Blawg Review #61

This week's Blawg Review is a collaboration between myself, Woman of the Law, and Not Guilty. As lawyers, we often do our best work when we collaborate with others. Sometimes that means trying a case with co-counsel. Sometimes that means repeating the facts of a case to colleagues again and again, while each one adds a different idea of an area of investigation, a legal argument, or simply a different perspective. Sometimes that means saving a new lawyer from "reinventing the wheel." Most certainly, all of these interactions lead us to better lawyering, and, in this case, better Blawg Reviewing.

Woman of the Law is a new public defender. I love reading all public defender blawgs, because I think that as much as things change from one jurisdiction to another, some things really stay the same - our clients, the difficulties we go through, and the dilemmas zealous representation often raises. In particular, Woman of the Law's reflections remind me of things I've been through in the past few years, the ongoing frustrations and, at the same time, why I came to love the job in the first place.

Not Guilty has been around the block a bit longer and is doing what so many of us dream of doing. She has quit the firm and is started her own small practice. She has a fantastically seasoned perspective and a sense of humor in her writing that I really appreciate.

We've each chosen a few of our own links, which we're showcasing here along with Blawg Review reader submissions.

Woman of the Law
I am a Woman Of The Law. I am a public defender, new to the profession, and have already a) cursed out a few of my clients, and b) cried in court, but not in front of the judge. I love what I do, and hate the system, which is why I often find myself at the bar after work.

A corporate attorney thinks that technology + law = BlackBerry. Here in the nitty gritty world of criminal defense, we cannot afford to have an Egg McMuffin, much less a Blackberry. Instead, we use technology to figure out if we are hot or not. I mean, we use technology to help out our clients.

Tales of a Public Investigator teaches us how to use MySpace as an investigation tool.
I was still getting too many hits and not enough background info so I switched over to my new favorite tool: IceRocket is great in that you can do very specific searches without have to screw around with a lot of Boolean search terms, you can search directly on Myspace or Blogs (I did email them to ask what blogs were covered in their searches...all they would say is, "We try to cover everything." Yup, at least they responded to me email) and in all fairness their Blog and Myspace searches are friggin fantastic!

Apparently Audacity and Public Defender Dude found someone else who knows how to use MySpace!

Sentencing Law and Policy mentions how states are considering the use of GPS monitoring to track sex offenders:
The rock group The Police have a number of songs that might effectively describe the modern trend of requiring GPS tracking of sex offenders: not only is Every Breath You Take a fitting theme song for these developments, so too might be Can't Stand Losing You or even Don't Stand So Close to Me. And, of course, the band's very name is on-point.

This musical interlude is inspired by this recent USA Today article, which effectively explores the "rapidly rising number of states using GPS to monitor convicted sex offenders."
To be honest, I have never fully grasped how these have worked. Can a GPS tell when someone is looking at porn? Can a GPS tell when someone is having dirty thoughts? Can a GPS tell when someone is committing a crime? If so, then I cannot for the life of me imagine why GPS toys are so popular with men between the ages of 18-45.

It seems that Tbagged is having some BarBri technology issues:

Well, the movers ate my printer paper, so I was all geared up to turn it in via e-mail last night. I finished yanking made-up torts from betwixt my asscheeks and slapping them into a word document. Then, because the directions I hadn't yet read mandated that the essay be typed directly into my e-mail (no attachments allowed they screamed, italicized and bolded just like that!) I had to re-type the whole fucking thing into my gmail window. So once that delightful little torture was over and I'd been forced to actually read the excement I'd just created and stare in the mirror of my answer to see just how retarded I am and just how painfully this test is going to sodomize me, I finally typed the email address BarBri gave me next to the "to:" field and hit the send button. But look! Suddenly I have new mail from some guy called " MAILER-DAEMON" over at the Barbri office!

If I were you, buddy, I'd opt out of taking the bar exam on computer.

