The Lion, The Wiccan and The Separatist...

News flash:High Court Sides With Inmates on Religion

It takes a corporation...

The United States Supreme Court overturned the Arthur Andersen conviction today. The unanimous opinion found that the jury instructions were flawed and suggested that the definition of obstructing the lower court used was a bit too broad.

See, all it takes to get a good criminal law decision out of the big supremes is either Jeff Fisher, or a good corporate defendant.


A year of blogging...

So as it turns out, today marks a year of blogging. Or in the charming narcisistic vernacular of the blogosphere: Happy Blog-a-versary to me...

Thanks to all of you for tuning in to some of the last 365 days worth of ranting about indigent defense and fulminating about the state of the world. Some first year stats: Just over 5,000 people have read the blog (the counter went in about 6 months ago) and if you were to do a Google search for "indefensible" the first two results would be me.

And what is to come?
Well, if all goes well, my book will come out in the next year and I'll have a darn good time running around trying to publicize it.

And in the interim...
I'll be here blogging. Maybe even about a few of the things Google also terms "indefensible" such as:

--Bill Frist's Tax measures
--The Hitler/Stalin Pact
--Nuclear Weapons
--Donald Rumsfeld
--The Electoral College

Ah...so much to discuss.

After all, NOA is still out there. Prosecutors are still visciously screwing over indigent defendants by withholding exculpatory evidence, and advocating for outrageous sentences. Politicians are still catering to victims at the expense of process and justice, and judges are still pandering to the press and seeking to burnish their "tough on crime" credentials at the expense of poor folks and black folks.

All in all, it seems like there is plenty to be pissed off about, and plenty of wrongs to right, or at least to write about.

So thanks for reading, and here's to another year of the intermittent musings of a pedantic public defender...


Dozens of Alabama attorneys forced to drop indigent defense cases.


The Mandatory Family Snitch Law

Under this law proposed by Rep. Non-sense-enbrenner, anyone who "learns" of a drug crime who fails to report it to the cops within 24 hours gets 2 years in jail.

But wait, there's more: Not only do you have to report, you then have to do anything they want, including wearing a wire. Refuse to wear a wire against your own kid and you can go to prison for between 2 and 10 years.

Some Stats on Indigent Defense...

In case you were wondering, here are the Bureau of Justice Statistics's Indigent Defense Statistics. Interesting stuff...

Here is what I found most interesting:
Publicly financed counsel represented about 66% of Federal felony defendants in 1998 as well as 82% of felony defendants in the 75 most populous counties in 1996.

Conviction rates for indigent defendants and those with their own lawyers were about the same in Federal and States courts. About 90% of the Federal defendants and 75% of the defendants in the most populous counties were found guilty regardless of the type of their attorneys.

Of those found guilty, however, those represented by publicly financed attorneys were incarcerated at a higher rate than those defendants who paid for their own legal representation 88 percent compared to 77% in Federal courts and 71% compared to 54% in the most populous counties.

But...on average, sentence lengths for defendants sent to jail or prison were shorter for those with publicly-financed attorneys than those who hired counsel. In Federal district court those with publicly financed attorneys were given just under 5 years on average and those with private attorneys just over 5 years. In large State courts those with publicly financed attorneys were sentenced to an average of 2½ years and those with private attorneys to 3 years.

While 69% of white State prison inmates reported they had lawyers appointed by the court, 77% of blacks and 73% of Hispanics had publicly financed attorneys. In Federal prison black inmates were more likely than whites and Hispanics to have public counsel 65% for blacks, 57% for whites and 56% for Hispanics.

I Just love this headline...

Local artist shares her 'Lucky Charms'



In this cool site, Brad Christensen posts a number of hilarious exchanges with Nigerian 419 scammers. (4-1-9 by the way refers to a section of the Nigerian criminal Code concerning frauds)

The site also has great stuff on all kinds of tax, investment and real estate frauds and including such gems are the Self-liquidating loan and the Offshore Unsecured Credit Card scam, and the Historical Bond Fraud.

A night of fine reading.

They Shoot Narcissists Don't They?

An Actual Website Called Narcissism 101 contains the following gem:

"Lawyers are also apt to feel and act powerful and sometimes they think they are above the law. They often go on into politics. They understand that appearances count, how they dress, what restaurants they go to, their offices etc. Narcissism is always lurking in the Law. How many badly dressed lawyers do you know? How many tell the truth?"


Bad Prosecutor!

Judge finds that a federal prosecutor tampered with a Boston police memo about a witness's attempt to recant.

Bali High

Aussie gets 20 years for weed.

The court in Bali could have sentenced her to death. Frighteningly, it is not uncommon in Indonesia for foreigners convicted of drug charges to be sentenced to be executed. Indeed in an exhibition of international prosecutorial evil, the angry prosecutor plans to appeal, seeking a life sentence. My advice? Avoid Bali.

