Friday, December 14, 2007

Darlin', you have just got to get your act together....

In Court the other day, a woman pleaded guilty to the following incident:

She went to the police station and filed a report. In her report she stated that a woman got into her car and forced her to leave the convenience store where she had bought smokes. She was ordered to drive to a school parking lot where the woman whapped her upside the head with some kind of night stick which caused her to pass out for several hours. When she came to, she drove directly to the police station.

This naturally caused an investigator to come and speak with her immediately and durring the course of his conversation with her (before she has even left the police station mind you!) she admits that the real story is that she went over to her boyfriend's house. His girlfriend came home and beat the snot out of her and she had to have something to explain to her husband of 4 days what had hapened to her her face.


Life lesson #5,374: If you're going to lie to the police, which is a bad idea, stick to your story.

Life lesson #5,375: If you've married a guy, dump your boyfriend BEFORE you say, "I do." Especially if he already has a new Girlfriend.

Reminds me of a little poem I read once: I don't know much, but I know this is true, 'tis better to be off with the old love before being on with the new.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Priceless gems of wisdom....

An elder statesman of the law said to me yesterday, "He's the kind of guy who, every time he comes up to talk to me, I suddenly remember I have an appointment."

Of course, right before that I was subjected to an extremely difficult racist conversation that made me cringe and, since I hadn't heard the appointment thing yet, I was trying like crazy to get out of there, but didn't know what to do. Only people over 70 can get away with calling someone "Uncle Buck." To their face. Without them getting angry.

Maybe he's like me and figures anyone who would think less of him because of the color of his skin (or in my case my gender), it will be that much easier to gut them in Court.

Remember our Veterans this weekend. Had they not been willing to die for you, you wouldn't be where you are.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bad Ass. D.A., Bad!

Ok, so this story has made the news:

A former District attorney (I assumed he was an assistant D.A. until I read further, but I like the Bad and Ass together in the title so I'm leaving it!) is accused of fondling these guys while giving them drug screenings...

And I might not believe it except that the District Attorney doesn't give drug screenings.

His minions/Court Referral people/ Probation officers etc.... do that.

The District Attorney doesn't dirty his/her hands with personally administering Drug Tests. This, to me as an attorney, is like someone saying that the President drove himself to the Quik-E-Mart for some ice cream. You Know? On its face, with no facts, you raise an eyebrow and figure either someone who doesn't really understand "the system" made it up, or something really, really weird is going on.

People make up stuff all the time. Once I had a guy I was prosecuting try to tell me some garbage about the Judge's brother and yada yada. I just shrugged and told him I didn't care, it was not relevant to his compliance with my demands. He insisted it was some kind of mitigating factor that "the Judge's brother got drug counseling and if he didn't get it that wasn't fair and the Judge would have to give him counseling too." (I kept reiterating that fair wasn't the issue here, legal was, and this was about support, not drugs.... but hey, can't argue with a brick wall!) At any rate, his face was priceless when he opened his mouth and began his plea only to be interrupted by the Judge after a sentence or two. "Let me stop you here," the Judge said, "I don't have a brother."

Poor guy, some jailhouse lawyer had told him that; may have believed it himself.

At any rate, the fact that amused me most about this D.A. (and it may not be in the article to which I linked) is: he (Allegedly) put on rubber gloves to fondle the guys. I'm not sure what that reveals about his psyche, but I'm sure its important.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Criminal charges... and the criminals who committ them

So in court yesterday there was a guy with no lawyer. He was charged with poss. of pot and poss. of paraphanelia. He sits down with the prosecutor and accepts the offer. In this situation the lawyers are all sitting about 3 feet from the guy as he makes this agreement, because the prosecutor takes some unrepresented people before he'll talk to the lawyers. So, we're just quietly going over our notes and the police statements and such... but we all look up and start to pay attention when we hear the prosecutor's voice raised, "What do you mean you want your pipe back? Are you kidding me? You can't have that back its ILLEGAL!"

Dude asked for his pipe back. And he kept taking about how it was art and beautiful....and part of his glass collection.


So I was sitting with the probation officer (He apparently kept up his irritation of not getting the pipe returned to him when he went to see the probation officer) and the desk Sergeant and laughing about this moron, and someone suggested it would be funny to get his pipe from the evidence room and take a video of it being smashed to pieces with a hammer and put it on you tube and send him the link. I suggested mailing it as a million pieces to him, with the video.

I just couldn't believe someone who was clearly in his 30s would be THAT ignorant.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I WANT to Want to Vote! I LONG to WANT to vote for you!

When I was a child I remember Mad Dog and Mommy Dearest taking me with them to vote. They always knew the registrars and made it seem like such a wonderful privilege that we were Allowed to have input into this decision. Golf pencils, striped curtains in little metal booths- It was almost mystical.

Then I registered to vote. Sigh. Promptly at 18. Seriously- my mother would pick up absentee ballots and mail them to me at school. I have rarely, if ever, missed a chance to vote. I voted! stickers line the visor of my car.

Mad Dog and I have had some very nice conversations about "The Devil you know is safer than the Devil you don't know." Check. and "A divided congress produces less legislation which is a good thing." Check.

Now, you know I don't much like to talk about my actual political leanings....I would truly call myself an independent. In local elections, where I can usually meet people or at least meet people who work for the people for whom I'm voting, there appears to be no rime or reason to my voting. I try to vote for the best person for the office. I personally don't think local elections should be based on Party affiliation- because who cares if your local Revenue Commissioner is pro choice or pro gun rights? I want to know- Is s/he honest? Can s/he do the job and inspire others to do their job for her/him? But then again, When I'm Philosopher King....

