough to send out Christmas cards, or put up my pink Christmas tree (or any of my pink Christmas decorations, really), or figure out the perfect gift for my mother...

I still think it's all going to be okay.

I mean, there's still time, right? Right?

Beware of Box

I did most of my Christmas shopping online this year, and I decided to ship everything to my parents' house, where I will be for Christmas, rather than packing it in my luggage to bring to my parents' house.

I had everything shipped to my name at my parents' address. In the extra address line, I added, "DO NOT OPEN TIL XMAS!" just in case someone got curious.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my mother is really nosy, and might need a little more of a direct warning.

So I called my mother and told her, "I'm having some things shipped to the house for Christmas. Don't open them."

My mother, as nosy as she is, still tried to get some type of clue.

I could almost hear her mind working.

"Well... umm.... how many boxes are coming? How big are those boxes going to be? Where are they coming from? Maybe you should give me the tracking numbers so I know when to be home..."

Again and again, I just kept telling her, "Just sign for the boxes and don't open them!"

She must've been desperate when she asked, "Does it need refrigeration? Don't you at least want me to put it in the fridge?"

What?! What did she think I bought?

So, in my most serious voice, I said, "Ok, fine... if she starts barking, you can give her a milk-bone. But that's it."

My mother has now called me 3 times to ask if I really shipped a dog to her house, and what kind of dog it is, and where it came from...

Dexter Finale Tonight

I am so excited.

I can't remember being this excited for a TV show in a long time.

Ok, maybe I was this excited for Weeds. Showtime has gotten so good.

California, Florida Suspend Executions

I don't blog much news, legal or otherwise, but I thought this was newsworthy and certainly not being covered in the media much that I've seen.

California, Florida Suspend Executions after an execution by lethal injection in which it took 34 minutes for Angel Nieves Diaz to die.
Executions in Florida normally take no more than about 15 minutes, with the inmate rendered unconscious and motionless within three to five minutes. But Diaz appeared to be moving 24 minutes after the first injection, grimacing, blinking, licking his lips, blowing and appearing to mouth words.

As a result of the chemicals going into Diaz's arms around the elbow, he had an 12-inch chemical burn on his right arm and an 11-inch chemical burn on his left arm, Hamilton said.

That's a civilized nation for you.

The Perfect Gift

Last night I ran into someone who sits near Erin and should know her.

I pulled her aside and said, "Sooo... what do you know about Erin?"

At first she was a little weirded out, she said something like, "Why do you want to know about Erin?" and then, I guess she figured it out and she said, "Oh!"

She thought about it for a minute and said, "Well, I don't really know her that well, she really stays to herself." (This made me feel better for not knowing who she was at all.)

Then she said, "I really only know two things about her. She's Irish and she must love Starbucks."

"Starbucks?" I asked.

"Yeah, I see her leaving here and coming back with a Starbucks cup all the time. She must make a few Starbucks runs a day."

Wow, how perfect is that?

Gimme Your Advice

I am seeking advice on two wholly separate topics:

1. I got a girl in the office Secret Santa who I've never met. And who I may not meet before the exchange. Here's what I know from asking everyone else "What do you know about Erin?" She's a lawyer, she's Irish (or at least partially Irish), she... I don't know anything else. Limit is $30. I was thinking of something universal, like a gift card, but I worried that it kind of detracts from the point of a Secret Santa. (Why not just hand over the cash then?) I also considered a gift card/ small item combo. (Like a Starbucks card and mug?) I'd also like to just be a little more creative with it - as if I have that in me, this time of year. All ideas appreciated.

2. A fellow PD blogger emailed for book suggestions to send to a client. Here's what we know about the client: The client is Caucasian, in his mid-30's, he's interested in drawing and art.

One good habit, now that you're a PD, is to keep an eye on the $1 bin. Every now and then I've picked something up and kept it in my office, and eventually I come up with the perfect client to fit the book or vice versa.

I've found that many clients like books on the justice system or other prisoners (which is why I can't wait until Injustice comes out in paperback!) I just try to be cautious that I'm not going to be encouraging my client's crime by letting them read about it. (Some clients will be inspired by reading about another drug addict's plight, others will just crave drugs more.) My clients have enjoyed All God's Children and Live From Death Row by Mumia Abu-Jamal.

I've had a few African-American clients who have told me they were really inspired by Think Big and other books by Dr. Ben Carson, sometimes available in the $1 bin. I've seen Dr. Carson, and he's an amazing speaker. He's an African-American man who grew up in the inner-city and went on to become a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. I think it might be of interest to anyone (I liked it), but so far I personally have only had African-American clients read it.

(There are more books I can think of that are of more interest to African-American clients, such as White Mans Justice, Black Mans Grief and Black Robes, White Justice: Why Our Legal System Doesn't Work for Blacks but I'm trying to stick to the question. But they're out there, in case anyone else is wondering.)

I think fiction is a good idea, it gives the client a bit of an escape from their everyday life. I keep thinking of Harry Potter too (although that one will be harder to find in the $1 bin) because it accounts for the fact that clients can't always read at a high level and the cover art might encourage his artistic side. I also think Grisham books or the DaVinci Code books are pretty popular, and probably easy to find cheap used copies of. I've only read one book by Carl Hiassen, but he's usually pretty easy to find cheap used copies of, and I think his books are easy to read and interesting enough.

So... anyone else? Gift advice? Book advice? Books that I can give both to my Secret Santa and to a client?

Broke My Streak

By the way, I broke my "no plea" streak. I think I took 3 pleas this week - 1 on Tuesday and 2 on Thursday. So, we're back in business. Let the Christmas shopping begin.

Although, none of the pleas were to crimes and no one went to jail. Do you think that still counts?

On another note, I also realized that I went a little over a month without Starbucks, a streak that I finally broke one day last week when a friend bought me Starbucks.

Because, really, who can afford Starbucks when you're not rainmaking with $50 pleas?

The Alcohol Made Me A Racist

First, Kramer goes crazy with the n-word. Then, the gay kid (the gay kid of all people!) on The Real World comes out with the n-word and blames it on an alcohol problem.

Um, alcohol made you a racist?

Here's what I think. I have never ever uttered the n-word. Never once in my little life. And I don't think there's any amount of alcohol in the world that would make it come out of my mouth.

So I don't really get blaming it on alcohol or anger. Because I could come with a million mean things to call someone when I get mad, and the n-word wouldn't be on the list. It's not like there aren't other mean things you can call someone.

(If you want my opinion, Tyree was in the wrong in starting the fight, and in the beginning of the fight, but he was nowhere near as bad as Davis who took it to a whole 'nuther level.)

And one more thing about The Real World? That guy (Alex?) that the girls are fighting over and crying over and everything? He's ugly and kind of too feminine looking and they could all do better. And then Colie brings home probably the only other guy in all of Denver who is a bigger loser. And I had heard that Denver is full of hot, single men.

And, so, that's where I stand on this season of Real World so far. And the n-word.

World AIDS Day

When I started as a PD, I was absolutely shocked at how many of my clients were infected with HIV/AIDS.

I remember one of my first clients who told me he had AIDS. I asked his permission to tell the Judge, and he consented.

When the case was called, I approached the judge and tried to get my client released, pleading, "Please, Judge, he has AIDS." The judge said, "Counselor, many of your clients have AIDS. What's your point? He can get his medicine in jail."

And it's true. Many of my clients have HIV/AIDS. As to whether or not they get their medicine in jail (or, the right medicine) is still open to debate.

Please check some of these AIDS websites today (and feel free to add your own in the links in the comments):






A Mere $50 To Sell-Out?

I don't hear it often, but every once in a while, I hear that age old accusation... public defenders get paid by the plea.

Sometimes I worry about the economy since that fee seems so stagnant. It's been $50 for a while now. What, we don't deserve a raise?

Sometimes I like to think about how much I could really make if I was paid $50 per plea. I think $50K sounds like a fair salary for a young public defender... so I would have to have a goal of 1,000 pleas a year. I think that I might have about 1,000 cases a year. So, I would have to take pleas on every single case. Maybe I'd even have to go out and make some business if I needed a little extra money? Would I have to set people up to get arrested? Steal my colleagues' clients and plea them out?

Is 1,000 pleas a year even feasible? Let's see, 365 days per year... minus about 52 weekends (2 days per weekend is 104 days) brings us to 261. Figure about 10 holidays per year is 251. Figure about 10 sick days per year is 241. And then lets say 2 weeks vacation, I like to take at least that much, leaves us at 227. That's about 4 pleas per day. Not to mention that I usually spend a few weeks on trial per year (and can't take any pleas during that time.)

Sometimes I wonder about other perks of the job and how they fit into this $50 per plea salary scale. Would that be $50 per plea PLUS health insurance or pension. Would taxes be taken out of that $50 per plea? I don't even know if I'd get paid holidays, vacation and sick days. Maybe that's due to the fact that so many of my clients have jobs where they are strictly paid per hour or per job with no other perks (prostitutes and drug dealers don't have a great HMO), so they probably don't know much about the perks of the professional world.

