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 →

LA Riots or Uprising?

I was reading a real estate blog, when I noticed a story about a community garden.  The garden had been planted on a lot that had been empty for 25 years.  The lot started out 1992 occupied by a structure, which was destroyed by arson during the civil unrest that followed the Rodney King verdict. ... Continue Reading →

Public Defenders Play the Race Card

I just finished an article on Slate with the headline "When Race Tips the Scales in Plea Bargaining."  It discusses a study out of Loyola Law school that analyzed 30,807 misdemeanor cases in Wisconsin over a seven-year period and found that white people facing misdemeanor charges were more than 74 percent more likely than black... Continue Reading →

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

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