30 September 2003

Of course, the question is exactly what laws did he violate? ~Other than the ones involving physics~
Wow. Being a lobbyist for Libya gets you arrested.
Monetary problems have wrought havoc on the court systems of several States.
Anyone who works in the courts is at least a little bit skeptical of "programs." Still, you have to admire those who are out there trying:

(1) New Mexico is trying to help the mentally ill rather than send them to jail.

(2) Des Moines is trying to salvage youths.
Not a big fan of anyone who shoots the other side's attorney. How in the world did she get a gun in the courthouse anyway?
Police catch men who might be responsible for as many as 50 thefts of 18 wheelers.
Utah gives up on trying to force parents to put there kid in chemo therapy. All they had to do is hide him in another State. The father remained skeptical of the government's motives. Without speaking to whether the State is correct in trying to force medical care against what the parents believe to be in the best interest of their child, if the parents are smart they will not bring their son back into the State.
The judge finally lets the jury out in the Oakland trial of the police officers: 8 not guilties and the rest were still hung.
Need to save money in your budget? Well, you could always stop feeding your prisoners. "So far, officials in the states that have cut prisoners' food say inmates have not complained, and they insist that the nutritional value of the meals being served still meets national standards." Oh, come on, all prisoners can do is complain and I'm sure the fact that weekends went from three meals to brunch and supper caused a flurry of written (and ignored) protests. Personally, I hear about food almost as much as I hear about the fact that the jail/prison is not giving my client the medicine he should be getting.
It is unlikely that a judge is going to have any sympathy for you in a case like this but after you do this he sure as heck isn't.
Driving While Drowsy?
Convicted of sexually abusing a 10 year old gets a Reverend 10 years.
For punishing the witness needed to prove a case who refused to come to court twice the judge is accused of "re-victimizing the victim."
Lawyer? Client? Sometimes it's just so difficult to tell the difference.
Weird Crime:

(1) Someone abducted Mr. Potato Head but the police search must have been pretty intense because he was quickly abandoned.

(2) A judge gets a slap on the wrist for breaking the law.

(3) Polly wants a policeman?
Over at In Re, Kyle begins by quoting from a professor who has written an article stating that Alford and Nolo Contendere pleas should be eliminated and then goes on to discuss the role of defense attorneys.

. . .

I became a fan of pleading no contest shortly after I started practicing for a reason not mentioned. My client had pled guilty to a number of misdemeanors as part of a plea agreement. After the prosecutor had introduced all his evidence one of the charges had not been proven1. The judge said the fact that my client had pled guilty tied his hands so he had to find my client guilty despite the lack of evidence. Ever since if there is any doubt in my mind I try to plead my clients nolo contendere. No Evidence + No Admittal = No Conviction.

. . .

Kyle quotes the following from the article:
"[Defense l]awyers can recognize that substance abuse, mental illness, psychological blind spots and denial, or simple shortsightedness impedes their clients' rationality. More importantly, they can persuade clients to face up to patterns of behavior that, if left unchecked, will lead to more crimes and punishment. As suggested by the psychological literature cited earlier, lawyers can confront their clients with the overwhelming evidence of guilt and break down their denials. Furthermore, lawyers can provide moral as well as legal counsel, advising clients that it is right to admit their crime, apologize to victims, and move forward. By penetrating clients' denials to others and themselves, defense counsel can begin the process of honesty, education, and reform."
I don't know the gentleman who wrote the article but I would bet good money he has never done criminal defense work2.

First of all, it is not a defense attorney's job to "break down their denials." The defense attorney's job is to advocate the Defendant's position not substitute his judgement as to what constitutes his client's best interest. Usually, this will mean that you will be trying to get the client as minimal sentence as possible3. Sometimes it actually means you will have the privilege of defending him at trial.

Of course, you do explain your client's position to him (sometimes quite emphatically - I have been in more than one yelling match). If there is videotape of him robbing the bank, two nuns saw him running out the doors, and the police found him with dye matching that of a dye pack on his pants you make very sure that he knows the situation and that he knows the odds of winning at trial. Clients aren't stupid; they will usually decide to have you attempt to get them the best deal possible. Basically, whether you are trying to get a good deal or a verdict of not guilty (as few and far between as those are), as a defense attorney you almost invariably represent a client's liberty interest against society's long term interest in making him conform and the government's use of power to either force conformity or seek vengeance.

As Kyle alludes to, in some cases you may go to trial just because the prosecution refuses to offer anything worthwhile. This is particularly true in cases such as Virgnia's Exile statute which gives the mandatory maximum sentence to certain Defendants. If your advocacy of the client's liberty interest cannot do him any good before the trial you have an obligation to go down swinging; maybe a key prosecution witness will remember something favorable to your client while on the stand or a flaw in the prosecution theory will make an unexpected - and glaring - appearance in mid-trial.

. . .

I'd like to think that the professor's stance is based upon naivete arising from not having dealt with many clients as a defense attorney because the other option is that it comes from a fairly standard prosecutorial bias (the belief that we should all just pile on the Defendant - he may be entitled to counsel but his counsel should just ease him down the path not advocate his position). The idea that a defense attorney substitute his for the client's judgement and try to reform the client is unrealistic in the vast majority of cases (and quite possibly unethical). It ignores the fact that there is a significant subset of society for which crimes, drugs, the daily scam and time spent in jail/prison is just part of life. Whether he gets out next week or two years from now the client returns to this society - the players may change but game remains the same. And no one is reformed by prison. It's full of players in exactly the same game. A great deal of pressure is on that client to remain as he is and that pressure will increase when he returns to his buddies on the street. The defense attorney who sees this client perhaps for 50-60 hours (assuming a massive case) at the outside is not going to change this man's life.

. . .

I just did a quick reread and I find my thoughts herein to be half-formed. As usual, I've shot from the hip informed by my experiences (not necessarily a bad tendency for a trial lawyer). I suspect that to complete my thoughts and support them well would take much, much more time then I have. Unfortunately, I will not be able to revisit this matter as posting will have to be bullets for the rest of the week since I will be preparing for a jury trial on Monday. If anyone else is interested in this subject drop me an e-mail and - assuming I'm not overwhelmed - I will try to publish the better thoughts.