Magic Cookie eschews the use of technology in research .
Today I had to do some Very Important Research -- in books!

I almost wish I had been a pre-computer lawyer. It was fun being surrounded by stacks of books, frantically flipping through and writing down dates in my little notebook and sticking little bookmarks in, and getting even more stacks of books off the shelves. So much better than Westlaw.
Preach on, sister. I have to say, since I left law school, I've discovered that using books is far more helpful than using the computer. Hate to admit it though. I suppose that a stapler might count as technology.

Over at Suburban Ecstasies, some thoughts on how internet and television may create the appearance of a threat that doesn't actually exist.

The fact of the matter is, not only do such sting operations bring potential sexual predators into the communities in which these operations occur--predators who would not otherwise be present in the instant population--they also don't tell us very damn much. How many fourteen year-olds are on-line trying to meet fat, balding fifty-two year-olds for sex? Are there any? I mean, that aren't in fact fat, balding fifty-two year-old police officers with a hard-on for some hot geriatric-on-teen (um, I mean geriatric-on-geriatric) online chatroom action (and who use the "cover" of their job to get it)? Has anyone heard of any case in the last five years in which a fourteen year-old girl was raped and murdered by a man she invited into her home after meeting him anonymously in a chatroom? Can anyone name five such cases? Why isn't anyone demanding that some sense of the scope of this problem--the actual problem, not the one police gin up--be represented on television alongside the Hollywood version?

Next time you're kicking up your GPS while surfing the net for 52 year old bald men while checking your MySpace page and reading a treatise on civil judgments, just remember who first brought it all together for you.

Not Guilty
As the self-proclaimed CFO of our new law firm, I’m always looking for ways to get new clients (translation, make more money!). Carolyn Elefant over at My Shingle says that new lawyers should reduce fees and compete on price.
My Shingle: Competing On Price - Why Not?

Ed Poll from LawBiz Blog says exactly the opposite and gives several compelling reasons why lower fees may not bring you more clients.
LawBiz Blog: Don't lower your fee -- Fee is not the issue!
It’s hard to find that perfect balance between charging too little and charging too much. On thing Poll points out is that people tend to believe they get what they pay for, but what I find true in actual practice is what he says about Money just not being the issue with clients:
Money is seldom the issue with clients, according to all the surveys and focus group studies I've seen. Thus, there is no reason to lower the fees. Focus on what is really important to the client ... Ask the client what that is in each case ... They want rapid response to their inquiries; they want lawyers with whom they have great rapport and who understand the client's business and personal needs. They want lawyers who understand what they want in the lawsuit ... !!!!!
I’ve been reading My Shingle since I moved to this new city and I’ve actually e-mailed with Carolyn Elefant a couple of times, she’s very active in the local solo/small practice arena and is just a font of information for new and veteran solo and small practice attorneys. Today she has "Three Friday Freebies for Solos”. While the freebies are great, the most compelling part of her post was at the end where she says:
Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch. While these resources may all be free, can you free the time to take advantage of them? (By the way, if anyone has tips on what you do to make the time to follow up on these kinds of articles, e.g., reading them on the train to work or in bed at night, please share your ideas below).
Not having time is the reality of small business where you are required to do everything yourself. I’m anxious to read what kind of tips people have for making time.

My interests these days span from small practice setup to adoption, since we’ve just sent in our application for adoption. Along those lines, I’ve come across some websites by lawyers who answer a ton of questions about adoption. The first one of this genre of blawgs that I’ve come across is Adoption Hotline, written by Attorney Janine A. Barbera Esq. Ms. Barbera has a pretty interesting post about famous people who were adopted or who have adopted. It’s kind of like the Hannakah song by Adam Sandler, but with adoption instead.

Blonde Justice
I myself have been at the public defender thing for a few years. And while I am not too ashamed to admit that I may have been reduced to crying in court a few times in my career (also never in front of judge!), I am also proud to say that it's been so long that I have a hard time remembering when it happened last (a year ago? maybe?).