In fact, I'm pretty happy with my local choices. (Heh. If I told you those stories you might be able to figure out who I am!) What I want to talk about is the fact that I'm tired of voting for the third party candidate in Presidential elections, which I only do because I hate both choices and I know if the major third party candidate gets votes its easier for his party to get on the ballot next time so its my little way of contributing to the system.

But I'm tired of it. I want to WANT to vote for someone. I want to read a candidate's stats and go, Ohhhh I want this person to lead my country.

I listened to (twenty minutes of) the Republican Debates last night (before I felt really, really stabby and took a mental health break to watch... well, honestly, I flipped through the channels until it was over). I've listened to some of the Democrat's debates, too. And I'm... Just.... Ehhh. First, if you have not, read MSNBC's commentary by Economists on yesterday's debates- it was absolutely superb. I would vote for any one of those guys purely on their economic knowledge and I have no idea what their stance is on anything else- but if the economy is running well, I can pretty much live with anything.... I spent 10 minutes looking for the comments, but I can't find them today. MSNBC had three economists commenting on the candidate's answers. It was soooo insightful.

First of all, Economists are like Philosophers in that they just know the world would be a better place if people actually were educated to a basic level in their field. I gotta say, after reading their commentary, I have to agree with them. We need to have a better understanding of basic economic principles so that we can understand these numbers candidates are pulling out of their behinds and throwing around for all to use- Like ___ percent of the nation's spending is spent on ___. I'm already generally suspicious of Percentages.... knowing as I do that while statistics seldom lie, statisticians often do- and politicians using statisticians for their own purpose.... that's downright scary. Or understanding Huckaby's "Fair Tax" plan (Which I generally favor in theory- think about how much revenue it would generate from non-legal residents alone....)

Anywho, I thought Romney's Law and Order joke was awesome. I liked Huckaby. I enjoy people who think outside the box on taxes. I thought Fred needed to get a little more... animated. I have enormous respect for McCain because- frankly, P.O.W.- so if I were trapped on a desert island with a candidate- I'm picking McCain, but "I wish interest rates were zero?" Are you really that ignorant? (That plus the whole he's no longer Episcopalian but is now an evangelical ? = totally disgusted.) I guess I should include some Democrats in this tirade: Barac... like you. LOVEEE your wife. You should have served another term. I just don't think you have enough wisdom under your belt. Hillary... you know, I never liked you much until I read the Atlantic Monthly article- which was outstanding. I'm afraid you and Guillani have the same problem- some people like you, but a fair number of people absolutely HATE you.

Here's what I want: I want the candidates (all of them- Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike) to take the Advanced Placement High School Economics exam and provide their scores. I would also like the results to the AP Government exam. Oh, and the citizenship test. Yep, I could feel really good about a candidate if s/he could do well on those three tests.

Because Social Security would have been a great program if you stupid politicians kept your fingers out of the pie and left our money there earning interest like it was supposed to. Because understanding the State's domain and Federal Gov't domain is a big one for me. Because I know that due to the enormous complexity of our Fed gov't bad people hide waste and corruption. Because a 1,000 page law IS a bad law no matter what it says- with that length comes Pork, corruption, loopholes and graft.

I want an honorable person to be elected...I WANT to Want YOU to be my President.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Last Week....

Last week I:

1. Remembered that removing a hot glass from the dishwasher and filling it with cold liquid and ice will make it crack- and fall sharp side down onto your arm nearly (But not quite) severing your artery. Which lead me to:
2. Learned Duct tape with a little gauze and neosporin will hold the edges of a cut together well when properly applied. Who needs stitches?!
3. Was called to be an expert witness as to the potential income of Strippers.
4. Noticed that strippers have a certain way of standing that is a dead giveaway. Clue: do NOT put one foot in front of the other, lean onto the Bench and arch your ass in the air, because no matter how nice the outfit you're wearing is, you still look like a stripper.
5. Learned that if you drink most of a gallon of really cheap vodka with your best friend and ram your car into the back of a moving train in an effort to "make it Effing speed up!" the police will charge you with all the crimes they can think of, while crafting what you say to them into a very very amusing report, and that the train company will also present you with a bill for the damage you did to their train.... which the prosecutor will present to your attorney... while laughing hysterically. (I believe his exact words were, "Ahh, here's the bill for the damage your client did to the enormous diesel train when she rammed it with her Durango.") You will then go into the back room and laugh hysterically before getting control of yourself to go speak to your client because, really, you HAVE TO LAUGH SOMETIMES.

Which brings me to my last thought.... I was walking out of Court after a long hard day in the small courtroom where we fall over each other and handled 45 cases between 3 prosecutors and a man who had been waiting for hours with his family to get some time with the Judge in an unrelated matter stopped and asked me if we did this every day.

Well, no, I replied. About 4 times a month.

Whew, he said, shaking his head, I don't know how you stand it. All those people, and the tragedy, and the stress and the back and forth.

Well, you just do, I said, and I find things to laugh about, but, I gotta tell you, when I get home tonight, I'll be so tired I can't speak.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Have I told you this one before?

I know, I know. No new posts lately. Too busy saving the world.

Funny thing someone told me once:

"He needed killing" isn't that hard a defense to make. There's plenty of people out there most good people can agree "needed killing." The problem comes in when you have to prove that you were the one who should have done it, when you did it and the way you did it.

I like that.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hard Work

The woman in my office today. She got married at 16 and lived with her husband as a sharecropper, working the cotton fields. She was pregnant, working the fields in the summer and lost her baby. She said she knew when she lost the baby because she was riding on the wagon to the gin, bouncing up and down and she felt it. She lost 4 babies that way.

