Ladies of the Blawgosphere

WWFD is one of my favorite blogs, and one of the first that I check everyday.

Although technically a "blawg," E. Spat doesn't focus on law, or even the serious, very often.

But, when she does, it's a good one.

I didn't know Alaska was still feeling the effects of the Exxon Valdez spill. Or, that there's something we can do about it. Read Will Work for Favorable Dicta: Exxon Was Here: Make them pay! to learn more. (Complete with a citation! I'm so impressed!)

Elsewhere in the blawgosphere, Just Peachy has apparently hung up her keyboard. Sad, because I really like to see other PDs blog. I think PDs are all the most fantastic people, and I love to hear what they have to say. But I can appreciate how hard it is to balance being true to yourself, your clients, your colleagues, and your blawg. So, I don't blame her, but I hope she'll consider a reincarnation someday.

In the good news category...

F&D has a job all lined and up and is now making her way through BarBri. Hooray! (Also, if you're looking for yet another bar exam blog, I just received a request for a link to Virginia Bar Exam Blog. Might be helpful whether you're in VA or not.)

2 baby announcements - Not Guilty has made the decision to adopt internationally. I can't wait to read tons of baby stories! But, be forewarned, friends of ours adopted a baby last year and now, oops!, she's pregnant -- with twins! I wonder if there's ever been a study done of how many women get pregnant quickly after adopting.

And, in the "How Did I Missed the Big Announcement?" Category, I think APL is once again putting the "P" in APL. (In other words, I think she's pregnant again. Either that, or she's just wearing maternity clothes for fun?) I wonder if she'll have to change her description of how she named the blawg.

UPDATE -- This just in: Audacity is being promoted to a felony lawyer! Major congratulations are due. (And, on the sad side, she also, like so many of us, contemplates blogging, anonymity, and whether it is worth it to continue.) Stick in there!!!

Did I miss anything else? Anyone have any announcements they want to make, or anything else want to share? The floor is open...

Baseball Scruples

Alright, here goes the baseball game story...

I went to a baseball game over the Memorial Day weekend.

There were 4 people sitting directly behind me. 2 couples. We'll call them girl 1, her boyfriend was guy 1, and there was guy 2, and his girlfriend, girl 2.

Girl 1 is the type of person who just talks because she just likes to hear her own voice constantly. I sat in front of her for about 3 hours and, by the end of the game, I knew her whole life story. Mostly she was talking to Guy 2. (In other words, not her own boyfriend.) Every once in a while, her own boyfriend, Guy 1, would add something, but mostly it was Girl 1 talking to Guy 2 the entire time.

Which made me think that maybe they were ex-es. Or, at least, they were probably more-than-friends at some point in their lives. They had a certain easy way of talking that made me suspect that. Also, Girl 1's name was Chelsea, and he started or ended every sentence with "Chels," which seemed just a little too familiar to me.

One of the things that really annoyed me about Girl 1 was that she talked like she was a baseball expert but, really, she had no clue what was going on.

She would say things like, "Wow, that shortstop made a great catch!"
Guy 2 would say, "That wasn't the shortstop, that was the pitcher."
And Girl 1 would say something like, "Well, he's like a shortstop the way he (mumble, mumble, mumble)."

On one of the scoreboards, they showed games at other stadiums, and the pitching match-ups.

Girl 1 said, "Oh, look who's pitching that game, that's my friend's fiance."

No one else really acknowdleged her.

So, she kept going. She kept saying things like, "Oh, this pitcher's having a bad day. I'll have to ask Jen's fiance what's going on with him. I can ask him at the wedding."

Finally, Guy 2 said, "Jen's fiance? Really? I thought they broke up a while ago. Did they get back together?"

To which Girl 1 said, "Oh, I don't know, I haven't talked to Jen in a few months, I guess, but I thought that (mumble, mumble, mumble.)"

I didn't realize how quiet Girl 2 was until her boyfriend got up and went to the bathroom. Then, Girl 1 leaned over and said to her, "So, Guy 2 tells me you just graduated?" Girl 1 said, "Yeah, a few weeks ago." And that's when I realized it was the first time I was hearing Girl 2's voice. I don't know if she just didn't have anything to say or if she couldn't get a word in through all of Girl 1's talking.

