24 October 2010

I had a hearing in Waterloo on Thursday in the case where we are attempting to reduce a sentence from 100 years to 50 years. It would appear that we may succeed. The Black Hawk County Attorney informed me that if we do succeed, he will refer the case to the U.S. District Attorney's office in the Northern District of Iowa. I have had two experiences recently with prosecutors who simply refuse to compromise and who have policies and personalities to fit. When you deal with prosecutors who obviously take what they do personally and any attempt to fight is looked at as a serious offense of itself, the defendant can be in a no-win situation. The prosecutorial view is that we have made up our mind and you take what we offer you or it will be worse. You can either rot in prison for the next 20 years or you can rot in prison until you are dead. And, this is a drug case where there are no victims-where all involved are doing so voluntarily and where the defendant has no previous criminal history. My question is how does a person come to perceive that this amount of time in prison is an appropriate remedy for a victimless crime.

The usual argument you hear is that drugs ruin lives. My response to that is: Prison doesn't? I would suggest that a prison sentence of either 100 or 50 years ruins a life. We have decided that the defendant is expendable and we will put him in a cage for the rest of his life removing him from society. Out of sight, out of mind. This country has plenty of people--those we don't want around, we will put in prison and forget about. There are plenty of replacements.

20 October 2010

Judge Mott's court was quick for me. I continued most everything for the reason of the Federal Public Defender's brown bag lunch with Judge Pratt. Judge Pratt seems quite at ease with lawyers which is not always the case with the judiciary. We really didn't learn much other than he thinks there should be more trials and more voir dire by the attorneys. I agree on both counts and will do more voir dire if I ever get back to trial in federal court.

23 September 2010

It has been an interesting week. Two trials scheduled this week and two finished. The first trial was in Guthrie County with Mary Benton, the Guthrie County Attorney prosecuting. The charge was felony in possession of a firearm. Judge Husher presided. It was an interesting case. Judge Husher gave my requested instruction that an antique firearm is not a firearm for purposes of the statute, but the State relied on the argument that the muzzle loader in question was not a replica which would be covered under the definition of antique firearm. She apparently convinced the jury and there would have been a conviction but for the fact that one juror refused to convict. He must have been one of those fellows that believe we all have the right to bear firearms. So it was a hung jury 11 to 1 and the County Attorney immediately requested a new trial date which will occur in November. What I need to do now is to establish that a muzzle loader, regardless of its technological improvements, is in fact a replica.

I am always stricken by the fact of the prosecutor taking a loss or a hung jury so badly. It seems in such cases that the prosecutor has some personal interest in insuring that a person go to jail or be convicted of some crime. They seem to take it much more personally that the defense attorneys when the defense attorney has much more to loose. The prosecutor's client doesn't go to jail. This was the case in Guthrie County.

The second trial was today and it was a driving while revoked charge. You may ask why I would try such a thing. Two reasons: First the defendant and two witnesses were to testify that the defendant was not driving the three-wheeler she, according to the deputy, admitted driving. Secondly, the State did not have in its minutes of testimony any co-oberation of the defendant's out-of-court statements. The deputy testified and a motion for a directed verdict was granted. Judge Mott prior to the trial beginning sustained a motion in limine asking the description of the girl riding the three-wheeler from an unidentified party not be allowed into evidence. We were finished by 10:30. Short and sweet.

The quick verdict gave me time to attend the arraignment of my federal client at 2:00 p. m. Seven out of 14 co-defendant's were arraigned.I was required to take my belt off to get into the federal courthouse. This is bull shit.Defense attorneys apparently now have to disrobe to get into the courthouse to defend our clients. I must be mistaken, I thought we were officers of the court.

25 August 2010

Court service day in Jasper County. Two arraignments and two new appointments--one waiting for me and another from the people brought from the jail. The person in custody I am currently representing for the same offense as the new arrest. There are a few who really do not mind jail. The judges will not admit of that possibility in that they put these people in jail for the purpose of punishing them, but in fact, it is not punishment so much as a time out to get straight, dried out, or just to visit friends and associates they may not have seen for a time. My currently jail client is of that sort. Not anxious to get out, content to have three squares a day, watch a little tv, and catch up on the local doings in town.

