Tuesday, September 25, 2012
"Recalde’s family brought him a bag of fresh clothes to wear during trial. When Miami-Dade corrections officers lifted up the pieces for a routine inspection, Recalde’s public defender Anya Cintron Stern snapped a photo of Recalde’s briefs with her cellphone, witnesses said. While on a break, the 31-year-old lawyer posted the photo on her personal Facebook page with a caption suggesting the client’s family believed the underwear was “proper attire for trial.”
Obviously, this isn't how lawyers are supposed to behave, but public defenders are like any other government empoloyee in that they know they get paid by the government, not their clients. So long as they keep the government happy, their paychecks continue.
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Too many cases, too little time.
Public Defenders are some of the most over-worked attorneys I know. Taxpayers are legally bound to provide some sort of attorneys to represent the poor, but taxpayers provide as little as possible. The result is often a Public Defender's Office with far too many cases than it can properly handle.
Sure, judges can appoint attorneys from the community to take up the slack, but those attorneys won't be paid anywhere close to what they customarily charge for a criminal case. Thus, those clients appointed to them at bargain-basement prices with get the least attention.
If you want an attorney that takes you and your case seriously, YOU must first take your case seriously and hire private representation.
Link to Full Article
It is often said that "A Good Lawyer Knows the Law, but A Great Lawyer Knows the Judge." I don't think this is what that means . . .
Link to Full Article
ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. -- The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has arrested both the former Anderson County circuit court defender and the assistant public defender.Robert Gamble, 71, and Kristie McAuley, 32, have both been charged with misconduct in office. They have been booked into the Anderson County Detention Center.McAuley is accused of taking approximately $5,000 from non-indigent clients while at the Anderson County Defender's Office between January 2009 and February 2011.Gamble's warrant states he "habitually neglect[ed] his duties as circuit defender for the Anderson County Public Defender's Office." He is accused of using both county and state funds for personal reasons and approving fraudulent expense reimbursements.
A new rule set to begin Oct. 1 will permit the state's public defender system to defer certain criminal cases in a move that proponents say should give the state's low-income defendants quality legal representation that has been lacking during a decade of swelling caseloads and dwindling resources.
. . .
But a July 31 Missouri Supreme Court ruling says the Missouri Public Defender Commission, which oversees the state's 150 public defenders, has the authority to set maximum caseloads if the defender's office asserts that the caseload capacity was exceeded.
Link"The issue has been going on for a long time," said Cat Kelly, director of the state's public defender system. "The fact is there are too many cases and not enough public defenders to handle them."
As of now, Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that does not provide funding to public defenders, according to a study released in December. By not providing the funding, Pennsylvania is ignoring a 49-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying states are obligated to provide those services under the Constitution.Victor Scomillio, president of the Northampton County Bar Association, said the bar's decision to endorse the resolution is not a knock on the county's public defender's office, but an effort to equalize defense across the state.In Luzerne County, for example, the chief public defender filed a lawsuit against the county earlier this year, saying county leaders were under-budgeting his office to the point it cannot meet constitutional standards.
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- As of September 2012, public defenders in Washington can have no more than 400 misdemeanor cases. Sunnyside's two public defenders have already exceeded that limit this year. So, the only options are to hire more attorneys and/or reduce the number of cases requiring appointed counsel.
"We are barred to go past our 400 case load limit so you're simply just going to have to go find someone out there that's willing to take the case and go into court for whatever fee and its going to be a heavy burden on the cities," said Sunnyside Public Defender Douglas Garrison.
The changes mean that rental violations, fireworks offenses, unnecessary noise and disorderly conduct will all become civil infractions. Those will result in nothing more than a fine if you are caught.
“We’re primarily facing a shortage of attorneys who are willing or able to take cases out in the west, coupled with rapidly rising caseloads,” Huseby said.Link
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Jailing Dodd at Nottingham crown court, Judge John Milmo told her: ‘None of these three lads had seen the inside of a police station before.‘They may well have been wrongly convicted if these charges had gone to trial. It was ten days before police managed to talk to you – and you admitted your allegations had been completely untrue. I am told, from your perspective, it was easier to tell lies rather than tell the truth.
