Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Long Week

Three actual trials on Monday -- two bench trials and one jury trial. I had 16 cases, total, I think, on the calendar.

One jury trial yesterday, with a total of 6 on the calendar. Retained counsel also had cases set, which took some pressure off.

Inmate arraignments this morning -- I must have talked to 8 or 10 guys. Luckily, I had help.

10 Bench trials set this afternoon, although none actually went.

I'm tired. Where's the bourbon?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Indefinite servitude

On Thursday, this guy's name came across my desk, because he had been in jail for quite awhile. I checked into his case, and was immeditely confused -- he had pled to credit for time served on an obstruction charge back on July 21.

His case was a little confused, procedurally, becase he had initially been charged with obstruction and terroristic threats. The DA apparently investigated and decided that the terroristic threats was really a simple assault and sent the case to the Solicitor General. (That's the misdemeanor prosecutor here.) They brought him over on July 21, and he entered a pro se plea, thinking he would get out that night.

The problem is, there was a paperwork snafu somewhere, and the Jail thought that the felony obstruction charge was still open. So they held him.

Our jail specialist called over and talked to the appropriate person at the jail and they said that they would look into.

On Friday morning, I checked again and discoverd that he was still in jail. I called the guy and he was as mystified as I was. Our jail speciailist called over again and spoke to someone else, who told us that his file was misplaced. She ended up faxing paperwork over Friday afternoon and I called the guy to let him know that he should be getting out.

I'm going to run into the office today to make sure that he is out.

Needless to say, he was curious about compensation for the extra 37 days that he spent in confinement.

UPDATE: Dude did get out Saturday morning.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Good news

Our misdemeanor division covers seven courtrooms, with one attorney in each courtroom. We also have one supervising attorney in the misdemeanor division. Historically, the misdemeanor division has also staffed the county's traffic court, which largely deals with ordinance violations, and the posting has just been part of the misdemeanor rotation. So, that means that a total of 9 attorneys in our office in the misdemeanor division.

The Big Boss called a meeting on Friday, and decided that the traffic court attorney should come back to misdemeanor court and, henceforth, our intake division will handle traffic court.

Which means that we'll have 9 attorneys covering 7 courtrooms, which is freaking fantastic.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Grateful Client

For the past three weeks, I've been working with the wife of one of my client's. You see, she's the alleged victim in not one, but two, domestic violence cases. I picked up the first one, and then he was arrested subsequently for alleged assaulting her again. He is hispanic and I'm finding that, as a general rule, hispanic folk get screwed when it comes to the criminal justice system.

And you read that right: I've been working with the victim. I've had her into the office a couple of times and she has clearly recanted. For the past week and a half, she's practically been stalking me, turning up at the courthouse when she knew that I would be in Court. She's arranged to have medical records faxed to me, has executed affidavits invoking the marital privilege, has written statements for us in which she recanted, wrote to the prosecutor and recanted, and even called the prosecutor. You see, she has a long list of mental health problems, among which is a neurotic fear of abandonment. She thought that her husband was cheating on her, when in fact he was just going to play soccer, and she got even. I'm not clear on the circumstances of the second incident yet, but she claims that he never touched her.

I had calendar call on Friday and requested that the Judge reconsider bond in my client's case. The Judge initially wasn't interested in entertaining the motion, until I explained that the alleged victim was present. The prosecutor told me that she would ordinarily be seeking to revoke my client's bond, but she had a "fruitcake" for a victim.

Yeah, you read that right, too. The empathy from the other side of the aisle is often underwhelming.

So, we went ahead and had the bond motion, the Judge spoke directly with the victim and quickly came to understand what was going on. He ended up giving my guy a signature bond in both cases.

When I went back in the lock-up to explain what had happened, the translator wasn't there, so we had a brief conversation in broken English. I could tell that he was nervous, and I said to him, slowly and clearly, "you're getting out tonight." At that point, he put his face down in his hands and, sobbing, repeated, "Thank you so very much" about ten times.

The translator soon came in and I gave him the full run-down on where we stood. But, that moment is going to stick with me a for awhile.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Did I mention that my boss unexpectedly gave me a promotion on Thursday? The best kind, actually -- more pay and no more responsbilities. That was a very nice surprise, indeed.

The gods must have been laughing, though, because I picked up over 40 cases at arraignment today. September is going to thoroughly and completely suck.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Last week, I had 20 jury trials and 11 bench trials set.

I tried one case to the jury, which resulted in conviction.

I tried two cases to the bench, one restuled in a directed verdict and the other an acquittal.

There were numerous pleas, and several dismissals, and a few continuances to jury calendars or plea calendars.

All in all, I'd say that was a pretty good week's work.

Tomorrow is arraignment, and Friday is calendar call for the next batch of trials. Woohoo.

Friday, August 04, 2006


The East African fellow who I represented a couple of weeks ago called and left a message today, without a return number. He thanked me for my help, such as it was. He said that he would call and update me later on his situation.

It was nice to hear that he is in an at least somewhat stable situation. And it was also nice that he called.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

O Happy Day

Today was particularly busy, with inmate arraignments this morning and then bench trials this afternoon. 35 or more guys must have been brought over, and I probably spoke to 20 or so, getting bonds, entering pleas, etc.

But the best part of the day was this afternoon. I had eleven bench trials set. Some were continued to plea calendars, some pled, and a at least one was dismissed.

I did, however, end up trying two.

One fellow is on first offender probation for aggravated assault, and while the subsequent charges were just misdemeanors (marijuana and driving while license suspended) there was potential for the probation officer to cast a dim view on the subsequent charges. I had some prolonged negotiations with the prosecutor over whether notice was properly served on the driving while license suspended charge. In exasperation, I finally said, "Let's just put it up and see what we've got." I ended up getting a directed verdict on both the license charge and the accompanying marijuana charge, because the State failed to prove identity. The prosecutor is new to criminal law and very sharp -- that is the last time I will catch that slip, I am sure.

I also tried a child abandonment case. I detest this charge, because it is basically used as leverage to have the father pay child support. I have been waiting for some time to try one, and this was the perfect test case. My guy was fairly recently released from prison, and landed a good job. He met a woman after his release, and she got pregnant. The relationship ended. I got the impression that my guy didn't want to be involved after the child was born. Paternity was established, and he eventually consented to an income withholding order at the end of October, 2005. Because she hadn't received any support, the mother took out a child abandonment warrant at the beginning of November, 2005, charging that he had abandoned the child for the last 30 days. My guy was catastrophically injured at the end of November, 2005 and hasn't worked since. The Judge ended up acquitting my guy, because it was clear that he hadn't knowingly and willfully abandoned the child. And, I ended up getting the parties together afterwards and they agreed to go to the Social Security office and sign junior up for disability benefits.

That's a good day's work.