Because I Love It.

“How do you sleep at night putting in toilets for pedophiles?”

-Things nobody ever says to plumbers.

“I could never do what you do… you help drunk drivers save money on taxes so they can buy more beer.”

-Something accountants never hear.

“How does it feel knowing you sell hardware to criminals?”

-Questions the guy at Home Depot doesn’t have to answer at social gatherings.

Continue reading “Because I Love It.”

Making a Murderer: Did Steven Avery Actually Do It?

“What do you think about Making a Murderer?”  By the end of December I had to answer that question several times a week.  The answer was, of course, “I don’t know.”  I hadn’t really planned to watch another criminal trial documentary.

I don’t own the remote, though. I bought the remote. Paid for it with my own money, even.  I don’t get to touch it in any substantive way other than passing it over to The Boss, though.

Now I’ve seen the whole series. People are still asking me what I think about it. I still don’t know if he is “really innocent” or guilty.  I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Continue reading “Making a Murderer: Did Steven Avery Actually Do It?”

Ponderings on Possession, Part Two.

I’ve struggled with Windypundit’s possession post.  If you’re not keeping pace, last week he brought up an interesting scenario (or two) resulting in people innocently going about their business but somehow obtaining items it’s illegal to possess. I took a stab at giving what I thought would be decent advice based on the scenarios presented (and also tried to explain the reasoning).

It wasn’t particularly easy, but many things in the world of criminal defense aren’t.

The shame of Draughn’s legal problems isn’t really the absurdity of possession crimes, though. While the hypotheticals do a great job highlighting that absurdity, the root of their difficulty is in a  couple of much more pervasive aspects of the system. Continue reading “Ponderings on Possession, Part Two.”

Ponderings on Possession.

Mark Draughn’s “Windypundit” blog is one of my regular reads. He’s somehow found the magic ability to post both frequent and frequently interesting new thoughts.  Today he posted an interesting hypothetical regarding possession of contraband:

To make it more concrete, suppose I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, when a stranger confronts me, thrusts a duffle bag into my hands, and runs away. When I open a duffle bag, I find a tightly wrapped kilo of cocaine, a pile of child pornography, and a MAC-10 submachinegun. As I look up, I notice several police officers coming down the street, obviously searching for someone or something. They haven’t noticed me yet. What should I do next?

Well, then. What do you do?

From a strictly legal standpoint Continue reading “Ponderings on Possession.”

I’m Down But Not Out.

Hitting “Publish” Isn’t Easy.

I’ve written a lot of posts that haven’t been published. That’s a problem. It’s a problem of being too reserved, too cautious, or concerned about what I’ve written to offer it up for public consumption.

Early this year- in January- I wrote a post called “10 years.” It spoke to my decade of private criminal defense work since leaving the Office of the Public Defender. I wrote about how much I loved this job, how fun it’s been, and how lucky I’ve been to have an extremely helpful group of talented colleagues.

More importantly, I talked about the stark and grave realization of how grating this profession can be. How depressing it is knowing that, as much as you can fight for that guy standing next to you in front of the judge, the system isn’t designed for change even if the system has it wrong.  It will be wrong over and over and over and over Continue reading “I’m Down But Not Out.”

Actually preventing DUI is the goal, right?

I’ll be intently following the political future of Randall Scannell in Green Bay. I know zero about his political beliefs or party affiliation. What I do know about the man, though, I like.

He’s all for eliminating parking tickets for drunks.  “What?????? He’s going to REWARD people for getting drunk?” You heard it right- no tickets for drunks. He’s not “rewarding” anybody, though.

Actual Effects Are More Important Than Theoretical Debates

Law and politics are, sadly, too much like Philosophy- lots of people with strong opinions sitting around in a room talking about what should (or will) happen in the “out there” world if everybody in the world acted (or was forced to act by passage of law) in the way they wanted. “Cut taxes and nobody will starve.” Or, “raise minimum wage and nobody will s Continue reading “Actually preventing DUI is the goal, right?”

Citizenfour

I’m not great at watching movies. Sometimes I fall asleep. Sometimes I just don’t pay attention. Sometimes I watch and forget I’ve even seen a movie a week or two later.

I don’t think I’m going to forget Citizenfour, though.

I’ll admit to not paying a ton of attention to every minute detail of Snowden’s disclosures when they were fist reported. I knew he’d blown the top off of electronic spying. I knew he fled the country, and I knew he’s facing charges that will likely land him in prison the rest of his life if the U.S. intelligence committee ever catches up with him.

I didn’t need to know much more in order to connect the dots. So, I’ll probably forget a lot of what is in the movie, which is fine- it’s completely aggravating.

One thing I won’t forget, though, is the connection to the movie, “Unconstitutional.” Continue reading “Citizenfour”

The Regular Person Standard.

I don’t know much about a lot of things. Nobody will dispute that. I might know a little about a few things. At least, people ask me questions as though they think I do. Of course, I’ve got a philosophy degree so I know that I really know nothing. That’s what the bearded, hippie, teaching assistants told me, anyway. I don’t know enough to disagree with them, that’s for sure.

My favorite legal questions are when friends and family of people without much exposure to law enforcement have that first “experience” and want to know what to do.

  •  “The police were banging on my brother’s door and screaming for him to come outside. What should he have done?”
  • “Some investigator showed up at my friend’s house and asked him to come talk at the station. The Investigator wouldn’t say what it was about. Is that normal?”
  • “The police wouldn’t let me answer my phone and were asking me weird questions. Why would they do that?”

Continue reading “The Regular Person Standard.”

Taking a Stand on the Gay Hoosier Pizza.

I have a secret to tell you: I was born in Indiana. If you don’t think that’s a big secret, it means you’re either unfamiliar with Indiana or you currently live in Indiana and you’re lying to yourself.  Thankfully, I’m both familiar with Indiana and not living there. That makes me especially qualified to comment on this Memories Pizza debacle. Continue reading “Taking a Stand on the Gay Hoosier Pizza.”

Setting Every Damn Case For Trial: The beginning of the end of my “reign of pain” as a public defender.

When I worked for the public defender’s office I was a complete pain in the ass.  Or, at least I like to think I was. Considering a judge once told me I was “the only roadblock to an otherwise smooth running courtroom,” I probably was.

I pulled out every trick people would teach me. When I ran out of those, I’d invent some of my own and see how they worked. If they rocked, I’d use them until they wouldn’t. If they didn’t, I’d think up something else.

I don’t regret that. Not even a little bit. Continue reading “Setting Every Damn Case For Trial: The beginning of the end of my “reign of pain” as a public defender.”