‘I have no idea why you decided to make these wicked allegations.’
Dodd went out drinking in Nottingham city centre in June, downing eight vodkas and ending up in a casino.There she met one of her numerous ex-boyfriends and through him met the trio.She and the three men took a bus to a house in the Clifton area of the city, and during the journey she began groping one of them. In the house she willingly had sex with all three.But afterwards she texted a friend saying that she felt ‘dirty’. With that in mind she claimed to police that all three of her partners had raped her. Link
How many of you remember Gwinnett's own famous "False Rape" case, Jennifer "Runaway Bride" Wilbanks?
Quest to Defend Onself In Court Can Be Perilous
In a murder case drawing national attention, Daker, 35, is representing himself against charges he stabbed and strangled Nick’s mother, Karmen Smith, in her Marietta home on Oct. 23, 1995. Prosecutors say that after murdering Smith, Daker attacked Nick when he returned home from school.
Though the right to self-representation has existed since Colonial times, legal experts said that the decision to represent oneself in serious cases, particularly murder, is a perilous undertaking. Especially because of tense courtroom moments like these.
“It would be a disaster waiting to happen,” summed up legendary Georgian defense attorney Bobby Lee Cook. “To put a cross examination in the hands of someone like this would be, in my opinion, 99 times out of a 100, catastrophic to the defendant.”
"Awww... it's easy. I just need to wear a suit and tell my side of the story and I'm certain everyone will believe me and disbelieve all of those other people who says something different. What could possibly go wrong?"
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The nearly five-fold explosion in the number of law graduates between 1963 and 2010. The declining percentage of law graduates who have found employment (from 85% in 2011 to 62% in 2012, according to the chart). Quick explanations of how globalization and legal outsourcers have changed the playing field, etc.
LA PORTE, Texas -A stay-at-home mom from La Porte has filed a lawsuit against the city's police department, an unknown officer and one of her neighbors.
Tammy Cooper said she was wrongly accused of endangering her children and was even forced to spend the night in jail, all because she let her kids play outside.
She said her children, ages 9 and 6, were riding their motorized scooters in the cul-de-sac where they live while she watched from a lawn chair in her front yard just a few feet away."I was out there the entire time," Cooper said. "I never left that lawn chair the entire time."Cooper said a little while later, a La Porte police car pulled up in front of her home."I went out there to see what he was here for and he said, 'Ma'am, we're here for you.' I said, 'Oh really? Why?' He proceeded to tell me he had received a call from one of my neighbors that my kids were riding their scooters unsupervised.Cooper said she was handcuffed, put in the back of a police car and forced to spend the night in jail.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
The letters are sent by the thousands to people across the country who have written bad checks, threatening them with jail if they do not pay up.They bear the seal and signature of the local district attorney’s office. But there is a catch: the letters are from debt-collection companies, which the prosecutors allow to use their letterhead. In return, the companies try to collect not only the unpaid check, but also high fees from debtors for a class on budgeting and financial responsibility, some of which goes back to the district attorneys’ offices.The practice, which has spread to more than 300 district attorneys’ offices in recent years, shocked Angela Yartz when she was threatened with conviction over a $47.95 check to Walmart. A single mother in San Mateo, Calif., Ms. Yartz said she learned the check had bounced only when she opened a letter in February, signed by the Alameda County district attorney, informing her that unless she paid $280.05 — including $180 for a “financial accountability” class — she could be jailed for up to one year.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
The next time you deliver a PowerPoint presentation that matters—a product launch, investor pitch, new client meeting— take a cue from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and ditch the bullet points. When Bezos unveiled the all-new new Kindle Fire HD this week, his presentation slides were light on text and heavy on images. This style of delivering presentations is fresh, engaging, and ultimately far more effective than slide after slide of wordy bullet points.
Cobb County killer Marcus Wellons could not have received a fair trial because the same jurors who sentenced him to death also gave erotic chocolate "gifts" to the trial judge ...
