Bush and Chevron...

I find this utterly horrifying. The times has an astonishing piece about Chevron today. It reports that:

"The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

The agency had ordered Chevron to pay $6 million in additional royalties but could have sought tens of millions more had it prevailed. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government.

“The natural gas processing business lends itself almost uniquely to chicanery,” said Spencer Hosie, a lawyer who has represented the states of Louisiana and Alaska in several court fights over oil and gas royalties.

Um yeah. And this is happening in an era of high gas prices and obscene profits for oil companies. Frankly, I don't understand why we're not pounding this issue with voters.


Conspiring Judges?

According toThe New York Law Journal The state Commission on Judicial Conduct is investigating whether two Manhattan judges should be charged with colluding for political reasons to issue a decision highly critical of District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office shortly before last year's hotly contested Democratic primary.

The commission is examining whether Acting Supreme Court Justice Michael R. Ambrecht (See Profile), the author of the decision, consulted with Acting Justice William A. Wetzel (See Profile) before issuing the ruling.

It is investigating whether Justice Wetzel was influenced by his support for Leslie Crocker Snyder, Mr. Morgenthau's opponent. The commission has received reports that Justice Wetzel stated to attorneys and others in his courtroom that assistant district attorneys should support Justice Crocker's campaign and that he would assume a top position in the Manhattan office should she win.

You might remember Judge Wetzel--he was the one that essentially assured that awful conviction of Oliver Jovanovic by refusing to admit the explicit e-mails the supposed victim had sent.

Ah, The rough and tumble world of Manhattan Justice.

Sentate Majority?

As this is the first full week I've had in New York since August, it's finally time to sit back, get some work done and check in on the state of the world.

Daily Kos caught my eye this morning, reporting that "One Republican strategist close to the White House gave this forecast: "We're going to lose Pennsylvania, Ohio and Rhode Island. That's three. Virginia, I think we hold. Tennessee, I think we hold. I'm less certain we're going to hold Missouri and I'm least certain we hold Montana. But to take control, Democrats have to win three of those four, and that's unlikely."

Sadly, I tend to agree. I've already gone and done what I can for Claire McCaskilland Harold Ford (and Deval Patrick who seems to have the Mass. governor's race all but sown up) but I'm still a pessimist about actually getting control of the Senate. That being said, I'd be so very very happy if it happened.

Given that we're in the home stretch, you might be amused (as I have been) by the Intrade - 2006 Mid Term Elections FuturesTrading (not to mention the futures on the indictment of Scooter Libby). Right now Intrade puts the chances of the democrats taking the house at 68 percent and taking senate at 23 percent. The long odds for big bettors is GOP house Democratic Senate (6%). And for those optimists who think we'll take 'em both, contracts for Democratic control of both houses are right about 25.

Meanwhile, let's keep hoping for that one extra win.


NYLJ Review...

So, I'm told that INDEFENSIBLE was reviewed last week in the New York Law Journal. And though my interest in the book is waning quickly, (time to start working on other things I think). I'm told that the review was penned by a sitting Supreme Court Justice. So ok, I'm curious. If anyone happens to have a copy, or a link to it, by all means send it along.

Credit where credit is due...

I've been a bad blogger. Very very bad. In particular, I have inadvertently failed to follow the blogging code of tipping my hat to those who have drawn my attention to cool things that wind up on the blog. And of all the potentially aggrieved parties, none are more legitimately aggrieved than my friend Mitch--sailboat owner, former physics professor at Harvard, and all around smart guy who reads things like for fun.

Anyway, he was inspiration for yesterday's post on Blogging Lawyers and for a few others in the past and so, to make up for my failure to properly credit him, here's one huge hat tip.

Thanks Mitch!

Could this be the end?

Slashdot reports a potential Crack Down on Blogging Lawyers.

"The New York bar has proposed new rules which would define blogging as advertising. Should these rules be enacted, any New York lawyer who blogs on any legal topic in New York would be required to submit any new blog post to the New York Bar for review."