Girl 1 said, "That's nice. Do you know what you're going to do yet? Do you have a job yet?" Girl 2 said, "I have a teaching job in the fall, so I'm just kind of taking it easy this summer."

I had turned around and saw Girl 2 a few times, and she looked really nice. She had on a pretty silver sparkly top, a baseball cap and braids, and she was looked just as annoyed by Girl 1's talking as I was. I wondered how she got herself dragged into this, why she couldn't just say to her boyfriend, "Nah, I don't feel like hanging out with your friend that talks too much today," and I thought she looked like she was wondering how she got herself dragged into this too.

Guy 1 seemed pretty nice. Quiet, but I guess he'd have to be, to get along with his talkative girlfriend.

I thought that maybe they'd all be better off if they rematched the couples. But maybe talkative people need to be with quiet partners, the opposites attract theory.

Anyway, here comes the most interesting part. Girl 2, the one I felt sorry for, got up to go the bathroom. And, when she did, Girl 1 said to Guy 2, "I am so sorry for mentioning the $500 thing."

"Er, yeah, I didn't want her to know," Guy 2 said.

(I missed the original mention of "the $500 thing," I must have been successfully tuning her out at that point.)

Girl 1 continued, "Yeah, when I saw that the Kentucky Derby was on, I was just thinking, Guy 2 must be there losing all his money on this race."

Guy 2 said, "Yeah, I went to the derby and I lost $500. But she didn't know that. Her graduation was that weekend, so I told her I was sick so that I didn't have to go."

Girl 1 said, "Ha! Sick of her!"

And they both laughed.

Guy 2 continued, "And then, I didn't even have any money to get her a graduation present or take her out or anything."

Girl 1 laughed and said, "Oh, don't worry about it." Of course she doesn't care if Girl 2 doesn't get a graduation gift!

I spent the final innings wondering if I could somehow pull Girl 2 aside and say something.

I think if it were me, I'd want to know. I don't know if I'd be happier knowing the details of what some stranger overheard, or just a general, "Hey, get rid of him, you can do better."

I bet that she already has her doubts about her relationship, and maybe she just needs an outsider to reinforce it.

I guess when in doubt, it's better to mind your own business. But, as we were leaving the stadium, she was right in front of me, and I was really tempted to tap her on the shoulder and say something...

What would you have done?

Memorial Day Weekend, In A Nutshell

Things I made:
Pina Coladas
Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Things I read:
Anonymous Lawyer (about half-way done!)
Plenty of blogs (Over on the right.)

Things I saw:
A baseball game (more on that later)
The Da Vinci Code (very good, but the book was better)

Things I wrote:
Voir Dire and Opening Argument
This post

What Would You Do For A...

Who's ready for a follow-up change-the-facts to my questions on The Price of Freedom?

Most of my clients say they'd do "ANYTHING" to avoid going to (or staying in) jail. In the Price of Freedom scenario, these are clients who would, presumably, give their last dime to stay out of jail. Unfortunately, they rarely have a dime. So, what about their free time? What about if we're talking not about money, but about time?

Again and again, cleints tell me they'd do "ANYTHING" to avoid a/another night in jail. Really? Would you do community service every single day for a week to avoid a week in jail? Sure, most people swear they would. But, would you do community service every single day for a month, two months, six months, a year, to avoid a week in jail?

I have many clients who would say "Sure," just so they could hit the door and never look back, and I have clients who absolutely would (and could) do a year of community service to avoid a week in jail. I have clients who are single parents engaged in custody battles, they know that even a few days in jail could mean losing their kids forever - they'd do a lot of community service to avoid a little bit of jail. And they'll do it reliably and with smiles on their faces.

Unfortunately, I also have clients with very short memories, who swear repeatedly that they'd do "ANYTHING" to get out of (or stay out of) jail. They get sentenced to a little bit of community service (one to five days), with a long jail alternative (15 days, 30 days, 60 days), and end up with a million excuses of why they didn't do the community service. Most commonly, "I forgot." Well, gee, when you wanted to get out of jail so badly, and you said you'd do ANYTHING, I kind of didn't think that "ANYTHING" meant "anything but agree to do one little thing and then remember to do it and then actually do it." But, hey, what do I know?