In any case go read In Re's post and (if you've more time than I) maybe read the article.

1 I can't remember the reason for this anymore. I think it was that the prosecutor just forgot to introduce the evidence on that charge. It might also have been one of those cases where my client just wanted to plead guilty so he could get out of jail as part of a plea agreement offering time served. Many (if not most) clients want to get out of jail as quickly as possible and could care less about whether they actually did what they are charged with.

2 Not too much though. If I am to be judged by my poker record I should probably never bet too much money.

3 However, this is not always true. I've had at least one case where a client told me to go back to the prosecutor and get more time because he wanted to be sent from the jail to a prison. It's a convoluted story but it was fun to watch the prosecutor stand there in shock when I told him that my client had rejected the deal because it was too lenient.

29 September 2003

What the heck is going on with the Mississippi Supreme Court Justices?
Cruel Hoax:

A woman calls police and claims she has been abducted and raped. The police look for her but eventually figure out she was lying because she used two different cellphones while she was supposedly locked in the trunk of a car.
Death Cases Last Week:

(1) Involuntary Intoxication:
The involuntary intoxication defense is a rarity in Virginia and extremely hard to prove, said William Hassan, a Fairfax lawyer who successfully used the defense several years ago.

It stems from a 1923 Virginia Supreme Court ruling that says someone can be considered involuntarily intoxicated if impaired by trickery or physician error.
I've put this defense on before in a case involving Halcion and must say that it is extremely hard to convince a judge that your client's gruesome act should be excused by the fact that he took pills prescribed by his doctor. Still, I'll never use Halcion or Xanax. BTW the case is Johnson v. Commonwealth, 135 Va. 524, 115 S.E. 673, Va. (1923).

(2) Buckley's comment on Governor Romney's attempt to return the death penalty to Massachusetts.

(3) Nebraska refuses a DNA test to see if a man convicted of murder might be innocent.

(4) Arizona is trying to get the federal supreme court to overturn the 9th Circuit's decision that a large number of death penalty convictions are unconstitutional.

(5) Japanese disquiet over the treatment over youthful murderers.

(6) Kill someone for Gotti get 10 years in prison.

(7) An expert testifies for free in the NC Peterson case.

(8) In the Eric Rudolph case the Defense wants the names of 566 people interviewed by the FBI.

(9) In Texas Durst's attorneys are saying the murder was self defense/accident and that the dismemberment was done in a panic.

(10) The story of the murders at the Appalachian School of Law.

(11) A 6 month trip to the hospital and then trial. At least that's what happened the last two times this guy was declared incompetent.

(12) Kill a five year old - get killed.

(13) 9 Hell's Angels convicted of "conspiracy to commit murder, drug trafficking and gangsterism."

(14) NC killed a man.

(15) Prosecutors charge a minor with felony homicide for the sale of methadone to a man who died. I saw one of these cases being tried in good ole' conservative Chesterfield County and the jury rejected it. It seems to me that to show the taking of the drug as part of the res gestae of the selling of the drug is a difficult endeavor. It's also difficult to draw a straight line between the drug use and death because the drug use is usually combined with other intoxicants (primarily alcohol) which amplify the effects and a honest expert will not be able to point to the drug as the sole cause.

(16) Homicide by Negligence? In Chicago prosecutors are charging club owners with manslaughter for not keeping their building up to code. More specifically, they seem to be charged with manslaughter because a staircase is too narrow and a mob of people "stampeded" down it crushing each other. I don't know how wide the staircase was or how wide it was supposed to be but you have to wonder if it really would have made all that much difference as a rioting mob tried to roll over itself in a panic to get to the doors.

Meanwhile, the Guardian asks if a manslaughter charge is appropriate in cases where accident has clearly occurred.

28 September 2003

Bashing Ashcroft has almost become too easy:
(1) Not only is Ashcroft's flawed plea-bargain mandate the latest in a string that undermines the discretion of his own employees, but it further illustrates his zealous approach to law enforcement as the nation's No. 1 lawman.

The increasingly apparent truth is, Ashcroft is a runaway attorney general who has exploited the war on terrorism to seek more federal law enforcement authority and transform the Justice Department to mirror his heavy-handed brand of justice.

(2) At the Justice Department . . . "you have a group of people in control who really are true believers in incarceration. They have almost religious zeal to see that people get sentenced to prison for a long time."

At the same time . . . in dozens of states with the toughest laws on nonviolent crime, including New York, Texas and California, "people are scratching their heads and saying, `You know, incarcerating people for that long doesn't work.' "

(1) Jordan charges 11 men with planning to attack U.S. targets.

(2) Use of the "anti-terrorism" laws against non-terrorist citizens.
Prosecutors vs. Doctors?
Take the drunks' cars away from them. Interesting proposal. Exactly when would you do it? 2d within 5? Upon conviction of felony DUI?
"Sammy the Bull" Gravano will testify on the behalf of the man that prosecutors claim was going to kill him. Of course, a man would probably do just about anything to get out of supermax.
Law Enforcement in the News:

(1) The police chief of Seat Pleasant, Maryland has been charged with "taking pornographic photos of a boy in a junior police program he created and coercing the boy to have sex."

(2) Isabel wrought havoc on the Baltimore police department including flooding its evidence unit. And here's a admittal that will raise chain-of-custody nightmares for the prosecution: "prosecutors were forced to seek a postponement in a first-degree murder trial. Evidence, including ballistics, photos and bloodstained clothing, could not be located in time for trial Monday because it had been moved to avoid the flood."

(3) Britain has its first black chief constable.

(4) Three men lose their jobs after a 17 year old was improperly released for custody.

(5) Trial begins for three guards accused of having set a prisoner up to be raped.