I have one defendant charged with two counts of cashing in stolen lottery tickets. They are felonies. It borders on the unbelievable that cashing in a stolen lottery ticket is a felony--possibly, if they were to win millions, I could see it. But not for $30--give me a break. Sometimes you think that the goal of the legislature is to put everyone in prison. Even The Economist in its last issue wonders why we in America put so many people in prison. After all it is the land of the free.

Judge Brad McCall was in town sitting in Jasper County. I was of the impression that he would not preside here for at least a year in that this is the county in which he practiced, but is apparently not the case. They must be short of judges--vacations must not have been concluded. It is a possibility we may have a second judge from Jasper County. Terry Rickers is one of two finalists for the next opening which must be decided by the 19th of September. It would be a very different courthouse with two district judges after having been without for probably 25 years. A third judge, Judge Joy, will retire at the end of this month and there will be another vacancy to be filled. The three counties that are losing judges are Warrent, Dallas, and Marion, all of which, yet have judges. The second nominee against Terry Rickers is an attorney from Madison County. Madison County does not have a sitting district judge, but they don't have any people either so it really doesn't matter.

21 August 2010


Was in Marion County Friday for a sentencing. Judge Joy was the judge. He retires at the end of the month and indicates he will not go on senior status. The clerk's office had cookies and a couple of signs up in the library announcing the retirement. I had a sentencing on a theft case (embezzlement). The Marion County Attorney did not object to the deferred judgment. Judge Joy did want enough of a record to support a deferred, but seemed amenable to it once the County Attorney indicated he would support it.

You really don't get a deferred though, without the client doing the work for it. The attorney can grease the wheels with the judge and the county attorney, but it is the client that needs to do the work and present his or her case to the judge in a manner that indicates it will be successful. An attorney asking for a deferred for a client that doesn't deserve it or won't make it reduces an attorney's credibility. You don't ask for sentencing concessions that you know the judge will not give nor think appropriate. I think a key to practicing in court representing criminal defendants is the credibility of the defense attorney pleading for the client. Don't ask for things that you know you won't get. Give an honest assessment of your client and fashion a plea or request that is appropriate to the circumstances. If you know you client is going to prison, don't ask for probation, ask for less time than the judge might give him.

Other than Marion County, the time Friday was working on briefs. We have several matters in the Court of Appeals that all are due about the same time. Will probably need some extra time on the proof brief due the 27th.

19 August 2010

I had a probation violation hearing in Jasper County this afternoon. My defendant admitted that he had used alcohol contrary to the terms of his probation. He is already doing six months. The county attorney recommended 30 days to run consecutive. I told the judge I didn't have any quarrel with the 30 days as long as it ran concurrently. My opinion, expressed, was that if he doesn't learn his lesson in six months, he won't in seven and since he would remain on probation after his release, the court can always throw him back in. The judge gave him 30 days contempt to run concurrently with the six months contempt is he serving now. The judge's opinion must have been the same as mine. The problem with the whole thing, as I see it, is that the entire procedure took over an hour to accomplish. Much time wasted.

17 August 2010

16 August 2010

Court service day in Jasper County was difficult. We had three judges present since the attempted murder trial was continuing. Don't know how that has turned out. Judge Husher was handling court services for the felony docket that we have on Mondays. I inherited a case from the Public Defender's Office because of a conflict with a co-defendant. It is a lottery ticket case. They have the fellow charged with forgery for using a stolen lottery ticket. I will have to look at the code and make a determination as to the viability of the charge. I can't see it as a forgery unless the code specifically defines it as such. The other two cases that I had, were continued for the reason that the county attorney handling them was in trial on the attempted murder case. The third case was set for trial today--a case that I received just last Wednesday. A possession of marijuana case. The young lady did not have an attorney and the judge knew I would go to trial if she really wanted to go. Why not? A simple one-day case doesn't take much preparation.

