About that cook county prosecutor who was arrested at the lingerie shop

I’m sure you’ve heard about the Cook County prosecutor who was arrested in the last week.  In case you have not, her name is Sarah Naughton.  According to news reports, she was escorted out of a Lingerie Shop called “Taboo Tabou” for acting a little too rowdy with a male companion.  At some point, a melee ensued and she’s accused of biting a cigar shop owner in the ankle.  Much to her horror, the aftermath was captured on video:

Like I’ve said before, the day people get arrested is usually the worst day of their lives.  If Naughton didn’t believe it then, she surely believes it now.  You should too.

I’m not posting this to embarrass her or make fun of her, though.  It’s not even a post aimed at showing you what she should have done after getting arrested- I think I’ve done that enough. Sadly, this isn’t even going to be a post making fun of prosecutors.  It’s a post making fun of other criminal defense attorneys.  Or, as I like to call them, my friends.

I’ve always been a little bit amused at how quickly criminal defense attorneys in private practice brag about being former prosecutors.  Like it’s some sort of badge of honor.  Somehow, working at an office where you never have to talk to a person accused of a crime (and where many of your decisions are controlled by “policy” dictated from an elected bureaucrat) makes you awesome at relating to the common man, right?  Gives you a lot of experience at being able to explain complex legal concepts in normal, everyday English, right?  Apparently telling people you used to be a prosecutor works, though.  Just check Google.  Any lawyer who ever worked at any prosecutor’s office anywhere is bragging all over the internet about that stuff.

Hooray for them.  I’m super-impressed.  It’s so terribly difficult to find a lawyer who used to be a prosecutor.  We’re probably down to our last 20,000 of them in this state.  Retain one now.  They must be a dying breed, or something.

Maybe the problem isn’t them.  Maybe the problem is you.  You are the market.  Your dollars determine what sells.

Does this sell?  Are there really a lot of people on the internet thinking:

“Hey, I see you were stuck pushing paper in traffic court for 6 years, mind helping me with this murder case?”

The sad thing is that there must be. There have to be, right?  If there weren’t, the ex-prosecutors wouldn’t be bragging.  The former “Assistant State’s Attorneys” wouldn’t be listing this stuff in their web profiles 10, 20 or 30 years after they turned in the prosecutor’s badge.  Isn’t this simple market economics?  If it didn’t sell, lawyers would stop, right?

I’m not saying that cutting your teeth as a prosecutor is a bad way for a criminal defense attorney to start off- there are a ton of excellent criminal defense lawyers who started as prosecutors.  Some of the absolute best lawyers on the planet (and some of my best friends) started this way.   I’m not saying it’s a great way either, though- there are plenty of former prosecutors who can’t quite “connect” with our clientele.  It’s just a “way”.  No different than any other.

I don’t totally blame you, though. It does sound impressive.  “Former Felony prosecutor for 25 years with experience in murder and narcotics cases!” does have that infomercial-like appeal.  And, if infomercials didn’t work, well, then the Sham-Wow wouldn’t be awesome.

With so many lawyers beating the drums of their prosecutorial experience I was a little worried when I decided to finally have a web page.   I was never a prosecutor.  When I put this little “Kane County Lawyer” page together, I had a lot of excellent experience, but nothing that sounded awesome enough to have that “infomercial” effect.  So, I did what I do best… I passively cracked on my friends:

Many criminal defense attorneys started as prosecutors and later made the switch.  While they were busy putting people in jail, Haiduk was sharpening his skill for keeping them out.  Matthew has never prosecuted a person like you.  He has dedicated his career to helping people like you.  If you need an attorney, or just need advice, it is worth your time to contact Matthew J. Haiduk, Attorney at law.  He offers free consultations… so, what do you have to lose?

What does this have to do with Sarah Naughton and her Taboo Tabou folly?

All I know is that this lady has worked as a prosecutor long enough to have an idea of what she would want to do when she’s arrested. I have an idea.  And, if you’ve read though here enough, so have you.

Would you want to do what she’s doing on that video?  Do you think she helped her self after she was arrested?  What would she advise you, as a client, to do?  Follow her lead?

She very well may lose her job for this. I really hope she doesn’t, but she very well might. If she does, she’s going to end up in private practice.  Like lots of former prosecutors before her, she’s going to tell people she’s a former prosecutor. She’s going to tell people she has trial experience.  She’s going to end up on a law firm web page making all this experience sound very, very impressive.  People will be impressed.  People will order the Sham-Wow and then retain her.  Would you?

