31 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

It has been a truly weird week.

It started out normally enough. The high point of Monday was when the prosecutor dropped four grand larceny charges and my client walked out of court free and clear. Tuesday was a day without any cases assigned so I spent it negotiating with Commonwealths and trying to get all the various paperwork (which never seems to end) done.

Wednesday got a little weird. I walk into district court in the morning and find out that my big case for the day had co-defendants (well, I already knew that) and that they have both hired counsel who were up at the bench as I walked in trying to convince the prosecutor that my client is the bad guy. I scotch that notion as quick as I can but the preliminary hearing doesn't take place because the prosecutor hasn't been able to locate a witness and the judge grants a continuance. Then I go up to the circuit court because I've got couple hours to kill before my next case and I go in and sit down to watch part of a civil jury. I no sooner sit down then I hear the plaintiff's attorney telling the judge, "Your honor, at this point I want to read the doctors' testimony into evidence but I didn't bring anyone to read the doctors' parts so I guess I'll just read it all." Yep, you guessed it - the judge looks into the gallery and says, "Well Mr. Lammers is here. He could read the doctors' parts." So I hustle up to the witness stand, get handed a transcript, and have to read cold testimony which includes all sorts of fun terms like "pneumothoraxic." What fun. All I can say is thank God I took Latin in high school and a semester of Greek in college.

That afternoon I get bounced around a little bit because the prosecutor's office isn't really sure who is assigned to my cases the next day but I finally track them down. In particular I talk to one about the bench trial we have Thursday afternoon which is for felony petit larceny and assaulting a police officer. We bang out what is a very reasonable offer and I spend 40 minutes driving down to Riverside Regional Jail. Then I wait over two hours before I am finally able to see my client. A hour after that I leave and drive straight home (another hour; it's 9:30 when I get home).

Thursday started out O.K. In the morning the prosecutor drops a grand larceny charge against my client and reduces the felony selling fake drugs to a misdemeanor selling fake drugs. The kid gets 30 days actual jail time and is approved for work release so I'm feeling like I'm actually doing pretty good (should have known better). I watch another attorney do jury selection and opening arguments and then go get lunch at what passes for a cafeteria in the local courthouse1.

Finishing early, I go to the basement holding area and talk to my client. Afterward I go and tell the prosecutor that the deal she offered has not been accepted; she asks if we are going to have a bench trial and I tell her yes. At 1 p.m. the prosecutor and I are sitting in the courtroom waiting. My client's witness is missing and her officer has not shown up. About 5 minutes later my witness shows but the officer is still not there. The prosecutor goes off, makes some phone calls, and comes back to tell us the officer is on the way. He finally shows up in sweats having come straight to court from the gym. I go back to tell my client we're about to start and we have a discussion. I come out and tell the prosecutor that a jury trial is going to be demanded.

At about 1:45 the judge sits at the bench. I stand up and tell him that the right to a jury trial is being asserted. The judge looks about as upset as I have ever seen this particular judge and says, "O.K. Mr. Lammers then we're going to have the deputies assemble a jury and we'll start at 3 p.m." As soon as the judge leaves the bench I bolt downstairs and take care of two cases I have in district court. The prosecutor in district court is kind enough to expedite my matters which thankfully were not complicated (a trespass dropped by the prosecutor and a petit larceny continued because the prosecutor did not have his witness). Still, it takes over 1/2 hour and I run over to get a copy of the instructions which the prosecutor has printed up - thankfully, none of them are objectionable. Heading back upstairs, I get there exactly at 3 p.m., just in time to wait another 30 minutes for the 20th juror to arrive.

The judge calls my client out and arraigns him; my client pleads not guilty to both petit larceny and assaulting an officer. The judge asks him if he's ready for trial (yes) and a series of questions to make sure he knows what's going on. Then he asks him if he's ready for trial a second time and the kid says, "No." The judge questions him about that and the kid's answer is pretty much incomprehensible - all that really makes sense is that he wants a continuance. I try to help him distill what he's saying but it doesn't get much better and there comes that moment where he starts saying things about me. At that point I just pick a point on the wall and stare at it (attorney-client privilege being the wonderful thing it is I am unable to talk). Finally, the judge cuts him off and asks if he is happy with my representation; he says, "Yes" and the judge moves on with the trial. I, of course, have to stand up and make a formal motion to continue based on my client's desires but the judge, of course, denies it.

Then we go to trail. It's not too long - the only witnesses are the officer, my client's aunt, and my client. The jury's out for more than a hour before they send a note to the judge telling him they have a verdict on one charge but are totally deadlocked on the other. The judge brings them out and asks the foreman for the verdict forms. The foreman says he hasn't filled them out yet so the judge sends the jury back in to do so (he tells them to write something like "deadlocked" on the one they disagree on). They go back in and then return about 10 minutes later. The forms are handed up to the judge and he reads "Guilty" for the felony petit larceny and we are all a little shocked when rather than "deadlocked" he reads "Not Guilty" on the felony assault of a police officer. Apparently, when they went back the last time whoever the holdout was must have finally come around.