Republicans Must Pay

Yep, it's true a judge has found that the treasurer of Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC), a PAC founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, violated Texas campaign laws by failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate campaign contributions. Basically the ruling indicates that Delay is a corporate tool, and a mendacious one at that. The scummy Delay backed PAC was ordered to pay over 200,000 bucks.


Charge or Release

NY's City Council is Finally Considering a 24 Hour Arraignment Bill

It's about time. The NYCLU estimates that 62 percent of people arraigned in The Bronx were held more than 24 hours in contravention of an age old, but basically unenforceable consent decree. In this case there ought to be a law.


The Steinbuch Stops Here...

So in a vain attempt to connect my prurient interest in little Bobby Steinbuch to something related to law or justice, I have decided to post
the actual complaint filed in the case.

Now I’ve looked over the claim and two things strike me: Why did he use a Clearwater Florida attorney named Jonathan Rosen, and why on earth did he only request $75,000?

Is having your intermittent tumescence revealed on the Internet and touted on blogs like this only worth $75,000? It seems strange to me that someone who passed the bar would actually shoot so low, particularly in light of the reputed $300,000 book advance Jessica swung from her month of sex blogging.

So could it be that Jonathan Rosen is a law school buddy of Bobby’s and this entire thing is a little tempest created for the sole purpose of pumping some much needed blood into Jessica’s flaccid Amazon rating (now hovering around 24,758th—a ranking that suggests that no-one is buying the book.


She's Out...

Thanks to JDA I can point you to an article from Wisconsin that reports that the pregnant woman I blogged about before--the one who voluntarily sought help for a drug addiction and wound up detained, was finally released.

Of course, she's lost her job, and her husband had to take a leave of absence from his. Great way to incentivise treatment.


Assistant public defender wins DA nomination

This could be interesting...

Pete Partee--Public Defender

Many times, friends asked Pete Partee why he chose to represent parties who appeared to be guilty, sometimes of heinous crimes. He usually gave the short answer: "If I don't, who will?"
He was a public defender for nearly half a century--starting in 1969.

"'You don't get flowers and candy when you're the public defender,' Partee says of a job that often put him at odds with the general public. 'The public defender's job is a real ministry.'

Partee admits it was usually difficult to avoid getting emotionally involved in the work. Sometimes he didn't try to avoid it. He couldn't help getting nervous on the eve of a big trial, and during those trials he'd replay every testimony in his mind while trying to get to sleep.

'You get a letter one day telling you they want to kill your client,' Partee says, referring in general to the cases where the prosecution seeks the death penalty. 'Someone once asked me if every case I took was important. I knew that to my clients, it was usually the most important case they ever had.'"

Go Pete...

Sure you were wondering...

Where I ate today...
Three big meals, three big combo platters.
Some mighty fine BBQ! Details to follow...

On the Road to Rolla

I'm too full to fulminate. Had some fine BBQ yesterday in St. Louis, heading south for some more.

It's bad enough that I had to stay at Harrah's (ok it was my choice) but did I have to loose a ton of money in their casino too?

Best to stick with the ribs.


The Last Harrah

Harrah’s St. Louis Casino may well be the worst casino in the world.

There are seedy casino’s where the gamblers evoke pity, and some goofy casino’s (Holland-America in Amsterdam for example) where you pay to play but seldom has any huge corporation managed to suck the pleasure out of loosing hard earned money quite as well as Harrah’s. There’s no food to speak of (at least not late at night) the drinks come around so infrequently as to be non-existent, and there is a variant of craps in which, inexplicably 11 doesn’t pay on the pass line.

I’ll not bore you with how badly they screwed up the reservations.
Avoid at all costs.

It’s time to eat some BBQ!


So I land in St. Louis, arrive at the crappy Harrah’s hotel, sleep fitfully and awake to find…that I’m scooped!

Somehow, even though I pitched this idea more than 9 months ago, Slate chose this week to dispatch fellow Slatester David Plotz to MO to do the same piece. I hate when that happens. I hereby vow not to read his until mine is written.


It's good to be me...

It's a pretty good bet that if I'm not fulminating about something, I'm probably eating. This maxim dictates that there will a decrease in the former and an increase in the latter this week. Why? I'm off to St. Louis and Kansas City to report a piece from Lexus Magazine about BBQ.

That's right, while you all go about your lives, I'll be driving a fancy car around Missouri spending four nights and eight meals eating nothing but pig, slow cooked in some of the best pits in the world. Yum.
I'll miss you all, and will try to post from the road.


This is Little Bobby:

Below is some more info on Robert Steinbuch the republican who sued over his treatment in a confessional sex blog...

Now I admit to being a little squeamish about posting about this, and only partly because it has nothing to do with justice, or indigent defense.

The truth is, in her foul materialistic self involvement, Jessica Cutler (the aforesaid sex blogger) exemplifies much of what is wrong with America today--it's not the profligate sex (that's kind of hot) or even taking money for taking it up the ass (that's just pathetic) it's the confusion about the power of policy and the overriding sense that being a Washington insider with access to real political power is really just about nice outfits, shopping and getting laid--that is to say about her rather than us, about the governors rather than the governed. And that, my friends is what being a republican is all about.