I was also in Powshiek County pleading a defendant and sentencing her at the same time. She was given time served and it would have been a difficult case to try. One point to remember when pleading someone in Powshiek. They do have petitions to plead guilty if you look hard enough. The clerk came up with one, but the county attorney had no clue--didn't know if they had one available or not. Take one when you go there so it is not an issue. The judge didn't think much of the one the clerk's office came up with, but eventually accepted it. No record was made because it was a misdemeanor. Pretty informal--almost too informal.

22 July 2010

Wednesday, 21 July 2010, was a court service day in Newton. The number of cases was surprisingly small including four people transported from the jail to the courtroom. My trial for Monday has gone out. The defendant has decided she would rather plead than go to trial regardless of the fact that I have encouraged her to try it. Most are afraid of trial and just want it to go away which is easiest done by pleading guilty. Fines are never paid so the fine doesn't matter. Most will not ever be able to drive legally which does not stop them from driving. What does not occur to them that the next time, and there always is a next time, it will be more difficult because of the previous legal pleas. Forward thinking, long range goals, thoughtful analysis are not part of the equation for most defendants.

My view is that trial would be the best thing for both them and the community as a whole. These defendants, most young, uneducated, and not very bright have never experienced anything like a trial where they must sit and be judged by the community and present themselves in a manner that would indicate to the jury that they actually belong or potentially belong to the productive part of that community. The idea of getting on the stand and testifying is truly frightening for them and they just can't do it. If they did--if they actually went to trial--went through the process, it would have a lasting impact on them which a few days in jail, a fine, or a lecture by the judge does not. The goal, after all, is to convince these defendants that they ought to get a job, look, dress, and act in a manner that allows them to be part of the community. Our system of plea bargaining does not do that. Trials would come much closer to having the desired effect.

Defense attorneys are as much to blame as the defendants themselves, but that discussion is for another day.

The second event of the day was the swearing in of Brad McCall as a District Judge. 36 judges were in attendance from the 5th judicial district, robed and properly recognized. Several other judges were in the audience. Much to do was made with several dignitaries making remarks. The courtroom furniture was shifted about by the local clerk's office and there was room for all except a few latecomers. We have a new opening to replace Judge Keller and it is conceivable that Jasper County could have two district judges after a hiatus of 20 years without any.

20 July 2010

Made a trip to the Polk County Jail this morning to meet with a federal defendant and the interpreter. The presentence investigation report was read to him verbatim--a requirement with the judges. The Polk County Jail is lawyer friendly. They have rooms to meet with the clients. No window look throughs here. I object to the practice of having to talk through a window with my client. I think that it inhibits the attorney-client relationship. It is tough enough to convince defendants that you really are on their side. Speaking through windows is not conducive to trust. At the Polk County Jail it would be helpful if they provided golf carts as far as you must walk on occasion. And, you are escorted by a female inmate who is not suppose to chat, but sometimes does a little. They meet you just inside the entrance and walk with you just outside of the area where you meet with your client. Usually their are several at each location reading a book or otherwise visiting until an attorney needs an escort. It is unclear why we need escorts, unless for the fact that many of us might not know where in the jail to go. The jail has visiting rooms between the pods and I have never not been able to meet with a client at that jail.

This afternoon I had a driving while license suspended trial in Newton with Judge Mott. My client didn't bother to contact me about the case until yesterday. During the phone conversation it was clear that the officer may not have had a constitutional basis for the stop. The care my client was driving was registered to his sister whose license is also suspended. My client has short hair and a beard. There was some conflict in the testimony whether the officer could have determined before the stop what sex the driver was, but the first question is the fact that the registered owner of the car suspended a basis to stop a vehicle. The second question is whether once the officer saw that it was not a woman driving he had the further right to ask for a driver's license? I moved to suppress even though the matter was set for trial. Judge Mott heard the evidence and withheld ruling hoping that someone might give him some authority. I will see what I can do.

17 July 2010

Yesterday was a Marion County day. I was actually appointed to represent a man on a child support matter. This is unusual, but the court's allow for an appointment of an attorney in contempt procedures if jail time is contemplated. And, in this case they were certainly contemplated. Jail was avoided with the payment of money. One should not forget that it is all about money. Money can keep you out of jail. Those without money will spend more time in jail than those who have it. I expect this has been the case since before there was money. It is somewhat troubling to say that it is a fact of life--but it is.