So, if you're not going to complete your obligation, is it ever better to just take your jail time and get it out of the way? For instance, I have many clients who are sentenced to counseling. The court-run program meets one day each week for 6 months. To me, that would probably be nothing. It's a little longer than a semester. But so many of my clients look at me like that's the longest program in the world - they can't even imagine doing something that reliably for that long and not missing a session or giving up all together.

But is it worth it? What's the alternative? Well, if they miss too many sessions or get kicked out for any reason, they will go to jail. (Oh, and the classes cost money, but that's going back to the other post.) So, many clients stop going the week that they can't find someone to take care of their kid, or the week they can't get the night off of work, or the night that they don't have any cash on them, and then they're afraid to go back the next week because they might be in trouble for missing a session, and soon they're kicked out. Sometimes the jail alternative is a year, sometimes (depending on the client's record and the charges) the jail alternative is 15 days in jail. 15 days? If you factor in good time credit, credit for time served when they got arrested, maybe throw in a weekend or a holiday, on a 15 day sentence you could be out in about a week.

Now, considering that many, if not most, of my clients are going to mess up and not going to complete the program, and they're going to end up doing the jail time anyway, it almost makes more sense for them to just do the jail time up front rather than pay for and sit through the classes for a few months, then find themselves kicked out and doing the jail time. But, how often do you think I can convince a client of that? How often do you think a client says, "Sure, you're right, I'll never do that class. I'll just stay in jail another week right now and get it over with?" Here's the answer: Never.

And, truthfully, it makes a bad impression on the judge to say, "Judge, he'll just take the 15 day jail alternative up front, he's not going to do the class." In fact, the judge would probably be so put off by that that he'd actually increase the jail sentence.

So, again, we come back to what is your time worth? Maybe the clients who say they'd do "ANYTHING" to get out of jail have it wrong. Maybe jail is the way to go. So, for example, if you had the choice of 1 day of community service or 5 days jail, everyone would do the 1 day of community service, right? But what if it was 5 days community service or 5 days jail? Let's say you already have 2 days jail credit from the time of your arrest. Factor in a weekend, maybe that could come down to 1 day jail or 5 days community service? Is jail so bad that it's five times worse than community service?

Doesn't it depend on what the community service is? Obviously, a day spent stuffing envelopes in the municipal building isn't too bad. But what about a day of cleaning out the public bathrooms in the park? That sounds pretty gross, but is it as gross as jail?

I guess to better answer that, you need a realistic idea of what a jail is like. Yes, it's a lot of sitting around, hanging out, watching TV. But, it's smelly and dirty and gross. (And, if you don't know the smell, you can't imagine the smell. But, I can attest, you do get slightly more used to it, if not completely used to it, eventually.) The people you're with are criminals at best, dangerous and mentally ill criminals at worst.

So, is it ever worth it? Anyone pick jail? Does it ever become "worth it?" What if I threw in a klondike bar?

Blonde Justice Book Club

Two books I haven't read yet, but I'm planning to...

First, Indefensible by David Feige. I've already ordered my copy. I love Indefensible, the blog, and I'm really looking forward to Indefensible, the book. So, I invite you to pre-order your copy from Amazon or a personalized, autographed copy from the author himself. If you don't, you'll feel incredibly left out when every blawger is blawging about the book and you can't even get your hands on a copy.

(By the way, I got nothing, not even a free book, out of this plug. I'm just genuinely excited about the book. And I expect similar free reciprocal publicity someday when I write my book.)

The second book that I've ordered is Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman. I haven't been a regular reader of Anonymous Lawyer, the blog, although I did catch the whole "He's just a law student!" controversy. The big-firm-lawyer thing, whether fictional or not, is something that's foreign, but not foreign enough, for me. I never summered at a firm, I never interviewed at firms, I never got caught up in the firm thing. So, in one respect, it's as foreign to me as if I was a non-lawyer reading that type of blog. But, in another respect, I have law school friends who did go to big firms. And, it's interesting, to the extent that we discuss it, because in some regards I guess it bugs me to know that they spend on lunch what I can afford in groceries for the month, but I know that they always want to hear about my job because I have a truly interesting job, so I've just come to accept the fact that every job has its own pros and cons. I know I would love to have that salary, but I know I couldn't handle that kind of bullshit, so, I guess we all make our own choices.