So even though she worked in Joe Lieberman's office--it seems pretty clear she's at best, (not that we want her) a democrat in republican outfits and beds.

So if she's so foul, you reasonably ask, why spend more blog space on HIM?

Because as despicable as Jessica is, this limp dicked, sore looser actually was such a republican that instead of taking his sex lumps like a man (Man? Silly me. He was a wanna-be cop) he went crying to the court to get some m-o-n-e-y.

So without further ado here's the scoop on Robert Steinbuch:

He is a lawyer (Of course he is.)

He works for Mike DeWine ( A United States Senator for Ohio who bills himself as "one of the United States Senate’s strongest advocates in supporting efforts to protect the lives of unborn children.")

Kind of funny that Robert, who as you recall can't cum with a condom on, works for a guy looking to ban abortion...
(Better be careful Little Bobby your boss might make sure you get a baby mother soon)

He is also a part time ethics instructor. (Are you kidding me? On the ethics of what exactly?)

And He is an Associate Professorial Lecturer position in Law at the George Washington University School of Law. (Is that like the most pathetic title of all times? Really, he might as well wear a 'Moron' shirt--Associate lecturer? )

And...yes...the tidbit that makes the whole thing relevant (and get's me so excited I could just erupt, condom or no..)

"Prior to joining the IRS, Robert spent four years as a Trial and Appellate Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.



Enron Defendants Offer to Pay Jurors More...

Enron broadband defendants offer to boost juror pay "

Former executives in Enron Corp.'s defunct broadband unit who are on trial for charges including conspiracy and fraud have offered to privately boost pay for jurors"

Who says money can't buy you justice? Amazing that a federal judge has even agreed to consider this. Then again Kenny Boy was Bush's single biggest contributor and these Enron guys are his pals.

Poor Little Bobby Steinbuch

Ok, allow me to descend into juvenilia for just a moment:

Robert Steinbuch got to sleep with this:

And now he's suing.

Only a republican!

No really, I kid you not:
"Robert Steinbuch, a staff attorney for a Republican senator, admits that he is one of six men referred to in an explicit web log, or blog, kept by Jessica Cutler, aka The Washingtonienne, a young Senate staffer. Other details in the graphic accounts of her partners’ proclivities and performance — two of them were paying her for sex and another was a senior Bush appointee — gave Ms Cutler instant notoriety when she was unmasked as the author

Steinbuch, is claiming at least $75,000 damages for a “gross invasion of privacy” in a lawsuit that sets an unlikely test for America’s First Amendment right to free speech.

Seriously, what a...um....republican.
Clearly he has hurt feelings--after all Jessica describes him in her blog this way:

"RS cannot finish with a condom on. He can barely stay hard. So he ends up taking it off and humping away at me. Maybe I forgot to tell him that I'm on the Pill. Note to self...

I also learned that he was a cop, so he has scary police shit like handcuffs in his closet. He implied that we would be using them next time, which is intriguing, but I know I'm going to get scared and panicky. (Which would probably turn him on.)

I'm afraid I really like him. I like this crazy hair-pulling, ass-smacking dude who wants to use handcuffs on me. Shit.

Of COURSE he's a republican AND a cop. And he's (I just have to say it again...) SUING! Seeking refuge in the judiciary-- that branch of government republicans love to hate (until they're outed as flacid law and order perverts anyway).

Here's an archive of her Jessica's Blog:


A Whiny, Trite Prosecutor Blog...

Thanks to CrimLaw and Arb. and Cap.yet another object lesson in why I loathe prosecutors.

This from Claudia, (cleverly spelled Cleadeedeh) an Assistant DA in Las Vegas:
After blogging about a few important issues of the day such as "America's top Model" and Brittany Spears, Cleadeedeh goes on to discuss at some length, her dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system.

In this clever and insightful post, she is complaining about a defense attorney she describes as a "habitual liar" who "makes misrepresentations about victims to the judge." The big problem, though, is that she gets "a 6-month sentence cut in half, just by batting her eyelashes."

Say it ain't so!

This is ADA Cleadeedeh...

And this is a little bit of the (rather psychotic) rant that follows:

"As with all other shady, evil defense attorneys, I come back from court and share with my colleagues (fellow prosecutors) the extent of her (the particular defense lawyer she hates) treachery. This is nothing unusual. We all discuss defense attorneys' tricks. Knowledge, afterall, is power.

WELL, apparently trash-talking is not allowed when the defense attorney is juiced in w/ the judge. I was told by my boss today 1) that I needed to refrain from saying negative things about this defense attorney and 2) that I needed to go out to lunch with her and make friends with her.

I am aghast at both requests. While making nice is always a noble endeavor, the bigger picture is what is bothering me here. She didn't like what I was doing so she went behind my back TO MY BOSS and now he's strong-arming me into not doing what we all do with regard to every shady defense attorney that walks into our court. It's full-on prior restraint on my free speech.

