Losing and Releasing

Lawyers talk a lot about wanting to win cases and not wanting to lose them.  It's something that seems pretty standard for anyone involved in trial work.  "Did you win your case?" is a common question in both social settings and at the office.  But the wording around this issue isn't great.  As we are told ad... Continue Reading →

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Go Ahead And Threaten Me

Defense lawyers are often extremely interested in whether the prosecution has all their witnesses.  They will often base their legal strategy around whether they believe the witnesses will cooperate.  For example, in a domestic violence prosecution, the two sides may confer at the beginning of the hearing.  “What do you want to do?” the prosecutor... Continue Reading →

Longer Sentences Reduce Recidivism

At a courthouse in Seattle, Washington, defendants who plead guilty prior to trial are randomly assigned to a different sentencing judges.  These judges, as you would expect, have a range of ideas about sentencing.  Some are more likely to hand down prison time than others.  The luck of the draw can have a great effect... Continue Reading →

“That’s Not A Courtesy I Extend”

I had a hearing set in a robbery.  The victim arrived in the courtroom after I left to handle another matter in another courtroom.  When I was gone, the public defender approached the victim and asked to interview her, which she did.  The investigating officer arrived and noticed the two of them in an interview... Continue Reading →

Byzantine

Byz·an·tine ˈbizənˌtēn,ˈbizənˌtīn/ adjective of or relating to Byzantium, the Byzantine Empire, or the Eastern Orthodox Church. (of a system or situation) excessively complicated, typically involving a great deal of administrative detail. "Byzantine insurance regulations" I'm trying to get a handle on felony sentencing and discovering that complicated is not even close to an adequate description.... Continue Reading →

Strike Peremptory Challenges

The Washington Post's coverage of Foster v. Chatman and racial bias in jury selection brings up two issues that are not often discussed. First, most of the coverage of peremptory challenges in general, and Foster in particular, have focused on alleged prosecutorial misconduct.  Specifically, commentators allege that prosecutors use peremptory challenges in a racially biased... Continue Reading →

The Statistics Look Great

The San Diego District Attorney says that 11,000 people were charged with misdemeanor or felony DUI in her county in 2010 and that she convicted 98% of them.  That's compared with a 73% rate state-wide.  But what does that mean?  The DA seems to be implying that she convicted 98% of DUI drivers at trial.  And... Continue Reading →

It Was Way Easier To Beat Your Case In The 70s

Yet another interesting fact from Crime in California, a publication of the California Department of Justice: in 1975 only 48.4% of arrests resulted in conviction.  By contrast, in 2013, 69.8% of arrests result in conviction: a huge jump.  Over the same time period the number of arrestees who "got off" when they were acquitted or... Continue Reading →

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