However, then the jury has to go back in to decide the sentence for the felony petit larceny. The jury returns with a sentence of 3 years and 6 months on a petit larceny of a $5.00 T-shirt, instantly turning a pretty hard fought win into a pyrrhic victory. That's 3 times the sentence he probably would have received if the judge had found him guilty of both charges and sentenced him. The judge asks for motions and I ask for a poll but I really can't pay attention because I am arguing with my client. The judge asks for further motions and I say "No" so he starts to sentence my client and I have to break in and tell him I thought he would do that outside the presence of the jury and I need to speak to my client. He sends the jury out and I tell him I need some time to talk to my client because we are having a difference of opinion as to whether he should have a sentencing hearing (wherein I might convince the judge to suspend part of the jury's sentence). Rather than giving me time the judge tells us that he wants a sentencing hearing and that ends the discussion. My client is led away (I go and talk to him for a few minutes) and the jury is dismissed. Actual sentencing will happen sometime in January.

Gotta love trying a full blown felony jury trial on the fly.

1 Not that I'm complaining. Before they started this place up in the court's basement about half the time my lunch consisted of the ubiquitous snack machine crackers and cola.
Ken Lammers

Can the fact that the feds are investigating you win an election for you?
Ken Lammers

Police in the News:

(1) You just can't pocket the money for the ticket. I find the part about "officers patrolling the interstate [being] encouraged to write two tickets an hour" interesting since everybody I know denies that there are quotas.

(2) No criminal charges for shooting a lady waving a vegetable peeler.

(3) The public doesn't get to know the facts about officers who are charged.

(4) I wanna be a cop in Rio.
Ken Lammers

Jail/Prison News:

(1) If you escape from jail why would you go right to a store and get caught shoplifting?

(2) A prison riot ends after a reporter goes in.
Ken Lammers

Get accused of shooting your husband in the back of the head in Iowa and your neighbors will kick in your bail money.
Ken Lammers

If you have 3 grams of ricin in your possession and "documents detailing how to kill someone without leaving a trace" you can get 14 years in prison even if they can't prove you actually had a particular person in mind to kill.
Ken Lammers

If you've "been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, degenerative bone disease, liver problems and gall bladder disease, among other things" in Montana first they will lose your request for medical parole and then after the press shames them into letting you refile they will deny it because you can walk, eat, talk, and bathe.
Ken Lammers

Finding out what Justice was hiding.
30 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

First they change our money from a very classy look to a primitive, monopoly money look. Then they make it look even more like something from the 3d world and ugly by adding weird colors (peach? OMG).

And still counterfeiting takes place. And should we be surprised? My rather primitive home scanner is able to make the copy above. Imagine what someone with a scanner that cost more than $100 can do.

What really annoys me here is that the really serious deterrents (the strip, the ink that changes color, microprinting, watermarking) could have all been done with the old bill and retained some class instead of changing to the new Bozo-bills.
Ken Lammers

Now here's the way to run a jail.

Of course, I don't want it here; if they did this in the jails hereabouts my business would probably drop off.
Ken Lammers

What, you mean I can't have my company lend me a few million and then forgive the loan? Why not?
Ken Lammers

If the prosecutors put false information in to help convict you that conviction might be made to go away but it doesn't make your other conviction - for conspiring to have the prosecutors killed - go away.
Ken Lammers

Abduct a rich guy - go to jail.
29 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

If a group of inmates tie their clothes together so they can climb out of the jail shouldn't you be able to find them pretty easily as they go down the road without clothes?
Ken Lammers

If someone sells you a plasma TV for $800 you pretty much deserve what you get.
Ken Lammers

New York City has lowest crime rate. Good, now maybe I can finally get somebody to buy that bridge I purchased last year.
Ken Lammers

You cannot blow up the Brooklyn Bridge; I haven't yet sold the ownership interest that Yankee sold me last year.
Ken Lammers

Stating the Obvious

The Police chief in Richmond says there is a gang problem in Richmond.

And the sky is blue, and robins fly, and dogs bark, and fire burns, and . . .
Ken Lammers

Import teenage Indians get the prison time you deserve.
Ken Lammers

Caught by the skin of his teeth.
Ken Lammers

Hmmm . . . I never thought of the presumption of innocence as requiring the jurors to disbelieve the prosecutor's witnesses. As much as I would like to propound such a standard (especially when the prosecutor is building his case on a bunch of snitches), I can't see giving the prosecutor the chance to jump up and yell and have the judge tell the jury that I don't understand the law.
28 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Interesting Stuff from Last Week's Death Cases:

(1) Even if the (failed) target of your hit says you are not guilty you can be found so.

(2) In the Rudolph case the trial has to take place sometime - doesn't it?

(3) After serving 25 years on a murder charge a man turns down "time served" in favor of a new trial, a witness recants, and he is a free man.

