It will come as a surprise to some, but the United States of America did not always exist. [Read more…]
Yesterday, I wrote to point out that the death of the Constitution comes more from the lack of integrity of the judiciary, than from the batons, pepper spray, or bullets of cops.
Today, Gideon, a public defender, tells a tale of judicial misconduct that provides yet another example of this lack of integrity.
Yes. I’m going to call what Gideon writes of by what it really is, by categorizing my post under “Judicial Misconduct.”
Scott Greenfield writes today about a new United States Supreme Court decision – better characterized as a non-decision – in which the court had finally been handed a case they supposedly had been waiting for, for quite some time. It was an opportunity to clarify, to fix, an error of the system that they had perpetuated too long, and on too many occasions, in the past. As Scott put it:
It’s one of those reprehensible things the Supreme Court does, allowing bad things to happen to people for years until the right case comes before them, where they then tweak the law to correct what they could have done years earlier, saving thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people from prison for being caught in the middle of their half-a-decision approach.
For its part, the court allegedly recognizes the problem, and
eagerly awaits continues to stall until brought “the right case,” whatever that might mean, when they could allegedly fix things. The question is whether a person can be punished for behavior that a jury had found them not guilty of having engaged in. Because, the truth is, judges generally do not give a crap what juries say, and some judges have been punishing people for charges even after juries have acquitted them. Our system has, for the most part, prevented judges from completely dispensing with juries – but only for the most part. There are myriad procedures judges use to ensure that what they, the judges, believe should happen happens, irrespective of any system of law that might work to thwart them. Too many judges are unafraid to use those questionably ethical – and definitely immoral – procedures.
But the Supreme Court has always at least pretended that this was not so. The judges of our land just need laws clarified, so they will know how to act. [Read more…]
I’ve said before that I hate plea bargains. I think they should be illegal. They have become little more than a bludgeon that puts too many innocent people in jail, or prison, and imprisons even too many guilty people for longer than they might be if the case were properly litigated.
Nevertheless, plea bargains are sometimes the best option, and when they are, I have been known to concur with my clients when they decide to accept one. I’ve also been known to argue with clients, when I thought that accepting a plea agreement was not in their best interests. When asked by the court if I concur in my client’s plea, I’ve gone so far as to put it on the record — and just did so again as recently as a couple of weeks ago — that the client was taking the plea against my advice, but that doing so was my client’s option under the law, and not mine to abrogate.
In juvenile cases, I have more than once simply refused to concur. Juvenile cases are different. My express job is to look out for the best interests of my kid, and not just rubber-stamp the immature decision which is too-often based on a usually-false belief that it will get them out of custody quicker.
Despite these tendencies on my part, I still often feel that too many of my cases result in plea agreements. No small part of some people’s calculus is that they don’t want to have to pay more money — sometimes cannot pay more money — for trial. I mean, why not just go with the public defender, then? At least you have a shot. But if you take a plea, you’ve caved, without even a fight. And so, lately, I tinker with my fee schedules to try to encourage more people to fight.
But that only goes so far. After all, I’m (almost never) going to take a case to trial without being paid anything at all. [Read more…]
A post this morning on “Thinking Like a Lawyer” snapped me to attention. It was perfect in so many ways, but one part in particular told me what I was writing about this morning.
I write this blog for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that I have things I’m interested in saying, about things that are important to me. So you’ll see posts like the last few which deal with crucial socio-legal issues. Police State issues like Ferguson, for example, or the somewhat related problem with the Criminalization of Everything, police state’s handmaid.
Without specifically making my blog “just another marketing tool,” like too many other lawyers do, I also use my blog to talk to potential clients. To give them an opportunity to know something about me. Because despite over-criminalization, not everyone needing a lawyer is going to know someone who knows enough about a criminal defense lawyer to give a good recommendation. People will say, “Oh, my cousin Vinny is a lawyer,” and, well, okay that might be a good choice. But what about “my cousin Oscar”?
Maybe not so much.
My blog is an opportunity for people who are searching for a lawyer — whether they know someone with a cousin named Vinny, Oscar, or without any cousins at all — to learn a little about me; to get a clue about what type of lawyer I might be.