Just a misdemeanor

Those of you who practice in big cities will undoubtedly enjoy
Blonde Justice's meditation on misdemeanors. I certainly did.



It's one thing for me to spout off about how I wrote INDEFENSIBLE hoping to inspire a few people to either come and join the fight on behalf of the voiceless or to stay in the work, and another thing entirely to actually seem tohave had an effect.

It doesn't get any cooler than that.



Gutsy Former Prosecutor Takes a Stand...

Former DeKalbv District Attorney J. Tom Morgan has written a courageous opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. In it he actually takes apart Georgia's absurd and grandstanding sex offender registration law, finally saying publically what everyone else seems afraid to say.

Congratulations Mr. Morgan. Outstanding work, and bon courage.

J. Tom Morgan


Nut-Job Judge Detains 5 Over Ringing Cell Phone

A judge detained and questioned a row of spectators when a cell phone rang for a third time in her courtroom, later ordering two people to serve community service for contempt of court.

When no one admitted having the ringing phones Wednesday, Lake County Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell found three people in contempt of court because they initially refused to say who had the ringing phones.


Another Shameful Prosecution:

A man who served three-and-a-half years in prison on a conviction for illegally re-entering the United States was actually a citizen and never should have been deported in the first place.

In a case of mistaken status, Duarnis Perez faced a second deportation before the government told him he was in fact a U.S. citizen. Even after discovering his status, federal prosecutors fought to keep him in custody.

"In effect, the Government is arguing that an innocent man who was wrongly convicted should not be released from the custody of the United States,'' U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn wrote.

What asinine Assistant United States Attorney would make such an argument?

It's Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Lord a harvard law grad and Rhodes Scholar who by dint of such grotesque argument brings dishonor on both institutions. (That link is to her wedding announcement which detail her rather privileged background and her marriage guessed it, another prosecutor.)


Backhanded Compliment..

Don't you just love how the press covers Public Defenders? They just can't seem to bring themselves to just say something nice.
Consider this piece from the Seattle post on the question of who will defend Mark Karr--the man now accused of killing JonBenet Ramsey.

"It's unclear whether John Mark Karr will have a legal "dream team" to defend himself against murder charges in the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey. But he will probably receive a skilled attorney even if he cannot hire his own.

Unlike in many states, Colorado's public defender system is well funded and well respected for its work on complicated cases involving DNA evidence. Legal experts say any attorney considering an offer of representing Karr for free in hopes of cashing in on the publicity should think hard.

See what I mean?


Idiotic Republican Outsourcing

This is just classic. The republicans won't even collect taxes even from delinquents. Instead of hiring the revenue agents necessary to pursue people who owe the government money, they plan to turn over thousands of debts to private debt collection agencies.

"The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although I.R.S. officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money.

The private debt collection program is expected to bring in $1.4 billion over 10 years, with the collection agencies keeping about $330 million of that, or 22 to 24 cents on the dollar.

By hiring more revenue officers, the I.R.S. could collect more than $9 billion each year and spend only $296 million — or about three cents on the dollar. Privatizing government services is often promoted as a way to cut costs. But the government would probably net $1.1 billion from private debt collectors over 10 years, compared with the $87 billion that could be reaped if the agency hired more revenue officers, as Mr. Rossotti had recommended."

And they claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility.


Nebraska Man Arrested for 226th Time - New York Times

Ok, the headline isNebraska Man Arrested for 226th Time. The piece goes on to discuss Nebraska's petty criminals and the hundreds of arrests they rack up. But doesn't this just beg the question of what we're doing with these folks. Doesn't it make anyone wonder whether the constant arrests are the right way to spend our resources?