(4) A scholarship from people on death row?
Ken Lammers

If you shoot at an officer or rob a bank you are likely to suffer the consequences.
Ken Lammers

Apparently there are such blatant racial problems at U.K. police forces that people are "resigning" and they are going to plant spies during training.
Ken Lammers

Asking why.
Ken Lammers

The Scott Peterson circus, er . . . I mean prelim, is about to start.
Ken Lammers

Wow. If one of my clients drove a car off a rooftop down into a crowd and had a BAC twice the legal limit he would spend a lot of time in jail. Of course, my clients aren't usually police officers.
Ken Lammers

I would try not to remember these details either.
Ken Lammers

Too cool - brand new toys for boys.
Ken Lammers

Is it just me or do these people sound just a little bit disappointed that the crime rate isn't going up?
Ken Lammers

A 7 1/2 year trial - and the appellate process hasn't even started. I thought justice was slow here in the States.
Ken Lammers

Even Madonna hasn't gone this far:

Top rock star charged with human trafficing - in India.

But it's probably just because she didn't think of it first.
Ken Lammers

Drugs, prostitutes, Hollywood - what else could you ask for in a story?
Ken Lammers

What's the point of being rich if you can't throw conspicous, obnoxiously expensive parties on your wife's birthday? And what's all this about not being able to spend your company's money in the process?
27 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

found here.
Ken Lammers

The Height of Arrogance:
The jury is the high point of amateurism, potentially a recipe for incompetence and bias. The mood of civilised systems of criminal justice increasingly demands professionalism. I am not contemptuous of the amateur’s ability to judge human conduct, only the task of evaluating evidence in the courtroom, which is a job for professionals. We should be able to trust those trained to be judges — and to start educating the public that the dismantling, or even ultimate disappearance, of its cherished institution will not be disastrous. It will bring clarity and purpose to the process of ensuring that justice is done.
This is exactly the person jury trials were put into place to keep in check - "the professional."

Juries guard against people as full of themselves as this gentleman who think the people should have little or no input in the day-to-day activities of justice. They guard against those professionals who are so ensconced in the system as to become mere cogs in the machine which tends toward conviction1. Juries guard against the relationship which develops between law enforcement and the professionals in the courtroom2.

Personally, I think it is a failure that more people are not tried by jury3. There is, of course, a huge judicial efficiency argument against this. However, I suspect that if there were not a strong distrust of the citizenry in the system this would be overcome.

1 I find it very hard to believe that people are more likely to be convicted by juries than judges. I've had more than one judge tell me he would have convicted my client after he was found innocent (and at least one before).

2 I've seen juries decide to believe my client over the story being told by the police officer. I've seen judges accept some amazing testimony from officers. Juries often have a better insight as to what really goes on between officers and the population. Note that we don't allow juries to decide some of those very interesting stories which are told by officers in order to justify a stop or search - they'd probably kick out many more cases than the judges do.

3 I am speaking here as a citizen not as a defense attorney. There are all sorts of procedural and substantive reasons which keep me from recommending trial by jury for most of my clients in Virginia.
Ken Lammers

Glenn Reynolds adopts the highly principled pro-bikini position.

Hmmm . . . I may have to start reading InstaPundit more often.
26 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Cybercrime from Romania? Or maybe Brazil?
Ken Lammers

Always knew there was something suspicious about WalMart.
Ken Lammers

Prosecutors claim Bryant's defense attorneys are orchestrating leaks.
Ken Lammers

Sneaking Libyian money into the U.S. will get you charged.
Ken Lammers

From Wednesday to Sunday the prisoners hid behind a fake wall in the prison.

How do you get the time to build it? How do you get the materials? How do the guards not notice a brand new wall?
Ken Lammers

The Unusual:

(1) Getting time for doing someone else's time.

(2) Robbing a bank and waiting for the police.

(3) The trike bandit.

(4) Shaving your head, pretending you have cancer, and acting deaf is not a good thing.

(5) If you make yourself noticeable the police will find you.
Ken Lammers

But I only had it for personal use.
Ken Lammers

After causing a man to serve 16 months in prison, the prosecutors change their minds.

Actually, you have to admire the fact that they are fixing their mistake. It would just be nice if they could have done it sooner.
24 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Sorry, no posting today until I finish a petition for appeal that's due by COB.
23 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

"Slavery reparations" of $500,000; jail for 7 years?
Ken Lammers

Prosecutors ask for a jury trial because they asked for jury trials.
Ken Lammers

Muhammad stopped representing himself because his tooth hurts.
Ken Lammers

In a study which could only shock those who don't work in criminal law, the Human Rights Watch tells us that a significant portion of those in jail/prison are mentally ill.

No kidding? You mean those guys who are all fired up and yelling at me when I meet with them on Tuesday but sit in a corner and barely talk to me on Thursday have something wrong with them? What about the guys I have to sit and explain something to 15 to 20 times because they just can't seem to comprehend anything that takes longer than 10 seconds to explain? Or the guys who leave messages so long that they fill up my voice-mail but never say anything pertinent to the case? You mean these guys have mental problems?