I feel coerced. I feel threatened. I feel like she's flexing her muscles and trying to put me in my place. There are several right things to do with this scenario. I'm just trying to decide which is best:"

Oh No! Poor thing. She's coerced and threatened...
This woman is so inane it is hard to believe she graduated high-school notwithstanding law school.

The Outrageous War On Weed...

Fully half of all drug arrests are now for marijuana--4 out of 5 of those for simple possession.
That's about 350,000 marijuana arrests per year, costing more than 15 billion in taxpayer dollars.

Don't we have some lives to save, some kids to educate or some jobs to create?

Report Excessive Force, Get Fired

Ever wonder why more non-inmates don't break the wall of silence and complain about excessive force?
Because they get fired.
Now a corrections worker who actually did make an excessive force complaint about some guards says:
" I should have kept quiet" :

"Frank Preston, an education supervisor at the Newark prison, said he filed a formal complaint about the abuse he witnessed back in November and later sent the corrections commissioner a letter because he did not trust the department's internal affairs unit to fully investigate it. As the probe dragged into mid-March, Preston said he became frustrated and forwarded the allegations to acting Gov. Richard Codey. He was fired three weeks later. 'Break the 'code of silence' -- it's exactly what I did and I got fired for it,' said Preston, who is planning to file a whistleblower's lawsuit. 'I believe that I'm either part of the solution or I'm part of the problem. I should have kept my mouth shut like my wife told me.'"

The food is slop...

Prisons go to the 99-cent menu: "Indiana is chopping the cost of state prison meals from $1.41 to 99 cents by letting a private company run the kitchens"

If that story didn't make you sick, this will:Click here for Kevin's Virtual Vomit Page.

WVa College--$6,500. Jail--20,000

The Charleston Gazette Reports that:

In West Virginia (which has the highest incarceration growth rate in the country) taxpayers pay about $6,500 each year for every full-time college student in the state. But taxpayers must pay almost $20,000 a year for each person incarcerated by the Division of Corrections. According to a new report expenses for Corrections are eating away at the rest of the state’s budget and at the expense of education.


Lawyer refuses to apologize to judge, goes to jail

Since I've been on an evil judge / heroic defense lawyer jag recently, I thought I'd bring you this gem:

Judge Jennifer Brunner sentenced a Franklin County lawyer to 40 days in jail.

His contumacious behavior? Telling the judge he thought she was "colluding with" the prosecutors in order to pressure his client to plead guilty.

Are you kidding me?

That's not contemptuous--that's reality. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a judge pressuring someone to take a DA’s offer. In a plea driven system, that’s how it goes, and when a frustrated lawyer tells it like it is, any judge worth their salt should shut up and take it like a judge not go around issuing contempt citations.

Now don’t give me any crap about the honor and integrity of the court or the courtroom. Anyone whose ever been inside a criminal courtroom knows it’s rough and tumble in there and if you can’t stand the heat—well your honor—get out of the kitchen.

Judge Brunner, other than seeming a little overly politically opportunistic (see her website here) doesn’t come across in her personal promotional literature as awful. But then again her website seems to carefully omit mention of this case.

Why? Because this is another judicial obscenity—one that in my view renders her utterly unfit for both the judiciary and unfit to be secretary of state—a post she will evidently be running for come August.

Here’s why, thanks to this incident, she goes on my list of nasties…

First, she should never have held Mr. Vogel in contempt. That is the kind of self-important intemperate imperious behavior we shouldn’t tolerate from judges.

Second, EVEN IF she held Mr. Vogel in contempt, she should have followed the lead of nearly every other jurist in the country and imposed a small fine—a powerful symbol of the court’s authority. Her sentence of 40 days was obscene.

Third, when, three days later she brought Mr. Vogel back to court, she should not have tried to force him to apologize and she certainly shouldn't have jailed him when he wouldn’t.

I have to think it was behavior like that that gave the jailed lawyer the sensed that Judge Brunner was colluding with the DA to coerce a plea! Is it farfetched to think that any judge who would be this coercive might also be nasty and coercive to criminal defendants appearing before her?

Instead, when Vogel refused to apologize, she sent him back to serve another month in jail. Shame on Judge Brunner. Any reasonable jurist would have simply lifted the contempt--point more than made.

Finally, not satisfied with sending a lawyer to jail for 40 days for saying she was “colluding with” the prosecutors (seems likely to me she was) she has also filed a grievance with the disciplinary committee looking to have the guy disbarred. That’s the kind of shameful vindictive behavior that should disqualify anyone from public office.

Contrast this with the post below about Orange County and you’ll get a sense of just how out of line Judge Brunner is.


A Comment Worth Posting

This sort of thing makes blogging worthwhile.

In response to my post yesterday about the outrageous Wisconsin case in which a pregnant woman who went to the hospital seeking drug treatment wound up in jail instead, Daniel Anderson said...

