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.