Yet, when I get court ordered evaluations for them almost all seem to pass the legal standard for competency.
Ken Lammers

An Allen charge in a federal banking case.
Ken Lammers

Man who made threats against the complaining witness in the Kobe case to plead guilty.
Ken Lammers

The Sniper Trial:

(1) A description of how Muhammad was doing in the courtroom.

(2) And now he doesn't want to represent himself anymore.

(3) Which most think is a good idea.
22 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Traffic Report: Updated 23 October 2003 and 27 October 2003 and 28 October 2003

As I am wont to do, I checked the usage stats on my site this morning and can report the following:

Somebody spent 70 minutes reading my site yesterday. Never thought I was that interesting. Heck, I don't even spend 70 minutes a day reading my site.

Most of my hits come from US. More - although not a majority - come from the Eastern time zone. Next is the Central, followed by Pacific, and finally Mountain.

Most of the site's hits come from numbers or some internet service provider and are generically identified as something like "att.net". However, those I can ID have broken down something like this in the last few days:

Washington & Jefferson
Albany Law School
Georgia State
U. Maryland
U. Pitt.
Chowan College
U. Iowa
Lewis and Clark College
Fitzwilliam College - Cambridge
U. Washington
Notre Dame
Iowa State


Bernalillo County, New Mexico
Air Force
Department of Justice
U.S. Courts
(either there are several of you or one of you really enjoys this site)
US Patent Office
Baltimore State Attorney's Office
Fermi National Accelerator Labratory
There are also a number of hits I'm getting from ".us" preceded by va, ca, il, fl, me, mn, de, nv, et cetera. I assume these are government although the provider for that suffix only identifies them as being reserved in Northern Virginia.
21 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Minnesota is charging indigent defendants for their attorneys and it's been found unconstitutional.

In Virginia we charge the indigent for costs of the trial (including attorney fees) if they lose the trial. If they don't pay it off (as most cannot) their drivers license is suspended1. Then they are picked up on driving suspended charges and have more fines and jail time. Of course, they still can't pay off the fines and their licenses remain suspended and they are picked up again for driving suspended and get more fines and costs and can't pay those . . . et cetera, et cetera, et cetera . . .

It's not exactly just but I don't know that it is unconstitutional. Maybe I'll raise it in a future trial to see how that question would be answered.

1 Theoretically, they can be hauled back into court and have some or all of any suspended time or suspended fines from their original disposition imposed. However, of the 5 jurisdictions I see fairly regularly only one does this and then only in the district court.
Ken Lammers

The Muhammad Trial:

(1) The judge tried pretty hard to talk him out of representing himself.

(2) Muhammad drops the possibility of using mental issues in his defense.

(3) An officer had Muhammad in front of him after a killing and let him go.
Ken Lammers

And in another case where a Defendant is quasi-representing himself (the attorneys had to be more involved because of classified materials involved) Moussaoui cannot represent himself during the government's appeal.
Ken Lammers

If you swim over a 173 foot waterfall you are insane. If you survive you are dang lucky and a criminal.
Ken Lammers

Is anybody out there shocked that the prosecution presented as little evidence as it thought it could get away with in the Kobe prelim?

On the other hand, the judge didn't seem too pleased.
Ken Lammers

Escape - get caught. It seems to be the natural order of things.
Ken Lammers

If you think you are "on a mission from God, and [can] drive through solid objects with no effect" you've proven your insanity. In order to convict you the prosecutor has to show beyond a reasonable doubt you were sane.

Last time I checked NGRI still lands you in a State institution - only this one has nice padded walls.
Ken Lammers

While others spend two years in jail for holding a party with booze for minors this guy only gets a month (with good time 15 days).
Ken Lammers

Police work together to get $20,000 in meth. and $15,000 in pot.
Ken Lammers

If you can't beat them on the diamond maybe you can throw them in jail instead.

Yeah, that'll get rid of the curse.
Ken Lammers

If you send a letter to your lawyer and a family member it is priviliged. At least it is if you are Martha, Inc.
Ken Lammers

In the U.K. they are going to tag frequent fliers so that their probation officers can follow their every movement.

Ken Lammers

Can amerikanische Polizei charge you with obstructing justice because you won't give them your Papiere?

Never thought that I'd have to carry papers and submit myself to proving who I am at the whim of a police officer.

I'm not sure this even rises to the level of the incredibly abused "resonable articulable suspicion of a particularized criminal activity1."

1 You know, the standard that allows police to stop cars because the driver has the temerity to hang a rosary from the rearview mirror.
Ken Lammers

State sentencing guidelines go before the federal supreme court to see if a judge can depart upward.
Ken Lammers

Calling your client a "stinking thief jail bird" does not rise the level of harming your client.

I understand what the attorney was trying to accomplish but . . .
Ken Lammers

Shoot at the U.N. - get 27 months in jail.
Ken Lammers

Just because you work in counter-terrorism doesn't mean you can keep 54 warheads at home.
Ken Lammers

Making work for yourself is not good if you are a firefighter.
Ken Lammers

The Sniper Trial:

(1) Muhammad's does his own opening statement.