But what really got me thinking about the pay-per-plea scheme today is the fact that I just realized yesterday that I haven't taken a plea in just over one month. Nothing intentional, it has just worked that way. I took a few days off, I was on trial for a week, and things were slow around the courthouse the week of Thanksgiving. So I haven't taken any pleas.

And I started thinking, "Thank God I don't get paid per plea... I wouldn't have any money for Christmas shopping!"

Thankful

For a day off.

(And a few more to go with it.)

For pizza with vodka sauce.

(And pumpkin ale.)

For Detective Barbie: Mystery Cruise.

(And beating it! In just a few hours!)

Life is good.

Title 17

Chesperito writes:

BloJu:

How do you keep from socking DAs in the face on a daily basis?


Oooh, that's a tough question.

I guess it depends on the day, and the particular DA.

Some days I'm able to tell myself, "Hey, he's a lawyer, I'm a lawyer, it's nothing personal."

Some days I fantasize about doing mean things, but ultimately restrain myself.

In the past month or two, there's been a new crop of know-it-all snot nose little DAs.

Another PD in my office had a brilliant idea, which I've been utilizing now and then. Basically, the goal is to make them feel dumb, and it involves citing imaginary law.

The prosecutor says something crazy like, "For this serious crime, we recommend the maximum term of imprisonment."

Then I say something like, "What?! Judge! Imprisonment? That doesn't even comply with Title 17 of the Sentencing Regulations..." (You may have to change this slightly to fit your jurisdiction - what is important, though, is that there be no such thing.)

The Prosecutor starts furiously flipping through the criminal code (there isn't a book called "the sentencing regulations.")

"Judge! Now the prosecutor is going to try to respond by citing the criminal code?!? Your honor knows that this is not in Title 17 of the Sentencing Regulations."

And, without a doubt, the right judge will say, "Miss Justice, you're correct that this is not in 'Title 17' of the 'Sentencing Regulations.'" (Because even the judges don't like the little know-it-all new prosecutors.)

All the while, that little know-it-all new prosecutor is helplessly flipping through any available book and looking around, scared, a deer caught in the headlights.

"Well, judge, I guess if the prosecutor wants to wrap this up today, we'd accept community service. Otherwise we'll have to ask for the remedies spelled out by the legislature..."

Believe me, it's fun. If you have a judge you can play this with, you should definitely give it a try.

And, perhaps most impressively, that prosecutor will continue to defer to you for a long time to come. Or, at least a few weeks.

The Bad Co-Counsel Update

I didn't want to go into too much detail with my bad co-counsel story, mostly because I'm worried she might someday read my blog (doesn't every lawyer?).

But I did say something to her - before I wrote the post. I said something like, "I guess everyone has different styles, but I think it might have been better to..." She kind of just ignored me and kept doing things her way.

The trial continued in the way you'd imagine it would. A total SNAFU.

And I kept trying. In the courtroom, and with my co-counsel. I became more and more brazen in the way I told her, "Well, what did you expect the cop to say to that question? Were you trying to get the impossible Matlock moment, or did you just want the jury to hear the DA's case again?"

"Hmmm... I guess we do have different styles," she responded.

In the meantime, I had to focus on trying my case.

Then, Friday afternoon, she said to me, "You did a really great job. You're really smart. I liked some of your ideas. I guess it's because you went to a good school or something."

Um, maybe that, or maybe it's because I take my job seriously and try to learn new techniques every chance I get - I go to trial advocacy classes, I watch lawyers I admire on trial, I ask experienced lawyers for advice and I actually LISTEN to their advice.

I think the trial is probably beyond winning at this point. (Not sure that winning was ever a possibility, but sometimes it's hard to tell.) I made a record of the problems where it was possible. Now I just have to hope the jury can tell us (and, therefore, our clients) apart.

I think my office might take a collection to send her to one of the trial training courses. I know I would never try another case with her unless she went to one.

Had A Bad Day

I'm having a bad day. Bad week, actually.

Maybe you'll have some advice that can help me.

I'm trying a case where my client has a co-defendant. The co-defendant is represented by a lawyer not from my office (the lawyer is known as my co-counsel).

That lawyer has had criminal trials before (but very few), and has been a lawyer for much longer than me.

Here's the thing... she kind of sucks. And I don't think she realizes it.

And it's not like she's doing something terrible to help her client and sabotage my client. It's like she has no idea what she's doing and she's hurting both of our clients.

She's trying, it's not like she's sitting back and not doing anything (I could handle that, I could make up for that), it's like she's getting in the way and making all of the wrong arguments.

Here's an example... There was an aspect of the case, a small element, that I thought the prosecution wouldn't prove. Not because I didn't think they could prove it, but I thought there was a chance the prosecutor would just forget about it. And guess what... he did!

And that was it. Now we just had to sit there and be quiet until the case was over so that the prosecutor wouldn't figure it out.

And guess what my co-counsel did... She got up and asked the question.

Ooops.

Except she's done this kind of thing throughout the case.

And it's funny, because clients are kind of clueless sometimes about when things are going well, and when things aren't. Her client keeps saying to me, "Come with me to the judge and tell the judge my lawyer is incompetent." And I have to keep saying, "No, your lawyer is really trying," or "She has her own strategy." When what I really want to say is, "Yeah, and while you're at it, can you find some way to get us all a mistrial?"

Meanwhile, my client keeps telling me, "That other lawyer is really good. She asks them all of the tough questions. They weren't even going to bring up that one thing, they didn't even know what they were doing." Yes, exactly, that's the point! But I don't want to bad mouth her.

So... any suggestions? How can I tell her, "You know, why don't you just sit back and let me try the case... because YOU SUCK!" without, you know, ruining her confidence for the rest of the case?

In the meantime, pray for a time machine so we can go back in time and try harder for that severance I wasn't too worried about.

Prosecutor Who Is Dateline Target Commits Suicide

Ok, here is kind of a crazy story.

We all know those Dateline busts. (And, literally, we ALL know them - I was surprised during a recent voir dire to hear that nearly all of the panel members had seen this show.)

Well, this time, the alleged pedophile who was under investigation (he hadn't yet shown up for a meeting with a teen) had been a Kaufman County (Texas) District Attorney for over twenty years. (News stories vary on whether or not he was still a DA at the time of his death.) When police came to execute a search warrant at his home, he shot and killed himself.

It is shocking and sad and scary and just a little bizarre.

A few people had previously emailed me and asked my opinion of these Dateline episodes, and I've procrastinated on writing this post because I have so much to say about this subject.

(If you are one of the very few who are unfamiliar with these Dateline busts, here's the concept: An undercover officer poses as a young teenage girl and sets up a meeting for sexual purposes with an adult man. They instruct the man to a specific house, and usually to bring specific items such as condoms to prove his intent to actually engage in sex. When he shows up at the house, not only are the police there, so is NBC's Dateline host and crew. In the one episode I watched, they even had a girl's voice on the telephone with the man telling him to stay in the entrance lobby to the home and to take off his clothes.)

But this instance, involves a prosecutor, who (1) knows that this is a crime that is being taken very seriously across the country and (2) knows the harsh penalties that await him upon his arrest. And yet he can't stay away. What does this mean? Maybe it means that pedophile is a disease that crosses all socio-economic and education levels.

What does that mean from a criminal justice standpoint? Does it support the idea that pedophiles can't change, and support the need for sex offender registration laws and the no-sex-offender-school-zones that are gaining popularity?

Also, call me naive, but it really disturbs my personal view of men. Are all men really that into the idea of having sex with a 13-year-old? If not all, are most of them? Are there really men who weigh the options, "If I get caught, I'll kill myself, but it's worth it that I might get to have sex with a pre-pubescent teen." And, obviously, the Dateline show continues, as do the non-television busts across the country, with no end of willing participants in sight. On the Dateline show, many of the men even say, "Oh, I knew this was going to be Dateline!" But yet you were willing to risk it for the possibility of sex with a kid? It grosses me out.

(And, FYI, I think it will gross out most of the women on your jury. And none of the men will want to be the one to admit "Sounds all right to me." Which is why you don't have much of a chance with a jury on these cases. Unless you can get a jury without men or women on it.)

Finally, this story includes a very interesting quote from the mayor of Murphy, the town where the Dateline trap home was located:
Murphy Mayor Bret Bishop told the newspaper that he hopes Murphy won't be used again as a trap for child predators.

"We're going to do whatever we need to do to make sure this doesn't continue," he said. "I think it's a noble cause, but our police department is hired to serve and protect our citizens, and not to expose them to outside threats."

To me, this is incredibly interesting. These stings are being set up in nearly every state in the country. They use a substantial amount of taxpayer money to set these traps which often draw sex offenders into their towns or counties. And they take police officers off of visible street patrol and into police stations where they sit in front of computers.

Why aren't more citizens up in arms? Why aren't more citizens saying, "Quit bringing sex offenders into our town and use that money to get guns and drugs off our streets and out of our schools?"

Who do these protect? Real 13 year-old girls who have sexual conversations with grown men? Are there a lot of them? Are they really the most important group of citizens to protect?