I still live in Wisconsin and am ashamed of the "cocaine mom" law. The law originated after the Supreme Court issued a decision in State ex rel. Angela M.W. v. Kruzicki, 209 Wis.2d 112, 561 N.W. 2d 729 (1997) reversing the Court of Appeals, 197 Wis.2d 532, 541 N.W.2d 482 (Ct. App. 1995). I am proud of the dissent I wrote to the Court of Appeals decision.


I believe the commenter was none other than:
Court of Appeals Judge Daniel P. Anderson.

Well, Judge, I don't know how you found the blog, but I read your dissent and was moved by the clarity of your reasoning and the courage of your position. There should be more like you.

As this blog notes over and over, it takes tremendous courage to stake out unpopular opinions particularly on difficult, politically charged issues. I tip my hat to your courage and appreciate your principle.

Thanks for reading (and I hope you don't mind my posting your picture--it you do, let me know and I'll take it down.)

Judge Anderson's dissent, of which he is justifiably proud can be found here.

The Supreme Court Opinion which sides with Judge Anderson's dissent and reverses the majority of the Court of Appeals can be found here.

The sad upshot of the Supreme Court's decision can be found here.

All this begs the question--shouldn't we encourage people to seek treatment? Wouldn't it make more sense to provide an amnesty clause for pregnant women who seek treatment? Wouldn't it make more sense to offer outrageously great pre-natal care, phenomenal doctors and all kind of other good stuff to pregnant woman who voluntarily seek help?

Evil Judge Eileen O'Connor

Those (few) of you who read this blog consistently know how furious I was when Judge Eileen O'Connor of Broward County put a young kid in jail for four months for allegedly lying about his criminal record. (previous posts here and here.)

Well now the judge has backed off even further, not only releasing him but also lifting the curfew she had imposed.

The actions of both Judge O'Connor and the prosecutor in this case were absolutely reprehensible. They actually targeted the kid and ran his record which it's important to note ISN'T A CRIMINAL RECORD. In fact, in the two times the kid was arrested, the prosecution declined to file charges. So how the hell is anyone entitled to ask you about something where you haven't even had the chance to clear your name? It's outrageous. In fact it's so outrageous that it makes me wonder whether the fact that Stacy (the kid who showed up for jury duty only to be jailed) is African American has anything to do with this. I don't cry race often, but I have real doubts about whether the prosecutor and judge would have done what they did if the kid was white.

Now it's true that I have strong feelings about this particular issue because of my own showdown with Judge Bamberger over over jailing a juror, but no matter how you slice it, this is bad judicial conduct.

The has gotten a fair bit of coverage, but I'm returning to it for three reasons: First because of the news hook above, second because I wanted to highlight this nice piece in the Miami Herald, headlined:Jury duty was real hard time for teen
It reads, in pertinent part..

"On March 22, the day of his jury summons, Stacy Forbes donned his best button-down and wore dark slacks. 'Here's a young kid excited to do his civic duty,'' said Coleen Forbes. 'He never said, `Mom, how can I get out of it?

Her son regrets that now.

He lost his job at a dollar store. He spent his first night scared and in tears. He talks of merciless teasing by the inmates -- his crime carried no bragging rights in jail."

It’s just awful.

Finally, I’m returning to this because I wanted to link to the petition below:

Now let's be clear. I don't believe in recalling judges over decisions they make. I think that more often than not that tactic is used by the right to intimidate judges who suppress evidence or impose lenient sentences (no matter how proper under the law or the facts such a decision might be) So in principle I am against this sort of tactic. That being said, I am tempted to think that if there were the same hue and cry over injustices like this as there was over other judicial decisions, we'd all be a lot better off.

So I haven't decided whether or not to sign, but I'll provide the link in case you have and you want to.

Recall Judge O'Connor:

Ask for help, go to jail

This one makes me ashamed of being from Wisconsin:

When Rachael Lowe voluntarily sought help at Waukesha Memorial Hospital for her addiction, she was taken into custody to protect the child. That's where she still is. she is allowed only limited visits with family and is receiving no prenatal care, although she is being treated for the addiction."

Great incentive for seeking help.


A headline I'd be proud of:

Broward's patron saint of hopeless legal cases retires:
There are so few of us who make it more than a few years, and even fewer who still seem to love the clients many years later. ( I should note that It's not clear to me that he actually does...) Still, reading some of the phrases like the ones below, gave me chills of appreciation:

The irreverent patron saint of hopeless cases retired from his job as an assistant public defender handling capital crimes....

"He never talked down to anybody in his life. He talks to a judge and a defendant in the same way."

Nice. Farewell, Bon Voyage, and from all of us...

PD Kicks Ass Get's Contempt Citation Lifted

Judge Conrad Backs down...

After an appellate court told the Judge and the PD to mediate the criminal case out of court to avoid "the potential for embarrassment to all of those involved that might arise from a published opinion in this case," Judge Richard Conrad issued an opinion saying the contempt order against PD William Mote was "vacated and set aside." (Mote spent two days in jail)

Now as one who has been banned for life from a courtroom (read all about it here) and very nearly held in contempt on several occasions, it's hard to describe how good this makes me feel. And even though it sounds like the PD was being a bit foolish, my guess is that to get someone to feel the steel, the judge must have been being a colossal ass as well.

