Sunday, June 22, 2008

Black Man Accused

This week's trial: my client is a 30 year old black man who's been in jail almost a year awaiting trial. It starts at last tomorrow. If there are any blacks to serve on his jury I haven't seen them walking the streets of this rural community. He's accused of exposing himself in public which he denies and which I think I can demonstrate is a case of mistaken identity. He's searched, then handcuffed behind the back and put in the squad car for the ride to the police station. Once there he's searched again, this time nude, and nothing turns up. Dressed up again, he's cuffed once more and taken to the squad car for the ride to the jail. At the jail he's searched a 3rd time. Nothing turns up.

So the frustrated cop goes back to the squad car and searches the back seat where he find 8.9 grams of cocaine hidden in the seat of the patrol car. Client charged with possession and possession with intent to sell. Weird, bizarre, unbelievable? None of the judges on the case so far think so. But to connect this dope to my client you have to assume that the searches didn't turn up the dope because it was so well hidden on his body. Then you have to assume that with both hands cuffed behind his back he could have retrieved the dope and hidden it in the seat of the police car.

Prosecutor wants 7 years. If we can find 12 angry men he won't get squat.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Verdict In

My child molester client is toast; the jury found him guilty on all five counts against him. Since the sentences run consecutively in this area of the (California's famous one strike sex law, that is, one strike and you're finished). His sentence could be in excess of 100 years to life. As he is 34, this is an absurd proposition. Excessive punishment? Cruel and unusual? I'll say. If he lives to be 134, he would be eligible for parole. Why not just say life without possibility of parole? A friend of mine had a similar case, more serious, and his client got 467 years to life. Does anyone wonder why we have the biggest prison population in the world?

When we finally have jailed all the "bad" guys (and I'm not supporting child molestation) who'll be left? The Bush family?

Break down the prison doors.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

PC 288 Trial

I'm in trial now on a child molest case. That's penal Code § 288. Why defend a child molester? That question assumes he's guilty; the real question is did he do it. In that context my role is to see that he is treated fairly and that his due process rights are respected. Due process means simply that you can't be deprived of your freedom unless you've had notice of the charges against you and a trial by jury. After the alleged victim testified the jury wouldn't look at me anymore. Delusion: confusing the lawyer with his client.

We go into second week on Monday. The penalties have gotten outlandish in this area of the law. My client is accused of having touched a little girl's vagina. If you are over 18 and your victim 10 years or younger, new Penal Code § 288.7(b) says your minimum is 15 to life. Make that life. Sex offenders don't get paroled anymore. If they do, six months before their release date two doctors from the Department of Mental Health examine them to see if they could re-offend. Nobody gets a pass. If you did get a parole date you'd just be transferred to a state mental hospital for 8 years, renewable for life.

One of the reasons why the United States has more people in prison than any other country in the world including China. Home of the Free, Land of the Brave.

Jack's Fate, Part II

Remember Jack, one of my first subjects. Clients often come back. Jack got shot 3 times in the back by gang members, narrowly survived and was put in witness protection. No sooner than done, Jack manages to get busted again so now the DA wouldn't pay to hide him anymore. Too bad. Jack est un type bien as we say in French, a good guy, with a troubled heart. Reminds me of the title of a Fassbinder film: "Fear Grips the Soul." I hope Jack is till out there. Haven't heard from him in months.

Berzerk DA

In response to my post regarding criminal settlement offers with a high term and a probation report, I just got a 7 page single spaced letter from the DA on that case attacking me for everything I've done in the case and calling my post unethical. What BS. Any DA who can crank out a letter like that doesn't have enough to do. In criminal law we don't write a lot of letters as most interaction with the prosecution takes place in court. I guess this DA is just pissed because I got a major portion of the complaint against my client dismissed. Go pound sand.