(6) There comes a point where you have to build a new jail whether you want to or not.
Cheat 9 wives out of tens of thousands of dollars and a judge in San Fran will only send you to jail for 16 months. Just a little on the light side.
Why would the fact that a 13 year old girl wrote you over the internet and told you she had bondage fantasies be a reason to depart down from the sentencing range in a "taking the girl across state lines for illegal sex and sexually exploiting a minor?"

27 September 2003

Sorry, no posting today. I'm off to see the clash of those two football powerhouses:

The Centre College Praying Colonels
The Washington & Lee University Generals

(my undergrad vs. my law school)

In the meantime check out Kyle Kryser's new blog In Re.

26 September 2003

Germany issues international warrants for terrorists.
Felons and the right to vote.
It doesn't pay to be a stubborn, cantankerous, and contrary old man in a bankruptcy case.
If you write stories in a Bahrani newspaper remember that you can be charged criminally if you besmirch a public official.
I'm thinking about making this into a group blawg (I think 6 people max). Anyone who might be interested look here to see what I'm looking for and drop me a line at lammersk@yahoo.com (or, if your web browser is set up that way, click the button on the left).

(1) Trying to murder a guard may not be terrorism but that doesn't make it any more comforting. Especially when you realize that the guy wasn't trying to kill only one person:
Salim testified during his trial that he attacked the guard to get his keys so he could enter a locked attorney conference room and attack two of his lawyers. He said the lawyers had refused to quit the case even after he fired them.
(2) Moussaoui's attorneys want the case dismissed because the Justice Department won't obey the judge's orders and the Justice Department isn't going to oppose the dismissal because they figure they have a better chance with the 4th Circuit Appellate Court. So, will Moussaoui be released after the charges are dismissed?

(3) Trying to withdraw a plea of guilty.
The problem with no-knocks. Why not just pick the guy up when he goes out to pick up some groceries and then execute a search warrant on the house afterward?
Don't pay 3 million in taxes? Oh well, a couple years probation oughta teach you a lesson.
Florida's shameful anti-innocence testing barrier slams down.
Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney office prosecutes another local officer.
I guess hiding in the woods gets a little old.
The Germans hit over 500 homes in searches for child porn.

25 September 2003

You've got to be kidding me. Have none of these people ever practiced in domestic court? Of course it's relevant that the woman invited the man over. Protective orders, especially in busy courts where the judges don't really have the time to seperate the chaff from the wheat, are abused. They are taken out as leverage in child custody disputes, weapons in the divorce, and a way to keep the man in line. I limit my practice in Domestic court and even I've had a number of cases where the woman never even left the guy. She just took out the order because she was mad at him after she lost the latest round in the weekly family fight (which, like as not, she started) and uses it as a weapon against him the next time she's drunk and pissed at him. There has to be a way to rein in such abuse.
When you file a complaint against a 66 year old woman who uses a Mac for downloading Trick Daddy's "I'm a Thug" with a program that only works on PC's you should rethink your investigative methods.
The gangs of N.Va.
A judge chooses vengeance over the victim.
Cleaning up King George.
Getting around Mr. Ashcroft's directive:

"[A]lmost no one expects strict enforcement of the directive. Instead, if history is any guide, local prosecutors will retain substantial flexibility but will exercise it quietly and early, before rather than after charges are filed."
The newest ingredient in guacamole.
Bush said the U.S. would start prosecuting those who travel to other countries for sexual tourism and in Seattle they've already started.

Of course, you've got to wonder how they are going to prove an act in another country (unless the guy was dumb enough to take pictures).
If you take pictures of your 3 year old in the pool you'd better make sure she has a top on because Wal-Mart will turn you in to the police for sexual abuse.
Independent congressman says the PATRIOT Act goes too far.
E-mails to bloggers:

Volokh has a post to which I must say Amen.

My 2 cents:

If someone wants me to comment they should either do what Eugene Volokh suggests (most do) or send me a link to the news article. Even then there is no guarantee. I have to limit the time I spend on the blawg every day because I do have to spend a fairly large amount of time taking care of my clients' business.

Also, e-mails commenting on my posts are always welcome but I think I only reply to about 25%. This is not meant to be disrespectful; it is because I can only spend so much time doing things related to the blawg.

Sorry if that's a little on the rude side but for a while there the blog was just taking too much time so I've had to rein it in.

24 September 2003

Just imagine being the customs agent who had to search this guy.
Another possible espionage agent serving in the military at Guantánamo. What the heck is going on? Did they stop doing background security checks since I left?
A joint British-Colombian operation arrests 47 people.
Closing the barn door after the horse gets out:

A conference led by Chief Justice Rehnquist votes to ask Congress to appeal the latest round of laws concerning sentencing guidelines.

If you're going to sanction the assumption of judicial powers by congressional legislation you really don't have much call to complain when they do it again. Or do you? Maybe this will be like the old pre-exclusion of evidence days when abuses built and built until the courts felt they had no choice but to stop sanctioning violations of the federal constitution.
California is making spam illegal. Yeah, that'll work.
Nevada succumbs to federal blackmail.
Ninomania is discussing specific and general intent in criminal law. Sorry no exact post but blogspot won't let me do it.

23 September 2003

Well, there's no longer a reason to become a police officer in Vail.
Britain may no longer send convicts to prison. The concern appears to be that prison is too cushy.
How in the world do you break into a house and cut the clothes off the person living there without waking her?
A "victim" withdraws her story but the prosecutor still goes forward
787 charges for not doing what you were supposed to at your crematory.
Prison guards accuseed of setting up a rape to exact revenge.
Has Ashcroft ever worked in criminal law? This directive is a recipe for grinding the entire system to a standstill as Defendant after Defendant takes his shot with a jury. Or at least it would be if the courts stop the sophistry used to defend the guidelines and acknowledge that they are unconstitutional when they punish Defendants for exercising their right to plead not guilty, punish Defendants for exercising their right to testify on their own behalf, etc.

