Return to the Planet of Reasonable Doubt

Over at a public defender, Gideon has posted his second attempt to create a jury instruction for the meaning of “reasonable doubt,” based on feedback he got from his first attempt, which has a lot of interesting comments. The discussion is far too technical for me to contribute to, for reasons that Scott Greenfield spells […]

Reviewing the Charges Against the Bronx Defenders

Professor Jonathan Oberman from the Cardozo School of Law has a great opinion piece in the New York Law Journal about the two lawyers who were forced to resign as a result of the Bronx Defenders’ “Hands Up” kerfuffle. These lawyers are smart, committed and hardworking, and have earned their clients’, their community’s, and this […]

Why Are Grand Juries So Secret?

I’ve been trying to understand why grand jury secrecy works the way it does, and there are parts of it that just don’t make sense to me. At a fundamental level, the idea of the government telling people there’s stuff they can never, ever talk about just doesn’t seem right. Our right to free speech […]

Je Suis Bronx Defenders

The Bronx Defenders, a non-profit law firm in New York, are taking some heat because two of their lawyers, Kumar Rao and Ryan Napoli, acted in a few scenes of a rap video which were filmed in the firm’s offices. The song, “Hands Up,” is not my kind of music, but if you want to […]

DUI Lawyers and Faith In Websites

Matt Brown, a criminal defense lawyer in Tempe, Arizona, has noticed that a lot of local lawyers have websites that get the law on concealed weapons wrong. Every single lawyer website I visited had misstated the law. Fortunately, the law has become more permissive, so nobody who believes what they read on the lawyers’ websites […]

Bargaining Power 101

Scott Greenfield posted a story a while back about a conversation he had with a biglaw lawyer who was trying to refer a client on a criminal matter. The biglaw guy apparently wanted Scott to commit to negotiating a deal for the client without going to trial. He didn’t even think it was necessary for […]

Is The Legal Field Ready for CSO?

A couple of days ago, Scott Greenfield was writing about some of the complexities of federal sentencing, when a commenter named Jake proposed a crazy solution: Was there ever a task in the courtroom more ripe for automation? Well, yes, there’s tons of administrative crap that can be, or has been, automated. However, Jake had […]

Keep Talkin’ Judge

One of the most amazing developments in the legal blogosphere last year was the emergence of the Hercules and the Umpire blog, because it was written by an actual sitting federal judge. It wasn’t just warmed-over pablum, nor was it some sort of scholarly legal blather. Instead, like a classic blogger from the early days, […]

A Few Ways to Look At Criminal Lawyers

(This post started with a few ideas, and then got all long and rambling, but I don’t have time to make it shorter. Sorry.) A few years ago I had a toothache, and I made an emergency appointment with my dentist. Her diagnosis was that the tooth’s pulp was infected around the nerve, and her […]

Paying For Prosecutions in Virginia?

Over at Crimlaw, Virginia prosecutor Ken Lammers writes about the state’s law allowing private prosecutions. It’s a fascinating concept, and Ken goes into a bit of detail, but it comes down to this: So, basically, if doubly approved by the judge and the public prosecutor, the hired gun prosecutor can take part in the case […]

A Modest Solution for Handling Multi-Format Legal Briefs

After reading Daniel Sockwell’s article about writing legal briefs that you expect a judge to read on an iPad, Scott Greenfield is a little bummed out over the suggestion to eliminate footnotes: Initially, Sockwell’s point about eliminating footnotes is a critical one, not just because they’re hard to read on a tablet but because that […]

A Challenge for Prosecutors

Over at Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger writes about one of the philosophical problems with the exclusionary rule: For many years, the U.S. Supreme Court has been pruning back one of the most repugnant notions of criminal procedure — the idea that a clearly guilty criminal can suppress rock-solid reliable evidence of his crime on […]

We Talk to Cops All the Time…

Over at Popehat, Ken White has another of his posts explaining that the most important thing you can do when talking with cops is to stop: One of the most consistent messages I offer here is about interactions with law enforcement, and can be expressed in two words — shut up — although “oh you […]

Maverick Ray At Large

I write a lot about laws and lawyers, but I normally avoid commenting on issues of client representation. I feel comfortable opining on civil liberties or the justice system in general because while I may not have expert knowledge, these things are of general importance to all citizens, and we all have a stake. But […]

Non-Lawyers Talking About the Law

Scott Greenfield has a post up at Simple Justice talking about how often people get legal advice from sources other than lawyers. I’ll skip to the ending: The law is hard to understand, hard to navigate and very hard to practice. If you are not a lawyer, you have no business giving legal advice because […]