Court once again considers bawdy gifts in death case
By Bill RankinFri Sept. 7, 8:26PM
Cobb County killer Marcus Wellons could not have received a fair trial because the same jurors who sentenced him to death also gave erotic chocolate "gifts" to the trial judge and a bailiff, a lawyer argued Friday.
"This is a travesty," Wellons' lawyer, Mary Elizabeth Wells, told three judges on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. "This was a death penalty case. How can anyone say this was dignified?"
She added, "This is even embarrassing to discuss in open court. This is not dignified."
State attorney Beth Burton countered there was no evidence showing that a penis-shaped chocolate given to Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley and a breast-shaped chocolate given to bailiff Loretta Perry had any bearing on the jury's deliberations during the 1993 trial.
"Poor judgment?" Burton asked. "Yes. A partial jury? No."
Wellons sits on death row for raping and strangling his 15-year-old neighbor, India Roberts, in 1989. He abducted the Campbell High School sophomore on her way to school.
At the conclusion of Wellons' 1993 trial, jurors gave the candy to the judge and bailiff — revelations of which have caused Wellons' execution to be delayed for well over a year.
In early 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court put a halt to Wellons' expected execution, saying the disturbing facts of the case raised serious questions and further examination. From beginning to end, a death penalty case "must be conducted with dignity and respect," the high court said.
The case was sent back to Senior U.S. District Judge Willis Hunt, who allowed all parties and the 10 surviving jurors to be questioned about what happened.
Juror Mary Jo Hooper, who gave the anatomical candy to Staley, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a prior interview that during the trial she ordered a box of chocolate-shaped turtles from a friend who ran a candy store to give to fellow jurors and court personnel. The friend, knowing the jury was sequestered, included the penis-shaped chocolate as a joke.
When the package arrived, a bailiff checked it and saw the penis-shaped candy and reported it to Staley, who relayed that she wanted to see it, Hooper said. When the trial was over, Hooper said, she discreetly gave the "gift" to Staley.
The breast-shaped chocolate was sent by another juror to the bailiff after the trial and was apparently the result of a lighthearted conversation jurors had over dinner. No juror has claimed responsibility for this item.
In his order, Hunt said the attempts at humor "fell flat in spectacular fashion," but he added there was no evidence to show the gifts had any bearing on the jury's deliberations. "Nowhere does the Constitution guarantee a jury made up entirely of smart people," he added.
The appeals court, which considered Hunt's order Friday, is expected to issue its decision in the coming months.
During the arguments, all three appeals court judges — Joel Dubina, Gerald Tjoflat and Charles Wilson — seized on the fact there was no evidence to show that the lewd gifts had any influence on the jurors' decision-making. But Tjoflat and Wilson appeared disturbed by the jurors' conduct and questioned whether it tainted the somber proceedings.
An argument could be made, Wilson said, that "this is terrible what these jurors did. This trial was not conducted with dignity and respect. These jurors didn't take their jobs seriously enough." But he also questioned whether the gifts constituted a constitutional violation requiring a new trial.
Wellons' lawyer, Wells, said she did not know whether the lewd gifts influenced the jury's deliberations. "The question here," she said, "is whether the jury conducted itself with dignity and respect in a death penalty trial."
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Monday, September 3, 2012
A man arrested on New Year’s Day for filming police officers was taken into custody a second time early Sunday, when he was taping officers detain an intoxicated man downtown, his attorney told reporters outside of Travis County Jail.If you or someone you know has been arrested for filming the police in a public area, give me a call immediately.
Antonio Buehler, 35, organizer of the Peaceful Streets Project, is facing a charge for interfering with public duty, his attorney, Joe James Sawyer, said Sunday afternoon. The lawyer said his client was detained about 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Sixth Street.
Austin police officials confirmed officers had arrested Buehler but did not release further information, saying they were reviewing the facts of the case. An official statement is expected to be released Monday.
Sawyer called Buehler’s arrest a “deliberate action and part of a calculated effort to protect the officer who arrested him New Year’s Day.”
- John Steakley
Sunday, September 2, 2012
- John Steakley