Here's a link to the document.
A judge showing a healthy dose of common sense.
The governor in Massachusetts is making yet another try to reinstate the death penalty.
A policeman's job in Columbia is a little different than it is for your cop on the beat in Britain (or the U.S. for that matter).
U.S. urges Greece not to honor a warrant from Russia.
When you embezzle from a bank you probably deserve the prison sentence you receive.
Well, hiding illegal aliens in a community where English isn't spoken seemed like a goof idea at the time. Of course the fact that the aliens spoke Spanish probably made them stick out in a community where Pennsylvania Dutch is the primary language.
Why in the heck would you publish something like this? Is the paper trying to tell kids how to get high?
Acomparison of what happens in the U.S. and Britain when jurors fall asleep and judges are rude.

21 September 2003

When you hear that 50 people were in a gunfight in a South American country you're not too surprised. Rebels, drug lords, etc., life's a little more interesting down there.

Still, even in South America you don't expect two police forces to engage in combat against one another.
Britain imported our programs for sending convicts to therapy rather than prison and the convicts would rather go to prison.
Bad labratory work results in a man convicted of murder and his case being overturned because the "poison" turned out to be something which is probably found naturally in the body after death.
Try as hard as you can but you will never top this practical joke.
A sad day. A graduate of West Point may have failed in his patriotic duty.
Well the legal answer is pretty easy here: no, the schoolbaord may not pass regulations which are tougher than the laws of the Commonwealth. Anyone who has ever heard of Dillon's rule knows this.

Of course, the political question is another matter.
Should we worry about "adminstrative" subpoenas? Personally, I really like the idea of the police having to get things approved by a judge.

If I have to look for a silver lining here I think it's this: any warrant done in this manner wouldn't receive the protection of Leon and its progeny.
Apparently, in South Africa smuggling abelone is as big as smuggling drugs.
Phish, the Dead and child endangerment. Sadly, the article just doesn't give me enough info for further comment.
Statistics behind the Oakland jury trial wherein the judge will not allow the jury to finish deliberations even though it keeps telling him it's stuck.

20 September 2003

Common sense in a courtroom - from a judge, no less. ;-) You know, if life and the courts were like this more often the world would be a much better place.
Juries and the News:

(1) A jury abducted by the judge. Anyone else out there disturbed by the fact that the judge is telling the jury how to deliberate?

(2) A grand jury does not bring charges in a mining accident.

(3) Punishing bribed jurors.
Jury selection has been completed in the Durst murder trial.
Drugs in the News:

(1) The FBI has arrested 8 Illinois lawmen for stealing from drug dealers.

(2) The federal government isn't happy about it, but the citizens of Seattle have told their "law-enforcement officials to make marijuana offenses their lowest priority if the marijuana is intended for adult personal use."

(3) When you fill a coffin with opium and ship it under a "garment" label the odds are that it will get noticed.
California has taken the step of making it illegal to intentionally expose another to HIV. Bravo.
Scams in the News:

As in all things there are different levels of ambition.

(1) While this guy was clever, making your own price codes and sticking them on items you are buying at Target nets you maybe $100 per scam.

(2) On the other hand, trying to scam in the $25,000,000,000,000.00 range shows a lot of brass. These guys weren't too smart but, man, did they have ambition.
Wow. After reading this, I may never have reason to complain about a U.S. Bar ever again.
Signs of gang influence in Coeburn, Virginia. Personally, I just have a hard time picturing the Latin Kings or the Crips out there.
If you are fluent in 6 languages - including Japanes, Arabic, and Greek - and you've gone to one of France's top business schools you must make one hell of a madame.
New York is trying to set up post-incarceration programs to keep prisoners from going back. It's not being done out of the goodness of the collected hearts of the citizens. Rather, "a guiding force is the expected savings."

17 September 2003

In Britain the courts are addressing whether a hanging in 1955 was proper
Here's a kid with a strong sense of morals (and a "father" with absolutely none).
The judge sets a deadline in the Moussaoui case.
OxyContin in the news:

On the left side of the page are numerous stories about the drug itself. On the right are stories about the prosecution of a doctor for dispensing the drug.

Fighting to keep a home-grown terrorist from being released on parole.

OMG! I cannot speak to whether the guy is actually penitent or if he is over his addiction but the crime is horrendous.

An Egyptian sits in jail worrying about what might happen to him if he is deported.

Hmmm . . . Being a lobbyist for strip-clubs must pay well.

16 September 2003

I guess that the fact that the sheriff is tough doesn't make him honest.

If you arrange to have your former boss killed so you can get his job it's bad. If he's the sheriff you get life.

Racial problems are so bad in the British police force that its own officers are recommending that no minorities join the force.

If you are going to try to blackmail two people having sex in the restroom, you had best make sure no actual police show up.

Indicting 11 men for international heroin distribution. As always, my comment is: despite all these arrests my clients never seem to have any problems getting their fix.

Apparently, juries will decide who is retarded in Virginia.

An article which urges the ACLU and local governments to cave in to the PATRIOT Act. The main argument is that it's all obstruction of justice. Of course, any opposition to an unjust law (or administrative regulation) is obstruction of "justice." So we should just allow the feds to do anything they want, right? Don't oppose anything - just accept what big brother tells you is good for you.

Finally, something Democrats and Republicans can agree on in California: paying a man who spent 12 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit $428,000.

$10,000 bond for 82 felonies?

15 September 2003

14 September 2003

The Difference Between ABC and Adrian Lamo:

(1) It looks as if ABC might get away with purposely breaking the law and exposing security flaws:
"When the media are involved, I would urge that significant caution must be used by the federal government to ensure that legitimate reporting is not chilled," [Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R- Iowa wrote in a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge]. "While embarrassed government bureaucrats may not think so, the country benefits from government mismanagement being exposed."

(2) Adrian Lamo's prosecution appears to be going forward for the same sort of activity. I am curious as to what the $25,000 damages are. Could it, perchance, be the amount of money NYTimes had to pay to fix a problem it was at fault for having to begin with? Seems probable. I've also put some thought into the $300,000 claim for LexisNexis use. My Westlaw account costs me a set fee each month; the package which LexisNexis offered me also had a set monthly cost. As long as I stay within my package I - and two others - can spend every minute of the month online getting information. Bigger firms and companies have even more expansive packages which are paid for at a monthly rate. I find it hard to believe that NYTimes does not have one of these packages. If it does pay a monthly rate no matter the amount of usage the claim that Lamo used $300,000 in services fails.