I think that by labeling these men "pedophiles," police hope to confuse citizens into thinking these are the same men who grab little girls into their vans to kidnap and rape them. As sick as it is to want to have sex with a 13 year-old, the men on Dateline think they're showing up for consensual sex. (For what a 13 year-old's consent is worth.) My guess is that these men would very rarely, if ever, be the same men as those that would kidnap a child to sexually assault him or her. But yet, my guess is that the reason why citizens support these efforts is because they envision it making it their streets safe from the kidnapping type of pedophiles.

Instead, they should take internet safety precautions. Like telling their 13 year-olds not to set up sex dates with old men. How difficult is that?

Road Trippin'

Out on the road today,
I saw a Bush-Cheney sticker on a Hybrid.

A little voice inside my head said,
"Don't look back, you can never look back."

Shark

I did get to watch half of the premiere of Shark the other night too. I missed maybe the first 20-30 minutes.

I had seen a commercial for Shark a few weeks ago, and, basically, here's the premise:
Sebastian Stark reevaluates his life after a wife beater he once defended finally ends up killing her. To atone, he takes a job with the high-profile crime unit of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

Before I even saw the show, I had a problem with the premise. I just don't think that defense attorneys think this way. If a guilty client goes free, I don't feel bad - I think that's the way the system works, and the police and prosecutors should have done their job. Our system is imperfect - innocent people go to prison, guilty people go free. I think defense attorneys (especially one described as "a notorious defense attorney," leading me to believe he's been around the block a few times) know this.

Sure, it would be disturbing to know that the person you represented later killed someone. But I don't think defense attorneys are responsible for every later act of their clients. If I represent a completely innocent person and after his acquittal he goes out and kills someone, either accidentally or purposely - am I somehow responsible for that death? No. Likewise, it's not my Nobel Prize if he wins one either. I only deal with the crime charged, the single accusation - not my client's whole life - good or bad.

So, a defense attorney's client kills someone and the defense attorney "reevaluates" and "atones." Do you think that when my clients go on to do something good with their lives, the prosecutors ever "reevaluate" and "atone?"

Fine. Let's concede that it's just a premise. Then he goes to the DA's office (to atone) and has to try a pop-star accused of murder within 48 hours. He has a staff of little underlings (ala House) who run around doing his work (and being his conscience- ala House).

Part of this trial prep occurs in his home, where he's built a perfect replica of a courtroom - complete with jury feedback, video screens, and anything else you can imagine in your dream Barbie courtroom. That's kind of cool.

Despite all this prep, when the time comes, this "notorious" defense attorney, tells his little prodigy to sit down and, instead, decides not to cross-examine the pop-star accused of murder because she reminds him too much of his daughter.

(Can you imagine a real murder trial where a defendant testified and the prosecutor didn't cross-examine?)

Later, though, he reconsiders and decides to cross-examine her. And, is somehow allowed to.

Here, Shark falls into the trap mentioned in the comments of the previous post - rather than elicit evidence through testimony, the attorney just gets up and testifies.

To paraphrase, "Why is it then, that the LAPD crime lab says with 99% accuracy that the video found in that camera matches the camera you used to make your first music video?"

Umm, did they? Did you reopen the prosecution case to elicit that testimony that you just discovered that morning? Or does the fact that you are saying it make it true? Objection!

But don't worry about that. The defense attorney doesn't object, and, the next thing we know, the little pop-star is confessing and crying on the stand, "I didn't mean to kill him..."

And all the defense attorney can say is "Can we have a recess?" - The surest sign that the case has just been lost.

It's ok. Legal shows don't have to be perfectly realistic. In fact, if they were, they probably wouldn't be worth watching. (Although, I always worry that jurors that watch too much TV are thinking, "Why can't she just get up there and say 'Isn't it true...' and tell us what happened? Why is she doing this whole slow process of asking questions? Is she stupid or something?")

Then there was a whole secondary plot about his wife and his daughter, none of which I cared much about, but I'm sure it was there either because (1) this is the premiere, so they're setting up the characters or (2) people like my mother like that sort of thing.

Overall, though, I think Shark was far better than Injustice, and I may end up watching another episode. If you're interested in seeing the Series Premiere, it seems like you might be able to watch it on the CBS website by following that link.

And, finally, call me blonde, but I didn't get why the show is called Shark when his name is Stark. Maybe it's because there are a lot of lawyer jokes out there about Sharks, or this guy is a "shark in the courtroom" - but then why does his name have to be Stark, which is just so close to Shark?

I kept thinking throughout the episode, "Am I hearing them wrong? Did they just say Stark or Shark? What's his name again? What's the name of this show again?" And then I was thinking "Maybe it's like the Cosby show, where there was nobody on the show named Cosby, since they were the Huxtables, and it was named for one of the actors..." and trying to figure out the names of all the actors.

Why distract me like that (I got it! James Woods! Wait, that doesn't make sense...)? It's not based on a real person, the writers could pick whatever name they wanted, so why not just name him Shark (look at House, they named the main character House) or call the show Stark?

Justice? This is an Injustice!

Oh my goodness... If you're going to make a television shows supposedly based on "law," how freakin' hard is it to hire a real person who graduated from law school, or who has even stepped foot in a courtroom, or who has even watched a television courtroom drama, who can say, "Um, no, this has absolutely no basis in reality."

I'm watching Justice tonight. By the time I got to the opening credits, I wasn't sure I wanted to keep watching.

But I did.

And then I regretted it.

Except that it was bloggable.

And I learned some new interesting theories in criminal law.

Here's one little gem I picked up from Justice: If you have some incriminating evidence, don't give it to your criminal defense lawyer, because then they're legally bound to turn it over to the prosecution. Hmmm. Wow. So, all of my clients who I know are guilty... I should be calling the prosecutor to turn them in? I'll have to get to work on that tomorrow morning. Thank you, Justice.

And, second, I learned that if you, as a lawyer, suspect that someone else in the client's family committed the crime, you're just screwed. You can't bring that up in trial because you represent the whole family. (Really? The whole family? How about extended family? 3rd cousins?)

And, third, the family member admitting on the stand, "I know he didn't do it." "How do you know he didn't do it?" "Because I did it!" Oh, c'mon, we've all seen that on L&O plenty of times. Way more times than it has happened in real life.

My mind hasn't seen this kind of UNREALISTIC TELEVISION OVERLOAD since my mother made me watch Kevin Hill.

Justice, call me. I can help.

Why Is It...

That when you just spent, oh, let's say, an hour, typing this stupid motion, and then stupid WordPerfect, which should just be outlawed anyway, stops "responding," and devours everything you've done...

Why is it that it feels a thousand times worse to retype things you've already typed?

I mean, it makes sense that is should feel a little bit worse than the first time through, but it really feels at least a thousand times worse.

Even the things that usually give me a little bit of pleasure, like quoting the prosecutor's motion and filling it with "[sic]" to highlight all of his spelling and grammar mistakes, are about a thousand times less pleasurable when I'm just redoing them.

"It's kind of... a bummer," as Ellen Feiss would say.

Hi-Tech Mocha Warmer Discovered

I'll admit, I kinda sorta want this for my desk.

Although, I kind of doubt it will work that well. I bought my mother a somewhat similar contraption, where you fill the top cup with butter (and garlic, if you'd like) to dip your lobster into... and I didn't think it kept the butter that warm. So, could it really keep a whole grande mocha warm through the morning court session? I'm not so convinced.

Turn It Up

What I want to know is... XM or Sirius?

Let me give you a few factors that might effect your advice:

1. I'm really looking for something for the car, so the actual radio itself doesn't matter as much - I'm going to go with one installed directly into the car. (I think XM has better portable radios than Sirius, but at this point, it's not a factor for me.)

2 I'm mostly in the car for long drives, including an occasional somewhat-long morning commute.

3. I don't really like to listen to most talk radio (I don't listen to Howard Stern, who is on Sirius), but I do like a lot of the NPR shows (which are also on Sirius).

4. Mostly I'll be listening to a lot of music, so a good variety of good music stations would be best.

5. While I am a baseball fan (MLB is on XM), I'm probably not in my car during most of the games anyway (not a lot of 8 am games). And, I'm usually within range to get regular AM broadcasts for my favorite teams.

So, tell me what you think. And feel free to leave comments if you have more info for me.

I had to take down the poll because somehow it turned into "A Piercing for Erica! What should I get pierced? Eyebrow, lip, or other." How strange is that? So far, everyone says eyebrow.

Google For Blondes

Speaking of my mother...

When I was home last weekend, my mother mentioned that she had "looked up" a lawyer I had mentioned in an earlier conversation.

Her exact words were, "I looked up that lawyer you were talking about."

I know that she can't use the internet herself, based on the number of phone calls I receive that begin with, "I need you to find something on the computer internet for me..." (Yes, she sometimes calls it "the computer internet." Or "the world wide web.")

Since she couldn't have meant the internet, I wasn't sure what she meant by "looked up." I thought it was kind of like when I sometimes see a "Closed" sign on a store that reads "Closed, Please Call Again," and I think, "I didn't call, I stopped by. And you were closed." But in the olden days, to call on someone meant to visit, so maybe "look up" had an old-fashioned meaning too.