Anyway, Anonymous Lawyer, the book, is apparently either based on, or inspired by, Anonymous Lawyer, the blog, and is written in blog format. I have been offered an advance copy of Anonymous Lawyer (not quite sure when I'll receive it), so you can also look forward to a review of that sometime in the future.

So, we'll getting all literary around here. Next thing you know, there will be real content and everything. Shocking, I know.

The Price of Freedom

A couple of months ago, an anonymous commenter wrote:

I had a client who stole roughly 250k from her employer over the years. Yes, she was able to post bond. Yes, she got a public defender. No, she couldn't come up with any cash to pay in restitution. Yes, she did go to prison. Yes, she got out not too longer afterwards and drives a much nicer car than me.

Earlier this month, WotL wrote:

My other case is also a first arrest. If she agrees to pay restitution, she will avoid a conviction. It's a good deal. My client insists that she didn't do anything, and is angry that she was even arrested in the first place. She believes that this is a vengeance issue, but after I did some investigation and advised her that she doesn't really have a good defense, and that the District Attorney seems to have a pretty solid case, she said "If that's what I have to do then I'll do it." Should I tell her to just pay the money and be done with it? Pay it, get no conviction, move on with your life?
I've had similar cases and I've put a lot of thought into restitution. I think an interesting question is, how much time in jail would you be willing to do for how much money?

So, in the case in the first comment, let's figure this woman stole $250K (I didn't even the need the "she" to tell me it was a woman, that was a no-brainer). And let's just say that she did 1 year in prison. (I'm just making up the prison time. It definitely could've been more, and I'm not factoring in parole time.) And she knew that after she got out of prison, she had $250K waiting securely for her. (I'd like to think it'd at least be in an interest bearing account, but let's just say it was buried in the backyard.) Is that worth it? Is a year in prison and a criminal record worth $250K? It's a lot more than I make in a year. But, having a criminal record for stealing from your employer means you're probably going to have a hard time finding a (good) job in the future. And $250K is certainly not more than I could make in a lifetime. Although, maybe for some people it is. If you made, say, $30K-$40K per year, and you're a little bit older. It might actually be a good retirement plan.

People compete on Survivor, where the living conditions are arguably much worse than prison, for a chance at $1Mil. Let's compare:

Prison: Pros: Roof over your head, three square meals, less mosquitos, fewer "challenges," more visitors allowed. Cons: Can't quit when you feel like it, possibility of assault or rape.

Survivor: Pros: Great outdoors (if you're into that sort of thing), better scenery, co-ed setting, anyone who assaults you will get kicked off the island, can quit anytime you want, 40 days maximum. Cons: Eating rats or bugs or nothing at all, forced to participate in challenges (particularly if you want the money), not guaranteed a roof over your head, not guaranteed a million dollars or a car or anything at all.

(Of course, you could always win a million on Survivor, and still end up doing jail time.)

If you wouldn't do one year in prison for $250K, would you do it for $500K? A million? There's got to be a breaking point where it might be worth it to do the time. And it's probably different for everyone. For instance, if you're working at a law firm and making $100K a year anyway, it'd probably take a lot more for you to give up that job than, let's say, someone who is making minimum wage.

Or, consider lifestyle. If you're living in a nice house with a tivo and cartoon network and a computer and wireless internet, it's going to be a lot harder to give up than, let's say, someone who is living in squalor.

Now, on to WotL's client. Let's say that you were accused of stealing one thousand dollars. And you absolutely positively did not do it. No way, you're absolutely not guilty. But, for arguments' sake, let's say that the facts make that hard to prove.