She also chopped wood and carried coal for the family that owned the land. She made her daughter's clothes in school, including her drill team outfit. She writes in a very old fashioned hand.

She knows hard work.

She doesn't own a TV. She tithes fully. She's had cancer for 14 years but takes her medication.
Her car is paid for.

She pays her bills rather than eat.

That's character.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Probation Violation

I am really, really tired of people saying that Paris Hilton is being treated more harshly by this Judge than if she were a "normal" citizen. First of all, it someone in one of my Courtrooms told a Judge "its not fair" ---all of my Judges would give that person a very long lecture, possibly followed by a contempt finding if that person continued to whine.

In my jurisdiction, if you fail to schedule your alcohol treatment classes within 7 days of going to Court, you'll get violated. If you fail to attend them- you'll get violated. If you're arrested for DWS (driving while suspended) it COULD violate your probation... and the second time you were DWS, unless you had a great reason, would most probably violate you, and finally, if the Judge assigned you to do community service and you didn't go- you would most definitely get violated.

In fact, I have a client who had a BAC 1/100 less than the legal limit and the prosecutor agreed to drop the case (there was also an allegation of illegal drug use) if my client would attend DUI class. My client failed to attend and I can't find him, so the Judge violated him (he remained On Bond until the dismissal) , AND reinstated the case. When he's arrested- he'll be denied bond due to his bond violation and by the time the Judge gets around to hearing his case he will have probably served 30 or so days.

I think the Judge did a good job in this case and if Hilton had beans for brains she wouldn't have acted like a spoiled brat...(or, to me, suspiciously similarly to a person going through withdrawals.)

Of course, I also understand the Sheriff's position. She takes up a lot of man hours. Its a funny relationship- the Judge orders someone to Jail, but the sheriff is in charge of how/where the sentence is served, good time ect....usually. The whole Contempt thing was an interesting power struggle... and one I've seen before. Usually, however, what happens is that the Sheriff comes to the Judge and explains why he wants something different in a case (The guy has 10 communicable diseases and an abcessed tooth and we can't afford to keep in in jail your honor....) and the Judge either explains why that won't do or goes along with it. Its all a delicate process.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I put the Stud in Study...

So I was shopping for this T-Shirt we saw on TV for my BIL, since he started Law School yesterday and today is his birthday...


When it occurred to me that there was another very funny t-shirt in there....



So, then I went to buy it and found this one:


Do you dare me to wear it to Court? Yeah, I don't think that would inspire confidence in your defense attorney... maybe on a Friday afternoon when I'm just copying files : )

Have a good weekend.

On this Memorial day weekend, remember that freedom isn't free and whether or not you think we should be in this war, our brave women and men in the armed forced are dying for us and we should appreciate them, and those generations who came before and died so we could be free.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


So I heard gunshots at the Courthouse today and ran outside to look.... and as I put my hand on the door it occurred to me...


But I opened the door anyway and looked and it was just a ceremony.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A letter to Paris Hilton's father... (and any other fathers of wealthy popular young people who happen to stumble across this page.)

Dear Mr. Hilton,

You seem like a sensible man. I'm sure you have your eccentricities; at your level of wealth, you would be abnormal if you didn't, but you need to have a Come to Jesus talk with Paris. Please. Now. Before she ends up a 30 year old washed-up has been.

Paris doesn't get it. Yeah, yeah, I am ashamed to admit how many interviews of her I have read, so I have heard her theory that her Simple Life character is just that, a character, and that she really does work hard... blah blah blah, poor little rich girl. But at this point, I'm not buying it, and neither should you. I mean, would YOU hire Paris to work for you? No, you would hire someone competent who wouldn't have a melt down when you asked her to bring you a file and coffee and oh! By-the-way did you do that report I asked you for yesterday?

She doesn't get that while she leads a wildly privileged life, it also has its own price. MadDog used to say to me, "To whom much is given, from her much is expected." I think this is really good advice for Paris, too. You, her FATHER, are the only one to get this lesson into her brain- and you had better hurry up because she's not getting younger.

The excuse that her publicist told her wrong? Absolutely pathetic. THIS is her LIFE- you listen to the (extremely expensive) lawyers and DO WHAT THEY SAY. You SIGN UP for the stupid class and get it done. You take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions. No, Paris was hoping that if she did nothing it would all slide away- because that's what has worked for her in the past. YOU, her father, are directly responsible for this (mis)perception on her part- because you have let her get away with things in the past. I'm sure like many parents you would get angry, ground her or assign a punishment, and then if she was quiet you'd forget all about it in a few days. You probably didn't stop Kathy from calling up the school when Paris complained about a teacher. I wonder how many assignments you got her As on. Do you know what it teaches a child when a parent helps persuade the teacher to bend the rules, except when there is a very very compelling reason? That rules are bendable. While this is true under many circumstances, if you had got some sense into her- she would understand where the line of demarcation was. For example, in the legal system- As Irving Welsh said, "Same rules apply."

