The Anatomy of Violence

I read The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine, all 373 pages, for the trivia.  The book was interesting enough by itself, but the most engaging part of the book, and the reason I kept reading, was the little criminological factoids sprinkled throughout.  You are more likely to be killed on they day you are born... Continue Reading →

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Looking at Murders

Murder in ordinary cases, where the sympathy is wholly directed to the case of the murdered person, is an incident of coarse and vulgar horror; and for this reason, that it flings the interest exclusively upon the natural but ignoble instinct by which we cleave to life; an instinct, which, as being indispensable to the... Continue Reading →

The Heavy Gate

We all start in misdemeanors.  If you are going to get locked up over a misdemeanor, you are sent to jail.  Usually, you spend no more than 180 days there.  The most common sentences are for 30-60 days.  So you stand at counsel table and plea bargain with defense lawyers over these numbers.  You might... Continue Reading →

What Do Prosecutors Owe Defendants?

It's always seemed a little funny watching a defendant who broke the law insist on strict compliance with the law by the police and prosecutor.  It's kind of like someone covered in mud asking you to wash your hands before you touch him. Or watching a naked man insist that you cover up a little... Continue Reading →

People who know no self-restraint lead stormy and disordered lives, passing their time in a state of fear commensurate with the injuries they do to others, never able to relax.  After every act they tremble, paralyzed, their consciences continually demanding an answer, not allowing them to get on with other things.  To expect punishment is... Continue Reading →

Imagining What Didn’t Happen

Most people think cross-examination is all about badgering the witness into admitting the crime. Others think closing argument is about is about tricking the witness into a damning admission. Both of these views are wrong, in my opinion. A defendant who chooses to testify is going to come up with a story that he thinks... Continue Reading →

He Admits Everything

The defendant took the stand.  His lawyer walked him through his testimony in short opened-ended questions.  And he did something I've never seen a defendant do: he admitted everything. It was an assault and battery case.  On a hot summer afternoon, defendant threw a razor at the head of a law enforcement officer.  The defendant... Continue Reading →

Wasting Time

It's a common observation among lawyers that civil practice is much less civil than criminal practice.  I was listening to AM radio and I heard a lawyer (specializing in HOA disputes) describe himself as "psychotically aggressive".  You don't see that very often on the criminal side.  Virtually all criminal cases are prosecuted by Deputy District... Continue Reading →

A Few Seconds Becomes Two Years

I made an error: instead of giving a jury instruction for Penal Code section 12022.7(b), I mistakenly allowed the court to give an instruction for Penal Code section 12022.7(a).  Since (b) carries a 5 year sentence, and (a) only carries a 3 year sentence, this mistake means that the defendant will be released 2 years... Continue Reading →

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