Federal Death Penaltyin Black and Blue

Although NY State has essentially abolished the death penalty, the feds persist. In fact, the federal Federal death penalty seems focused on New York with NY running second only to terrorist forum of choice VA in death cases. The interesting factoid: 95 percent of those the feds look to kill are members of minorities. Thus far Of the 37 capital cases in New York, 14 were resolved before going to trial. Of the remaining 23, none resulted in a death sentence. Maybe New Yorkers understand just how racially biased things really are.

Public Pretender

Here's another public defender blog worth looking at. Yesterday's entry: A chilling story about a guy arrested for a minor insurance infraction murdered while spending the night in a Minnesota county Jail.

Meanwhile in Florida, it turns out they're taping attorney-client phone calls, prompting a serious lawsuit we should all be watching.


A second reason to be rich...

Generally speaking, I'm not big on stuff. I live, perfectly happily, in a tiny studio apartment, (it's about 380 sq. feet in case you wondered what I defined as tiny) and have never owned a new car. Generally speaking, other than a new computer every few years, my consumption of durable goods approaches zero. There are several benefits of this predilection: first, I don't get overly attached to stuff because I just don't have it. Pretty much, you'll never hear me complain about something that's scratched or dented or broken. That's just how hit's supposed to be. Secondly, my reasonably modest income remains, by and large available for the infrequent but brilliant splurge.

Splurge you ask...Well let me tell you.

The first and only time I went heliskiing, I actually thought to myself, "if I had as much money as god, this is what I'd spend it on." In a single day I blew almost 500 bucks for 5 ski runs. It absurd. It was also the best 500 bucks I've ever spent.

My idea of heaven...

Worth every penny.

Anyway, other then heli, I hadn't had that many experiences that made my think--now this is worth being rich for, but I had a last night heaven help me, in a gorgeous dining room designed by one of my favorite architectsRichard Meier. There, I ate for the first time in my life, a raw kobe beef salad (one of the more exquisite things ever) and what was undoubtedly one of (or likely the) best steak of my life: Wagyu.

Here's the beef!

Now if, like me you're an adrenaline junkie, for god sakes, just pay the money and go heliskiing. And if, like me you love to eat, and you love to eat meat, All I can say is: Walk, don't run to the nearest purveyor of Wagyu beef and buy yourself a little bit.

You won't be sorry.


Another Review...

It's interesting to me that editors seem inclined to send my book to former prosecutors to review.

In any case, The Buffalo News has just published a review of the book titled Angry lawyer talks tough about his job in the Bronx. It is, indeed, by a former federal prosecutor who finds the description of some of the judges troubling.

The latest reviewer and his life of the same name

The book, he concludes, "proves an illuminating glimpse into what appears to be an overburdened system mired in hypocrisy, waste and, in Feige's eyes, injustice.

The author describes running from courtroom to courtroom, an uphill climb on a treadmill going faster and faster. He defends a crackhead, a murderer, a drug dealer and a guy walking a friend's dog without tags that lands him in jail for days because a judge (the one not known for legal brilliance) refused to listen to his explanation that he wasn't responsible.

All in all, "Indefensible" is a sad book. Sad because the seemingly righteous author vents such bitterness at his workaday world. Sad because such seeming incompetents have so much power over the fate of those who appear before them. And sad because a system that's supposed to provide justice for all apparently doesn't."



Blonde Justice Reviews Indefensible...

It's always great to be reviewed by people you read. And I, like many others read Blonde Justice.

She's a snappy blogger with a fondness for pink, an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, and a genuine dedication to indigent clients. Who wouldn't read her? So it's with particular pleasure that I get to link to her review of my book. Obviously, I'm pleased that she liked it, but the things that delighted me most about her review were: 1. her feeling that it was a great read even for people who do our work everyday, and 2. that it managed to effectively explain why we PD's do the work. That, as much as anything else was what I set out to do. Basically, one of my goals was to write a book that would finally allow all of us to escape the endless cocktail party questions about "how can you defend those people?" by saying--"you know what--just go read Indefensible and you'll understand.

So thanks Blonde.
And yeah--get one for your mom!