The ethical quandry: Can you use your parents' car to go buy drugs?

Sex in jail with your client is not enough to get your license suspended in Washington.1

You'll remember that a number of sites discussed this case a while back. ethicalEsq? linked to most in this post.

1 Thanks to a fellow W&L alumnus for the heads up.

An FBI agent went out of his way to clear the names of eight Egyptian men. This is good because our treatment of suspected terrorists has deteriorated to the point that we are holding some men "indefinitely with no judicial process."

Of course, even if you get a trial and look as though you might succeed, the Justice Department might not play fair. It might refuse to give you necessary evidence or (if it starts losing really badly) remove your case to a military tribunal.

Rape charge dropped at the Naval Academy.

You know, if you are going to run this scam you shouldn't send three seperate copies to me via bulk e-mail:

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify Chief Egobike Madu . This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual or the coperate entity named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail.

Dear Sir,

I am Chief Egobike Madu,Executive Director with Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC).Please accept my apology for using this medium to convey a transaction of this magnitude, but this is due to the confidentiality and prompt access reposed on this medium.Be informed that a member of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council who was a member of government delegation to your country gave your enviable credentials/particulars to me.I have decided to seek your co-operation in the execution this deal described hereunder, for the benefit of all parties and hoping you will keep it as TOP SECRET because of the nature of the business.

Within the NNPC (where I work as a director),and with the cooperation of four other top officials, we have in our possession as overdue payment bills of Eighteen million five hundred thousnad United states Dollars which we want to transfer abroad with the assistance and cooperation of a company/ or an individual to receive the said funds, via a reliable bank account.Quite frankly,we are handicapped as the Nigeria civil service laws strongly prohibits us from owning/or operating a foreign account hence your importance in this whole

This amount Eighteen million five hundred thousnad United states Dollars represents the the balance of the total value of a contract on behalf of my corporation by a foreign contracting firm which we the officials involved deliberately over-invoiced. Though the actual cost have been paid to the original contractor leaving the balace in the tune of the said amount which we have in principle got approval to remit by Key Tested Telegraphic transfer to any foreign account you will provide by filing an application through the justice minstry here in Nigeria for the transfer of rights and privelages of the former contractor to you.

I have the authority of my partners to propose that should you be willing to assist us in this transaction by way of providing the required account to receive this fund, your share or the entire sum will be Thirty percent amounting to Five million five hundred and fifty thousnad United states Dollars, Sixty precent amounting to Eleven million United States Dollars for us and Ten percent amounting to One million Eight Hundred and Fifty thousand United State Dollars will be used to settle taxation and other miscellaneous expences in the course of
transfering the money to your account. The business itself is One Hundred percent foolproof and safe, as long as you mantain utmost secrecy and confidentiality.Furthermore your area of specialisation will not be a hindrance to the successful completion of this transaction. I have reposed my confidence in you and hope that you will not disappoint me. Should you be willing to assist positively with a common goal, endeavour to contact me immediately .If you are not interested, please also indicate so that it will enable me to contact other foreign partner with recommendation to carry out this deal.

I want to assure you that my colleagues and I are in a position to make the payment of this claim possible provided that you can give us a very concrete assurace of the safety of our share. Please, always treat this matter with utmost confidentiality, because we will not comprehend any form of exposure as we are still in active service. Time is of essence in this business, so kindly act fast.

Note: I advise that your contact with me should always be via this medium for secuirity purposes and successful achievement of our our primary motive(i.e. successful realisation of our aim of this transaction without hitches). I await in anticipation of your fullest cooperation.

Chief Egobike Madu.

NB: My alternative email-: ########@latinmail.com

Suing the Commonwealth because one of its cows trampled you while you were in prison.

13 September 2003

Discussing the Tulia law enforcement disaster.

If you own a funeral home you are expected bury people.

You tell the military it has a problem and it will take steps to fix it. You may not like the solution because there will be no subtelty involved but it will take steps to stop it. Confidentiality was causing problems in investigating possible rapes at the Air Force Academy. Solution: no more confidentiality.

It just doesn't pay to be rude in a courtroom:

(1) As a lawyer you cannot - even when the judge rules against you - turn to reporters covering the trial and sa[y]: "This bloke's a complete cretin. Surely they can't be all like this." Whether it's true or not, you will be found in contempt.

(2) In California you can be removed from the Bench for, among other things, "telling a public defender to 'lose his accent,' ruling against a rookie prosecutor to see how she handled it, disparaging the training and competence of another prosecutor before a jury and throwing a stack of files at a court clerk."

SuperCop leaves Boston to go to Britain.

Drugs in the News:

(1) That sleepy little pharmacy down on the corner might not be as innocent as it seems.

(2) If you made your name by being in the Cheech and Chong movies you might think that police perhaps, maybe, might be watching you for something like this, Dude.

"[A] market society was not inevitably an honest one." Duh.

An article about how people and businesses both view the other as undertaking "illegal, unfair and shady practices."

And the top ten violations by people are:
Crime / England & Wales / W Germany

Paid cash to avoid tax 34% / 54%

Kept money when overchanged 32% / 30%

Taken something from work 18% / 28%

Avoided paying TV licence 11% / 24% (???? Is this the Euro version of stealing cable ????)

Wrongly used identity cards 11% / 20%

Padded an insurance claim 7% / 22%

Asked official to break the rules 6% / 28%

Claimed wrongly for refunds 5% / 17%

Not disclosed faulty goods 8% / 13%

Deliberately misclaimed benefits 3% / 10%

After 57 notes to the judge and 47 days of deliberations, you tell the judge you are deadlocked on some of the charges. What's the judge do? He sends you back into the jury room for more.
The order by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Leo Dorado prompted a female juror to burst into tears and a male juror to sigh heavily as the panel filed out of the Oakland courtroom.