I remember in High School I had AP senior English, and we had to write a term paper. We had to make note cards, an outline and so forth- there were maybe 6 or 7 steps we had to complete. It was so absurd. The teacher made us do each of the steps- make the note card, put the cite on the card and then put the corresponding part of your outline numbering on the card..... My best friend didn't make note cards and she did end notes instead of foot notes. The teacher gave us a sheet of paper telling us that a letter grade would be taken from the paper for each step we failed to follow exactly. She told us she was preparing us for college. When the day came to hand in our papers (Mine, I believe, was about Northern Ireland; I made an A-, for spelling of course!) My friend was so far off from what we had been told to do that even though her mother let her stay home that morning and work on her paper she made a D. My friend was livid at the teacher- but her mother was livid at HER. Her mother, who had just put herself though college, tore her up one side and down the other. As well she should. And my friend learned her lesson- and while she may have lapsed once or twice in College she suddenly "got" that there are often in life arbitrary, stupid and/or unfair rules- but you follow them anyway under most circumstances. She also learned that failing to follow them resulted in consequences. Mmmmm, Consequences.

I know its hard to deal with the fact that if you had had this talk a few years ago (Maybe when the sex tape got out?) your baby girl might not have had to spend 40 days in the hoosegow, but you've got to tell her this is a tough lesson but it will make her a better person, and no you can't get her out of it, she'll have to take it on the chin like a woman. And for the rest of you parents out there- get your chillrens back in line and don't make the Judge act In Loco Parentas.

Have a great day,


Monday, May 07, 2007

No more posts for a while....

I'm bored with my blog, I have too much to do in my real life, and all of my clients are (acting) normal.

I'm taking a month off. See you in June (my 10 dear, dear readers).... meanwhile, post a comment here if you have a topic about which you'd like to hear more and I'll check in and post if I get inspired.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Everything you wanted to know about Courtroom behavior * but were afraid to ask...

Disclaimer: This post should not be construed as legal advice. This post should be construed as humor. I am not your lawyer, I will never be your lawyer. The laws in your state may be different than the laws in my state.

So I was trolling through my recent referrals and noticed a lot of people stumble onto my site looking for advice on being in the Courtroom.

This is a good sign. You should look for advice on being in a Courtroom... if you have to be in one, you don't want to inadvertently ruin it for yourself... so here goes:

1. Get there early. Seriously, nothing is worse than getting there late. I could fill an entire blog with stories of people who arrived late. Generally, if you're late the Judge WILL issue a writ for your arrest... so get there early or call the Judge's assistant with a Valid reason- hospitalization, or car wreck (with police report) are two acceptable ones. DO NOT lie to the Court- they have, in fact, heard it all. You really don't want the secretary calling the hospital to check the records and finding out you were lying. It may be hard to figure out which Courtroom... or find parking so give yourself time. Plus, if you arrive really early this creates a favorable impression with the Court.

2. Wear something that at least covers you between the knees and elbows, preferably long pants or skirt and long sleeved shirt. I would like to advise you to wear Sunday clothes- but I have had some bad results with that one, as nothing looks worse than someone in a suit they haven't worn in 10 years and are very, very uncomfortable in. Your shirt should be tucked in. You should have on a belt. Your clothing should be free from words if at all possible. (The chick in the custody hearing last week with the "Highly Edukated" shirt on- it was a funny shirt but to convince the Judge you're a fit parent....) Skirts shorter than the knee tend to ride up when you're sitting down- so you can get really uncomfortable sitting in the witness chair trying to pull your skirt down. Oh, and it will be cold in the Courtroom. Very, very cold.
2a: Big Tip: Hard soled shoes are really loud in the Courtroom. I recommend soft soled ones so you don't feel so obvious.
3. Bring all your evidence each time you come to Court. It won't do you any good at home. Bring your piece of paper that told you to be there too- it can help you figure out where you're supposed to be.

4. TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF. Seriously. I could regale you with stories- but I have seen too many people in jail for an hour for contempt of Court for forgetting this one. If you just set it to silent, you might mess up and accidentally get a message tone or something.

5. Take your pepper spray, knives and other weapons out of your bag/ pocket. I would have thought this was kind of a DUH one, but you should see the collection of knives that piles up outside the Courthouse every day. If you're worried for your safety, ask a Deputy to escort you to your car.

6. Be POLITE. Yes sir, no sir , may I please.... if you're rude to the Bailiff, he may tell the Judge, likewise, if you're nice to the Prosecutor he may be nice to you.

7. Be prepared to "Hurry up and wait." Generally Court proceeds like this: 30 cases are scheduled for the same time. At the appointed hour the Judge calls each case and asks the status. He will ask you to not respond if you have an attorney because your attorney will respond for you, and generally to speak out and raise your hand if you do not. If you have an attorney and s/he is not in the Courtroom you should probably go ahead and answer. Listen carefully to the Judge's instructions regarding this and do what s/he says.

8. In many cases the Judge will then place the Court in recess to allow the parties (you) to attempt to settle this case. This is normal and you should try. Only a very few cases get tried. If the other lawyer wants to talk to you and you don't have a lawyer, at least listen to him/her. If s/he is bullying you, step back and tell him/her so. DO NOT be afraid to be assertive- but DO NOT raise your voice. Seriously- NO LOUD VOICES. Often these discussions take place in little corners around the Courthouse- stairwells, random nooks, empty Jury rooms. Write down the points you want to make so if your mind goes blank it will jog your memory.

8A. Civil/ Domestic relations: Know what you want to come from the case. Know what you can be flexible about. If your pig ass ex husband wants to pick the kids up at 4:15 instead of 5:00 DO NOT make the Judge get involved because this will piss him/her off and you'll come across as being crazy. Remember: The Judge cannot make him/her sane. NOTHING the Judge can do will make him/her a better person, or regret what s/he did to you.