When my clients tell me "No deal, I'm taking this all the way to trial!" I always tell them the same thing. "I'm with you, but I hope you know what a long process this is. I don't want to hear a year from now that you're sick of coming back and forth to court, because this deal will be off the table by then, and you're going to have to stick with it." And, still, so many clients are shocked by how long the process is and how many adjournments it takes to get to trial. This week, Ken Lammers at CrimLaw shares the history of a trial, and what exactly that entails.
CrimLaw: History of a Trial
Judge: "You're sure that you don't want to send a cab to pick [the witness] up and bring her to court? Or maybe you can send the trooper to go get her?" For a second I thought he would ask the prosecutor to mobilize the National Guard.

In an ongoing look at prosecutors who offer leniency in exchange for donations to charity, Skelly at Arbitrary and Capricious takes a look at the practice in Bellingham, Washington.
Arbitrary and Capricious: Washington: It's Pay to Play in B'ham Court
In another place and time with a similar set-up, I was torn between my ethical obligation to get my client the best possible outcome, and my moral sense that the whole racket stank. I used to explain the deal to a client by saying, "it's sort of paying a legal bribe." Yikes, indeedy!

Milbarge at Begging the Question takes a look at the Atkins hearing - which determines whether or not a capital defendant is mentally retarded, and, therefore, ineligable for the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, and the juries that decide those hearings.
Begging The Question: Death-Qualified Juries and Atkins Hearings
But the neat trick with that is they get to death-qualify the jury that hears the retardation evidence. And, it would seem likely that a death-qualified jury might be less eager to agree to excuse the defendant on grounds of retardation. I can see that you might still have to death-qualify the jury if the hearing were pre-trial, but it wouldn't be logically compelled, and the jury wouldn't necessarily have heard all that guilt or victim impact evidence, even if it were death-qualified.
Also on the subject of mentally ill defendants, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast examines the difficulties of properly housing mentally ill defendants in an non-treatment setting. Obviously, this is a problem across the nation, but this article looks at solutions for Texas.
Grits for Breakfast: Counties Explore Solutions for Mentally Ill in Texas Jails
Jailers aren't social workers. Their facilities aren't equipped to handle the mentally ill and their guards aren't properly trained. Inmates who've had psychotic breaks might improve after being given their medication, but can't stay on the treatments without help once they're out in the free world again. Nobody seems to have a great answer, but between them Texas counties are testing quite a few different solutions.

Albert Clifford at Defending Those People points out a video of a young woman (who happens to be a prosecutor's daughter), being abused in a jail lock-up, after being arrested for playing music too loud. You'll have to see the video to believe it.
Defending Those People: Police Brutality
Like the girl says on the video, if this beating is what happens to a sober, white woman who is a prosecutor's daughter and was simply taken in for having a radio too loud, what happens to poor, minority, guilty people? Far too often, I'd guess.

Another disturbing story comes to us from PD Dude who writes about the "monitoring" of confidential and privileged client conversations.
Public Defender Dude: Listening in on Attorney Client conversations isn't just for Terrorists Anymore
Just about all of our conversations with our clients are "monitorable," meaning, the Police have the ability to record nearly everything we say to our clients. However, having the ability to do it and actually doing are totally different. It now appears as if they are abusing that quite frequently.

And, if you enjoy legal blogs (or "blawgs"), which you must, if you're reading this, you should know that Ian Best at 3L Epiphany has put together a Taxonomy of Legal Blogs and is looking for any blawgs that he has neglected to mention. (Sorry, he doesn't do law student blawgs, he saves that for Clever WoT's Law Student Blogger Directory.) So, take a look and make sure that none of the blawgs you enjoy are missing:
3L Epiphany: Open Invitation for Additions to Taxonomy
I have created this post so that readers can suggest additions and improvements to my Taxonomy of Legal Blogs. Readers can use the Comments feature at the bottom of this post...