Your lawyer says to you, "If you repay the $1K, they'll dismiss the case. If you don't, we'll go to trial. Maybe you'll win, maybe you'll lose. If you lose, you'll have a criminal record and you'll probably get jail time, my guess is that it would be about thirty days in jail." Do you have that much faith in the system? (I sure don't. Innocent people get convicted, guilty people go free. The system is far from perfect.) Would it be worth a thousand dollars just to avoid the risk? Many people spend a thousand dollars or more on a lawyer, and that's just to help them avoid the risk.

But is it different if you're "repaying" money that you didn't take in the first place? Knowing that money is going into someone's pocket, maybe even the person who wrongly accused you?

If the amount of jail time you were risking was greater, would that change your analysis? If you were risking a year in jail, two years in jail, ten years in jail, would it be worth a thousand dollars?

Most people have access to one thousand dollars, if that's what they needed. Maybe they don't have it cash in their wallet, but at the very least, they might know someone or a few people who could come up with the money if necessary. And, if you actually stole the money, it's a little more likely that you'd have the money. (Although, I think that the poorer you are, the more likely it is that you spent the money as quickly as you got it.) So, if you have some money, you might be able to buy your way out of this situation. And it'd probably be worth it. But someone who is homeless, or on public assistance, doesn't really have this same option. They just have to take their chances in an imperfect system.

Another scenario I see sometimes, as a public defender, is a client who has the means to hire an attorney. I will represent them at arraignment only, and after that they will have to hire a private attorney. In this scenario, the client is charged with something very minor, such as a traffic violation or, at worst, marijuana possession. Client tells me that he is not guilty, not guilty, not guilty. The court offers him some lesser non-criminal charge, along with the payment of a fine. Here are my client's options at that point: Take the deal, pay the fine, knowing he did nothing wrong, and be done with it, OR spend more than the cost of the fine to hire a private lawyer, and, in the end, he might end up paying the fine anyway. Financially, at least, it makes more sense to take the deal.

Which brings us back to WotL's scenario. Her client may have to take numerous days off from work to fight the case. And, even if she fights the case, she may still lose, and may still end up paying the restitution, and also get a criminal record and possibly some other penalty (community service? probation? jail?). Financially, at least under the theory that time is money, it makes more sense to pay the restitution and move on with your life.

On the other hand, for some people time isn't money. If you don't have a job, if you don't have a child at home to care for, maybe your time isn't worth much. Maybe it's worth it to come to court as many times as it will take.

But what considering it in some light other than financially? What about ethically? Do we have an obligations, either as defense attorneys or as hypothetical defendants, to say, "No, you can't just falsely accuse someone and expect them to hand over their money?" Does the prosecutor's office have some obligation to say, "Sorry, we'll punish people for their crimes, but we can't be a collection agency; If you want your money, take him to court?" Maybe that would put a stop to frivolous criminal complaints that are really just an effort to extort money from ex-friends, ex-lovers, and ex-business partners.

But, going back to the financial consideration... is jail ever worth it? How much would you have to be paid to take, let's say, a year in jail? How much you would you pay to buy your way out of jail? Would you be willing to pay more or less if you knew you didn't really "do it," whatever it was that was getting you sent to jail in the first place? Is paying restitution to your accuser any different that paying legal fees or court fees?

Thoughts people, let's hear 'em!

Happy Birthday To Me

2 years. 580 posts. 170487 unique visitors.

Here's to avoiding the terrible 2s.

(Card courtesy of the all new imbroglio.)

24 Hour Notice

Just in case you forgot, which you probably did, tomorrow is my blawg birthday.

I know, I know, it's hard to shop on a Sunday evening. So, I'll give you all day tomorrow. But I expect my gifts by dinner time tomorrow.

A Moment In The Life

My client stood accused of stealing some clothes from a department store.

"They're saying that you..."
"It's all true," he interrupted.

"Well, let's just go over the facts real quick. It says..."
"I know what it says. I did it, I stole those clothes. Can you get me out of here?"

"Let's see, I have to find out a little about you. Are you working or going to school right now?"
"Yeah, I go to school, that's why I had to boost them clothes."

"Well, I've had a look at your rap sheet. You already have a criminal record from a few other cases. I'm pretty sure I could get you time served on this case. Is that what you want?"
"Sure, sure, whatever. I just want to get out of here."