8B. Criminal: Listen to the offer. I don't want to go into too much detail- but if you have something you want to know (May I go to driving school? I had insurance at the time, it just wasn't in my car.... I have my license back. ) tell her/him once s/he is done speaking. If you have irrefutable proof it wasn't you- Like John swore out a warrant that you came over to his house and threatened him at 6 PM on January 14th and you were at work 20 miles away until 9 PM January 14th- then say something simple like, "John says I threatened him January 14th and I was at work when he says I did it- here is a printout from work where I highlighted the clock in and clock out times. My boss is reachable at this number here to confirm my story." (Note: you may have to subpoena the boss to get that evidence in front of the Judge....) Just the FACTS. Not, "You ain't got no evidence it was me." Its ok to ask, "Is this a standard offer for this crime?" of a random attorney near the Courtroom. Most will tell you. Most prosecutors have standard Misdemeanor offers. This means that every one who does crime X gets punishment Y.

Caveat: This is intended as a simple overview of the Courtroom, not as a crash course in Procedure, Evidence, and negotiation. I went to school for three years to learn how to do that part. So, if you feel the least worried about your case, hire an attorney or get one appointed to you. Again, I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice. This is general life advice : )

9. Be proactive about your Court Case! If you ignore it it will NOT go away. If you move after you already know you have court, then Call the courthouse and give them your new address. I can't tell you how many people do garbage like this. If you're on BOND you (almost guaranteed) signed something that says that you will tell your bond agent and the Court if you move.
9A. Ask your Bond agent about the particular Judge you have. Bond agents know a lot of things.

10. Number one piece of ADVICE: If you feel uncomfortable with the situation then call the Courthouse as soon as you get your court date. Ask when your Judge will be hearing other cases like yours. Example, "When does Judge Dredd have a misdemeanor trial date set?" Go to the Courtroom and just watch. Unfortunately, Juvenile cases are closed so if you have one of those, just go to another docket the Judge has. Often in this case the Judge will notice you and ask you if you need something. Be prepared to tell him/her you have a case set before him and that you just wanted to get familiar with the Courtroom and how things would go.

Good Luck.

Now, 5 quick things not to do:

1. DO NOT think you have done proper legal research on an issue. I have never seen a lay person get it right. Unless you have a lawyer friend feeding you stuff just... don't. I had a guy the other day who had gotten the prison lawyer to do some magnificent research for him. Only, it was from Federal criminal procedure, and we were in State Juvenile Court. BIIIGGG difference.

2. Don't ignore your case. It will NOT go away.

3. Do not use, "Yo" "Ya know whadi'm sayin'" "Its like this..." or "You feelin' me." Nor any curse words, nor loud voice.

4. If you're under 22 you may bring a parent with you even to the settlement discussion. If you're over 22 but under 30, you may bring them with you but leave them in the audience if you have to go talk to the prosecutor or other lawyer. Do feel free to ask the prosecutor if you may go review the offer with your family. If you're over 30, unless your parent is a witness, don't do it and surely don't let your parent speak for you. I am sick of 45 year olds whose momma is all up there in the discussion. If your momma didn't run your life and keep getting you out of scrapes, you might be an adult by now.

5. NO- hats, do rags, droopy pants, gold chains (Make you look rich and foolish with your money), beer or pot anything, belly buttons, or other extreme clothing. No novelty contacts, glitter, or shoes you cannot walk in all day. No taffeta, lame', crepe de chine, or vinyl. No trains, veils, or gloves. Seriously, I want you to be able to express your individuality, however, right now you need to think about your message. Its all a matter of time and place. If you were interviewing Dita Von Teese you would wear many of these things or she would think you were a square and probably wouldn't want to talk to you. The Judge on the other hand will do her best to ignore what you're wearing and listen to the facts, make it easy on her. Its easier to convince someone you're an upstanding citizen when you look like one.

Oh, and if you're Dita Von Teese/ her people trolling to see what people are saying about her, then tell her I think she ROCKS, and Manson is a complete idiot. She is one of my idols for her confidence in her appearance and comfort with her sexuality. That way she has of looking iconic and ironic all at once simply blows me away. I wish I looked like Tallulah Bankhead (I'm related to her) when I dressed up, unfortunately, I look much more like Jodie Foster (when she was in Contact), who also rocks, but in a much more quiet way.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Learning from Others...

Average people learn from their own mistakes. Stupid people never learn, and smart people learn from other's mistakes.

I want to be person C (the smart person) in this scenario. Don't you?

Which is why I advised my cousin whose sisters are all getting married thusly: "It is far, far better to not be married at 26 than to be married to the wrong person and absolutely, positively, soul suckingly miserable, because when you hit 28 and are a single divorcee (perhaps with a baby) you will sigh and wish like hell you had stayed single. Seriously. I promise you."

She said it made her feel a whole lot better than all her friends who keep telling her she'll find someone.

It made me think of a comedian whom I saw over the weekend. He did a gag where he said that he got married and he was all concerned with the fact that "This is IT. I'm stuck , I can't leave her." And they went on their miserable way for a year or so and then they had a baby, and he looked down at that baby and realized he really could have left before that. "

I mean, that's it isn't it? We get into these situations with our lives and think we're stuck, because we're down in this hole looking out, and not until something else happens do we realize how easy that very difficult looking extraction really would have been... until this new thing.

So, take a look at your life and be happy where you are because it could really, truly be a lot worse- and if you're sitting there flipping off your screen because you're all, "nuh-unh it cannot get worse! My Life SUCKS!" Then, you know, in your heart of hearts what you could do to make it better and JUST THROW a FUCK-IT at it until it sticks. Dump him. Dump her. Move out. Quit your job. Stop being friends with her. Take your ball and go home. Sucky times when you're doing what you choose are always GREAT in the end because you WILL BE proud of yourself. And nothing helps you sleep well at night more than being honest with yourself and proud of that tough choice.