Death Cases this Week:

(1) You'll remember that a while back I noted a death penalty imposed for rape (because I didn't think you could do that anymore). The Curmudgeonly Clerk picked it up and offered a more thorough analysis. Now Sherry Colb, at FindLaw, offers her take on the matter.

(2) If you are going to provide an alibi in your son's murder case you had best have your facts straight.

(3) A judge in North Carolina stayed an execution because the State wasn't using the right drugs to kill people. But the State Supreme Court over-ruled him and the man was executed post haste.

(4) This article intrigued me so I looked the case up. The basic ruling is that GPS tracking is allowed but a warrant must be in place (one was).

(5) While I think the sentence in this case is just (probably even light), I think that the judge let the SEVEN HOUR sentencing hearing get way out of hand. In particular I am disturbed that the judge would allow the decedent's mother to walk over to the Defense table and stick a picture of the victim in the Defendant's face. It may feel good emotionally to allow such breaches of proper courtroom behavior but it makes the judge seem either predisposed (and thus willing to allow the Defendant to be maltreated in the courtroom for further punishment) or unable to control his courtroom. I'm not sure which is worse.

(6) "A biochemist ordered 18 large bottles of hydrochloric and sulfuric acid shortly before her estranged husband was found dead, stuffed in a barrel filled with chemicals, according to testimony Thursday from a detective who found the receipts and empty acid bottles." 'nuff said.

(7) This week in the Sniper Cases:
(a) Muhammad - The judge refused to close in limine motion hearings (in order to keep from poisoning the jury pool) but said "he will take as many precautions as possible to prevent unnecessary disclosure of sensitive information." I'm not sure what steps those might be. After this hearing the news reported that "[o]ne item that he specifically objects to is a statement purportedly made by Muhammad that 'America got what it deserved' after the Sept. 11 attacks."

(b) Malvo - The prosecutor is fighting hard to keep as much of his trial by ambush right as he possibly can.

(c) Muhammad - The Defense is trying to keep eyewitness testimony out of the trial because it would be strongly influenced by all the news showing picture after picture of Muhammad making an untainted identification impossible. It is also seems worried that officers walked up to witnesses with a single picture (making it real obvious) and asking "is this the guy?"
(8) The jurors in the NC Peterson case visited the bloody stairwell.

(9) If the inconclusive DNA evidence in your case was discarded by mistake while appeals are ongoing - tough luck. Because none of that evidence has been analysed 17 years later, with more advanced techniques, and shown someone to be innocent (as an aside: Earl Washington is now suing the Commonwealth Attorney and Sheriff for his 17 year false imprisonment).

Actually, I'm more disturbed that the Virginia Supreme Court doesn't think that withholding the fact that a medical examiner - paid by the same Commonwealth who pays the prosecutor and possibly under pressure to conform to the prosecution's case - changed her opinion from one favorable to the Defense to one favorable to the prosecutor prior to trial is important and something which just might have affected the trial. Personally, that strikes me as pretty damning impeachment evidence if she was the one who testified and strong evidence for the Defense if she wasn't called by the prosecution.

(10) 18 years later, fingerprint evidence leads to an arrest in a double murder.

Whatdoyaknow? It isn't only lawyers in the U.S. who have trouble getting paid by their criminal defense clients after the case is over:
The lawyer claims to have called the men regularly to demand his money . . . and that they avoided the claims.

"They never seem to answer, it is in stark contrast to when the trial was taking place - they would call me more than 10 times a day," he said.

Wow. 50 people arrested and not a single charge having anything to do with drugs.

Another man freed by DNA after spending a great deal of time in prison.

The Law and Children:

(1) If your 2 year old wrecks your car into a building is he guilty of reckless driving?

(2) Choose your child's day care center with care.

(3) Parents who have hidden their child so that he cannot get court ordered chemotherapy treatments have returned to face their punishment (without the child).

(4) A kid is immature enough to be led into an incredibly stupid and evil act and therefore New Jersey will try him as an adult.

(5) A law requiring that healthcare workers report possible abuse is ruled unconstitutional.

82 felony charges. WOW.

You cannot appeal your felony convictions if you fled prosecution.

Jails don't have to buy special meats to satisfy halal (the Muslim equivilent of kosher).

You just cannot try a criminal jury with only 11 people.

If someone causes a fuss by pretending that a hate crime has been undertaken against him you should try him in a different jurisdiction.

11 September 2003

The NYTimes puts forth its claim as to what occurred to cause it and the Manhattan US Attorney to persecute/prosecute Adrian Lamo.

First, the NYTimes should be ashamed for putting out information on its own criminal complaint which is self-serving. Second, note that the NYTimes would have never known about anything Lamo did if he had not told it.

The only result which can come from this prosecution is to cause those who are inclined to do this sort of thing to not tell anyone. Hmmm . . . that's a good thing? Heck, if the US Attorney in Manhattan has any brains this is all a sham to get Lamo out to New York so that the office can hire him. Just think, access to computers used by organized crime, by companies breaking the law, by government employees who are selling secrets, and by those using e-mail to organize international terrorism. And does anyone doubt Lamo could do it (all with warrants of course)?

Just a thought.

The head of the local NAACP is suspended because he tries to have his organization's finances investigated by the local prosecutor. Why? Is there something to hide?

Justice still won't obey the judge.

It's almost impossible to feel sorry for this guy but getting convicted by both the State and the feds for the same event just grates on my nerves. Yes, I know the courts have said that it's not double jeopardy. It's prosecution by two government entities who are both subject to the rights reserved in the federal constitution but it's not double jeopardy.

Did any actual rapes occur at the Academy? A female officer says: "No.". I haven't been following this story but I remember some of the things which were being put forth as "rape" by various organizations when I was in school so I am skeptical about what is claimed to be rape at a school. Still, you must wonder how the Academy let these permissive standards come into being so that the situations could develop.

Trying to apologize for the PATRIOT Act and asking for even more.