This isn't necessarily the place for a sociological treatise, but it usually happens that those without money have no money for the reason that they are not smart enough to get any. The fact they have no money and the fact they do more time in jail are the result of the same set of circumstances. It is my opinion that one does not cause the other, but both have the same cause.

In the other matter, an OWI in associate district court, we have not much of a defense so we set a plea date on out. Defendant's need an evaluation and instruction on the importance of obtaining a temporary restricted license to have the judge order a 50% reduction in the fine. That amounts to $625 and is a big chunk for most defendants.

16 July 2010

T'is Friday and we've had a rather quiet week with a minimum of out-of-town travel. No trials and the trial scheduled for Monday will not go. We had an offer from the County Attorney that my client could not refuse. He was charged with public intox 2nd and simple interference. It would have been an interesting trial. Drinking yes, but my client while drinking at an acquaintance's apartment was attacked by his acquaintance and struck in the head with a hammer. Evidently they had a disagreement over some rather, what seemed to them, nontrivial matter. In any event, my client stumbled down the stairs and out into the street where he was met by Newton police and told to stop. However, being somewhat dazed, he did not obey the officer, which in Newton, raises to a serious matter, and therefore arrested and charged with public intox and interference. The county attorney has decided to drop the public intox charge with a plea to the interference, a simple misdemeanor, with time served. My client, who is not unaccustomed to spending a few days in jail periodically has agreed to this resolution of the matter.

In Knoxville on Tuesday it was a somewhat different matter. Of my two cases, both are set for trial. Offers were made, and rather good ones, but were rejected by my clients. Whether that remains the situation as we approach trial is uncertain. Defendants have a propensity to change their minds as trial approaches. Trial scares them. In fact, it frightens them more than going to jail. At trial they must actually act as if they are a part of a larger society where people will form an opinion of them. They will be required to talk in front of people who will be looking at them and judging them. This is a psychological impasse for many who more than likely have been unable to do anything resembling this since they dropped out of school--an environment still focused more on self-esteem and low achievement than on producing people who can actually function in a group setting.

The objection I have to the attitude of the Knoxville county attorney's office is the same objection I have to many--simply because a charge is filed, the attorneys in the office insist that the defendant plead to something. Whether this is a vindication of the local police department or pressure from the local police department to affirm their arrests, I can't answer. But it occurs. When the plea offer is rejected, annoyance is immediately evident. In Knoxville, I was informed by the county attorney handling the case that she was not afraid to try cases and that she actually wins trials. I did not know how to respond. I should hope that both these assertions are true even though irrelevant.

06 July 2010

On the road today. First, Powshiek County, Montezuma. ORed the client so she could be transferred out of county. Mike Mahaffey made me an offer we will probably take, but not at the moment. After Powshiek, drove to Newton for a Jasper County probation revocation. Not much to argue about. The fellow was placed on probation in November 2007 and promptly disappeared until recaptured in eastern Iowa on new charges. We stipulated to the violation and to revocation. Judge Gamble happened to be in Jasper County. Hadn't seen him in some time. He always seemed to like getting on the road once in a while.

From Jasper County drove to Marion County, Knoxville where I had two cases scheduled for pretrial. The prosecutors offered my clients quite good deals both of which were rejected and trials set. I'm always a little amused and how pissy prosecutors become when you say no deal, let's try it. If defense attorneys would begin trying cases, the system would break down. Maybe the prosecutors would show some balls when dealing with their officers. The two cases are set out to September and the clients have a decent chance of folding before trial.

At the moment I have trials scheduled, that may actually go, in Jasper, Marion, and Guthrie. Not quite sure how to deal with the case in Powshiek that is set for trial. My guy wants to plead, but he Court won't take the plea because he says he doesn't remember anything until waking up in the jail. I do have two more public intoxications set in Jasper County. It's time the local police who file these things should begin spending their days waiting in the halls of the courthouse.