Friday, April 06, 2007


So, I was taught that average people talk about things, ignorant people talk about other people and great people talk about ideas... and this entire blog seems to be a litany of other people's foibles, not a discourse on ideas. Which is not ok by me. I am supposed to be a philosophical lawyer- not a rail on my idiot clients lawyer.

Upon reflection, its a coping mechanism- how else can I deal with the idiocy of my clients unless I can call them idiots(in my mind, not to their faces) and treat them accordingly in this blog? Its a delicate line between talking down to someone, and explaining something to them in a way they can understand and I constantly struggle to find the right words to explain difficult concepts to my clients in a respectful way. People are loathe to tell you when they don't understand- because they then feel their ignorance and no one likes to feel like they don't understand something. But the thing is, as a lawyer, its critical to me to convey an understanding of the process to them, so that they understand their responsibilities and rights in Court. If I fail to do this, I fail my client.

But what am I do do with a client who just... doesn't get it? I mean, I have an hour or two max, there is only so much I can do. I can summarize the information for my client whom I suspect doesn't read- and doesn't want to tell me, but I cannot make him pay attention. I can tell him that the fact that he's not paying attention is why we're in this situation- but I cannot make him listen. I can ask him (this is where I feel like I am crossing the line into patronizing them) to repeat what I said, or to tell me what he is agreeing to in his own words... but shoot- they're not children- most of these people are older than I- I feel like I'm giving them a pop quiz in class when I do that. "Now class, can you tell me the difference between consecutive and concurrent sentences and what that means to you?"

I have had two clients lately who have written me letters from jail telling me that they didn't understand how long they would be in jail when they entered into their agreement. This really, really bothers me.

I sat down and added up their days for them, I TOLD THEM, in plain English- if you accept this agreement, you will be in jail for 360 days, minus any good time that you earn. This is what you are agreeing to- if you don't want to agree that's fine. We can have a trial- that's what I get paid to do- try your case.

I told them I had no control over "good time." I told them I have no control over whether or not another jail will give them credit on their sentence there while they are in jail here- but if you have your lawyer over there call me I'll get them any information they need... but still I receive the pleading letter.

I have to evaluate the letters against my own standard- just because they feel I have failed them doesn't mean I have failed them- because. Because so many of them are consciously trying to manipulate me and The System. Because, after 25 charges in three years for Theft III, Possession of Paraphernalia, public intox, loitering in a drug house and so forth, I figured I only had to tell you once that if you were arrested again while on this probation you would serve Three Hundred and Sixty DAYS in the City jail. I told you the prosecutor was out of patience and that he was making this serious this time. I told you to go to rehab. I put the phone number of six free programs-- and their applications-- in your hand. What more can I do? I am not your mama.

I will however, review everything and write you a letter.

And I will think about this and decide to make a change here- on my blog. No more vacuous amusing little pieces. Unless they're really really funny. I will begin now a series of "Good Advice I have received and other random aphorisms."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

some funny funny stuff.....

This, my friends is some funny stuff- scroll down to yah-vette and her crazy daughter darleen....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Public Defense work and Hugs.

As I left the Courthouse this morning, my client and the "victim" were standing with my client's mother and the two mothers hugged followed by my client shaking the victim's hand and apologizing to her with a "I'm truly sorry it got to the point that your car was hurt and thank you for working with us." The Judge had just praised all of them for working it out with out the need for him to be involved.

My friend and fellow attorney said, "How the fcuk to you do that? You just make everyone calm and want to be reasonable. I have see more of your clients hugging than anyone Else's. "

I just assume people really truly deep down inside want to be reasonable and I show them how to do that. I pointed out to her that I do much much less well with irrational people than she does. Have an inmate who needs mental help? Call her. Have someone who needs to have a "come to Jesus" talk- that's me. (except yesterday I was too loud and too public with my come to Jesus talk- I need to remember to not chew them out in front of other people.) Have someone pretending to be insane... call me. Have someone who needs to be bullied into making the right decision... call her.

Know your strengths.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday funny....

MadDog forwarded an email today with this funny statement at the bottom:


And on that note.... have a good weekend.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Its the Lying, Stupid.

Well, the guilty verdict is in. Scooter's sunk.

I believe I have said it before, its not the crime these people get in trouble for, its the lying to the grand jury or the prosecutor for which they are convicted.


Here is the thing- He probably doesn't remember. I know I often forget things I did in Court until I really dig and remember. Here is the deal- the proper answer, then, is I DON'T REMEMBER. Its not a big deal. Its ok. What is not ok, is to "not remember" and answer as though you do.

And another thing that irked me last night- they were interviewing a police officer who was involved in that case where the husband killed the wife and chopped her up and they found the torso- the cop said, "Well, I told him that if he didn't do anything wrong he didn't need a lawyer. We knew he had done something wrong when he got a lawyer."

This is patently untrue, constitutionally iffy and morally reprehensible.

You could need a lawyer for a number of reasons. To understand the system and why they're grilling you like a piece of chicken at Burger King; because there is a side issue you need to pursue (civil suit, ect....) or just to help keep the cops in check.

Let me say this again- the Supreme Court has confirmed: POLICE OFFICERS CAN AND WILL LIE TO YOU TO EXTRACT A CONFESSION. That's right, they may say, "Well, we have an eyewitness who says you were there." Now, you know good and well you weren't- and they don't, in fact, have such a witness. What amazes me, is that they don't think that people will lie and say they did it when they didn't. If you think someone would not confess to something they didn't do- you have too much belief in other people's will. Trust me- I have done it myself without even meaning to. Nothing feels worse as a prosecuting attorney that to have extracted a confession only to discover a fact that leads you to realize they were telling the truth the first time.