(2) The prosecutor's strategy for the trial.
20 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

So Cal Law and Talk Left suspect that the prosecutors in Kobe are not only leaking but they are leaking stupidly.
Ken Lammers

Muhammad has decided to represent himself.

Ken Lammers

SW Virginia Law Blog points to a brochure about how much Virginia paid for indigent defense last year. Payments for court appointed counsel went up 32.1% from $43.7 million to $57.8 million. I suspect that much of this comes from certain repairs to the court appointed payment system (I now get paid for a felony when I deal with it in district court while previously I would have only gotten paid misdemeanor rates if I handled the felony in district court).

The sad thing is that the caps imposed by the Legislature still leave us as one of the lowest paying States.

Indigent representation by court appointed counsel jumped 17.4% in one year from 193,352 people to 227,058 people. Not sure what the cause of that is. The courts have actually been able to get $4.5 million in fees paid out (7.8%) back from clients who were convicted. I'd guess this is from people desperately trying to pay off their fines/costs so they might someday be able to get their licenses back (from my perspective, we seem to take your license if you sneeze the wrong way in Virginia).

Disturbing: If the number of people represented by court appointed counsel has risen 17.4% one can extrapolate that a similar jump has probably occured in numbers represented by public defenders. Yet we see little or no rise in funds to the public defender offices over the last five years. One might suspect that the offices are set up to save money and then not given increases in funding and/or manpower even if the workload rises.
Ken Lammers

Opening arguments in Muhammad's case today.
Ken Lammers

If you aren't at your post and an alleged killer escapes you will probably be suspended. Heck, you might even lose your job.
Ken Lammers

Going to court for faking a crime?
19 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Last Week - Death Cases:

(1) Better not kill a whole lot of people in Europe - you might get 17 years in prison.

(2) Jayson Williams' trial is moved because of pretrial publicity.

(3) In the Baylor basketball killing the Defendant has decided not to fight extradition.

(4) The Scott Peterson case is continued because his lawyer cannot be there.

(5) The prosecutors think that they have the murderer. The only problem is that DNA evidence at the scene points to another guy.

(6) Does the fact that you had two psychologists testify in the stead of one psychiatrist make representation of your client incompetent?

(7) The Sniper Cases:
(a) Muhammad pled not guilty.
(b) 13 jurors were chosen on the first day.
(c) On the second day only 7 jurors were chosen.
(d) When the jury was completed it had 10 women and five men (including three alternates). All but two of the jurors are white.
(e) Malvo has been subpoenaed for the trial.
(f) The Defense strategy for the trial is probably just to keep Muhammad alive.

(g) The judge in the Malvo case bars Defense witnesses by refusing to allow video testimony despite the fact that several cannot even come into the States.
Ken Lammers

Last Week - Law Enforcement in the News:

(1) Oakland is being sued because police killed a man in his bedroom and Providence is being sued because its officers killed one of their own.

(2) Des Moines police are asking for fines for false robbery alarms.

(3) Police in California urge car taxes to remain in place.

(4) Two officers suspended after being accused of using a toilet plunger.
Ken Lammers

A single mother, trying to earn the money she needed to support her family leaves a 9 year old and 1 year old at home while she works. Someone else commits arson on her building and kills her children. She is charged with recklessly endangering her children.
Ken Lammers

You can drive your kids to their soccer matches but not to their bank robbery.
Ken Lammers

He couldn't have been trying to kill me because there weren't a lot of guns involved.
Ken Lammers

A 50 kwacha fine for using the restroom.
17 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Without dissent the Illinois Supreme Court overturns 2 death penalties due to prosecutorial misconduct:
"We mean it as no hollow warning when we say that prosecutors risk reversal of otherwise proper convictions when they engage in conduct of this kind."
Ken Lammers

False stories of stalking, attacks, kidnappings, attempted rapes, and rapes on Iowa campuses.

I notice from the article that most of the stories concern females (only one concerns a drunk guy who quickly fessed up). Does anyone know if this is an accurate portrayal of who files these false reports or if the article is just unintentionally misleading?
Ken Lammers

I guess somebody has to show the feds how to run a lab correctly.
Ken Lammers

A judge steps down because a fuss occured when he told a father he needs to speak English with his daughter (who, I infer from the article, does not speak Spanish).
Ken Lammers

The feds start to roll up an internet child porn ring.
Ken Lammers

Arrggg . . . I know a couple of judges that I appear in front of who would have given serious time for this.
Ken Lammers

Why would you act to destroy documents if you didn't know about the probe?

. . . questions the guy who tries to do at least 1 DOD level wipe of his computer every month despite the fact that he really doesn't do anything which makes it necessary. Heck, I don't even store credit card info on my computer.
Ken Lammers

Federal jurisdiction spilling out of its boundries thru the slimmest of technicalities.