16 April 2010

Guthrie County

Depositions in Guthrie County this morning. The Clerk's office in Guthrie will now be closed every Friday. Apparently another cost saving measure directive from the Chief Justice although I may be assigning blame where no blame belongs. It was an interesting hour and a half. I find that County Attorneys differ only in their level frustration and the methods by which they show it when during depositions their case goes out the nearest window. I am not giving credit where credit is due however, for there are a few that will realistically observe that they don't have a case and dump it. Not the situation here in Guthrie apparently.

Depositions can be very worthwhile. Some attorneys do not use them, but in many cases depositions can clearly show who should be folding their tent. On occasions it is the defendant who needs convincing he should take a deal. On other occasions, it is the county attorney who should be making a reasonable offer or dumping the case. Too many cases resolve themselves at deposition not to take them when a considerable difference exists in versions of the events between the defendant, the alleged victim, and witnesses.

06 April 2010


Have a trial scheduled for Monday in Newton. My client is in jail and I was looking forward to trying it. The charges are assault on a police officer and interference with a police officer causing injury. Two of the arresting officers had a scratch. Our Newton police will file whatever they can. This is a long way from the police officers who were working in Newton when I first came to town. I actually think they thought an occasional scratch was part of the job. They certainly were capable of taking care of themselves. At any rate, my client engaged in fisticuffs at the jail with another inmate and received the worst of it. He apparently suffered injuries other than the black eye that was obvious. He felt, as I did, that going into a trial such as we had scheduled all banged up from a fight was not the best idea. After consultation, he decided he would take the deal offered by the county attorney and plead to reduced charges.

I then left the jail and informed the clerk of court they would not have to call a jury and stopped by the county attorney's office and informed the assistant county attorney that the defendant would take the plea offer which the assistant county attorney thought was an acceptable resolution to the case. I would have liked to try the case. I am not sure that a jury would have thought the defendant intentionally assaulting a police officer by kicking him while his head is being "directed" as the officers put, to the hood of the police car. There are times when, as a defense attorney, it seems appropriate to show the citizens of a community just how their finest act.

03 April 2010

Did a little trial prep this morning for my trial scheduled Thursday in Marshalltown. The pretrial order states that we are fourth up. I have been told I need to call the county attorney's office Monday and possible later in the week also to determine if any of the three ahead of us will go to trial or they have settled. This does not seem to be a very efficient manner of running a trial docket. Of course, the judge is not inconvenienced, but if you have witnesses, it can be quite costly and very annoying to witnesses who plan on attending then are told it will be some other date. It is the maxim of minimizing the inconvenience to the court while maximizing the inconvenience of the litigants.

02 April 2010

Marshall County

I have a case in Marshall County which is scheduled for trial next week. Every county handles their case load differently. I was told at the pretrial conference yesterday that they might have 10 cases on the docket for Thursday, including mine. The first case on the list that doesn't settle will go to trial that day. The others will need to be rescheduled. I must call the county attorney on Monday to see where we are on the list and apparently continue to call to see what has fallen out ahead of us. This is inconvenient. If we have a case where several witnesses need to be subpoenaed, you might have to subpoena them several different times and, in addition, keep them posted on developments. This is especially annoying if they are hostile witnesses and you really don't want to talk to them. And yes, occasionally you do call a hostile witness. This is done when you know that what they are to say contradicts other hostile witnesses or in some other fashion helps your case.

On the fourth floor of the Marshall County Courthouse there is a room where the attorneys congregate to cut their deals, determine which cases will go to trial. I did notice that the public defender had a stack of files about a foot and a half high which indicates to me that numerous defendants don't see much of their attorney. And, of course, the representative from the public defender's office was the attorney in the room with the least sense of humor, the least talkative, and generally unfriendly. This reinforces my opinion that the defense bar and the public defender's office have a degree of separation that is unhealthy. This situation does not exist in the federal system where the public defender's office and the private bar are on very good terms and the public defender's office provides assistance when asked from simple advice to briefs. This needs to be fixed.