And no one should look at someone and say, "Well, they must be guilty if they got a lawyer. "

And please, even more than that- if you're ever in a situation where you think you might need a lawyer- get one and don't worry that you might look guilty if you have council- because you need a professionally trained person to help you present your side to the Judge- you have that right and you should exercise it.

(Philosophicalawyer steps down from her soap box and goes off to do her real work.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Same crap, new day....

I am getting bored with my blog. Just so you know. I am, however, working on a piece about Anna Nichole Smith and how my earlier predictions were remarkably correct and what I think will happen now.

Same old stuff- Roger Clements was in court last week. Cal Ripley, too. Oh, and my personal favorite Bobby Brown- since he was, actually, at the time, in jail somewhere else for failure to pay.

I had a guy arrested for giving a false name to a police officer- he told them his name was john doe. His name is really John Lee Doe. WTF?! I think I can win that one, unless there is something I don't know. So far my winning rate on this kind of cases is higher than any other type of criminal case. I think the cops must not understand the law here very well.

I was yelled at by MadDog for being late to Court today, so I had better go and beat him there this afternoon.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Children and crimes- why Shawn Hornbeck and Lee Boyd Malvo both deserve our sympathy.

Last week when they found Shawn Hornbeck, the 15 year old who had been kidnapped several years previously, and the other child who had only been there for a few days, it jarred something in me.

I saw that poor child and heard people saying he had been outside playing, but hadn't run for help. He had a bike but didn't run for help. He had computer access but didn't run for help. He could have escaped but he didn't. In a few years the kidnapper had put shackles around that kid's brain that were just as strong and impenetrable as any steel bars in a prison.

One neighbor even said he heard the man hit the kid, but he didn't get involved. (I hope that person has resolved to "get involved" next time he hears something like that!)

Do you remember a poem... I have tried to look it up but I can't find it- leave a message if you know the name : )
... The gist of which is that when they came for the poor people he said nothing because he wasn't poor, when they came for the this people, he said nothing because he wasn't this, and so forth until they come for him and there is no one left to stand up for him.... Well, that's the way this kind of situation makes me feel. I have to say something about how we as a society have demanded that children be punished as adults in all kinds of situations- when they are not adults, their brains don't function as adults, and it is inappropriate to hold them to the standards to which we hold adults.

Columbine, Lee Boyd Malvo, and so many more examples- Kids who commit horrible, terrible crimes and the public cries out for them to be punished as adults. And don't misunderstand me, I am not making a case that their crimes are not serious, that the deaths are not tragic, that these children should not be punished. They should be punished. They must be treated and counseled and they should be confined during said treatment and counseling- probably for years, which they will consider Punishment, but I consider Treatment...(BTW- this is, if you recall, the point of our criminal justice system: to rehabilitate and punish- but that's a different blog for a different day!)

What I'm saying is that no matter how much they may look like adults, teenagers are not adults. Their brains are not fully developed. They are, although some parents might disagree with me, particularly susceptible to other people controlling them. We can see examples in our own lives of things our families did which we thought were normal... Until we saw other people's lives. In most cases these differences aren't that big, but think how it can be turned around. Children are highly susceptible to "magical thinking" which is believing things that we as adults can see do not logically follow.

Lee Boyd Malvo particularly upsets me. This kid, raised in Jamaica, dirt poor, with very little education and living with a man who is not his father, who was a strict disciplinarian by all reports, his mother off dealing with her life- he is supposed stand up to the guy and stop him? To leave him? Ha. I see the same emotional bars around his mind that the kidnapper put around Shawn Hornbeck's mind. His crimes were terrible, but do you really think he should be held responsible like the adult who was with him telling him what to do?

The thing is, the person wanting to control the young person doesn't even have to be the logical one to have control over the young person. At least, not logical as we see it from the outside. I know a family where the 17 year old daughter began dating a 19 year old. They made a baby together but didn't get married. The parents wanted her to break up with him after he became abusive to her. The parents are quite wealthy and extremely influential. Still, the daughter was more afraid of the boyfriend- this stupid drug dealing teenage wannabe than the parents. He told her if she left him he would kill her and nothing her parents said would convince her otherwise. It really blew my mind that she just sat there and believed, truly believed, there was nothing her parents could do to help her, that she was stuck with him. 15 cops, three lawyers, a Judge- none of us could convince her that we could help her- he controlled her mind.

What if Devlin had used Shawn to lure other young boys into the home and he had joined in on molesting them? Would we want to charge him with a crime that way we did Lee Boyd Malvo? I can see the situation being presented to us in such a way that many people would want to- "He had freedom to ride his bike..." "He had internet access..." (Note: After I posted this someone told me that it has come out that Shawn did participate in the kidnapping. It just goes to bolster my argument- and make me feel even more empathy towards him. )

I have seen moms put clothes in baby's diapers to steal them- when a kid grows up with that, at what point do you think they are going to spontaneously develop the realization that what they are doing is wrong? And stand up to a parent and tell them it is wrong and they refuse to participate? Ppppfhhhh.

