So this is what it takes...

This great piece, called "Using Muscle to Improve Health Care for Prisoners" is a look at Robert Sillen, the man appointed by a Federal Court in California to deal with the prison health care crisis in the state. Here are a few choice bits:

"Mr. Sillen...attributed the state’s prison problems to tough-on-crime lawmakers who made political hay out of sentencing laws that filled the state prisons without expanding either the facilities or their services. He has a standard diatribe concerning the criminal justice system that includes issues like the neglect of poor neighborhoods and the lack of alcohol treatment programs. “I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the politics,” Mr. Sillen said. “No one gets elected in Sacramento without a platform that says, ‘Let’s get rid of rapists, pedophiles and murderers.’ ”"

Good read.


Read by the judiciary?

A big hat tip to Grits for pointing to this article about blogs judges read. It was published in "Case-in-Point" the publication of the national judicial conference and lists, you guessed it, INDEFENSIBLE as one of the blogs judges interviewed for the article read.

Well thanks, and I have to say, I'm a bit surprised.

In other legal news, Michael Vick pled guilty today, insuring a prison sentence and risking a lengthy if not permanent ban from the NFL. Vick, of course is accused of hanging and beating weak fighting dogs to death. Now many of my opinions are wildly unpopular, but this may be even more so than usual.


Here's the thing: Almost everyone I talk to gets insane when they discuss this case. They want him in prison, they think a ban from the NFL is just. They seem to have less sympathy for a guy who tortures little doggies than even for some pedophiles. And yet, the irony of this position never seems to come up. I had a conversation about the case today over meatloaf. Really, with a group of lovely people, many of them wearing animal hides, and all of them scooping tortured animal into their mouths as they fulminated against evil Michael Vick.

Now sure, we're eating the animals we tortured and he was just beating the crap out of them for almost no reason at all, still, I can't help thinking that, once again, this guy is just the latest casualty of a puritanical culture of prosecution that is, ultimately, about what the Juvenal called way back in the first century, "bread and circuses."

Gonzales could get say in states' executions

This guy decides who dies?

Given that he's shown himself at best incompetent and at worst a perjurer, it seems absurd to give Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "fast track authority" over state executions. But that's exactly what's happened.


Seattle's grace...

An audit by Seattle's city council found out what happens when you try to save money in indigent defense--you get what you pay for. Basically the problems with the new public defender program include lawyers in municipal court handling too many cases, not meeting with clients and providing representation that's pretty mediocre.

If lawyers are juggling too many cases, people accused of crimes "are not going to be getting adequate legal services," Nick Licata, the committee chairman, said this week. "Cases could drag on longer, and there's a greater chance of appeals down the road."

Duh. That's what you get when you shift cases from a respected office like the King County PD.


Secret's Out...

So I guess once something's in the Hollywood Reporter it's really no longer a secret. Or maybe it's just when you make it to Skelly . In either case, though I've been avoiding blogging about it, I think it's time to just come on out and admit that I'm now living in a little apartment in California with a view of palm trees and sand. When I open my window in the morning, I can actually hear the surf. And though this all feels very very far from my life as a PD, I'd like to think that though I'm not currently doing the hard work my colleagues are, I've still got a little something to give.

In this case, a TV show. One that, (if all goes well) might finally paint our clients as the complex human beings they are, show the complexities of our struggle for justice for the poor and disenfranchised, and maybe, just maybe, shed a little light on the cruel and capricious system we all spend our days fighting. A tall order perhaps, but hey, a hollywood writer can hope no?

Anyway, I figured I'd finally mention it since I think I'm actually getting over the fear that I'm in one very protracted episode of Punk'd.

Our pilot starts shooting in a few weeks and in the meantime, I'm learning what a DP is and what he does, talking to wardrobe people and scouting locations. Turns out a lot goes into making an hour of TV. It's all strange and very exciting. I'll blog about it more soon...