Contributors' Submissions and Readers' Recommendations

Perhaps the most important collaboration of the year was Brangelina - Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And their work product? The Brangelina baby - Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. Both The Trademark Blog and The J-Walk Blog have some of the published photos of the Brangelina Baby as well as links to some discussions of the legal issues surrounding the sale of the Brangelina baby photos.
The J-Walk Blog: Shiloh Nouvel Photos

The Trademark Blog: You're On Your Own As To What To Make Of All This

Also from Marty Schwimmer at The Trademark Blog, a comic book on Public Domain...
The Trademark Blog: Tales From The Public Domain
Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain has produced a comic book, in which a copyright is accidentally exposed to gamma rays and develops incredible elastic properties.

Wordlab examines another interesting collaboration: between Moosehead Beer and a man charged with selling a moose head illegally on eBay.
Drink Moosehead Beer - Help Free Bob
Moosehead Breweries Limited, Canada's oldest independent brewery, made big news recently when they came to the aid of a Canadian charged with the crime of selling a moose head to an American bar -- on eBay.

Health Care Law Blawg takes a census of blawgs on the 'net today, citing articles on the past, present and future of blawging, and considers a collaboration of his own.
More Blawgs on a Roll: 1,200 - 643=557
I've been toying with the idea of a collaborative health care blog idea and was excited to see that Tom predicts collaborative blogs will be on the rise in the future.

On the subject of collaborations of the same-sex type, Diana L. Skaggs at LouisvilleDivorce compares the analyses by Congress, the American Bar Association, and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, as well as her own views.
Same Sex Marriage Issue in Congress, Again
As a family lawyer who is a member of both organizations, I have been privileged to observe, participate in, and be enlightened by the critical analysis of the law and the principled positions articulated. When the hysteria is removed from the debate, the issues are economic, constitutional, privacy, and religious.

The Online Guide to Mediation offers support to attorneys in the ADR field. Now, that includes a World Directory of ADR Blogs.
Online Guide to Mediation: World Directory of ADR Blogs Launches
When I first began blogging in January 2005, only a few active ADR blogs existed. Today there are enough of us to warrant our own directory.

How about "rock, paper, scissors" as a form of alternative dispute resolution? The Dark Goddess of Replevin shares an apparently real court order granting just that.
The Dark Goddess of Replevin Speaks: Better Than a Fist Fight
Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of "rock, paper, scissors." The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County...

On a much more serious note, Jeralyn Merritt's Talk Left has some interesting posts lately. This week, she inquires about the man who snitched on Zaqarwi and whether that information was as a result of torture.
Zarqawi Snitch in Custody of Jordanian Police for Months
Does anyone have any doubt that Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly, the Iraqi customs inspector who turned on Zaqarwi after being arrested and held for months by the Jordanian police, talked as a result of being subjected to torture? Connect the dots.

Everyone loves a good mystery. In this case, I.M. Kierkegaard, at Kierkegaard Lives explores one that involves the murder of a New York Appellate Clerk and has all the makings of an episode of Law & Order.
Legal Questions Raised by Slaying of NY Appellate Clerk
The case presents a myriad of complex legal and factual issues that Porco's co-workers say he would have found fascinating.

In a pre-cautionary tale, Kevin Heller at Tech Law Advisor describes "My First Cease & Desist," which he expects to receive in June, 2014, eight years from now. The lesson? Parents, avoid lawsuits, don't let your kids watch the Disney channel.
Tech Law Advisor: My First Cease & Desist
It has come to our attention that your son is gifted in the visual arts. It also appears, that according to your Time Warner and Comcast Cable records for the period 2002 to 2006, that he watched approximately 250 hours of Disney licensed content...