So, I asked. "When you say you 'looked him up,' what do you mean by that?"

My mother answered quite simply, "I looked him up on google on the internet."

Whoa. We are now entering a whole new world. Google?!?

I decided to throw something new into the mix and see how she handled it.

"You know, mom, if you look someone up on google, you can just say you 'googled him.' You can use it as a verb, most people will know what it means."

She stopped to take this in for a minute. I could just see the wheels turning as she processed that little tidbit.

And, then, all of the sudden, she said, with a totally straight face, "Well, then... I yahoo-ed him too."

Blonde Justice On... Free Stuff

You really can't beat free stuff. And in the last few days, I've come into a lot of it.

Saturday morning, in a parking lot near my home, there was a little neighborhood flea market. I scored free basil from someone who had apparently grown too much of it. (And, no, it wasn't "free with purchase," because that's not really free.)

On my way home from the free basil expedition, I picked up a little abandoned wicker basket from the ground. I have plans to do something really cute and Eastery with it next spring.

Saturday night, a friend had concert tickets she couldn't use. I got to see an excellent concert for free. (No, I can't tell you who, because then you'll google it to see what town he, she or they were in, and you'd have me all figured out. Unless I'm really writing this about a few Saturdays ago, in which case I would have tricked you. But I'm not, it was this past Saturday, 2 days ago, so I'd better not say more.)

Sunday morning, I drove past a sign for a yard sale. I pulled over, and there were 2 big signs on the lawn. One read "Everything Free" and the other read "All Free." I took a new spatula and a pretty blue little... gravy thing, I guess. Or tiny pitcher. Or something.

Who the heck just fills their lawn with free stuff? Those people, I guess.

It's too bad I don't know anyone who would want a bunch of free Cabbage Patch Kids, because there was a whole trash bag full of them. Just think, those things used to be so valuable. And, I thought this was cute, the first Cabbage Patch Kid I pulled out of the bag was naked, and a little girl who had written her name ("KELLY") on the kid's backside. And, what was funny about it is, I get it, because those kids come with a signature on their bum, which kind of makes you think "Wait, I'm supposed to write my name on the kid's butt?"

Then, Sunday afternoon, I saw my mother, who must think that I'm incapable of food shopping and preparation (and she's probably right), so she gave me bags of food, most of which was already prepared. It doesn't get much better than that. Today I packed a lunch of free food, including an afternoon snack of free food, and tonight I came home from work and enjoyed some delicious home-cooked food, all without cooking. (Although I did have to microwave a little bit. But that's not really cooking. And stir. But that's not cooking either.)

Sunday afternoon, I almost got a free only-slightly-used car, because I came across one in a parking lot with the keys stuck in the door, but I decided to follow the advice I always give to my clients - "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is."

I also thought about doing a god deed - taking the key, opening the door, and dropping the key under the floor mat or something, but, call me paranoid, I thought the car owner might come along and see me reaching in his car and have me arrested. And, even if that didn't happen, he might be pissed to be locked out of his car... and then get the police to fingerprint the door and then have me arrested. Or maybe he wanted his car stolen, for insurance or something. I guess I also followed the other advice I give my clients, "Sometimes you have to just mind your own business if you want to stay out of trouble."

And then, tonight, I was out for a walk when I came across a whole shoebox of abandoned CDs. That's right, abandoned. (At least, that's the legal conclusion I drew.) I decided that since the CD cases were a little bit sticky and some of the cases were actually empty, and, judging by the accompanying pile of trash, the whole thing appeared to have been thrown out by someone who recently was either a dump-er or dump-ee, that it didn't fit the "good to be true" category. I didn't want to crouch there in the dark too long, digging through the CDs (because that seemed like a Law & Order opening scene waiting to happen), but I did grab a free Billie Holiday CD.

Really, what's better than free stuff?

And The Disability Is...? Nudity!

Got to love a good prosecutor-got-arrested story. And this one is particularly, um, intriguing.

Naked Prosecutor Caught On Camera

My favorite part is when his lawyer blames it on a car accident last year.

Blauvelt's lawyer, Michael Gmoser, said in a statement Tuesday that his client was seriously injured in a 2005 car accident, suffers from mental illness and is on medication for seizures.

"Scott Blauvelt is an American with a disability," he said.

Oh puh-lease. Do you think this prosecutor would buy that kind of story if it was presented by someone else's defense attorney? Let's hope so.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I will color this blog pink for the entire month of October! Ok, but seriously, I have added a pink ribbon to the sidebar (right under Bijou), which should link to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

It's stupid but I have to mention one thing that really bothers me, though. And, I already know that it's stupid. But, it really bothers me when people say they "support" breast cancer (or any type of cancer, or any type of illness, or anything obviously negative). If you support breast cancer, you like it, you want it to do well. You're out there on the sidelines shouting, "Gooo Breast Cancer! Attack those normal cells!" Obviously, they mean that they support breast cancer research, or breast cancer patients or survivors, or whatever, but then just say that. That annoys me.

Anyway, because I oppose breast cancer, and I hope you do too, I've added the pink ribbon. Please take a minute to check out the link, or make a donation, or support someone who is involved in one of the many breast cancer fundraisers that are taking place this month. Thanks.

Fetch!

Hey, look! On the right! Bijou has a ball to play with now. (Just click on the word "more.")

And you thought I just spent the whole week shopping for a Treo.

More Tech Advice Needed

Does anyone have one of those Palm Treos or a similar all-in-one phone device? I'm thinking about getting one the next time I upgrade my phone, since I carry around a phone and a Palm pilot already... and I thought the main drawback was that I wouldn't want to have to hold something that big under my ear, but in reality, I could just a headset or earpiece...

And I like being organized, and emailing and all of that.

And, I thought I wanted to blackberry, but I think maybe the Treo would be better.

So, anyone have any thoughts? Otherwise, I'll probably just go with the pink razr.

Lawyer Says He's Anna Nicole's Baby Daddy

I may be busy, but I'm not too busy to comment on the fact that Anna Nicole's Lawyer Says He's The Baby Daddy.

According to TMZ:
Attorney Howard K. Stern said on "Larry King Live" that he's the father of Anna Nicole's newborn baby.

The revelation sets up a potentially nasty paternity battle. Stern appeared Tuesday night on "Larry King Live" disclosing his belief that he is the father. The statement is in sharp contrast to comments by Larry Birkhead who has told TMZ in the past that he is the father. Birkhead has asked for a paternity test and it is unclear whether Anna Nicole will oblige.

Stern said on King's show that he has been in love with Anna Nicole for along [sic]time and hopes the feeling is mutual.

I'll admit, I used to watch the Anna Nicole show on E!.

And, as I watched it, I thought, "Well, for the lawyer, he sure spends a lot of time with her. I'm glad I don't spend that much time with my clients." But I thought maybe he was just one of those people who wants to be around celebrities. You know, like those sadistic people who sign up to be Naomi Campbell's personal assistant.

And, watching the show, there were times that I thought maybe he liked her. There were a few episodes where she was really sick or drugged or out of it, and he seemed to really care for her.

But, I also thought that if he was smart enough to be a lawyer, he was probably smart enough to see that she's a little mentally off-balance. (I suspect she's just a drug addict, but whatever the cause, she's definitely a little weird.)

Call me naive, but I never really thought he was shtupping the client.

And, as we all know, shtupping the client is the second biggest sin a lawyer can commit, just after stealing from his client.

Couldn't he have at least recused himself first? Referred her to another lawyer?

This whole thing is just too bizarre for me to wrap my head around.

In The Weeds

This may very well be the busiest week I've ever had in my little professional career. I am so exhausted, and I can't sleep because I have a constant to do list running through my head.

When the hell will the weekend get here???

Where'd Everybody Go?

Some weird things are going on around the internet. It's like I go on one very long Labor Day weekend extended vacation, and come back to find that the blawgosphere has gone nuts.

Audacity has moved, Alaskablawg is back, Monica of buzzwords and Fresh Pepper have packed it in, and Lammers of CrimLaw has apprently moved and started a new job, and it looks as though it may be... gasp... prosecutorial?

I hope to update my blogroll over the next few days. I've found a few good blogs to add, and there are some abandoned ones I need to take down (I have a one month rule).

If you want to send me any blogs or blawgs (legal or otherwise) that I may have been missing, I will gladly take them into consideration.

Sex Advice from . . .

I had been asked if I would participate in this article on Nerve.com - Sex Advice from . . . Public Defenders. Unfortunately it required a real name and photo, and when I out myself it's going to be a little more dramatic than that.

But, you should check out the article, which answers such burning questions as, "How can I pick up a Public Defender?"

...And (I have a feeling I'm going to regret this), if you have a burning question that you really need answered by Blonde Justice, go ahead and leave a comment or email me. I may decide to answer all of your questions. Or, I may decide to just read them and laugh at you. We'll see.

Gingerbread Condominium

not martha recently mentioned a display of gingerbread houses made by architects.