In addition to the type of crime this article concerns I can say that since I've been observing the federal district court in Richmond I've seen any number of cases involving strong-arm robberies, low level possession with intent to distribute, and/or gun possession charges. I was really surprised to see AUSA's prosecuting cases with a couple grams of cocaine and a pistol. I've handled far more serious cases in the Commonwealth's courts. I don't yet have enough experience in the federal court to offer an opinion as to why these cases are being prosecuted in federal court rather than the courts of Richmond.
Ken Lammers

The joys of being a white collar criminal. You get to pay fines and civil penalties and go home.
Ken Lammers

Everbody's favorite Richmond politician, Sa'ad El-Amin, got 37 months in jail.

Now the feds can concentrate on everybody else they are indicting in the Richmond government.
Ken Lammers

Just finished reading Gerry Spence's "The Smoking Gun." This very morning I finished the final chapter1. It's a page turner, a story told extremely well. Obviously, the book is slanted in favor of the Defense and the original prosecutors are shown little or no mercy. The special prosecutors are treated better and in at least one foray into what might be motivating them Spence admits that they are prosecuting because they believe that his client is responsible for the death of the victim.

Of course, Spence doesn't believe his client did it and eventually the evidence bears out his belief2. At the very least, even assuming that the evidence as laid out in the book is slanted (it is), there is clearly reasonable doubt created by the lies of the prosecutor's primary witness in combination with some forensic evidence which heavily favors the Defense. Am I being vague here? Yes, I am. Mr. Spence spent the time to write it3, go spend some time reading it. It's worth the time.

1 Which is why I'm writing about it rather than posting stories I've researched - hopefully I'll put bullets up later today.

2 Only prosecutors seem to write about cases they lost so that they can rail against a system which lets so many evil-doers escape justice - because we've all seen how 98% of defendants are found not guilty. [further snide remarks against prosecutors deleted by self-censorship]

3 As far as I can tell it wasn't ghost-written.
16 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

There's no reasonable articulable suspicion when you sleep in your car in a cemetery.
Ken Lammers

Things are getting interesting in the Kobe case.
Ken Lammers

I live in a two room apartment and I have doubts that if I were doing anything other than just sitting in my front room watching TV that I'd be able to get to the door within 15-20 seconds. In my old apartment where I had three rooms and did not use the front room there's no way I would have made it. On top of that one suspects that in the real world police, more concerned with officer safety and the preservation of evidence than constitutional niceties, probably do most of these home invasions at early hours with the expectation of catching people in bed, yelling in their best stage whisper "Police, open up!", and rapping on the door as hard as one can with the tip of one's pinky.
Ken Lammers

Infect someone with HIV get convicted of "biological grievous bodily harm."
Ken Lammers

If you can't get enough people to come and work as paid members of your police force you can always try to get people to work for you for free.

Ken Lammers

If you are worried that someone is trying to scam you, don't rely on your bank's advice.
Ken Lammers

British Intelligence fighting to keep wiretap evidence inadmissible in court.
Ken Lammers

Someone needs to explain to the author of this article that the fact that the federal supreme court didn't hear this issue means it does not at this time express any opinion - not that it approves the 9th's decision on doctors discussing marijuana as an option. After all, you can only overturn so many of the 9th's decisions each year. There are a few other jurisdictions out there trying to get the Justices to hear their cases too.
15 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

"Illiterate Cave Dwellers"

How to poison the jury pool
all by your lonesome in Eastern Kentucky.
Ken Lammers

The Times captures the essence of my dogs perfectly.
Ken Lammers

Not a tiny bit of concern about poisoning the well just as the jury trial begins.
Ken Lammers

In Greece there must be proof of criminal offenses before they will extradite someone.
Ken Lammers

Pleading guilty to save your life and turn in your FBI handler.
Ken Lammers

A "good inmate" escapes.
Ken Lammers

Buying yourself a one way ticket to Hell.
14 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

And So It Begins:

Today jury selection begins in the Muhammad sniper case. 800 people have signed up for a lottery for the 5 whole seats to be provided for the public in this "open hearing."
Ken Lammers

Last Week Death Cases:

(1) Malvo will be pleading insanity.

(2) The NC Peterson case results in a conviction for murder but the appeal is on the way.

(3) Making a man sane so you can be sure he understands when you kill him. That's the epitome of a just and humane society.

(4) The shame of a "honor killing" leads to life imprisonment.

(5) A man accused of killing some people found buried in his back yard chooses not to stay in jail but later changes his mind.

(6) If you keep a disgusting house and don't hold your son to proper hygiene standards you will be held guilty of "risk of injury to a minor" if he commits suicide.

(7) Claiming you killed your friend and drank his blood to gain immortality will not gain you any sympathy with the jury.

(8) Are we killing people in a humane manner or just making it look that way?

(9) An ex-FBI agent charged with procuring a murder.

(10) A father kills a 57 year old, male prosecutor for having sex with his 22 year old drug addict son and gets 12 years in jail.