25 March 2010

A lesson reinforced. When the prosecutor doesn't offer you anything, you let the judge decide. We had a probation violation hearing this afternoon--Thursday, 25 March 2010. The county attorney and the probation offer suggested, not without a certain smirk, that my client should just agree to do his time and have his probation revoked. This is not an offer that warrants acquiescence. Neither I nor my client thought it much of a deal so we had a hearing. The allegation was of 12 different violations nine of which were not answering the VICAP call. If I have the letters correctly, it stands for the machine that a probationer must put on his phone and answer when called and which also register breath alcohol. Judge Mott did not find any violations and released the defendant from custody. I really didn't think that we would prevail, but we did. I guess neither the county attorney, the probation officer, nor myself properly evaluated the case--at least in the mind of Judge Mott.

In the second hearing that I had scheduled in front of Magistrate Rickers, my client and two others were charged with trespass. Another brilliant charge filed by Officer Chris Wing. Three went into an apartment to retrieve a couch and other items that all agreed belonged to one of the three. The girl of the apartment told the two girls entering the apartment to leave. There were a few words, the girls picked up what they could carry and left the apartment. The boy who had come with them carried out the couch by himself. All three were charged with trespass presumably under the theory that the three did not leave the very instant the girl of the apartment told them to leave. Apparently discussion is not allowed. I and Joanie Greif had co-defendants and between us and the city attorney there were to be ten witnesses. The earlier hearings did not finish until almost four. Rather than continue the matter the city attorney dismissed the charges. He had earlier stated that he would dismiss the charges if the defendants paid the costs. I really do get tired of that practice. It happens continually. "Oh, we will dismiss the charges if your client pays the costs." Most defendants take the deal to not face the possibility of a conviction. I don't like it and do when I can refuse to do it.

24 March 2010

Court Service with Judge Mott

Arrived late for Judge Mott's court this morning. Court services in Wednesday. Court services means people go to jail, placed on probation, get fined; or, simply plead to a criminal charge, set further hearings including trials. As I said I arrived late and there was standing room only when I did arrive. I was a 100% today--all clients present and accounted for. This is an unusual occurrence in that usually one or more has forgotten, never knew, or just doesn't want to come.

Some say that Judge Mott does not give deferred judgments or deferred sentences. That is incorrect--he does when the situation warrants it. My count this morning was three guilty pleas, two sentencings, and a bond review hearing. Afraid I may not have been successful on the bond review matter, but the Judge has not ruled. It is my opinion, my client should stay in jail until his current charges are resolved. He does not seem to have the ability to stay out of jail for he is continually incurring new charges. The only method open to him to resolve his legal problems may be simply to stay in jail pending trial on the current charges. Some just can't win--bad karma.

17 March 2010

Spent the morning in the Jasper County Courthouse with Judge Hulse and opposing counsel. A trial was scheduled for purposes of modifying visitation. Opposing counsel, I, and the judge talked it out and took it to the clients. One accepted, one did not. Prior to actually hearing the case, the judge made it clear how he would rule given the facts as he understood them. Consequently, the parties stipulated and that stipulation was read into the record. The entire proceeding took about two hours. I think we could have actually tried the case in an hour. The opposing party was not happy with the result and let it be known to the attorney and my client after the matter was finally resolved. It is difficult to control some clients and to make them understand that if they can not agree with the other side, the judge will decide and neither party may be very happy. In this case the one party was quite literally forced to agree and stipulate or anticipate the judge would do worse, which he certainly threatened to do. I do not feel victorious in this battle, but it helps to have a party that is reasonable, willing to compromise, with an attorney who can do the same.

10 March 2010

A very short day in Judge Mott's court this morning. I had one pretrial conference scheduled. Since we took depositions yesterday and it is clear to me that my client will be convicted, we negotiated a plea and set a plea date out so he could get his evaluation at Capstone. Alcohol seems to be the issue with him and the mother of his child. He has a record and we talked about the fact that if he didn't drink he wouldn't have one. This is where the social work part of defense counsel comes in. If you represent someone for a crime, you know the cause of the problem, and you know where he can go to at least begin to get some assistance, then part of representing someone, it seems to me, is to do what you can to help him. And, if he is amenable and understands that what you recommend is in his best interest and he appears to have a modicum of intelligence and capacity, and it might mean some jail time for him, so be it. Success is not necessarily measured in the shortness of the jail time.