I have a group of friends that together every Christmas to make gingerbread houses. When I first heard about it, I thought "Gee, that will be fun." So, I went. And I was amazed at the array of building materials that they had assembled.

I sat down and started working on my gingerbread house. After an hour or so, I was pretty happy with the milk-carton-shaped house I had assembled and covered with pink gumdrops and pink frosting. I even made a pretty pink peppermint pathway leading up to the house.

Then I glanced up at my friends' gingerbread houses... or, um, actually, everything but houses. Eiffel towers, Frank Lloyd Wright designs with waterfalls running through them, Golden Gate bridges. Even the kids had designed beachfront luxury resorts that would make Paris Hilton jealous.

One of the women looked at my milk carton house, looked at me, and then said, with the straightest face, "Oh. We're all architects."

Um, yeah. Thanks for telling me now.

That was 2 years ago. A week or two later I was inspired (again by not martha) to someday make a gingerbread courtroom.

Yesterday I got my first Christmas catalog of the season in the mail. So, I'm thinking now is the time to start the blueprint phase of my gingerbread courtroom that is going to kick all of the architects' buttresses. (Me? Competitive? No, never.)

I'm picturing a "courtroom in Miracle on 34th Street (the original version)" theme.

Anyone know anything about architecture? Or blue prints? Or building? Or anything? You can leave the gumdrop sorting to me.

Best Search Terms

Some of my favorite search terms from Friday...

  • "Buying prostitutes avoid arrested" - I think they probably prefer the word "hiring." And the best way to avoid arrested is not to do it. C'mon, there's lots of nasty diseases (and worse) out there.

  • "Defense lawyer kills own client" - It's ok, I'm sure every defense lawyer has had those days.
  • "80's fashion, jellies shoes" - Maybe for a little kid, but no adult should be wearing jelly shoes. You know, "If you wore a trend the first time around, you shouldn't wear it the second time it comes back into style."
  • t - so glad to see my blog comes up in this important search.
  • "what does a police prosecutor do" - put people in jail (see next search term)
  • "tips to face da interview" - this is the most important search because I see that it didn't bring you to the post I had in mind. If you want my take on a DA interview, you should read this post. I only wish Legally Blonde still had the interview questions up. If anyone can remember them, or find a cached copy, let me know and maybe I can add them in the comments or something.
  • "parole 'girlfriends'" - this is just a weird search, I have no idea what you had in mind. Yes, people on parole can have girlfriends, but it would probably be best to limit the drama to one girlfriend per parolee. And don't hit them. Because that would probably just land you back in prison.
  • Fresh Pepper?

    Fresh Pepper has been abandoned. Maybe even Dooced.

    But, he's working on a book.

    Aaah, I love blogger book deals. It gives me hope that maybe someday I can make money off of this and quit my day job. Although, I probably wouldn't quit. But maybe I could at least pay off my student loans.

    A girl can dream.

    Brady Filing System

    I had to take one of my clients to the prosecutor's office today. That's right, he's snitching. But that's a subject for another day.

    My client and I arrived exactly on time for our meeting, and the prosecutor, in what I thought to be a possible power play, made us sit and wait over a half-hour to see him.

    I was thinking about when I was younger and I went on a tour of some big palace, where there was a grand, ostentatious entrance. The tour guide said that the purpose of the making the entrance so large and beautiful (even where the rest of the palace was not as ornate) was to humble visitors, and to show the wealth and power of the person living in the palace.

    I thought that if the prosecutor really wanted to seem important, he could have made us wait somewhere nicer than a dirty cramped little hall, just a few feet from the copy room.

    In fact, immediately next to the bench where my client and I sat was a very large shredder.

    But the half-hour wait proved to be just a little too short. Because it didn't give me enough time to decide between writing:

    "BRADY MACHINE" in the style of the copy room sign

    or, the less formal "BRADY GOES HERE" (with an arrow downward)


    on the wall above the Brady machine... uh, I mean, the shredder.

    One More Thing...

    Can I just tell you how happy I am that Fresh Pepper is back?

    Ok, now back to my day (or two, or weekend) off from blogging...

    (And feel free to continue to comment on this previous post. I am thinking about a possible follow-up next week.)

    Blonde Joke

    I'm taking a day off from blogging, so all you get from me today is a little blonde joke:

    A blonde gets on an airplane and sits down in the first class section.

    The stewardess tells her she must move to coach because she doesn't have a first class ticket. The blonde replies, "I'm blonde, I'm smart and I have a good job. I'm staying in first class until we reach Jamaica."

    The stewardess gets the head stewardess who asks the woman to leave and she says "I'm blonde, I'm smart, I have a good job and I'm staying in first class until we reach Jamaica." The stewardesses don't know what to do because they have to get the rest of the passengers seated to take off, so they get the copilot.

    The copilot comes over to the blonde and whispers in her ear. The blonde immediately gets up and goes to her seat in the coach section. The head stewardess asks the copilot what he said to get her to move. The copilot replies, "I told her the front half of the airplane wasn't going to Jamaica."

    Bad Prosecutors Will Be Violated

    I have a lot to say about prosecutors today. If you read this blog, you know that I have mixed feelings about prosecutors. I'm friendly with some of them, I think they're good people, and I think we can respect each other in the sense of "I know you have a job to do, I have a job to do, let's see how we can both do our jobs to accomplish something good." And other prosecutors are dirty, they lie, they're all about the conviction at any cost, they have no concern for justice.

    In particular, one of the issues I struggle with is, especially with a prosecutor I don't know, how much to tell them about my case. Especially where my client has a good defense.

    Let me give you an example. Let's say a woman gets robbed. She's walking down the street and a man runs past and rips her iPod from her neck. She doesn't really get a chance to chase after him, and the robber gets away with her iPod.

    A week later, she's on the same street, when she sees a man and she is *positive* this is the man who stole her iPod. The police come and arrest him, right there on the street. He doesn't have an iPod on him, and the iPod is never recovered.

    I represent the accused robber, who swears he never robbed anyone. My investigator and I go out and speak to the victim. She tells me and my investigator that, at the time she called the police, she was positive that he was the right guy, but, now that she thought about it more, maybe she was just nervous being back on that same dangerous street, and maybe she was wrong. And, also, she says, "I'm almost positive that the robber had a scar over his left eye." My client most definitely does not have a scar on either eye.

    Now, if I know the prosecutor, and trust him or her, I could probably call and say, "Hey, listen, why don't you speak to your victim again. Take a look at it, investigate whatever you need to, and let me know what you think." Maybe I would even add, "Ask her about the eye scar." And I would trust that the prosecutor would look into it (by at least questioning the complainant more thoroughly), and if everything I have said adds up, would dismiss the case.

    I'm not saying that every case where my client has some sort of story should just be dismissed. But I think it is reasonable to expect a prosecutor to call his witness, ask some questions, and make an objective decision.

    On the other end of the spectrum, there are bad prosecutors. What would a bad prosecutor do? A bad prosecutor might say, "Oh, really, do you have proof that your client didn't have plastic surgery to repair a scar the week before he was arrested? Maybe that's what he did with the money he got from selling the stolen iPod."

    And then, an hour later, I'd get a call from the complainant saying things like, "The prosecutor said that if I called the police when I wasn't sure it was the right guy, I can be arrested for making a false report. He said I'd better say it was your client, unless I want to go to jail."

    Legal? Moral? Ethical? Maybe he's just seeing how well the complainant will stick to her story, judging her veracity. Maybe he's a prick, trying to intimidate an honest witness.

    If I don't know a prosecutor's reputation, I'll ask my colleagues what their experience has been with that particular prosecutor before I share any info. Prosecutors generally only get one shot at any kind of dishonesty or trickery with the lawyers in my office, so I hope that they think first and use it wisely.

    But what are the consequences, you might ask. I mean, how does it hurt a prosecutor to be distrusted by the public defender's office? So what if public defenders don't make deals with a prosecutor - isn't that a good thing? Doesn't that mean our clients sit and jail and the prosecutor gets a lot of trial experience?

    Sort of. But it also means that when we do come up with that gem on an investigation (like the unsure witness), he will never get a courtesy call. And then it comes out at the trial, in front of the jury - with absolutely no warning to the prosecutor. I've seen that happen a few times, and each time it was a very humbling experience for a very arrogant prosecutor.

    But it is sort of fun to watch. They don't see it coming and then BAM! it's like a train wreck! And who doesn't love a good BAM! moment in a trial?

    Just a Little Pet Peeve

    It really bugs me when my clients remind me that their case is "just a misdemeanor."

    Wait! What? I thought I was assigned to the Capital Punishment bureau! A misdemeanor? How did this pesky misdemeanor sneak in here?

    This reminder is usually immediately followed by the reminder that the case should be dismissed. As in, "It's just a misdemeanor, why don't they just drop it?" Oh, yes, the case is just punishable by up to a year in jail, that's synonymous with dismissal. Gee, why don't I just go tell the judge right now.

    "Judge, excuse me, my client just pointed out to me that this case is just a misdemeanor. So, um... no problem, it's just dismissed, right?"