So way to go Mr. Mote! Hang tough and keep fighting the power.

Why Judges Matter...

This little post-Booker review is a nice object lesson in why we should force the republicans to go nuclear: Because appellate judges matter. Here's a quick review of the current Booker law in a few circuits...

"People convicted of federal crimes in Pennsylvania, Delaware or New Jersey who are challenging their sentences as overly harsh are in luck: The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from those states, is among the appeals courts routinely ordering trial judges to review sentences pending under a format the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional in January.

But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, generally has taken a much more conservative tack. The New Orleans-based court has bounced back only those cases in which defendants can show that a judge clearly erred in sentencing them. The 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, has adopted the same, stricter approach."

That's a lotta years for a lot of inmates.


Interesting Exchange

Ken Lammers at CrimLaw Blogged about a trial he lost. The conviction was pretty disgusting: A guy asks whether his case was a felony and whether he can buy a shotgun. The clerk runs a check. The state police computer says OK, he buys the gun, and winds up being declared a felon and getting 5 years after the judge bars any talk of the computer error.

But what's really interesting and what makes this a good read is that the prosecutor is reading the blog! And he responds. Fascinating.

Where DO those drugs come from?

Ah--let's see across the border courtesy of the military and a former federal prison guard. According to the USA TODAY Headline: Military, law enforcement caught in FBI drug sting:

"Those charged include a former Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector, a former Army sergeant, a former federal prison guard, current and former members of the Arizona Army National Guard and the state corrections department, and a Nogales police officer, officials said."

Want to incarcerate kids? Pay Up!

The state of Indiana is finally asking counties to pay part of the costs of incarcerating kids.

There are thousands of kids incarcerated in Indiana. And the tab? An estimated 100 million dollars. Marion County owes the bulk, but even St. Joseph county which sent 130 kids to the "Indiana boys school" last year owes a chunk of change.

Good. The more transparency about the costs of incarceration, the better.


Finally a decent drug law

Not a great one, but a start.

In Delaware, Judges could get freer hand in drug cases under new legislation proposed by Rep. Joe Di Pinto of Wilmington.
Go Joe!



The Wendy's finger question solved! Wendy's finger belongs to friend of suspect's husband

Qualified Immunity for Butt Poking?

Ah, actually, according to the 11th Circuit, no.

As it turns out, despite what Denis Stephens, a former cop for the city of Zebulon, Ga. argued, the 11th Circuit finds that Strip-Search 'Abuse' is Not Protected:

"Declaring that 'abuse cannot be condoned,' the court has cleared the way for two black motorists to sue a white police officer who they say strip-searched them and poked their buttocks with a metal baton while peppering them with racial epithets and threats about prison rape."

Stephens took the pair to the Pike County jail, brought them into a back room and ordered them to remove their clothes, ostensibly to look for drugs. As he probed their buttocks with what has been described as a baton-like, "cold, black object," Stephens said, "Ya'll are going to get [raped]. ... I am going to send y'all up the road for a long time, boy," according to Jordan's testimony.

"Somebody is going to be [raping] you for the next 20 years," Stephens said, according to Evans' testimony.

A Bettah Bayou

Under a new law LA Inmates could be compensated for having been wrongly incarcerated.

Under the bill, those who are falsely convicted and serve jail time could collect damages of as much as $500,000 and get a state-paid education and job-training benefits. House Bill 663, applies to inmates whose convictions have been reversed because the facts proved their innocence. The state Pardon Board must also have recommended a full pardon for the individual.


Fellow slatester David Cole has this interesting piece on the present day McCarran-Walter Act. In essence, Cole explains how this new legislation means that pretty much any non-citizen with political beliefs can now be deported just for having expressed those beliefs. Scary stuff that is worth a read.

The Beginning of the Booker Backlash

Ushering in a potentially awful age of mandatory minimum sentences, the House just passed a bill that would make gang crimes federal offenses Read it and weep.


Take that Sneddon

it's hard to get a sense of just how outrageous some of the crap judge Melville has allowed into evidence is, but today's testimony by McCauley Culkin gies you a pretty good idea.
Not only did the judge allow unbelievably predjudicial prior allegations into evidence, he allowed them in through the back door. So here's the defense presenting the supposed victim to deny the allegations. It's so Alice in Wonderland, or maybe Michael in Neverland.

And once again, I LOVE that the prosecutors are so absurdly rigid that they still seem to think everyone was molested whether they remember it or not. 'Must have been while they were sleeping.'

Swiss Christo!

Swiss put glacier under wraps to slow ice melt

Yes it's true, in Gemsstock, they are wrapping a part of their glacier to try to preserve it. That's one solution, of course Kyoto might have been a better one. Then again, with an administration that seeks to maximize short term profit at the risk of global disaster, many more cute factoids like this await us.