04 March 2010

Suppress it?

One can not ever, ever guarantee, be assured of, or know what will come from the mouth of a witness. We had a suppression hearing this afternoon in front of Judge Mott. With a reasonable degree of certainity, we had an even chance. After all, it is the State's burden--correct? But this does presuppose that one has a general ideal of the testimony that will be given. One has spoken with his client and the witnesses about the events in question--their version of the facts. Occasionally one is pleased at the testimony one had no idea would come out, but more often one scrolling through the words and phrases that come to mind while driving in traffic in rush hour. Don't know how this particular hearing will resolve itself, but will submit a short memorandum in support of our position.

The issue that presented itself, the issue that I was unaware, is whether an peace officer can purloin the code to a punch lock of an apartment building and enter at will, without consent, and without the knowledge of the owner or the tenants. Don't know the answer.

28 February 2010

Newton Police Department

Half of the Newton Police Department is irritated due to three NCO's being dismissed by the County Attorney on Thursday afternoon due to the fact that the County Attorney could not prove the defendant had been served. It was a busy afternoon in Judge Mott's Court on Thursday afternoon and after waiting almost two hours to testify, the Newton officers--six if I remember correctly--found they had waited for nought. I would also be correct in saying that "irritation" would be a mild description of the feelings expressed by the officers who had been waiting most of the afternoon.

12 February 2010

We are not a personable lot.

We are putting together an appendix on a criminal appeal. Or I should say, the staff is. A very tedious process much of which is unnecessary. For instance, putting the name of the person testifying on each page of the transcript is a labor intensive, boring job. Why would anyone reading the brief need to have the name of the person testifying on each page. Thanks to the Attorney General's Office, there are numerous pages. I think next time, if they want such a number of pages in the transcript, they should type the name of the person testifying and send them to us.

We have another issue with this particular appeal: pay. When I filled out the paper work authorizing me as a contract attorney--working for a pittance two years ago, I did not check the box saying I would take appeal work. I had forgotten that or else didn't think of it as an issue until the Public Defender's Office determined that because I had not also checked the appellate box they were not required to pay me for the work I have done on the appeal. The irony is that the issue on appeal is the ineffectiveness of trial counsel who is now the State Public Defender in charge of it all. I can only presume that I was given the appeal as the Appellate Public Defender handed it off on the basis of a conflict. I am alleging the Public Defender ineffective as he is refusing to pay me. This doesn't seem quite right even if you thought he might have a legitimate basis not to pay me in the first instance.

Attorneys, in general, are not known for being a personable lot and here are two reasons why.

10 February 2010

10 February 2010 Court Service

Not a busy day in Judge Mott's courtroom in Newton today. I think most yet trying to recover from icy roads and snow. I-80 had cars strewn from end to end with one semi on its side in a rather deep ditch. We had the usual sentencings, not guilty pleas, and continuances. Things are somewhat more relaxed except for the owi sentencings where Judge Mott engages in a one-sided query of why the defendant was endangering the public by driving while under the influence of alcohol. My client sentenced for a 3rd driving while barred received 60 days in the county jail which he was expecting and took quite well actually. He had made arrangements for his seven year old to transfer schools to live with a relative and was quite non plussed about the situation. Would be nice if most of the folks being sentenced took it half as well.

We did set some trials though--way out. Our county attorney's office has the opinion of its own docket that IT'S FULL and therefore we are setting trials into April and May. My only concern about setting out trials that long is that some, if not most, can't stay out of jail that long. Then, with the new charge, Judge Mott rescinds their bail and there they sit longer than if they would just plead and be done with it. Oh, well.

24 January 2010

Guthrie County

Due to the fact that the State Public Defender's Office continues to squeeze attorneys contracted to do criminal defense work at the State's inadequate rate of pay, I have signed on to do criminal defense work in Guthrie County. It is quite a drive from Mingo and may not pay for itself on a case-by-case basis, but will open up a new geographical area to my practice. It is in the 5th Judicial District and therefore I know the judges. We shall see how it works out.