So yesterday, just because I thought it was interesting, I wrote a post about some of the science behind DUI breath testing. That’s such a competitive area of law that I was pretty sure I’d attract a comment from some DUI lawyer (or his SEO stooge) linking back to his blog in a shameless act of self promotion. And sure enough, within a couple of hours, an Idaho DUI lawyer left a comment.
Except…the comment was not the usual “Great post, and if you get a DUI in Idaho, you need an Idaho DUI lawyer” sort of garbage.
No, it was a thoughtful and informative response to my post from a guy calling himself “nidefatt.” He turns out to be an Idaho public defender who describes himself as “the DUI guy” in his office. And he’s got a blog called Defending Dandelions. (I don’t understand the name. Maybe because dandelions are plentiful and usually the subject of scorn, like his clients?) And since his blog is not all about getting clients — he’s got a whole team of prosecutors doing that for him — he’s actually got something to say. A few samples:
First of all, as a defense attorney, I rarely meet them. They’d have to actually come to court and I’d have to be forced to sit through their rant. Because they do not request attorneys.
Once in a while, a wiley judge will force a PD on them as a guide. “Here you go crazy person, this charming guy in the shabby suit will help you.” And then, if you’re super lucky, he never talks to you. But if he’s in jail, don’t count on it.
Essentially, sovereigns believe a host of crazy things, but on the basis of that they do what I think is perhaps something more people should do: they just fuck everything up.
On Idaho statutes:
I spent a few minutes trying to figure out why the police can record people and play it in court without committing a felony.
And that’s sad, because you’d think I’d assume the law was well-written enough that the police wouldn’t be constantly committing a felony. After all, our Terrorism statute literally describes what police do as terrorism but then in a separate statute grants them all immunity. Thank goodness.
In the fact of everything going on right now, the conservatives on the court apparently aren’t getting the message that the current party is supposed to be anti-government. But then, I never know with conservatives. How the hell does anyone think they can be anti-government but pro-cop?
[I]n Idaho, I’m not there for the bond to be set either. In fact, thanks to court calendars, I can’t get in front of a judge for a month to six weeks in some cases.
But in the modern world you are tainted by the arrest and accusations alone, even the best alibi sometimes can’t wash off the stink.
So what is any of this good for? If mere accusations can lead to a loss of liberty that dwarfs what the actual sentence would likely be, if you will lose your job, your family, and your reputation, and the trial provides merely solace at the end of the tunnel, why pretend we’re protected at all?
The fact is: that first bond hearing before the judge is perhaps the most critical hearing a person has. The fact that in Idaho a person faces it in chains, on a video screen, and alone is unacceptable, and unconstitutional.
I think the law you’d like to have is “acting like a cop when you’re not a cop.”
A client asked me once while he was freaking out over an illegal stop of his son and what he was facing, “Who makes sure the cops do their jobs right?” And I was like, uh… me?
Not that I have much power beyond dragging cops to court and keeping them off the street for 30 minutes while they get paid overtime.
When you find that all the work you are doing still can’t save your client, it can be discouraging. Most clients will lose heart and not see the benefit from fighting anymore. The government knows this and finds ways to get around attorneys. Judges allow it. It’s a sham system folks. Gideon just seems to have prompted dozen of laws that impose “civil penalties” so that you can be abused and threatened with impunity.
It’s always good to see a new legal blogger who actually has something to say. I look forward to more his posts.
So, nidefatt… Welcome the the party. It’s a two-drink minimum.