Running a jail at 367% over capacity.

10 September 2003

The continuing techtv - Adrian Lamo saga.

Well, techtv's "the screen savers" followed thru on what it said it would do and sent one of its people down to meet with Lamo before he turned himself in. There's an interview and footage of Lamo talking with a Federal Defender investigator. Then they follow him all the way to the door of the federal building as he goes to turn himself in.

Apparently he is facing two felony charges, each with a maximum of 5 years and he has hidden all his gear (of course, as part of whatever plea made he will be forced to turn those over - hopefully he did at least a DoD wipe so there is no evidence for new charges).

While the good people at the screen savers were quick to point out that they don't approve of what Lamo did they seem puzzled over the prosecution. And I gotta say I'm right there with them. Unless there is more evidence than is apparent, this hacker did no harm and in fact helped a number of companies by pointing out what was wrong with the security on their systems. It just seems that the NYTimes was petulant and somehow was able to exert enough influence to drag the feds into its tantrum.

Will this prosecution hinder illegal, malicious hacking? No. All this prosecution does is suppress whatever good instincts are out there among those hackers who might actually have done something beneficial.

The N.C. Supreme Court has ordered a criminal defense attorney to violate his attorney-client privilige "just a little bit."

Perhaps the NC Justices need to go back and reread Swidler & Berlin v. United States. The absolute privilege (except in testamentary matters) extends to the period of time even after the death of the client. There is no "as long as the judge thinks it should be subject to attorney client privilige" exception. In fact:
The contention that the attorney is being required to disclose only what the client could have been required to disclose is at odds with the basis for the privilege even during the client's lifetime. In related cases, we have said that the loss of evidence admittedly caused by the privilege is justified in part by the fact that without the privilege, the client may not have made such communications in the first place. See Jaffe , 518 U.S., at 12 ; Fisher v. United States, 425 U.S. 391, 403 (1976). This is true of disclosure before and after the client's death. Without assurance of the privilege's posthumous application, the client may very well not have made disclosures to his attorney at all, so the loss of evidence is more apparent than real.

Reasons that I am glad to be an American with our constitutional protections:

(1) In England they might not be able to convict you but apparently if they suspect you they can issue orders limiting how you can dress, where you can go, and who you can associate with.

(2) In the UAE if the prosecution doesn't think your sentence was stiff enough they can appeal it (yes, I know this can happen in our federal systen - no, I will never concede that this is constitutional).

(3) In Algeria you can get in trouble for criticizing the President.

You may be able to surround and stop the armored truck but that does not mean that you will win the gunfight which follows.

31 years later police arrest a 77 year old man for murder.

Unless there is a little more to this, it appears as though police are badly over-reacting to a kid making homemade firecrackers.

If you say that tapes of the Defendants prove their guilt, perhaps you should make sure that the tapes are not "unintelligible." Otherwise, there might be consequences.

If you take drugs and then breast feed your child, killing him, you have committed murder.

New Mexico is taking back its prisonors from that garden spot, Wallens Ridge.

A New Jersey politician gets a year in jail for corruption. Because nowadays "neither [the US Attorney for New Jersey] nor the judiciary is willing to put up with public corruption in New Jersey any longer."

That's a statement you should really think about before you make - just think about the implications it has for what you've previously been willing to put up with.

The "battered child syndrome" defense.

Shocking!! The attorneys for Kobe actually want to confront the witness against their client in the preliminary hearing. How dare they?

Actually, I'm kind of curious as to how you could have the hearing without the one witness other than the Defendant.

09 September 2003

Adrian Lamo was on the screen savers again last night. They even said they were going to be present when he turned himself into federal authorities today.

It's an interesting turn of events for a techtv show to be breaking serious news about criminal matters.

An overview of the prosecution's case in the NC Peterson case.

A fight in England over if and when those accused of sexual crimes can be named.

OMG. This guy deserved a lot more time than 5 years.

Even an agent of the mighty IRS can get into trouble if he messes around with hookers.

Bite off a deputy's ear in court and you will get a lot of time in prison.

Iowa's parole board is sending those with lesser convictions forth to sin no more.

Big Brother is making his appearance in England.

You know, if we all stick our heads in the sand teenagers will stop drinking. Of course, teenagers have always been really convinced by adults saying "do as I say, not as I did."

The 4th Circuit says a lawyer cannot ethically do a noisey withdrawal without absolute proof that the Defendant will be lying - a strong belief because the story the witness will tell doesn't make sense or match any other facts is not enough. As well, a judge cannot make a Defendant choose between his right to counsel and his right to testify.

08 September 2003

The techtv Defense Team:

the screen savers is the flagship show of techtv. Basically, it's Car Talk for the computer with a couple minor differences1.

Anyway, as I watched some recent shows, I began to notice how criminal matters are becoming wrapped up in the show. First, I hear them talking about Jeffrey Parson, the kid who was arrested for modifying the latest round of viruses. They referred to him as a "script-kiddy" who was not all that bright and was being targeted because the feds realize there is no way to capture the author of the virus itself. Shortly thereafter these quotes came forth from the kid and his family:
"[Jeffrey Parson] expressed concern the government was going to make an example of him.

"I understand that the government needs to catch someone for these crimes. I'm not the one they need to get," he said."
. . .
"My son is not brilliant; he's not genius," Rita Parson said. "Anyone that has any computer knowledge could have done what Jeff did."
found here
And then, on Friday Adrian Lamo, who is currently on the lam from federal charges out of New York called in to explain his situation. Mr. Lamo is famous in certain circles for hacking into businesses' computers and then letting the business know about the vulnerability so that it can be fixed (you can also find a video of the event there). It appears that when he hacked into that bastion of liberty the NYTimes, the NYTimes decided that rather than be grateful that it was being given an opportunity to fix its system before someone who wanted to do something malicious could do so, it would be spiteful and vindictive. Thereafter, it brought in the feds who now refuse to disclose the charges brought by the government (probably because the government has massively overcharged).