Treatment for hating your life

It seems fitting in this age of therapy that the
Runaway Bride has entered a treatment program. When asked what she was getting treatment for, no one could really provide a clear answer. You know--it's treatment, like for treating people who need some treatment, like when they run away and say black people kidnapped them--that kind of treatment. You know.

Eyewitness Mayhem

Another excellent piece on how shaky eyewitness testimony can lead to jail. A very good read.

Capital Scum

Here is a perfect example of how corporate america preys on the poor and middle class.

Some consumers complained that they received pre-approved offers of credit that advertised credit limits of up to $5,000, but received cards with limits of $200 or $300. Consumers also complained that these low limit cards had very high fees: a $59 annual membership fee, a $29 late fee, and a $29 over-limit fee.

Consumers who charged amounts close to the $200 limit the first month would already be over limit when they received their first statements because of the $59 annual fee.

Some consumers quickly realized they could not afford to keep the card because of the high fees and high interest rates. Consumers who tried to cancel their cards were told they could not cancel so long as there was an outstanding balance.

In the meantime, late fees, over-limit fees, and interest continued to accumulate even after the consumers tried to close their accounts. Paying their minimum monthly balance did nothing to reduce these consumers' balances.

Oh Radosh--Ouch

This from the enchanting snipe-fest between my friend (and journalist) Daniel Radosh and (journalist) Peter Landesman:
A snarky Radosh post citing Landesman's early work for "Full House Stephanie"

Now this is a tiny bit mean--the guy's gotta make a living and I imagine everyone's written some crap sometime. But what I like most about it is that Radosh's post links to an amazon page and so, thanks to a quirk of cookies, if you scroll down, Amazon will tell you that the same people who are interested in "Full House Stephanie: Ten ways to ruin a date" are also reading:
* The Underminer : The Best Friend Who Casually Destroys Your Life by Mike Albo
* Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans : The Best of McSweeney's, Humor Category by DAVE EGGERS and
* Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Just in case you were wondering about Radosh.net's best seller list...


This from Wisconsin

Keith Belzer and Keith Findley are doing good stuff in Wisconsin which may finally prompt Wisconsin to adopt a proposal to videotape a defendant's statements.

Curses Snubbed Again

The National Law Journal has it's annual 40 under 40 list of lawyers and And as usual there is not a single front line defender or civil legal aid lawyer among them.

There are a number of prosecutors (of course there are) a few other government lawyers, a few academics a bunch of corporate tools, and one or two token 'do gooders' but no-one on the defense side. And no one who does the tough front line stuff. (They had to reach down to a 29 year old at CCR just to fill the impact litigation niche).

I find this offensive. It is a perfect reflection of just how poorly the public defender community is viewed by the larger legal community. Unlike being a prosecutor, PD work is dismissed. It doesn't occur to most people that many of the PD's (I know this having been invoved in hiring them over the years) have fancier degrees, sharper minds and quicker tongues than most of the corporate lawyers at the fancy wall street firms.

It is high time that they be included in lists like these.


Here's what Mickey Sherman (who also defended Skakel) had to say about his new client who is accused offaking checks worth $43 million:

"He's an enterprising finance guy, an extraordinarily intelligent young man. At some point, I think the facts will either indicate that he is culpable or is not culpable."

There's a confidence inspiring endorsement of innocence.


Riker's Race

Hey Great Idea! Let's run around Rikers!

Yes indeed, there is nothing quite like seeing the world's largest penal colony as a recreational opportunity.

Let's not ponder the question of why when crime rates are plummeting incarceration rates are still on the rise...oh no, instead, let's get some corrections officers and some awful upper east siders and have a little race.

Here's a little taste of the times's coverage of the Riker's race:

"The prison yards were empty, but cheers, jeers and obscenities could be faintly heard from narrow window openings. It was tame compared with years when prisoners would heckle and cheer enthusiastically, said Paul Epstein, 33, a corporate lawyer from the Upper East Side who was running the race for the fourth time.

'One year, they were really cursing us out, so I ran like this to get them back,' he said, putting his hands behind his back, as if cuffed. 'I didn't hear much after that.'

His cousin, David Epstein, 64, a real estate broker from Manhattan, said he had run the race about six times. He said he enjoyed visiting prisons around the world and jogging around them."

Are you kidding? What's wrong with these people?

Hey, Paul Epstein--it's very cool for a corporate lawyer to be mocking poor black incarcerated people. That's really hip--and a fair fight too: you're running around with a bunch of CO's and they're inside cages--try being that smug in the South Bronx you moron.

All I can say, is that I truly hope imbeciles like the Epstein brothers someday get to watch the race from the other side of the walls.

Ft. Tresspass

Quick, Call the Cops!
Someone's building a Snow Fort in the High-School Parking Lot!

Yes it's true Jason Osorio was just convicted of tresspassing for making a snow-fort in the high-school parking lot. Sentencing is set for May 16th.

Give Flaming Eagle his Peyote Back!

In a phenomenal editorial, The Daily Herald, in Provo Utah writes:

"If Utah County prosecutors want to save themselves from further embarrassment, they will immediately give back James Warren 'Flaming Eagle' Mooney's peyote and other items they improperly confiscated from his church."

