The Nichol(s) effect

The capital case of Brian Nichols has had a terrible effect on the state of indigent defense in Georgia. A system that was already strained under the pressure of one capital case is on the verge of a deathblow. There are many, many other defendants not named Brian Nichols in Georgia who need representation and need it now. One of them is Jamie Ryan Weis and he’s suing the public defender’s office:

Since April, Weis has been sitting in jail awaiting trial without lawyers to represent him. The lawsuit was filed after trial judge Johnnie Caldwell scheduled a Jan. 5 hearing on the case.

“It’s frustrating,” Pike County District Attorney Scott Ballard said. “Everybody wants the defendant to be well represented. We’ll be ready to prosecute just as soon as they’re ready.”

The suit was filed in Fulton County Superior Court against Mack Crawford, director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, and Gerry Word, acting head of the capital defender’s office.

As the Nichols case made its way through the system, Weis’ case took a beating:

Proving the negative: lawyers are special

Lawyers hate proving the negative, unless of course they’re asking other lawyers to do so. In which case, game on!

For reasons that are not very exciting, I was helping someone research the mandatory CLE (continuing legal education) requirements for lawyers in New York. CT doesn’t have any CLE requirements, so I wasn’t aware of how harrowing it can be for someone who lives in a state that does. Here’s what NY requires if you are a new lawyer:

  • 32 credit hours are required of newly admitted attorneys during the first two years after admission (16 credit hours per year)
  • of the 16 credit hours each year, 3 are to be in the areas of ethics and professionalism; 6 in the area of skills; and 7 in the area of law practice management and various areas of professional practice

Now 32 credit hours may not sound like a lot, but I imagine it is, as with all else when it comes to lawyers and hours, deceptive.

Where’s Gideon?


Can you spot Gideon?

It’s been a while since there have been any new posts on this blog and for that, I take sole responsibility as the primary (and only) author. Gideon has been preoccupied with several things, including the holidays, work and snow. However, another round of days off are on the horizon and with that comes the promise of some fresh content.

So, sit back, grab a cup of coffee (actually, do that tomorrow and into the weekend. It’s a bit late for that now) and feast your eyes on the smorgasboard of posts that spring forth from this idle mind.

In other words, I’ll post soon, I promise!

Happy New Year to you and you.

For the music, I have provided a song with “New Year’s Day” in the title:

1 thing law school isn’t meant to teach you

How to be a lawyer.

My post “10 things I didn’t learn in law school” led to a bunch of comments here, and some links from other blogs. Most of the commenters and other bloggers got it. One person, in the comments at the Marquette law school blog apparently didn’t.

Now he’s back at it and writes this [scroll to comment 11]:

However, I strongly agree with Chris King’s sense of the proper relationship between legal education and the practice of law. We don’t want law school to be lawyer-training school. When we cave in to demands of that sort from the ABA and assorted study commissions, we actually invite alienation among law students and lawyers. Legal education should appreciate the depth of the legal discourse and explore its rich complexities. It should operate on a graduate-school level and graduate people truly learned in the law.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh at the arrogance and short-sightedness or cry for the students at Marquette.

When does police coercion make a confession involuntary?


We're gonna get what we want, see?

Here’s the quick answer: almost never. If you’re still interested, read the rest of the post. Be warned, though. It is long.

I realize this is a slightly heavy topic for Christmas Day, but such are the conversations I have over lunch. What precipitated this line of thought is this Kansas Supreme Court decision, up for cert. before SCOTUS in the coming weeks.

In Morton, the Kansas Supreme Court held that the [police officer]‘s deliberate misleading of the defendant led to her confession being involuntary. The officer lied to Morton about her need for an attorney during the interrogation and lead her to believe that all he had were clarifying questions. The KS Supreme Court held thusly (more on Morton and CT law after the jump):