Daily Archives: September 9, 2008

Hood execution stayed; lawyers continue douchebaggery

I was going to write about the silly comments made by the attorney for the Judge that presided over Hood’s original trial, but that has been pre-empted by this late breaking news that Hood’s execution, set for tomorrow, has been stayed.

Tuesday’s reprieve was granted over a technical issue regarding instructions given to the original jury, and a hearing will be scheduled on that issue.

Btw, I love how instructional error is called a “technical issue”.

Now here are the asinine comments:

Earlier in the day, [attorney for Judge Holland] Mr. Boyd said Judge Holland is “saddened” and “disappointed” by the allegations of an affair at the time of the trial.

He also criticized Mr. Hood’s attorneys for filing a civil action in the case in an attempt to elicit a stay of execution from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, or to force consideration of new appeals in a criminal court.

“This is not about getting money damages for Hood or his estate,” Mr. Boyd said of the civil action. While lauding their “creativity,” Mr. Boyd noted that the case happened 20 years ago and in all those years, “nobody has filed a grievance between either of these two people.”

Right, it’s not about money, but “just the small matter of his life”.

Sorry Judge Holland, but I am “saddened” and “disappointed” by your attempts to obfuscate and to possibly deny this man a fair trial before his life is taken by the State.

Judges are supposed to recuse themselves from cases if there is even the slightest appearance of impropriety. Sleeping with the prosecutor in a capital case goes far beyond that. Everyone knows that there are some judges who are in bed with the State, but when it actually happens – literally – it should be enough to stop the trial or reverse the conviction.

The Judge that ordered the depositions of the judge and prosecutor was quite right in saying:

he was interested in preserving the integrity of the judicial system

Good to know that not all judges in Texas are like Judge Holland.

Raising the Bar: A Week Later

After my criticism of the show Raising The Bar last week, I think it is only fair if I post a follow-up having watched the second episode.

So here it is: I like it. A lot.

The law was definitely better, although I thought it a bit suspect that the lawyer in the sexual assault case was pretty openly arguing for jury nullification. What also struck me about that is if the prosecutor was willing to agree to probation, why didn’t he just plead to that? The defense lawyer should have known that he had no defense to the actual assault. But that’s minor.

Also, the behind the scenes skulduggery in the murder trial is pretty much why either MPG or the female prosecutor would have to have recused themselves because of their relationship.

It definitely was more interesting than the first episode, but the re-arrival of the star defense witness was a bit too convenient. I’d like to see it get a bit more real.

Finally, nice shout out to Justice Cardozo there.

What did you guys think? Overall, I thought it got better. I don’t care much for some characters, but I can overlook that.

I will echo one sentiment I saw across the web: please don’t let every client be “innocent”. That’s not how it works and you know that.

Courthouse Steps Syndrome

Also known as “mic in face make lawyer say lots of things”.

A long time ago I wrote two posts on the propensity of some lawyers to blabber too much in court, either with or without the media present (incidentally, two of the most popular posts here at apd).

Then yesterday I happened to read this post by the prolix (his word, not mine) David Giacalone at f/k/a. Essentially, he coins the phrase “Defenders Red Herring Credo” and is disappointed at the blatant nonsense put forth by a particular set of defense lawyers in defense of their clients – to the media. Read the post, which, while rather long, does not seem that way because of his writing style.

The thrust is this: Why are defenders so tied to making some form of statement proclaiming their clients’ innocence or ridiculing the State’s evidence to the media, no matter how patently absurd and does it not show criminal defense lawyers in a poor light and lead some credence to the general perception that we are not to be trusted?

Scott, in the comments, agrees with me for the most part that the less said the better and it probably is best if you say nothing at all. No one I know of was convicted because his lawyer said “not guilty” on the courthouse steps.

But he also threw this in:

But the one thing to remember is that the defense has no duty of fairness to the public. It’s only duty is to its clients within the bounds of the law.

I agree completely, but in the case of CSS*, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. Our duty to the client should encourage restraint on the courthouse steps. Just because the clients (or more likely the media) want some outward showing of their “innocence”, doesn’t mean we have to give it to them.

First, we should believe what we’re saying, because if we don’t, it comes across pretty clearly. Second, as lawyers thinking two steps ahead, we should be careful of what we assert, because people and the media and the internet have long memories and if we can’t prove it later on…well, that doesn’t look too good either.

Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, today’s 10pm news watchers are tomorrow’s potential jurors. Much has been written in the blawgosphere over the past months about what best convinces a jury. Credibility was oft repeated. A jury will be more inclined to believe your client’s version of the story if they’re more inclined to believe you.

But if they remember you as the smarmy lawyer they saw spout nonsense on TV, will they be more inclined to believe your next client? Maybe, maybe not. Do you want to take that risk?

*not to be confused with Cascading Style Sheets