“Sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants.” – Justice Louis Brandeis. (more…)
There are two breath tests.
Does that sound simple? Many, many drivers across Washington make a mistake when stopped by the police because they do not realize there are two breath tests. Some of my clients are among those people, and my job gets a lot harder when they treat one breath test like the other. So today let’s put the ambiguity to bed and explain the differences between the two breath tests. (more…)
As the year winds its way out, many people are discussing 2014. They’ll talk about what they accomplished, what they failed to accomplish, and what they hope to accomplish in the future. These are great conversations to have.
Another conversation emerged too. A conversation about the criminal justice system in America. Being a criminal defense attorney, I regularly have thoughts on the system. But today’s post is about the growing social consciousness of the criminal justice system itself. 2014 was a banner year for non-attorney, non-police officers to take a hard look at how our country accuses and processes people charged with crimes. (more…)
The last time I was pulled over was in 2007 for expired tabs. It was annoying. I paid the ticket.
The second to last time I was pulled over was in 2004 and that one was more interesting.
A colleague recently posted an article from The Economist. Called The Kings of the Courtroom, it was about prosecutors and the power they have in the criminal justice system. While the article touched on a few different areas, a section on plea bargains stood out. (more…)
I’m in court the other day with a case. It’s an extremely flimsy property crime allegation. In fact it’s so flimsy I believe no crime actually took place. To clarify this issue at the last hearing I filed a motion requesting the prosecution give me additional materials that supported their allegations. The prosecution did not respond to this motion. So at the next hearing I talked to the prosecutor and we had the following conversation.
Me: “You guys never responded to my last motion and this case is garbage.”
Prosecutor: “Hmmm, let me look at this again.”
::Reviews police reports and witness statements::
Prosecutor: “Yeah, wow, this case is garbage.”
Me: “I know! Let’s dump it today. I have this motion to dismiss ready to go.”
Prosecutor: “I may not have the authority to sign on to your motion to dismiss. But if you make a motion to dismiss to the judge, we will not oppose it.”
Me, laughing: “Sure.”
So later the case is called and we go up in front of the judge.
Me: “Your Honor, the prosecution never responded to my motion for more materials because I’m pretty sure they have nothing. On its face the facts do not support a criminal charge here. Therefore I’m making a motion to dismiss.”
Judge: “Prosecution? Any response?”
Prosecutor: “We will defer to the Court.”
Judge, after reading the materials for a bit: “Okie dokie. Motion granted. Case dismissed.”
Sometimes my job is a lot of fun. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime, even if it’s really, really flimsy, feel free to give me a call.
The process of becoming a lawyer is arduous. A person has to graduate high school and obtain a four-year degree from an accredited college. Then the person has to apply, and be accepted into, law school. Graduating from law school is required, followed, of course, by the dreaded bar exam. Passing that still isn’t the end of the story. The applicant must also pass a “character and fitness” examination where they must prove the requisite character of becoming an attorney. This portion is no joke. Prospective attorneys have been denied a license. It’s this extra examination that’s the subject of today’s post. (more…)
As I’ve written before, a part of my practice is staying on top of new cases that could affect my clients. The landscape for criminal defense is constantly shifting, and clients need an attorney who can stay on top of relevant developments in the field. Today’s post concerns two recent cases in search and seizure jurisprudence. One case is a step forward for citizen protections and the other goes backwards. (more…)
As regular readers know, I enjoy discussing the interactions between police and ordinary citizens. I care about those interactions because the stakes can be very high. People can be arrested, or even killed, when a police encounter goes south.
So I was very interested when a video by Marlee Matlin came across my desk. Marlee Matlin is a deaf actress, as well as the wife of a police officer. Her video is directed to the deaf community, and gives good advice on how, during a police encounter, individuals who are deaf can do their best to escape unscathed because of, or despite, their unique challenges. Even if you are not deaf, the video is well worth a look:
Over the past couple of months I’ve prepared for multiple trials. As I wrote a little while ago, this included a three-week trial involving some serious sex offenses. After that concluded I had a misdemeanor domestic violence trial to prepare for.
These trials were going to be quite different. In one the client was facing multiple felonies, the other a single count of misdemeanor assault. But in both cases the stakes were high: each client was facing a relatively significant amount of jail time if they lost. And in each case, their matter would ultimately be decided by a trial of their peers.
But which peers? Prior to any testimony, prior to opening statements, the lawyers engage in jury selection. That selection process is called voir dire. And despite all of the experts and witnesses and exhibits that come in during a trial, voir dire is one of the most interesting and complex aspects of the whole affair. And it could not be more important. With exactly the same charges and testimony and facts, one jury could acquit while another could find a defendant guilty. Each juror brings with them a different set of biases and preferences and life experiences. Which is why voir dire is so critical to ensuring a client gets a fair trial. (more…)