Monthly Archives: December 2007

Monday Morning Jumpstart – New Year’s Eve edition

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It’s the last Jumpstart of 2007 (and for those in New Zealand, the first of 2008), so enjoy these stories on this lazy day:

  • Grits points to a TX decision protecting the anonymity of bloggers. Woohoo!
  • Don’t forget that voting for The Rodneys is open until Wednesday at 5pm! Go vote if you haven’t already.
  • Judging Crimes has an interesting take on the latest reports that crime has dropped.
  • The big news this weekend was the lawsuit filed by the RIAA for ripping legal CDs to your computer. Then again, maybe that’s not what they’re doing.
  • Speaking of getting sued by the RIAA, Concurring Opinions asks whether you’re liable for all those old Napster downloads.
  • Gov. Rell and AG Blumenthal want to create the internet equivalent of the “do not call” list to protect individuals’ private information from being available on the web. No, they’re not talking about scaling back sex offender registries.
  • CDW comments on a new report on gender bias and the death penalty.
  • Blonde Justice answers a reader comment on whether confidentiality survives discussions with other public defenders as part of the “firm”.
  • The Confrontation Blog discusses the forfeiture doctrine and testimonial statements.
  • Finally, Texan of the Year? No, not the Texas Tornado Mark Bennett. Rather, the illegal immigrant.
  • Update: I’ll give you one more. May It Please The Court announced its third annual “Legal Louie” awards: a tongue-in-cheek look at the legal news of the year. Worth a read!
  • Update 2: Missed a couple. Scott Greenfield is having a “spirited” discussion about what criminal defense lawyers should drink on New Year’s Eve and Bennett is “all overDallas Harris County (it’s all the same to me) DA Chuck Rosenthal’s secretaryial affair.

Have a great new year’s eve and a wonderful New Year. Don’t drink and drive and be safe!

Image of Wellington’s fireworks celebration license info here.

Selling yourself by trashing others

For some, blogs are a business. For some, it’s a way to grow their business. But if you’re selling yourself, remember to put your best foot forward. Take Wallin & Klarich and their AV rating. They seem like a normal criminal defense firm located in southern Cali. In fact, I gotta say, their website is pretty snazzy. They have video clips, login for clients and a blog!

Ah, now that’s what interests me. A blog. So let’s have a look. How is this firm going to set itself apart? How is this firm going to attract clientele?

Then I read the latest post and it hit me. I’ve read this blog before. Same MO in the four posts I’ve read: shit on public defenders.

Here’s the latest:

Many people call our office asking if they can appeal their case. The people who call often tell us that their loved one, who is in jail, did not get proper representation. We are often told that the defendant’s public defender did not provide adequate legal advise or did not do proper investigation. Defendants are often told that it is in their best interest to enter a guilty plea by their public defender. After a guilty plea is entered the person accused wants to “appeal” their conviction.

Oh. Ouch. “Often told”? Here’s an earlier post:

As a former public defender I have seen first hand the benefits and consequences to letting a public defender handle your case. Although the public defenders are highly skilled and experienced attorneys, they are severely overworked. They carry a caseload of up to 20 clients a day! What this means for their clients is that the public defender cannot afford to spend more than a few minutes on the client’s case before moving on to the next case. If your case happens to need more research or a closer look, it is possible that the public defender will simply not have enough time to do the necessary work.

The Public Defender is so overworked that they often times fail to build a meaningful relationship with their clients; they simply do not have the time. This means that they will not have the time to sit down with you and listen to your side of the story. They also will not have the time to answer your phone calls and questions.

Wrong, wrong, wrong and even wronger and still wrongest. I mean, this is just plain nonsense! Playing up the stereotypes of overworked public defenders to sell yourself is just damn low.

The sad part is that the first post that I linked to has an important message: if you plead guilty, you need a certificate of probable cause if you want to appeal. But all I see in there is shitting on fellow members of the bar – in the same field, no less! The point of that post could have been made just as effectively if the first paragraph had been left out.

Now, I know crime is down and business is slow, but c’mon, this is serious bullshit. Selling yourself by trashing a large number of your fellow practitioners is not nice and it’s not smart. I guarantee that some public defenders in your jurisdiction have read your blog.

Law firm marketing gurus, what say you?

In which Gideon wishes more prosecutors were reasonable

This job is tough enough as it is. The law itself is not kind to criminal defendants and those that mount their defense. If that were the only thing we had to struggle against, it would be an uphill battle. When you throw unreasonable prosecutors into the mix, however, it just becomes exasperating.

Every criminal defense lawyer knows what his case is worth. We all know what we would accept in order to resolve a case. After all, plea bargaining is 94% of the criminal justice system. So why do some prosecutors not get it? Why are some so damn difficult to work with? They must know what their case is worth. So why is it easier to make deals and settle with some prosecutors, when oftentimes, with better facts for the defendant, the prosecutor is just so damn reluctant to make a deal?

I couldn’t tell you the number of hours that have been wasted litigating stupid, small issues. Don’t we all have something better to do? Do 6 lawyers need to litigate a case where 120 days of incarceration is at stake?

The one “rationale” that I get from these bullheaded prosecutors over and over again is that it would “open the floodgates”. “Well, if I give your guy that deal, I’ll have to give it to everyone.” Really? If you give the guy with the simple possession charge 6 months suspended you’ll have to give the same offer to the triple murderer? Really? Everyone?

No, I think not. It has nothing to do with the floodgates. It has to do with a lack of knowledge of controlling caselaw and a failure to recognize the weaknesses of your case. Perhaps there’s an ego trip hidden in there somewhere. I’ve found that the easiest prosecutors to deal with are the ones that have been around forever. Those that know how the game is played. As for the rest… I don’t know. I have just one question:

Do we have to try everything?

Life, A-D also bemoans the lack of reasonable prosecutors.

Lawyers appreciate… a good fight

It’s holiday meme time. I got tagged by Scott (who appreciates integrity) who was tagged by Carolyn (who appreciates passion) who was… well, you get the picture.

Why a good fight? Because it makes practicing that much more fun. When you’re going up against someone with passion and integrity, you’re going up against someone who knows the law and will advocate strongly for it. It makes you prepare better and makes you feel like you have something invested in the outcome. If you’re invested, you perform better. Can’t imagine any other way of practicing.

So bring it on. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You know who you are.

Now, my turn to tag:

The rules are that you have to start a post with “lawyers appreciate…” and then indicate what, exactly, it is that you appreciate.