We go in front of the judge, and I'm able to convince the judge to give my client time served if he pleads guilty.

I enter the plea, and the judge asks his standard follow-up questions which include, "Do you understand that you are entering a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor charge, that is, a crime?"


I turned to him and said, quietly, "Calm down. You never have to plead guilty if you don't want to. But you told me that you stole those clothes and you told me that you wanted to plead guilty and get time served, right?"

"Yeah," he said, "but I didn't know it was a crime to be stealing!"

In the end, he took the plea, got time served, and got to go home. (He probably would have stayed in jail if he didn't take the plea, because he didn't have money for bail.)

But I spent the rest of the day thinking, "WTF? He didn't think it was a crime to steal? What did he think it was? Did he think paying for clothes was voluntary? What a punk."

Ahhh, some days I love my clients.

Blonde Mom Goes To The Movies

When I talk to my mother on the phone, I'm almost always assured that I will get at least one fantastic "Blonde Mom" quote to laughingly share with my friends after I hang up the phone.

Today was a doozy. I spoke to my mother for a half-hour and hung up feeling like my head was going to explode from all of the crazy things she said. Sometimes I wonder if I should take notes while I'm on the phone with her.

Unfortunately, many of the quotes relate to closely to my "real life" to be shared on the blog. But here is one little gem I saved just for you...

Blonde Mom: I think we might go to the movies. We want to see that RV movie.
Me: Hmm, that sounds nice. Oh, by the way, what do you think of that 9/11 movie?
Blonde Mom: Well, that guy said it was good.
Me: What guy is that?
Blonde Mom: Ernie.
Me: Who?
Blonde Mom: You know... Ernie. You know... Bert and Ernie. I think Ernie is the one who said it.

What are the chances they were talking about the 9/11 movie on Sesame Street?

Go Lawyer Ron!

I went to look at the Kentucky Derby entrants, thinking for sure I'd cheer for whoever is going to wear the most pink (that would be Cause to Believe.)

But then I found Kentucky Derby racer "Lawyer Ron was named by Hines for his attorney, Ron Bamberger."

Wow, how sweet would it be to have a client name a racehorse after you?

I think the next time a client offers me a few dollars as a tip, I'll say, "Nah, that's ok, why don't you just name a racehorse after me?"

(And my jockey will definitely wear pink!)

Fill It to the Rim, With Brim

Last night, I said something was "full to the brim." Which made me sort of remember that old song, "Brimful of Asha." Does anyone remember that song? The chorus went...

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow
Everybody needs a bosom

How strange for that to pop in my head.

I remember, when that song came out, listening to two people have a debate about the word "brimful." What is a brimful? I guess one person argued that it could means "full to the brim," but that kind of doesn't translate well... that's like, you could say something is "full to the top," but you couldn't say that it's "a topful." Well, you could say that, I guess, if you meant the amount it takes to fill a toy top, or a bikini top or something. (Uh oh, now we're talking about breasts.) Anyway, I guess by the same argument, you could say that a "brimful" is however much it takes to fill the brim of a hat. Maybe? I don't know.

Anyway, where was I going with this mess? Oh, right. Last night, I said something was full to the brim and I had this whole stupid thought about that song that I hadn't thought of since probably 1998 or something.

And then... hold on to your hats... or at least the brims...

This morning I heard the "Brimful of Asha" song.

Crazy, right? What are the chances?

(I mean, the chances of me hearing that song. Not that I'm crazy. I already knew that.)

Congratulations if you just followed all of that.

The Womb, Endless Source of Beer Cozies

I got together with a few of my cousins this past weekend. (We're all girls, there are no boys to "carry on the family name.")

One of my cousins is 35. We'll call her "Nelly." Nelly got married about 2 years ago, and had a baby about a year ago.

What's the nicest way to say this about Nelly . . . She's immature. (Yes, that's the nicest way to say it.) She married this guy that everyone in our family hates (and I think she might hate him too), because she was in a hurry to have a baby. Why? Because her older sister (let's call her "Kerry") has a baby, and Nelly was upset that Kerry and her baby were getting so much attention. So, I guess Nelly decided that she needed to have a baby too. (Yes, a good reason, I know.)

