Juris ‘not a medical’ Doctor

Hello, Sweetie.

I’ve long joked that my favorite pickup line is “I’m a lawyer, but you can call me Doctor” and I’ve semi-seriously tried to get people to call me Dr. Trumpet for years now. My graduate degree, after all, is the Juris Doctor1. While I may play one on Friday nights, I’d sooner seek the services of one than play a doctor in court, during a trial.

Criminal cases surprisingly involve a variety of medical issues: from gunshot wounds to broken noses to neuroscience to sexually transmitted diseases. While it helps to have a more than basic understanding of how many liters of blood the are in the human body or what posterior and anterior lateral thingy muscle mean, no criminal defense lawyer should purport to try a case with material medical evidence without consulting someone who has actual training in the medicinal arts.

Take trichomonas, for example. How many here know what that is? And if you’re told that the complainant in a sex assault case contracted trichomonas, allegedly from your client, wouldn’t it behoove you contact a medical profession to ask just how likely that is?

Four links to dump

Sometimes, undermining confidence is all you need

Justice delayed is justice denied, goes the saying, but really, we all know that justice delayed is better than no justice at all. And so it may be for Richard Lapointe, whose 20 year old conviction for raping, killing and setting alight his grandmother-in-law has become a cause celebre of sorts for people across the State.

Today, after 4 appeals and 2 habeas corpus petitions¹, he finally received the relief he sought and that many people thought he long deserved. The Appellate Court² issued an opinion [PDF] today ordering a new trial after finding that a Brady violation undermined their confidence in his conviction.

In order to understand the significance of this decision, we must first have a bit of background on the facts of the case: On March 8, 1987, the defendant called the emergency telephone number, 911, to report a fire at the Manchester apartment of the victim. Earlier that day, he and his wife had visited the victim between 2 and 4pm, as was their custom. They returned home where they all remained until approximately 7:45pm when the defendant received a call from the victim’s daughter stating that she hadn’t heard from the victim and asked the defendant to go check on her. Important to note is that the defendant’s wife was giving their son a bath between 6:15 and 7:00pm while Lapointe sat in the living room watching TV.

Fists of fury: shod off

you wanna come a little closer when you tell me I’m not dangerous?

Bruce Lee, David Carradine, Chuck Norris, The Karate Kid and Jackie Chan would be extremely unhappy with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision in State v. LaFleur [PDF], which held, quite sensibly, that bare hands, while possibly quite dangerous, cannot be an “instrument” under CGS 53a-3(7). The definition of dangerous instrument in the statute is:

“Dangerous instrument” means any instrument, article or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used or attempted or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury, and includes a “vehicle” as that term is defined in this section and includes a dog that has been commanded to attack, except a dog owned by a law enforcement agency of the state or any political subdivision thereof or of the federal government when such dog is in the performance of its duties under the direct supervision, care and control of an assigned law enforcement officer;

So the question, simply, is whether a fist is a dangerous instrument. In order to get to the correct answer, the court has to get around several declarations in prior caselaw about what a dangerous instrument really is. For example:

Sticky fingers

click me

Advancements in technology, while exponentially improving our lives, have provided plenty of cringe-worthy moments when inadvertent actions result in hilarious consequences. You know what I’m talking about: the dreaded “Reply All” that sends a particularly snarky message to your office wife and your boss; the never-ending stream of “Oops, I meant to send that off-list” apologia, the moment of panic when you realize you’ve typed the message in the wrong instant messenger window or that salacious text that goes not only to the girl you met at the bar last night, but also to your mother and the thirteen year olds whom you teach how to swim which lands you in jail for 18 months.

What? That last scenario isn’t familiar to you? It would be, if you were Craig Evans of The Little Island That Could, who, in a moment of understandable distraction, sent a steamy text message to his paramour and everyone else in his contact list.. Yes, that includes his mother, his grandmother, that one kid he went to high school with and presumably the guy who came to clean his pipes last week. Oh, and also those two young girls whom he was coaching.

Monday Morning Jumpstart: Fall has fallen Edition

Leaves. Coffee. See what I did there?

Have your leaves turned yet? Don’t feel left out if they haven’t. Turn the metaphorical leaves of these virtual articles and your October blues will be kept at bay. At least until the coffee turns cold.

  • The Washington Post has this lengthy interview with Lee Boyd Malvo, the kid accomplice to the DC Sniper on the 10th anniversary of the shootings.
  • A chemist in the MA state forensic lab is arraigned on charges of well, doing everything possible to fuck defendants. This has led to a review of thousands of convictions based on her work and testimony. Scott has more.
  • Big Brother is watching you more and more. Wired says warrantless spying increased six hundred percent in the last decade. Reason says the warrantless digital spying has increased enormously in the last two years.
  • Grits has this post on the risk that overcriminalization and plea bargaining has led to more innocent people pleading guilty.
  • A new Northwestern University study says that human memory is a lot like the game of ‘telephone’.
  • Sex offenders in California challenge – on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds – local ordinances that require them to refuse trick-or-treaters (via SL&P).
  • Australia struggles with whether lawyers should be allowed to question jurors about potential misconduct, while a Scottish lawyer argues that jurors who research defendants and bloggers who write about pending trials should be charged with crimes.
  • The NYPD will start videotaping interrogations soon.
  • California enacts into law legislation that permits juvenile LWOPers to seek review after 15 years of incarceration.
  • Social media helps Connecticut cops solve crimes.

Image belongs to trindade.joao, license details here.

Sunday Stupidity: Heck, we’ve all thought of doing it Edition

I will not explain. I will make you watch the video first.

Via Lowering the Bar, which describes it thusly:

The incident involved not one but two geniuses. The brains of the operation was a 39-year-old man who said that after the theater shooting in Colorado, he wanted to find out how long it would take police in his area to respond to a similar report. “I wanted to run a little test here in Phoenix, Arizona,” he said while narrating a video of the event that he posted on YouTube. “I want to find out how safe I really am, and I want to know the response time of the Phoenix police department.”

Still, on Monday (almost two months after the incident) police did arrest the man. They charged him with endangerment, which seems potentially valid, and “creating a false impression of a terrorist act,” which to me is more questionable. If what someone did endangered others, that’s a crime, so why do we need to pile on with more “anti-terror” laws that at least potentially infringe on free speech? The man was also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (I guess so) and “misconduct involving simulated explosives” (same objection).

Be sure to click the link to LTB for bonus idiocy.