What follows is the story of an out of control prosecutor and his bizarre hounding of a small native american church.

When do Judges LOVE Public Defenders?

Sorry for the belated blogging...
The judge in the Blystone case said such nice things about the Public Defender. Of course he did--he wanted a death verdict to stand and didn't want the PD found ineffective.


Go Slow Mesereau

With the case against MJ having turned (as I predicted) into complete shit, I have to wonder whether Tom Mesereau's decision to call several witnesses to say they weren't molested was wise. Then again, he clearly knows his adversaries better than I do. Because, according to today's reports, on cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen challenged Robson's assertion Jackson had never touched him inappropriately.

"What you're really telling us is that nothing ever happened while you were awake," Zonen said to Robson at one point.

Are you serious? Now we're at: The abuse happened, but the "victims" were asleep and never knew about it.

Oh god--please revoke these prosecutor's licenses--where's the good faith basis for that question?

Coke on Coke

A Woman Named Denise Coke Arrested on Cocaine Charges. 33 pounds to be exact.

Saving Grace...

I may have to blog more about this later but for now, this one Speaks for itself.

For the third time Nancy Grace's conduct as a prosecutor has been criticized by an appellate court.

In 1997, the Georgia Supreme Court skewered Grace for her actions in prosecuting Weldon Wayne Carr for allegedly setting fire to his house and murdering his wife. Carr later was freed when Fulton prosecutors waited too long to bring him up for a retrial. While the court reversed Carr's 1994 conviction for other reasons, the justices said Grace withheld evidence entitled to the defense and made improper opening statements and closing arguments.

"We conclude that the conduct of the prosecuting attorney in this case demonstrated her disregard of the notions of due process and fairness, and was inexcusable," wrote then Chief Justice Robert Benham. Carr v. State, 267 Ga. 701 (1997).

In 1994, the Georgia high court voted 6-1 to reverse a heroin trafficking conviction won by Grace because she "exceeded the wide latitude of closing argument" by referring to drug-related murders and serial rape, which were not at issue. Bell v. State, 263 Ga. 776 (1994).

And now this...

Leash Girl Cops Out (Not!)

Yes indeed, it's a mistrial thanks to Charles Graner, the Lothorio of Abu Ghraib (he's already impregnated England, boned someone else and married a fellow inmate).

Eeeew what was she thinking?
Who would sleep with THAT GUY?
(Thanks to Anony. my original post was a bit of a generalization--)

Quick Taser the Handcuffed Guy...

Thanks to Karol for this:
Yes, a cop really did taser a handcuffed guy at the hospital.

"Before the Taser was used, Wheeler aggressively resisted efforts to insert a catheter in order to get a urine sample, officials said.

Linnenkamp wrote in a statement to investigators that he "administered the Taser discharge upon Mr. Wheeler in order to get him to release his penis so that the catheter could be inserted." After Wheeler was shocked in the forearm area two times with the Taser, the report says he "voluntarily provided a urine sample to the medical staff."


Sneddon is off his his rocker!

What the hell is Sneddon
doing and why the hell is Mellville letting him do it?
The Jackson case has turned into a schooling on how a mad-dog DA with an agenda backed by a judge who seems to care only for a conviction, can consipre to pervert the code of evidence and turn a criminal trial into a zany witch-hunt. Sneddon deserves to be recalled for his antics and Mellville should be (and probably will be) reversed for his.

Most recently, after being burried by a witness he himself called, Sneddon called a cop in order to testify that the witness he just put up
(Michael Jackson's ex-wife) actually called him a 'sociopath.' That's great Tom--impeach your own witnesses. Gooooood.

When you get to this level of absurdity--the introduction of legal books from a 1993 raid, and calling cops to impeach your own witnesses, as far as I'm concerned you've gone over the edge from questionable prosecution to making an utter mockery of the system itself.

Radosh v. Landesman Part Deux

Ignore the bluefin above, (It was just too cool to omit) and tune into Radosh.net for an astonishingly candid if occasionally vitriolic exchange between my friend Daniel Radosh and Peter Landesman (who I've only met once) concerning Landesman's cover story in the NYTM.

Guard-Inmate Sex Goes Unprosecuted

The headline says it all.

FYI--Blogging may be a bit light over the next few days as I'll be off at a 'leadership training' conference.


How Could I Forget?

To file a quick post about one of the greatest threats to indigent defense out there now-- A Michigan law that essentially denies appellate counsel to many of the state's indigent. This one could be very very bad....

Leash Girl Cops Out

Lynndie England (who reputeldy suffers from learning disabilities and psychatirc problems) is pleading guilty and going to prison while the only higher-up to be tarnished (Karpinsky) gets a "reprimand". That's our response to Abu Ghraib? Pathetic. Even scarier--I'm pretty sure she and Charles Graner (serving 10 years) had a baby together. Both (I think) were jail guards stateside before exporting their intimate knowledge of inmate treatment to Iraq. Imagine that kid.