About those girls who stole the Girl Scout cookies…

Remember when I mocked those girls who stole the cookies?  Maybe you don’t. I mean, it was all the way back in last week.  Well, it turns out they’re not alone.  Apparently stealing cookies from Girl Scouts is something of an epidemic.  At least these guys weren’t as arrogant when they were arrested. We hope.

Anyhow,  I know after watching that video with the two girls last week you were completely convinced that the Great Cookie Caper was a one-time, completely out of character, horrible decision for those two.  The type they’d learn from, move on, and chuckle about when they’re older.  The kind of “dumb kid thing” that kids sometimes do.

I’m here to tell you that you’re correct. Maybe.  I mean, while it seems that Cookie Heist was the only time that daring duo liberated dessert from little kids, it’s not the last time one of them was in trouble.  Serious trouble.

But, you knew that was coming anyway, right?  Of course you did. Everybody who saw the video did.  Everybody who watched the first video is saying “I told you so!”  Including the judge.

If you look at Ms. Wood’s subsequent legal problems, it doesn’t look like she was cut much slack.  I wonder how she feels about how she acted in that video now.

Lesson learned?  Don’t talk about crimes you may or may not have participated in.  Not to the police. Not to your friends… definately not to the T.V. reporter.  Especially if your’e going to come of as arrogant and unremorseful.

 

Prostitutes, nuclear weapons, and lawyers

These are the three things ruining the word: Prostitutes, nuclear weapons, and lawyers.  At least according to this guy.

Remember last week, when a Pimp taught us to put our best foot forward when we want somebody to believe us?  That doesn’t just go to what you say. It goes to your entire presentation.  Like, for instance, if you’re going to ramble on in a (mostly nonsensical) video about the entire legal profession, you might want to empty the garbage can and clean the margarita mixer on the counter behind you.  They are a little distracting.

What was this guy saying, again?

 

 

If they weren’t guilty, the police wouldn’t be searching.

You know how I’m always rooting for the bad guy?  How I’m this immoral guy who is just out to help criminals “get off.”  How all “these people” are guilty of something and I shouldn’t keep using all these technicalities?  How I keep telling people not to talk to the police or ever let them search when, clearly, if they’ve got nothing to hide they shouldn’t have a problem talking?

I’m wondering what these two Star Trek fans think about that advice.

Drew Peterson, technicalities, and your cats.

Until something with Herrera changes, though, you can tell those cats to grow thumbs and learn to use a can opener themselves.

I don’t know how I sleep some nights.  I mean, between representing all those people I “know” are guilty and having freed so many people on “technicalities” I’m a pretty reprehensible person.  That’s what people tell me.  Essentially.

I mean, they don’t tell me directly.  They tell me things like they “couldn’t do” my job.  Or that they “would have a hard time” representing somebody they “knew” was guilty.  Plus, they use the term “technicality.”  As in “so, he got off on a technicality?”

Technicality.  This sounds like a bad thing.  Like somebody “got away” with something.  Somebody like, for instance, Drew Peterson.  That guy might get off on some sort of technicality.  Never mind the fact that they changed the state law just to try and prosecute him. Or that the government’s own experts originally said she wasn’t murdered.  It’s always a technicality.

Don’t get me wrong.  We’re on the same team as far as wanting Peterson locked up.  We have different reasons, though.  You want him locked up because you think he killed a half-dozen people.  I want him locked up because he was an annoying, egotistical, loudmouthed wind-bag before he was taken into custody.

If Peterson walks, its going to be blamed on that too-often-used technicality of being not guilty.  By that, I mean it’s that one technicality where either the state can’t/won’t/doesn’t prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or that he didn’t actually do what they say he did.  Unfortunately it is the state’s burden to prove these things… that poor, poor, poor state and their nearly insurmountable burdens.

Daily Herald article on technicality
If the government doesn’t prove something, is that a technicality?

We should do away with that technicality of forcing the state to prove people guilty.  Then we could lock up all those people we “know” are guilty, right?  While we are at it, we should eliminate some of those other pesky technicalities like the Bill of Rights and the State Constitution.  If we got rid of all that stuff, we could probably lock this Peterson fella up without the trouble of a trial.  Maybe O.J., too.