So Nelly married this guy, who has been her underachieving boyfriend for years. Underacheiving is a bit of an understatement. The best thing I can say about him is probably that he can drink a lot of beer. If you ever have trouble finishing a keg after a party, he's your man. Hey, but you have to have things to be proud of, right?

And he just looks worse in comparison. When Kerry met her husband, we all hated him. There's nothing particularly bad about him, he just doesn't have much of a personality, so we thought Kerry could do better. Now that Nelly married a total loser, we all find ourselves saying things like, "Wow, we used to hate Kerry's husband - but at least he has a job!"

So, I got together with a bunch of my cousins this weekend, including Nelly. Nelly brought a giant envelope full of hundreds of pictures of the baby. (FYI, the baby was there. It wasn't like we needed pictures to see what he looks like or anything.)

Everyone took a turn flipping through the photos and saying "Oooh, he's so cute." (I don't get it! He's right there! If you want to see him be cute, turn towards him and pay attention to him!) Finally, it was my turn.

I started flipping through the photos, and it only took me a few seconds to realize... hey, there's something weird about these photos...

The first one, baby in a little baby chair thing. In the background, a case of Coors Light.
Next picture, baby on a beach. In the background, a case of Budweiser.
Next picture, my cousin's husband that we all hate, baby in one hand, Corona in the other.
Next picture, baby in the pool with Mommy, Mommy holding a Molson.

This continued for 100 photos.

Are babies the newest drinking accessory? Do they maybe think they can submit these photos somewhere, and get the kid a job in beer ads? Or, is parenting really so bad, they always need a drink?

But, most importantly, how hard is it to do what people have done for centuries (or, ok, at least decades) and hold the beer bottle behind your back - or even behind your kid - when the camera points your way? I mean, seriously, frat boys hold their beers up to the camera, mommies and daddies don't.

Anna Nicole Meets Her Match

Ashton, you've got nothing on this guy.

Complainant Credibility

I found this article from the New York Times, on murder statistics in New York City, fascinating. (Subscription Required.)
More than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records; and of those who wound up killed, more than half had them.

"If the average New Yorker is concerned about being murdered in a random crime, the odds of that happening are really remote," Mr. Farrell said. "If you are living apart from a life of crime, your risk is negligible."

Criminologists confirm that assessment. "People will be shocked to see how safe it is to live in New York City," said Andrew Karmen, a sociology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and an expert on victimology. "Victims and offenders are pretty much pulled from the same background. Very often, young victims have young killers. Very often, the victim and killer knew each other."

This is an interesting point. In murders, as in many crimes, the victims or complainants often have criminal records. That's how they end up running in the same circles, being in the "wrong places" at the "wrong times."

And, we, defense attorneys, recognize this, for the most part. Sometimes the complainants in our cases have longer criminal records than our clients. Does this justify our clients' crimes? Is it okay to murder someone who has been convicted of petit larceny? No. But if one person, with a long record of burglary, testifies that it was my client, with no criminal record, who committed a burglary, it seems obvious that maybe he's shifting the blame for his own crime.

It seems that the public often doesn't recognize this.

I had a conversation with another lawyer who, when we discussed criminal defense, said something like, "I don't think I could do your work, I couldn't work with all those convicts." Well, it may surprise you how often you probably are working with convicts, how many people you run into everyday that have criminal records.

But, moreover, it amazes me that many prosecutors don't recognize this. Or, maybe they do, and they choose to ignore it. But, when I say to a prosecutor, "My client says he didn't do it..." the typical prosecutor's reaction is, "I don't believe him, he's an accused criminal."

Ok, I can see where you get that from. But, what about the person you do believe? What about the fact that he is a a convicted criminal?

What happens a year from now, 2 years from now, when my client, who you can't believe now, is a complainant? Then you'll be willing to believe him above all else, and disbelieve whatever defendant stands accused at that point?

Can I be the only person who thinks this doesn't make any sense?

Just Push Publish

I have a thousand almost-finished posts that are feeling not-quite-done-enough. I think I just need to push "Publish Post" again, to remind myself what it feels like.