(11) Accidentally killing a man in a fight results in 5 years suspended prison time and a year of lock-in drug treatment programs.
Ken Lammers

The government is trying to hide all of its appeal in the Moussaoui case from the public.
Ken Lammers

Greed forces the closing of a prison. Bilking money from prisoners' families thru the collect calls prisoners must make to talk to family members has become something of a cottage industry at some jails/prisons. While I'm sorry for the decimation of this town, I'm happy to see someone doing something about it.

Rates I see advertised on TV: 3 cents a minute (I don't know what the connection charge is) or $1 for 20 minutes

Rates at the new prison: 22 cents per minute ($1.25 to connect); $8 per 20 minutes

Rates at the closed prison: 89 cents per minute ($3.95 to connect); $22 per 20 minutes
Ken Lammers

Tim Kaine goes insane. Or panders . . . You make the call.
13 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

In my Junk Mail Box This Morning: A new version of an old scam:





Hmmm . . you mean I might be able to get rich because someone with my name died and I could possibly help steal the funds? I'm all over it!
Ken Lammers

Last Week Law Enforcement; The Good:

(1) An officer returns to duty after he is shot. His attacker gets 40 years.

(2) A policeman can never rest - you never know when you might spot a fugitive.

(3) Police in Virginia Beach bust a robbery ring in connection with 19 robberies committed over the last 10 months in Virginia Beach alone. The seven men are facing a total of 300+ charges.

(4) Chicago promotes one of its own to superintendent.

(5) Rallying to the support of a family whose father died in the line of duty.

(6) College students interning as bobbies.

(7) The Brits are putting people thru 3 weeks of training and sending them out onto the street as "police community support officers" with limited powers. It's an interesting idea if they can work the bugs out.

(8) The Army is out of the police stations in Caracus.

(9) An officer gets Bill Gates to put money into fighting child pornography on the net.
Ken Lammers

Last Week Law Enforcement: The Neutral:

(1) The FBI cannot keep anyone as Chief of Counterterrorism.

(2) Chief constables in Britain are backing the consolidation of police power.

(3) Putting bobbies on the beat does not seem to reduce crime. The reason given? People expect too much.

(4) No contract for pay, pensions, or benefits is leading to illness in the L.A. Sheriff's department.
Ken Lammers

Last Week Law Enforcement: The Bad:

(1) Two detectives allow a suspect to get heroin in order to get him to testify and allow themselves to be filmed doing it.

(2) Silliness in a local sheriff's election.

(3) An officer gets 5 years and 3 months for forcing women to undress during traffic stops.

(4) A prisoner grabs a gun and kills or wounds six guards.

(5) A deputy pleads guilty for taking shuttle debris.
Ken Lammers

Last Week Law Enforcement: Shootings/Deaths:

(1) Five policemen who are accused of killing a black leader will not go to trial because they are the only witnesses and the passage of time.

(2) Pull a gun and the officer will do what has to be done.

(3) Shot three times and going to prison.

(4) A retired officer walks down the street killing people.
12 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Once you get your civil rights restored you can run for office again.
11 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

A comment on the FBI's activity in Philadelphia (found here).
Ken Lammers

Virginia's Crime Commission is preparing to revamp the criminal code. Good. Maybe they will fix the ridiculously low (and embarrassing) grand larceny requirements. Maybe they will actually list the elements of crimes rather than merely listing punishments (leaving you to search for elements in Groot's book or the case law). Maybe they'll scrap the whole larceny, embezzlement, crimes punished as larceny system for a simpler "theft" system as is found in many States. Maybe they'll do away with the ridiculous 20 year penalty for larceny in favor of a 5 year penalty (or at least stagger the max by amount taken). It is incredibly rare to see a larceny actual be punished with more than 3 years even with the 20 year max now available. The stiffest penalty any of my clients has received for a larceny by itself was 5 years and the guidelines recommended about 1 1/2 years - this judge was the only one I've seen decide he should punish contrary to the guidelines in a larceny case. Maybe they can stop the abuse by merchants who use prosecutors - as their collectors by filing criminal charges on checks or repo men by filing "hiding your car in another State" charges on people who won't turn their cars back over when they can't keep paying - rather than going thru the hassles of civil court like they are supposed to.

&cetera. &cetera. &cetera.

I suspect that the Legislature will not allow substantive change. We'll see a re-arrangement in a more orderly manner (maybe) and perhaps (if the legislature is brave) a rise in the felony larceny level from $200 to $400 or $500.
Ken Lammers

Child Abuse:

(1) This is one of the sickest things I've read about in a while. Life is a lenient sentence.

(2) Claims that teachers were taping children up to restrain them.

(3) You cannot put a child abuser in the same cell as the person he abused 10 years prior. The victim will likely not react well.
Ken Lammers

If you make your living conning people into believing you are an aristocrat, a ballet dancer, a banker, a doctor, a playboy, a policeman, a property magnate, and a Queen's Counsel you will eventually spend some time in prison.
Ken Lammers

"Location" is too vague a term to apply against a homeless person who has to report where he is staying.
Ken Lammers

What kind of jerk trys to steal from a blind woman? Perhaps the same sort of person who would be stupid enough to get caught.
Ken Lammers

It's still arson if you try to burn down your own home.
Ken Lammers

Government Officials and the Law:

(1) The FBI, not content to merely bug a sitting mayor's office, take the mayor's wireless communicator.