Believe it or not, I sleep fine at night.  I’m with you on wanting to eliminate some of the technicalities and bringing “truth” back to the system, though.  Especially when we’re talking about the technicalities that prosecutors don’t gripe about.  How come nobody ever asks me about those technicalities?

Wait.  What’s that?  Are we not on the same team anymore?  What sort of technicality is that?  If the burden of proof and Bill of Rights are a defense attorneys’ favorite “technicalities” there is a LONG list of technicalities a prosecutor loves.   Technicalities like that one the Supreme Court invented in the case of Herrera v. Collins.

You know, it’s the one where you can be completely, truthfully actually not guilty and you still can’t appeal.  I mean, do you ever wonder what happens if you are charged with a Federal crime you absolutely didn’t do, but the prosecutor convinces the 12 jurors that you did?  Maybe somebody wrongfully identifies you.  It does happen.

Now you’re locked up, they’re about to throw away the key, and you’re begging your lawyer to appeal?  No sweat, right?  Your lawyer is going to appeal this thing and show the Federal Appeals Court how you’re actually innocent.  You’ll be out by lunch, right?  Maybe out by dinner at the latest.

Wrong.

You’re going to appeal that thing and the appeals court is going to use the Herrera case to tell you that a “freestanding claim of actual innocence is no basis for appellate relief.”  Do you know what that means? I do.  It means that the United States Supreme Court says you can’t appeal just because you’re not guilty.  Seriously. Let me say that again.  You can’t appeal a case in Federal Court just because you’re actually not guilty.  That appeals court doesn’t care that you’re not guilty and have starving cats waiting for you to get home.  Hell, those kittens can’t open the Meow-mix themselves.  Until something with Herrera changes, though, you can tell those cats to grow thumbs and learn to use a can opener themselves.

It’s not like this is some obscure thing that courts ignore, either. It’s used by prosecutors on appeal all the time.  I’m sure people ask Federal Appeals Prosecutors how they sleep at night, too.  Them and their technicalities!

Herrera is but a relative newcomer to the prosecutor technicality arsenal.  They’ve got technicalities going back hundreds of years.  Ever hear of felony murder?  It’s the one where, when you’re driving to the  7-11 for some Funyons and Redbull and your buddy in the passenger seat thinks it would be funny to steal a ho-ho by telling the clerk he’s got a bomb.  He’s telling you this as you’re driving there and you guys laugh thinking it’s funny.  When your buddy hands the clerk a note saying “I have a neutron bomb and I’m going to use it unless you let me take this ho-ho, kthnxbye” and starts to walk out, the clerk guns him down from behind.  

The clerk kills the robber (your pal).  Justice done?  Not yet.  You drove him there knowing he was going to “rob” the store.  Your taking part by driving him makes you just as guilty of a robbery as if you had walked in with a gun and stolen all the cash.  Even better, your’e also guilty of murder.  The technicality of felony murder means you’re looking at decades, if not a lifetime, behind bars because anybody died for any reason while you were committing a felony.  Don’t forget to smile for your mug shot.

I’m not saying you should have much compassion for somebody who thinks it’s funny to rob the convenience store.  I am saying that the punishment should fit the crime, and you shouldn’t ever be found guilty of Murder on such a weird technicality.  Oddly, people don’t ask me about this technicality.

And, don’t even get me wound up about possession of drugs.  You know how “possession” requires that you actually possess something?  Wrong.  Illinois courts tell us that possession can be something called “actual” possession.  The flipside to this, of course, is possession doesn’t have to be “actual” possession.  You can possess something without actually possessing it?  Sweet!

Makes perfect sense.  So much so that I’m headed to the bank right now with a whole bunch of money I don’t “actually” possess.  If the bank gets snotty, I’m going to tell them that I “constructively” possess about a million dollars I’d like them to credit to my account.  When the bankman tells me I can’t deposit cash I don’t possess, maybe I’ll ask him how he sleeps at night refusing my deposit on such a technicality.  After all, I need to get this fake money on my account so I can go buy that cat food my felines so desperately need. This is a matter of cat survival.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Peterson’s case.  Maybe it ends with a “technicality” and maybe it doesn’t.  I suppose we’ll all find out soon enough.  I just know that the word “technicality” is a bad word to describe complex aspects of the law.  I also know that no cats were actually harmed in the writing of this post, and that, even though I don’t have any cats, I wish all cats of the world a healthy, hearty meal tonight.