BTW, bravo to Mrs. Lamo for facing down the threats of the federal officer when he tried to do a search for which he had no constitutional right. Always enjoy seeing an average citizen standing up to intimidation and asserting her rights.

techtv's lawyers must be going absolutely nuts over all this.

1 It's a TV show featuring a couple of loveable, goofy geeks (bring back the sledge hammer and the kilts!) who explain new computer hardware/programs (although I'm still waiting for a review of the Electrovaya Scribbler Tablet PC) and take calls to solve people's problems. The support staff includes a couple of supergeeks who could build a computer from twine and bubblegum and still make it a better computer than any I have ever bought and at least one (often two) cute young lady who is technically proficient.

Sniper Case:

Muhammad's lawyers want a closed door hearing to exclude evidence which they think will be more prejudicial than relevant.

07 September 2003

Well, they doped up the guy who killed the people at the Appalachian School of Law enough that he can stand trial.

In Japan they are not happy about the rising crime rate.

Murders in Richmond are going back up.

The number of homicides and police officers in Richmond for the past decade:
Year         Homicides         Officers
1992         117                     N/A
1993         112                     N/A
1994         160                     655
1995         120                     684
1996         112                     664
1997         139                     730
1998         94                        N/A
1999         74                        690
2000         72                        670
2001         70                        652
2002         84                        633

SOURCE: Richmond Police Department

The guy who was blown up after the bank robbery had post-robbery instructions on him.

San Fran is being accused of using "cold rooms."

A traitor tries to get his sentence reduced.

DNA has proven to be an amazing weapon in the hand of prosecutors. However, when this powerful tool is in the hands of the Defendants some prosecutors suddenly lose confidence in it. Here's an article from the NYTimes. And Findlaw. And Richmond, Virginia's newspaper.

Proof the U.S. isn't the only country which has problems with illegal immigrants:

(1) England is having problems with people who are getting passports in the names of those who died as children.

(2) Two Egyptians tried to make a run for it at an airport in Namibia so they could go get work.

An exposition on the various colors of jail garb.

If you try to walk nude across a country (even a small one) you are going to run into legal glitches.

05 September 2003

In the missile sale case the judge is requiring the prosecution to provide witnesses for the detention hearing.

Who filed the first complaint? Usually that is a good indicator of who is guilty in these cases. I suspect that the attorney in this incident might actually be innocent.

If you try to trick kids into going to porn sites by spoofing disney's or the teletubbies' web sites you have to expect that you will be arrested eventually.

In Iowa it is considered torture to make someone watch a video tape of you making threats against her. Thus the test is mental anguish rather than physical pain.

Apparently this is important because Iowa requires torture for a 1st degree abduction conviction. In Virginia we don't mess around with degrees (outside capital cases). On the one hand, that makes the law much simpler and it is easier to determine whether or not your client falls under a certain statute. On the other hand it means that your client who grabbed his ex-girlfriend's arm and dragged her two feet before he dropped his grip and walked away will receive the same sentence recommendation as the guy who tied someone up and held that person for ransom for a month. Of course, the judge doesn't have to follow the recommendation . . .

Anyone who has read this blawg for a little while realizes that I think the DUI laws (at least in Virginia) have gone too far. However, even I think this guy needs to spend a good bit of time be incarcerated.

As a side note - from what little I can glean from the article, Minnesota seems to have DUI laws in line with what I think appropriate.

04 September 2003

Fishing for a motive.

In the NC Peterson case the prosecution has two deaths which are eerily similar and which do not seem to fit into the area of accidental death (although the older one was so ruled to be). This is the strength of its case.

The weakness? Neither of the motives offered seems to fit and there is no direct evidence that Michael Peterson was influenced by either. The Defense pretty much ruptured the money motive and there is no proof that the wife knew anything about the homosexual stuff.

I'll be real interested to see if the Defense allows Peterson to testify. It's a closer call than I'd like to have to make. I'm convinced - as I think that anyone who works in a court is - that no matter how many times you tell a jury that they cannot take a failure to testify into account they always do; he might have to testify in order to be found not guilty. He probably doesn't have any prior record so the normal reason for not testifying isn't present in this case. On the other hand, if you put him on the stand he'd better be able to answer every little question about the prior, non-prosecuted event (e.g. How do did you know it was an aneurism, Mr. Peterson?). He also is probably the only way that the prosecutor can make one of its motives stick; getting him to talk a lot about the money situation and the homosexual matters - whether he admits to anything damning or not - is likely to more closely associate these matters to him in the minds of the jurors.

Danville is now going to have corporals and sergeants in its police force.

San Fran has its first all female gang.

The bank robber who blew up had a device on him which is like one used in Columbia (and I don't mean South Carolina).

Do not lie and tell your father that someone tried to kidnap you. The results are bad all around.

Teens will drink but don't try to make sure they do so safely or you will spend a couple years in jail.

Whatdayaknow? I'm not the only Virginia lawyer who goes by "The Hammer" monicker.

Of course, mine's an old nickname1 while his appears to be a name chosen for him by an advertising firm. I'm told that his advertisements are a lot more interesting than the staid stuff we get in the Richmond area from the Multiple Allens (we're in a book no one has ever seen), Marks & Harrison (tell Allstate you hired a firm because it uses a semi-famous actor), or Jay Tronfield (we're in some million dollar club no one's heard of).

1 It has always been an easy way to get people to pronounce my name correctly because it rhymes. I've suffered thru a litany of nick-names in my life but this one's been around since at least some time in the 80's because I remember a long period of time of hearing "STOP, Lammer time!"

It's done. Florida has created a martyr.

This arrived in my e-mail this morning:










While I don't have the time to help this poor fellow maybe one of you rubes, er . . . I mean fine people, might.

You would think they'd at least change the continent if they're going to keep trying to run this scam. Every single time it's Africa. It'd be refreshing if just once in a while they'd claim they need access to my bank accounts to get money out of Columbia or Hong Kong.

The scary thing is that you don't keep doing this unless people are falling for it enough for it to be profitable.