Wondering where Mr. Heller got his inspiration? Maybe it's not just Disney. Both Rob Hyndman and Kevin O'Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs look at the real-life embarrassing move by megafirm Baker & McKenzie, which sent cease-and-desist letters to potential infringers of FIFA World Cup streaming-and-downloading rights before any of them had done anything and before the World Cup had even begun.
FIFA Pre-emptive Demand, Redux
[T]he rightsholder’s counsel is at it again, this time targeting Boing Boing (”Hideous company sends Boing Boing a pre-emptive nastygram”) with a “don’t even think about it” letter concerning streaming and downloading of World Cup material. The letter is online.


LexBlog Blog : Baker & McKenzie makes asses of themselves via blogosphere
I've had my head taken off by a Chief Marketing Officer at a large law firm telling me they have no need for blogs nor to find out what they were about (mind you I was invited to the firm). Large law firms need to wake up and fast.

Actions like Baker and McKenzie's and copies of letters like this one can get spread across the world like wild fire. And it ain't only to go show up on the Internet which is bad enough. I'll be surprised if this one does not end up in The Times, the UK's daily national newspaper.

Eh Nonymous at Unused and Probably Unuseable writes (in text only!) about why his blawg remains picture-less.
Unused and Probably Unusable Blogging Like a Lawyer: Text-only?
First of all, I'm pseudonymous, although only thinly undercover. Dozens of readers, commenters, and fellow bloggers know who I am. I openly disclose what I do, where I do it, and what general kind of cases I work on. I just never felt that my actual, personal identity was relevant to whether my writing was at all interesting, or any damn good. See this discussion in my post, Carnival of the Anonymous, and in the comments, where an innocent question from a loyal reader elicited a rambling, and at times near-hysterical, response from me.

Bob Ambrogi on ALM's Legal Blog Watch writes about the shortage of indigent defense in post-Katrina New Orleans, and in other parts of the country.
Katrina and the Right to Counsel
With more than 1,000 people sitting in New Orleans jails without access to lawyers, Judge Arthur L. Hunter Jr. decided he had no choice but to begin releasing defendants and suspending their prosecutions.

Denise Howell, at Bag and Baggage provides her take on Garcetti v. Ceballos, asking the question of what is official speech by a public employee, while technology such as blogs blurs the line between official and private (but very publicly available) speech:
Ceballos Whiffs On The Web

The Court hasn't accounted for someone who speaks publicly (as on a blog), but not entirely — or perhaps even primarily — as a non-work-related endeavor. Also strange is the Court's emphasis on the fact Ceballos physically "went to work" to perform these tasks, implying this circumstance speaks to whether the tasks were within his job duties. Presumably the parallel antiquated concept would also hold true: that activities performed outside the physical workplace somehow automatically aren't part of work.

Jeff Jervis at Buzz Machine picks up where Denise Howell leaves off, with the topic of whether blogging is professional endeavor for a professor.
BuzzMachine : Blog or Perish
If professors blog as professors, they bring their scholarship and perspective to a larger world. That is good for their scholarship — conversation yields learning as people question and challenge and add to what you say — and, presumably, it is good for the world if they contribute knowledge and perspective to the public discussion.

Finally, if you, like me, found the stolen sidekick story to be one of most interesting internet hullabaloo since Jesus on the Grilled Cheese, you may be interested in May It Please the Court, where there's an excellent piece on how to erase personal data from electronics which leaves me wondering whether these tips might have helped the man who "lost" his sidekick.
There's No Reason Theft Of Sensitive Data Should Be Exposed To Criminals
While Lojack for Laptops is more robust (there's more hard disk space on a laptop) and has more options, both programs generally accomplish the same thing: they lock the device down, preventing unauthorized access to the sensitive data, and if the owner sends an appropriate command, then the software wipes the hard drive, making the laptop/cell phone worthless.

Well, that's all for us. We hope everyone enjoyed Blawg Review #61.

Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.


  1. Great job! Very interesting mix of topics and blogs.

  2. Y'all did a fantastic job! It actually took me two separate visits to check out all the links.

  3. Great post! You're doing some really great work here, keep up the great work!