But fear not readers, should such a bar be enacted, at least until the appellate decisions came down, I'd just switch to blogging about food.


A worthy first video post...

Keith Olbermann has, for sometime been one of the most eloquent and passionate spokesmen for the left--at least on live television. But he may have outdone himself here. "You sir" he says of Bush and the wellspring of freedom, "have fouled that spring." It's good stuff. I'd rather see 2 minutes of course, rather than nearly nine, but still, the guy is good.


Good news in Kentucky...

Less than a week after an interesting discussion about media strategy and the importance of all of us public defenders speaking out about the work, comes excellent piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal titled "Public defenders in state stretched thin despite hirings" The piece discusses the urgent need for PD's in Bullitt county Kentucky (really). and lauds the legislature for helping to provide PD's for the indigent in the county.

The PD's of Bullitt County!

On the road again...

I'm now at a 4-H lodge in a dry county in Kentucky to teach at the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy.

My home for the week.

DPA has a fantastic pilot project which is beginning the process of engaging social workers in the important process of criminal defense work. This move toward "holistic" representation (pioneered by my former office The Bronx Defenders and adopted in Maryland among others) is truly an important development, and I'm lucky to be a part of it.

Mercifully there is now Internet access so blogging continues...


Lynne gets 28 months...

Tragically, crusading attorney Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 28 months in prison today despite her admirable career and devotion to the poor and opressed. But thank heavens Judge Koeltl granted .her bail pending appeal.


The entire case is a travesty.


That wacky weed...

Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants.

"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," said General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff in a speech in Ottawa.

"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.


Sound Familiar?

A judge dismissed sexual molestation charges after finding that a prosecutor had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct..

What did prosecutor Laura Robles do? She questioned a witness about the defendant's sex life moments after the judge huddled privately with attorneys and told Robles not to discuss Jimenez's sex life.

Another interesting fact--the defendant was a cop.

Redlands Police Officer Justin Jiminez



No wonder we get a bad name sometimes.
This from Law.Com

A New York City bodega worker who was denied a public defender even though his attorney did not inform him of a potential conflict of interest, repeatedly failed to appear in court and suggested he "wasn't going to do a very good job at trial" has been given a second chance to argue a motion to vacate his guilty plea on a charge of possession of crack cocaine.

What judge denied the bodega worker a public defender?
Micki Scherer .
Now I used to think, (back when I practiced in front of her in Brooklyn), that Scherer was a decent judge, but the intervening years have changed my opinion substantially, and this does nothing to rehabilitate her.



I feel like my earlier post about waterboarding in which I posted the demonstration video didn't provide quite enough detail--particularly that highly trained navy seals can usually break in about two minutes and that it was the Khmer Rouge that really got good at this. Here's what they used:

Greed Get's 'Em Again...

For the past five years, Sen. George Allen, has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.Imagine that. A Republican Senator caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Well at least it's not someone else's pants. Strangely, we'll wind up caring more about Foley than this, Iraq, Torture, Human Rights, Civil Rights etc.

Just sad.


Bill O'Reilly Labels Foley a Democrat...

No really. Here's a screenshot from Fox News Yesterday:

Hat tip to brad blog for this one.


They asked for it!

Matt Drudge and the right wing pundits have a new tactic in La Cage Au Foley: Blame the victims.

Matt "They asked for it" Drudge

Here's the quote: "these 16 and 17 year-old beasts...and I've seen what they're doing on YouTube and I've seen what they're doing all over the internet -- oh yeah -- you just have to tune into any part of their pop culture. You're not going to tell me these are innocent babies. Have you read the transcripts that ABC posted going into the weekend of these instant messages, back and forth? The kids are egging the Congressman on! The kids are trying to get this out of him. "

Funny, most people don't believe it when my clients who are charged with sexual abuse of kids talk about how much the kids wanted them to do what they did, how the kids seduced them...never seemed like a viable defense but now that they're saying it, who knows?

Thanks Crooks and Liars.


This is waterboarding

Just so we're clear about what the president wants the authority to do.watch the video and decide if it's torture.