    And, to be honest, I sometimes use the words "just a misdemeanor." But I have cases that are felonies! To me, your case can be "just a misdemeanor." But you shouldn't have so many open felony cases, that your pending misdemeanor case can't be of the utmost importance to you.

    Because, the truth is, the prosecutor assigned to your case most likely handles only misdemeanors. So, to him, your misdemeanor is one of the most important cases he has. It's like a murder case to a prosecutor who only handles murder cases. And, that prosecutor has to go to trial and win a few misdemeanors before he ever gets to move on to the bigger cases. So, you'd better believe he's not going to just dismiss your case.

    And you face up to a year in jail. So unless you can honestly say the words "just a year," then you can just stop saying the words, "just a misdemeanor."

    Pppfffft.

    My cousin has a son and when he was maybe 2 or 3 years old, she took him to the neighborhood barber for his very first haircut. The barber, as everyone in the neighborhood knows, stutters. All of the sudden, after his haircut, my cousin's son, who was just mastering the little world of talking immediately picked up this stutter.

    Last week, I had a client in court. I forget exactly what the client was accused of right now, but it was something kind of creepy. (And as much as I can defend clients accused of just about anything, I do have a harder time relating to some of the creepy ones.)

    The client had this weird habit. It was like he sort of squeezed air between his teeth and his lips to make like a farting noise. He did it pretty much constantly. Even when we were in front of the judge. I assume it was some sort of tick or nervous habit.

    I kept thinking, "There is no way we could go with a misidentification defense. The jury would hear my client make that farting noise all through the trial, and then they'd hear some kid he's accused of touching say, 'I know he's the guy. And he kept making this farting noise.'"

    Eventually my client took a plea. And even as he was taking the plea, he was making this farting noise. I was afraid the judge was going to take it as a sign of disrespect and penalize my client.

    When I returned to the office, I was telling the story and imitating my client's fart-noise-habit for some of my colleagues.

    That was a few days ago. And now I've caught myself doing it a few times by accident. It's like my mother always warned me, my face has stuck like that.

    My cousin spent weeks researching stuttering and speech therapists. Then, one day, maybe a month or two after the haircut, we all spent the day together and at the end of the day someone said, "I don't think little Davey has stuttered once all day." And, just like that, the stutter was gone.

    Here's hoping I get over the accidental-mouth-farting noise much quicker.

    Snake on a Plane

    I think the best cartoon I saw yesterday (I wish I could find it, but I can't) was of John Karr, the JonBenet Ramsey "suspect" (there's a false confession if I've ever heard one), sitting on a plane. The caption? "Snake on a Plane."

    Genius.

    Really, these Snakes on a Plane jokes will never get old.

    Oh, and by the way, when you fly first class with the police who are questioning you, it's going to be that much harder to say your statements were coerced.

    Technical Question

    I know there has to be at least a few of you out there who can help me figure this out...

    Let's say I have a long MP3 on my iPod. For example, maybe an hour-long interview with a band, during which they also play a few songs, live and acoustic and whatnot.

    I'd like to keep just the songs on my iPod, and I don't think I can get them anywhere else. (I don't think they're available on CD or individually from iTunes, etc.) But I wouldn't want to listen through the hour-long interview (or fast forward through the interview portions) everytime I feel like listening to these songs.

    So, is there a way that I can cut the songs out of the long MP3 and save them individually? Is there some kind of free editing software that isn't too hard to use? Is there any even easier way that I'm not thinking of?

    Thanks!

    Call Me... Spinderella. Yeah, That's It.

    Teahouseblossom has her own problems with Starbucks, but the thing that really bothers me is when they ask for my name.

    Um, I don't even know you. And I certainly don't think we've worked our way up to shouting-out-each-others'-names status. Am I the only one who feels a little uncomfortable with this? Maybe it's the anonymous-online-persona thing, but I feel like my real name is... personal. I know I put it on the record in the courtroom ten times a day. I know I use it to introduce myself to total strangers who have been accused of committing crimes. But, I still don't want it shouted out in a crowded coffee shop.

    Lately I've been coming up with fake names. It started out with me just using other nice female names. (When I was a kid, I thought the most fun part of playing "house" was coming up with my new name.) I wondered when they would confront me, "Hey, didn't you come in here yesterday morning, order the same thing, and give a different name?" But they never did.

    Then, I decided it would be funny to give them the name that is on their own name tag. But it seemed like they never really noticed. None of them had such a unique name that they'd stop and look up at me and say, "Wow, I never thought I'd meet another woman named 'Orangina-tangerina,' what are the chances?"

    So, now I've just been getting crazier and crazier with my name selections. I particularly like to use celebrity names. And the baristas will shout at "Cafe Mocha for Snoop Dogg" without ever batting an eye.

    It reminds me a little bit, though, of my clients choosing their aliases. Sometimes I'm just looking around the Starbucks, stumped for a name, and end up with something like, "Um... Cash Register? Uh, yeah, Cash. That's it, Cash."

    And you wonder how my clients end up with names like "Desk Chair Jones?"

    Or, sometimes, if the drink takes particularly long to make, I end up falling into another pitfall that my clients also fall into... Forgetting my alias.

    Five minutes later, I'm still standing at the counter when I finally mention, "Um, I'm waiting on a Half-Caf Soy Latte?"

    "What's the name?"

    "Uh..."

    "Here's one for Beyonce. Is that you?"

    "Uh... um... yeah, I'll take it."

    But I suppose that's better than sitting in a jail pen all day, waiting for a lawyer, and not realizing my lawyer has been calling out the name that I made up hours earlier and have completely forgotten.

    "Sorry, Judge, but Curtains Floor Smith isn't back there."

    Never Have Children

    The following is an actual conversation that I actually overheard while shopping for a dress on Saturday evening.

    The woman next to me answers her cell phone and says:

    Hello?

    I'm shopping. Why?

    Yes, Stephen, of course I love you. Is everything okay?

    Are you alright?

    (long silence)

    No. Absolutely not.

    No, you are absolutely not having a girl sleep over our house.

    What does her mother say about this? I'm sure her mother doesn't want her sleeping at a boy's house.

    No, Stephen, absolutely not. I will not lie to that girl's mother.

    Stephen, tell me the truth... have you been lying to me when you tell me where you've been sleeping. Tell me the truth.

    (By this point, I was riveted. This was better than any soap opera, and it was unfolding before me right in front of me in the formal wear section!)

    Stephen! I cannot believe you! How could you lie to me like this?

    Wait a minute. Now you're talking about you, and him, and those two girls? What is that, your girlfriend and his girlfriend?

    No, I don't care if you sleep in the living room!

    Stephen, do you really think I'm trying to be cool for a bunch of teenagers?

    Me? I'm sleeping in bed with my husband.

    You can try asking your step-father, but he was in a bad mood when I left. That's why I went shopping in the first place.

    No! No, don't even call him! Stephen, you cannot stay at your father's! Absolutely Not!

    Stephen? Stephen? Hello, Stephen?

    Burn Out

    Burnout is something that is absolutely never spoken about it my office.

    It's something I hadn't put much thought into, but I started to when I read Indefensible. It made me wonder how I'll know when I'm really burnt out, and what I'll do when I am.

    Someone in my office said to me the other day, "Am I going to be stuck here? Am I going to be a lifer?" My office really breaks down into two groups of people... the new guys and the lifers. There are lots of brand new baby attorneys (in their first three to five years of practice), and a big bunch of lifers who have been in the office ten, fifteen, twenty years. And there are just a few in-betweeners. I think some of them are well on their way to being lifers, and have every intention of becoming just that, and others seem like they maybe they just haven't taken the initiative to leave yet, or they're not sure yet what they want to do next. All I know is that I don't want to be "stuck" anywhere. If I'm still at the PD's office in ten years, I want it to be because I still love it.

    So, back to burn out. I wonder if I'll know it when I see it. Some mornings, I walk into the courthouse, say hello to the same court officer who greets me every morning, and think to myself, "Oh my god, am I back here again?" Some mornings it feels like Groundhogs Day. Other days I feel like there is so much left to accomplish, and I think the factor that makes trial work a constant challenge - the fact that it can just never be completely mastered - has me so hooked.

    But it really gets to me: The day to day, going through the motions, waiting for that next trial, waiting for something, anything, to happen. Maybe you could call it a baby burnout. Maybe I just need a vacation. Or a hobby. Or some type of distraction. Maybe I just need to be on trial again. I'm not sure.

    I definitely started at the PD's office thinking that I would be a lifer. Now I feel sure that I'm going to want to do something else in the not-too-distant future. But I'm not so sure what that is. Maybe it'll be something that I can do while still at the PD's office, or something I can do for a set period of time and then come back. Or maybe I'll get out of it entirely. I have no idea. But I'm thinking about it.

    I recently met someone who is in seminary. I thought about it for about two seconds and decided, "That's it. That's what I want to do, I want to go to seminary." Think about it - being a Pastor is a lot like being a Public Defender. You talk to people, you counsel them, you visit them in prison. Maybe I could even be a prison chaplin. Then I thought about it for another two minutes and decided, no, seminary is probably not the thing for me. But I know that I'm ready for something. Some kind of new challenge, some kind of new exercise for my brain.