I had a 17 year old a few months ago who was charged with theft III. This was not your usual shoplifting case, but stealing gas, for his grandmother's van, at her request. When I glared at her she shrugged, "We needed it and I thought he'd only get probation." I sat down with him and we talked about his family and possible ways around doing what they told him to do when it was illegal. We spoke about when he could be charged as an adult and his 19th birthday, and I had nothing much for him. "No," I had to say, "You can't run away from home. They'll put you in detention and you'll have to deal with those really bad kids." "No, you can't join the military unless you stay in school and don't get arrested again." "If you tell your counselor what's going on yes, your family might get in trouble, but that's ok, don't stress over that, you need to talk to him about everything." (They were using him to do other thefts and sell pills.)

There is no good answer. I just want you to think about these children. I want you to think about Lee Boyd Malvo, already found guilty of capital murder, which he committed at age 17, who will be in prison for the rest of his life- at $35 k or so per year? You don't think that with $1,400,000 (35K x 40 years- a conservative estimate) we couldn't figure out a better plan for him? Maybe he has been ruined, maybe after that kind of trauma he is never going to be "normal" but doesn't a 17 year old have a shot? I'd like to think Shawn Hornbeck has a great shot of recovering and becoming a positive and normal member of our world, maybe even somethig extraordinary if he uses his experiences to help other kids, and if I think that, I have to think Lee Boyd Malvo can be saved.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What I learned in Court this week....

More examples of what happens when parents don't parent well:

When you're a trustee in jail, and the guards ask you to scrub the toilets, if you don't then they're going to find someone else to be trustee, who is happy to scrub toilets in exchange for having a cooler, bigger cell with TV and extra food, not to mention phone and vending machine access.

Then, when you're mad at the guards because you wouldn't do what you're supposed to do, and they put you in a three man cell because you pitch a fit at being put back in population and they're trying to be nice even though you are being a pain in their buttocks...

and they're working on the cameras so they have to come personally check the cell every 15 minutes to make sure nothing bad happens....

so you strip nekkid and strap your sweatshirt around your neck and stand on the edge of the bed for 14 minutes, then jump off the bed the second you hear the guards coming....

remember, that just because the guards can't see the cameras, doesn't mean they're not recording and that when they get the cameras fixed and they watch the tape, and see you standing there listening for them for 14 minutes, they are going to be very very very angry because your temper tantrum caused them to have to fill out a whole lot of extra paperwork and one of them has to sit outside your cell 24/7 because even though they know you didn't really want to kill yourself, they have to FOLLOW THE RULES AND DO WHAT THEY ARE ORDERED TO DO which you wouldn't understand...

....So don't get all pissy with your lawyer when she comes to see you and tells you that you have 240 days of revoked time to serve on your previous convictions, and the prosecutor is not making any good offers, so we might as well just set it for trial because you're not getting out of here today.

Don't you understand that they were nice to the last guy who tried to kill himself because he has REAL mental problems?

And no, its not a violation of your civil rights that they took away your clothes and made you wear the suicide nightshirt AFTER YOU TRIED TO KILL YOURSELF. And no, its not a violation of your civil rights to be asked to scrub a toilet. Um, yeah, I did that myself just this weekend. Yeah but what? And.... dear Lord dude, you are a 26 year old white male- it is NOT a violation of your rights that the head jailer won't give you credit for good time. You have to earn it. It says right there on the piece of paper posted in the jail hallway: Good time is a privilege not a right.

Finally, do you think yelling "Fuck this shit!" at the top of your lungs is going to reach the Judge's ears and cause her to think, "Gee, I really need to speak with that inmate. He probably has some real and serious grievances and I should make all these people in the Courtroom wait so that I can address the needs of that prisoner right now?" Really? Cause we did hear you in the Courtroom and that's not what she's thinking of doing to you.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Michael Jackson and I have something in common...

So I've had a really bad case of bronchitis. I pulled a muscle in my chest hacking uselessly, and it feels like a knife in my side everytime I cough. I went to my surgeon because, well, my doctor was out of the office and I didn't want to go to doc-in-a-box and get even sicker and I'm friends with my surgeon so I went to see him.

The first thing he did was hand me a face mask and say, "You know you're contagious."

Oh. Ok.

Then he listened to my chest and wrote me some prescriptions. (But not for antibiotics- which is what I kept telling everyone- its not Bacterial!)

He said, "I 'm calling your dad and telling him you need to go home. You need to go home, but if you do go back to work, then wear this so no one else gets sick. " He sighs and says, "And you need to quit smoking."

"I did!" I blurt out, "Yesterday!"

"You still need to stay home and rest or you're going to have pneumonia. You know how bad your lungs are."

So I did. I called my dad and he covered for me on Wed and I was going to cover for him on Thurs just for two hours then go home. Then, wearing the face mask I went to the pharmacy and got my meds. Its amazing how people will get out of your way when you're wearing a face mask. Same went for the grocery store. I was out of there in no time!

So, I rested for two days and then I got up, dosed myself with my meds, the ones I can take and go to court, and went to Court.

When I got there, we were in the downstairs Courtroom which is tiny and crowded.

I put on my mask and was all happy because I was going to not get my friends sick.

But they couldn't deal. Seriously, they were totally freaked out. "What do you mean you just have a cold? You look like you have SARS." said one.

Another was just staring with big eyes.

I noticed the clients sitting in the audience were starting to get nervous.

"I just can't stop coughing and don't want to cough on anyone."

The other attorney for the State just held out her hand, "Give me your files. Go Home. You're freaking everyone out. You're such a dork for thinking we would let you come in here with that thing on."

I handed her the cases and went home.

Note to all: If you want to go home but want to look like you really want to be at work- wear a face mask. I also recommend a lot of coughing that results in a puking convulsion, with or without actual vomit. I always got sent home from work and school when I did that.

Now, I've caught up my work and I'm going home for the weekend!