So, I'm puttering around the web trying to find something worth blawging about. The federal supreme court isn't going to be putting out anything interesting for a while. The most interesting case that the Virginia court of appeals decided last week can be boiled down to one phrase: No matter how poor the case against you was and the number of errors made you don't get to appeal if you don't object and make the appropriate motions to strike the evidence. Nothing earth shattering there; the court of appeals has probably said as much 100 times. One of the guys in my office wants me to write about Virginia Supreme Court Rule 7C:5(f), but I just can't see too many of ya'll being interested in the vagaries of misdemeanor discovery rules in Virginia. Besides, if I research and write that post I either have to take the side of a person in my office whom I know reads this blawg or a judge whom I know reads this blawg.
Then I trip across an entry in the VLW blog which points to a law classmate (Chuck James) of mine's involvement in defending a sheriff who is being prosecuted by the federal government. Chuck is quoted as making the dreaded "green beans with spaghetti" argument. For the record, I agree with Chuck that they don't go together, but I must admit that didn't stop my high school from serving such a travesty against the gods of taste (actually, it was usually worse: lima beans and canned spaghetti). Still, the rejoinder made by the federal prosecutor has a pretty nasty flaw: "If you’re trying to get youngsters to eat green vegetables spaghetti and green beans DO go together."
Wait. Wait a sec . . . Did he just say "If you're trying to convict on weak charges they should be mixed with the strong ones so the jury will just convict on everything"? Arrrggg. That's got to be a statement he wished he could have back. A better prosecutorial argument (if we must stick to a pasta theme) would have been: "What we have here, judge, is a spaghetti dinner. There are no green beans here. What the defense is trying to do is separate the pasta, and the sauce, and the meatballs, and the parmesan cheese. He's trying to make it unrecognizable for the dinner it is."
Of course, Tom Bondurant was in court commenting off-the-cuff on an argument he had just heard. I'm sitting comfortably in my kitchen drinking a diet pepsi as I compose my answer. Were my circumstances switched with the top-dog federal criminal prosecutor in the Western District, I'm not certain I'd have done better (and he'd probably be real confused as to why he was in my kitchen).
Anyway, for those of you who don't know him, Chuck is the first gentleman in this pack of lawyers walking into the courthouse.
It's a terrible picture; here's the news video it came from.
Anyway, it's good to see someone from my class involved in an interesting case. Since I'm now on the side of the angels, I cannot wish him good luck at trial, but I doubt he needs my luck behind him anyway. :-0