    One of the refreshing things about reading Indefensible was hearing (or, reading) another public defender's take on burn out. Among the PDs I work with, the term is taboo, I'm sure that I've never heard it spoken aloud. Even when people leave, no one ever says they're burnt out. Maybe that's a good thing - maybe it would be like freshman psychology class hypochondria, where you hear about a symptom and decide that you must have it. Maybe if one person declared himself burnt out, we'd all stop to evaluate ourselves and say, "Oh God, maybe I am too." Maybe that's what happened when I read Indefensible.

    But, either way, it kind of has me thinking about my next life, and what I might like to do. Or, at the very least, where I can go for vacation.

    Near, Far, Wherever You Are

    Tonight is a beautifully mild night. For the first time in a long time, I came home, turned off the air conditioner, and opened all of the windows in my apartment.

    One of the strange facts of city life is that many of the cars that drive that past my windows have music blasting. There's also a traffic light in front of my apartment, which means that I get a minute-long sample of each song. This is how I sometimes learn about the newest rap, hip-hop and reggaeton songs. And how I learn all the words.

    So, you can imagine my surprise tonight when I was eating dinner near my window and when a car stop at the light, I heard a very loud sample of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On."

    All I could think was, "Oh, she is totally begging to be carjacked."

    OK Go - Here It Goes Again


    I have a new favorite music video. It's so amazing that I actually had to sign up for YouTube and figure out how to put a video on my blog so I that could make sure everyone saw it.

    I cannot get over how incredibly awesome this video is. I'm not terribly uncoordinated, but I think it'd be fair to call me only somewhat coordinated. And I've still skinned my knees falling off the treadmill a few times. So, this choreography just amazes me.

    This rocks!

    Junk Brothers

    About a year ago, I found this little bench stool thing in the trash in front of a neighbors' house. It was a little taller than a footstool, and the top opens for a little storage space. Perfect for an extra seat in a small apartment. I checked it out, found it was a solid wood, and brought it home to my mother. My mother repaired the wood, painted it, redid the leather top, and now it looks fantastic in my living room.

    Which is why I love this new TV show that my mother has turned me onto... Junk Brothers!

    For those who are unfamiliar, here's the concept. Two guys (the "junk brothers") set out in their pick-up truck at the beginning of the episode, under the cover of darkness, and find a piece of furniture or two that has been left out in the trash. They bring it back to their studio/garage/workshop and turn it into something awesome. Then, they return to the house that they took it from, leave the renovated item on the front lawn, ring the doorbell and run. They see only a little of the reaction from their truck on the street.

    I really like the idea of thinking about what you can do with a piece of trash. The Junk Brothers tend to redo the found furniture into very different items, not just fix it up or give it a fresh coat of paint.

    For example, in the first episode I saw, they turned a small dresser into a baby-changing table and an old entertainment center into a bar. Both came out very different from what they originally found, and both ended up being pretty cool.

    My only complaint about the show is that they don't get any input from the person they take the trash from. So, for example, when they found the dresser, they commented that there must have been a baby shower because there were other baby type items (and baby-themed balloons) in the garbage. And that's their inspiration for turning it into a changing table, something the new parents could presumably use.

    I understand that they're trying to have an element of surprise, but I think it might be better if they got some input from the family. For instance, they decorated the baby changing table with a Noah's Ark theme. Which was cute. But maybe there would have been something else to match the baby's room. Maybe these people aren't even having a baby, maybe they were hosting a shower for someone else. Heck, for all they knew, maybe they put all that baby stuff in the garbage because they just lost a baby. Yes, it's a morbid thought, but think about how insensitive the show would be if it was true. Don't worry, the woman who came out of the house to get the changing table was noticably pregnant.

    In another episode, they found a desk, and they turned it into a video game console, complete with flat screen TV and built-in steering wheel. It was a very nice idea, but what if the family didn't have a teenage kid? (They did, a boy came out when they rang the bell. Which leads me to think that they scout these things out.)

    I just think that they put a lot of fun little details into their refurnishings, and it would be cooler if they could show you how they tailor it to fit the owner. And it would be a shame if the owner couldn't take advantage of it.

    I also think it'd be cool if they could see more of the families reactions afterward or if they could explain to the family how they came up with the concept, or how they made the changes.

    I know I'm completely overthinking it. But these are just small points on an otherwise cool show. I predict that it will be as addictive as Trading Spaces was, before Trading Spaces was completely overdone. Junk Brothers is a good show, check it out and let me know what you think.

    What to Wear?

    I emailed this fantastic line of Public Defender wear to some of my real life public defender friends across the country, but decided it deserved a little plug here too. Check it out and buy something for the public defender in your life (or yourself!).

    Indefensible Reviewed

    I have a hard time leaving my work at work. Sometimes it's a good thing - spending the night thinking about a case means that I might have a "Eureka!" moment in the shower and come up with a perfect solution for a case or a client. Usually it's a bad thing - I'll take a Sunday afternoon nap and have a dream about that crazy judge yelling at me for something completely stupid. And I know I can't be a good friend when I'm constantly thinking about work.

    So, I try my best to forget work as I commute home. I'll stay at the office as late as it takes to finish whatever I'm working on, so that I don't have to think about it when I get home. Once in a while, I make a decision to bring home one particular assignment, get it done quickly, and try not to let it consume my night or weekend. And sometimes, like during the middle of a trial, it's just unavoidable - I live, sleep, eat, and breathe my case.

    This weekend I did a good job of forgetting my cases and clients for two days. I went to the park with my friend and her kids, I played frisbee with the dog, I shopped for some things I needed, I cleaned up and organized a little bit, I saw some friends I hadn't seen in a while, I enjoyed a yummy lobster bake. And it wasn't until Sunday night that I thought, "Wow. I haven't really thought about work all weekend."

    Unfortunately, I couldn't say that the weekend I got Indefensible. I started reading it one weekend, got totally absorbed and was halfway through it, when I finally thought, "I need to put this away, it's too much like work."

    But that's a good thing. Indefensible is really well-written and gives a genuine taste of a day-in-the-life of a public defender. Immersed in the book, I felt pulled in ten different directions, the way I do on an average day. It includes the heartwarming cases that make me sigh and say, "Yes, this is why I do it," the victorious moments that keep me going ("I'd gotten my first murder client released without bail. It would be more than a decade before I was able to do it again.") and the truly frustrating, burnout-inducing cases that make me say, "Ugh, I know how much that sucks!" and feel glad that I'm not the only one who feels that way. Reading Indefensible made me think of clients in my past, wonder what happened to some of them, and mourn the fate of others.

    But reality can be a good thing. Indefensible should be required reading for any law student or lawyer thinking about a career as a public defender. It amazes me every year when one or two completely naive new lawyers slip through the cracks and get hired at the public defender's office.

    From now on, when some punk law student says to me, "I want to be a public defender," I can say to them, "Fantastic! You read Indefensible, right?" When someone says to me, "You're a public defender? So, that's, like, a prosecutor, right?" I can say, "Oh, You obviously didn't read Indefensible yet." Maybe I'll even send a copy to my mother, so she can finally understand what I do for a living.

    I highly recommend Indefensible to other public defenders. It can be a lonely job sometimes, and it's nice to know that all over the country, there are lawyers working toward the same goals, surviving similarly looney judges, jumping the same hurdles, and just trying to survive the same kinds of days.

    Just don't read it on your vacation. Because we all deserve a break sometimes.

    Idio... Matic

    Today's annoying client phone call came from a young woman who had a serious problem with her idioms.

    "I'm just not going to go into court with my hands crossed, you know what I mean?"

    "Um, no. Why would you cross your hands?"

    "You know. I'm not going to go into this with my hands crossed. You know, my hands crossed."

    "Um, ok, so anyway..."

    Then later in the conversation:

    "I didn't lie. I'm not going to bite my tongue. She's the one who is lying. She's going to have to bite her tongue."

    "Um, no, I'm sure you're not lying, but..."

    "Are you going to make her bite her tongue? She's lying. You're going to have to make her bite her tongue."

    The conversation was full of these. I was so lost.

    I tried so hard to stay in the conversation, but all I could think was, "No, lady, you bite your tongue when you try to hold back from saying something. You don't bite your tongue because you got caught lying."

    And I have no idea what crossing your hands means. Maybe it means someone is talking about you. Oh, no, that's when your hands burn. Nevermind.

    My Pathetic Real World Rant

    Ok, I can't hold it in anymore, I must blog something about The Real World: Key West. And I know that my unhealthy obsession will quickly become apparent, but, here goes...

    How freakin' annoying is Tyler? He's so rude, but he has the nerve to constantly complain about other people being inconsiderate? He is the first one to talk about other housemates (e.g. constantly bad-mouthing Svetlana and that stupid third grade book about the housemates), but gets so irritated about other people talking about him? (And, by the way, complaining to your mother when someone is being a total asshole to you is not the same as being a gossipy little bitch.) You're so "tender" and "sensitive?" Ever heard of don't dish it out if you can't eat it up?

    But here's the best part. Or, maybe it's the most annoying part. But, either way... When Tyler was constantly picking on Svetlana, no one took her side, did they? Everyone went right along with Tyler. Especially Jose, who seems like he will just jump on any bandwagon. (I blame John to a lesser extent, because at least he usually stands up for himself.) But it's not so funny when you're the target, is it?

    Oh, and now that the other housemates are pissed off at Tyler, he's sweet to Svetlana again? "Svetlana, should we put more spices in here? More basil?" She should tell him to fuck off.

    The lesson we need to learn from these kids, who are definitely old enough to know better, is that it's never cool to make fun of people and no one likes a two-faced person.

    Oh, and Tyler, your paintings sucked. And you're Olympian event was super lame. How's it feel when someone makes fun of you?

    (By the way, if you were wondering where Paula Walnut's myspace page is, it's here. If you scroll down there is a really scary picture of her in a bikini, complete with anorexic rib cage.)

    Good Luck on the Bar

    A few years ago, when I was still in law school, one of my law school roommates graduated and went on to take the bar exam in another part of the country. I decided I wanted to send her a good luck card.

    I went to the biggest greeting card shop I knew of, and I looked around for at least one "Good Luck on the Bar Exam" card. I found nothing. Actually, I found "Good Luck at Summer Camp," "Good luck on your first day of school," "Good luck at the dentist," "Good luck passing that kidney stone..." Good luck on just about everything EXCEPT the bar exam.

    I asked the woman at the counter, but she just stared at me like I was a moron. Seriously. As if law isn't a huge industry. As if there isn't a market there. Go ask BarBri.

    I ended up buying my friend a cute card that had some seriously hot high heeled leather boots on the front. On the inside I wrote something like, "You've got the right shoes - Kick some ass." And I thought to myself, not only is there a market here, but I could totally corner it.

    Well, as with many things, I never got around to my bar exam greeting card business. Maybe someday.

    But in the meantime, if you're looking for a pre-bar good luck greeting, check this out from Anonymous Lawyer.

    You can't go wrong with the sentiment:
    Anonymous Lawyer wishing you luck on the bar exam. Because it's not just a test of legal knowledge. It's a test of your value as a human being.
    Send one to your favorite lawyer-to-be today!

    Real World Update

    Are you like me? Are you fascinated by this season's Real World? Especially that train-wreck of a Tonya Harding look-alike, Paula?

    Do you wonder if she's just too unhealthy to make any relationship work, especially one that's already broken?

    Do you wonder what will become of her - and her abusive relationship?

    Well, here's a hint:
    CNN.com - 'Real World' Cast Member Arrested - July 11, 2006: Paula Ann Meronek, 25, allegedly bit her boyfriend several times when he refused to let her into their home early Sunday morning, police said.

    Fantasy Recap

    It's a quiet day in the world of fantasy sports, at least for me.

    Baseball is on the All-Star Break, and the World Cup has come to an end. (As if you didn't know that!)

    In case you're wondering, my team, Pele in Pink, finished 2nd in the Blawger World Cup 06 League (I won't post the rankings because some people might not have anonymized, but I will say that whoever was in 1st led by A LOT. Go ahead and take credit in the comments if you want.)

    Pele in Pink was also ranked 7,315 in the U.S. Really, that's not so bad! It's 90th Percentile! Which, I think is a good thing. (Or could it mean that I'm in the bottom 10%? Nah, let's be optomistic - It must mean I was in the top 10%.)

    Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my baseball team. My team, the Pink Panthers, is ranked 10th out of 12 (and I just moved up from 11th, where I had been stuck for weeks). I'm convinced I need to come up with a better name if I'm going to improve... but what should it be?

    The criteria: It should be something that takes into account my love for all things pink and, if possible, has something to do with baseball. Last year, my team was Caught Stealing (a baseball reference, and a reference to something that has happened to many of my clients.) And I finished 5 out of 12. This year, The Pink Panthers has no reference to baseball, and I'm ranked 10 out of 12. Should I go back to Caught Stealing? I was confident I'd be able to come up with something better...

    Blog Therapy

    In response to my post on The Ominous Omnibus, Anonymous Law Student asks:
    Sometimes I can see myself as a PD....and sometimes I can see myself in jail for strangling some future client. How do you not totally flip out on someone like that?


    It's because of this blog that I can have a sense of humor in these situations. Instead of gritting my teeth, or blowing up at my client and screaming, "SHUT UP! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN OMINOUS HEARING! YOU'RE NOT A JAILHOUSE LAWYER, YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!!" I'm grinning and thinking to myself, "Oh yes, keep it coming, this is going to make fantastic blog material!"

    I have no idea how public defenders without blogs get through the day.

    On Faking It

    Apparently, I'm not the only one who wonders if Ken Lay may have faked his own death.

    In fact, this website has even released a fantastic "autopsy photo."

    So, it's time for a blogpoll. What do you think?

    Legal Advice from Lil' Kim

    A friend informed me the other day that rapper Lil' Kim had been released from prison.

    "Good," I said. "I hope she writes a song about it."

    I even tried to come up with some possible lyrics:

    Went to trial, against my lawyers' advice,
    Next time I know I better think twice.

    A little research reveals that she's already addressed the issue in a song:

    Coulda copped out to a one to three do
    Still took it to trial, even though I blew
    Brooklyn style, that's how we do it
    ill gangsters and ain't got to prove it

    Ok, seriously, is this why all my clients with the worst cases want to go to trial? And what would your legal advice be - if you had to put it in rap lyric format?

    Gross Mustache Man

    I thought it was important for you to know:

    I saw a commercial today for Geraldo Rivera.

    And his mustache totally grosses me out.

    It doesn't even move.

    Yuck. He'd be more attractive if he glued a rat to his face.

    That is all.

    Weekend in Review

    I had a fantastic weekend, and I'm back, rejuvenated and ready to face the week. Or, at least, the half-week that remains.

    I'll give you a quick rundown of my weekend away...

    I ate tons of food, all junk.

    I saw two baseball games.

    I saw 3 nights of fireworks.

    I heard that song "Proud to Be an American," which, by the way, I hate.

    I saw lots of really cool wildlife (and not in a zoo!)

    I shopped, but didn't buy much.

    I finished Indefensible (review coming soon!)

    I received The Interpretation of Murder, but didn't start it yet. (For anonymity's sake, I had it shipped to a friend who I knew I would see over the weekend. But then, my friend started reading the book, and I couldn't get my hands on it all weekend. Which was ok, because I was finishing Indefensible.)

    I saw The Devil Wears Prada. (Cute, but very different from the book. Maybe plot-wise it was better, but it was missing some of my favorite details from the book - like the doorman who always makes Andy sing.)

    I thought a lot about an upcoming trial, even though I tried not to. I even had that dream I have sometimes, where I show up for school and find out the final exam is today and I haven't even opened the book.

    So, with that, I'm going to go prep my case a little bit more...

    Investigation Pays Off

    I had a huge, amazing, delightful break through on an investigation today.

    There is just absolutely no substitute for a fantastic investigation. I cannot understand attorneys who don't get out there in the field and do their own investigations. Now, maybe if I had a truly fantastic investigator, it'd be easy to just hand my cases off. But, instead, I perform many of my own investigations, either with other attorneys or with my amazing summer intern. (And if there's any chance a case is actually going to trial, I definitely have to get out there myself.)

    I feel like I have such a greater understanding of my cases just by visiting the scene, visiting the scene, and visiting the scene again. There's just so much that can be acheived by seeing something in person and speaking to people in person.

    Just as an example, I've had a very serious case pending for quite some time. It's scheduled for just after the holiday weekend and I still could not find the complainant. My investigator and I tried every technological means possible. We visited the scene, we visited his friends, we visited his enemies, we visited the scene again. It was like he was a ghost.

    Finally, tonight, we went back and retraced the route again: visited the scene, spoke to his friends, spoke to his enemies. We saw one witness we had spoken to before and asked, "Hi! Remember us?" He kissed my hand, offered us coffee, and... finally... introduced us to the complainant.

    I spoke to the complainant for all of two minutes when he said, "I'm not going to come to court. Tell your client I forgive him, I just want to get on with my life."

    I could have had the best investigator in the world tell me "No, he's not coming to court," and, as much as I would have wanted to believe it, I wouldn't have known for sure.

    But having seen it for myself, I know that I can relax this weekend.

    Happy 4th of July.

    It's All A Popularity Contest

    The boys at Barely Legal point out that they are now the second listing when you google "Barely Legal."

    Inspired, The Littlest Tortfeasor takes a moment to assess her google listing.

    When I first started this blog, two long years ago, I was concerned with my place in the google world. (Now I'm much more concerned with my Technorati links.)

    And, like the boys at Barely Legal, I too am up against porn, which is generally hard to overcome in google rankings.

    Anyway, today, inspired by The Littlest Tortfeasor, I googled Blonde Justice.

    And, check it out! I have surpassed the Blonde Justice porn!

    Who knew this day would ever come? I would like to thank God, my readers, everyone who ever said I couldn't do it because that just made me work harder...