(2) In Richmond, the city council is trying to go on as yet another person in the local government is charged by the feds.

(3) And in a refreshing change of pace, in NY local prosecutors are trying to take care of local malfeasance.
Ken Lammers

Somehow, I think this worker's comp claim will fail.
Ken Lammers

Catch someone trying to sell your son heroin? Beating him with a prosthetic limb seems fitting to me.
Ken Lammers

If we assume that a youth is not capable of acting as an adult should courts hold that youth to the same standards under Miranda?
10 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Whoopie!! Got my first actual hate mail yesterday (from anonymous). I've gotten sharply worded disagreements with my posts before1 but this one didn't even bother.

Did you know that all criminal defense attorneys and plaintiffs' attorneys are evil liars who are loathed by everyone?

I can't speak for plaintiff's attorneys but yes, I must admit that ever since I decided to become a criminal defense attorney and signed that contract in blood I have striven to be evil incarnate. To that end I have modeled myself after my hero:

Ming the Merciless

Oh well, I must go off to court to do more evil deeds . . .

1 And I encourage them. They don't often change my mind but a rational explanation of another point of view is always worth seeing.
Ken Lammers

The judge in Martha, Inc.'s civil case allows depositions to go forward despite the fact that the criminal case is also going on:
I read this indictment. I tell you something ... we have seen a lot more serious obstruction cases. This is not the strongest obstruction case I have ever seen. This is not John Gotti.
Ken Lammers

Des Moines turns out the lights and the thefts begin.

City leaders turned off the street lights because there was no proof they inhibited crime. Now they are getting their proof but, of course, it's dismissed as "anecdotal at best."

And here's one of the anecdotes.
Ken Lammers

Tapes in two sexual abuse of a minor charges:

(1) In the State of Washington the Defense attempts to suppress the tape because the girl lied to the police and they relied upon those lies in the affidavit. Unless Washington has rights under its constitution which are greater than the lack of protection offered under Leon, I just don't see it succeeding.

(2) 24 years later a tape provides enough proof for the judge.
Ken Lammers

Moussaoui: I wasn't involved in 9-11. I was going to be part of the attack on Europe.

Go ahead get yourself extradited to France. See if you like their prisons any more than the guy in "Catch Me If You Can" did.
Ken Lammers

If you steal $2,100,000 from 17 disabled people for whom you are the guardian you will be disbarred and go to prison.
Ken Lammers

In San Fran the prosecutor is investigating one of its investigators for possible abuse of his powers.
09 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

The FBI is caught eavesdropping on a sitting mayor shortly before an election.
Ken Lammers

A critique of the prosecution in the Oakland police corruption case.
Ken Lammers

But what if 20% of the Defendants are innocent?
Ken Lammers

No way. I don't believe that the "detainees" at Gitmo are "being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them."

Once upon a time - in a different life - I spent time at EPW compounds and this kind of behavior would never have been tolerated.
08 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

The feds are still going after the government of Richmond.
Ken Lammers

No tolerance for weapons but an incredible tolerance for stupidity.
Ken Lammers

Criminal conviction for your employee's incredible stupidity.
Ken Lammers

Charged with castration without a license.
Ken Lammers

Arguing that the feds can't regulate pot grown and traded intra-state.
07 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

The Joy of Court Appointed Work:

(1) Appointed to Virginia Exile case (5 years mandatory). Visit client at a jail in another county and interview him. Have a bond hearing.

(2) Approximately two months later, have a preliminary hearing. Total work at this point = approximately 5 hours of work at $90 per hour1 ($450). Statute and funding from the Legislature limits payment to $112.

(3) Approximately two months later, prepare for bench trial and negotiate with Commonwealth Attorney. On the trial date, prosecutor offers 2 years but client declines and asks for a jury trial (a choice I agree with). Work at this point approximately 4 hours ($360).

(4) Approximately two months later, after serious negotiations the prosecutor offers 1 year and 6 months. Client declines and the jury trial is continued because witnesses have not been located. Work since first trial date 5 hours ($450).

(5) Approximately 2 months later, spend week preparing for the jury trial (looking up cases; making sure arguments are ready; preparing jury instructions, &cetera). Go to prepare the Defendant in jail 3 days before trial. Halfway thru preparation the Defendant decides to take the plea agreement. Go to the courthouse the next day and spend two hours getting the jury called off. The day of trial Client comes into court and pleads guilty2. Work since the continuance 10 hours ($900).

Total amount of payment due by hourly rate: $1,710.

Cap imposed by the Legislature: $395.

The worst thing about it isn't really all the work I did without compensation. I long ago realized that if my indigent clients' rights were going to be actual rather than a nice theory I was going to have to lose money on almost any jury trial for them. The worst of it is that I did all that work without compensation and never even got to put on a jury trial I thought I could win.

1 In theory the Commonwealth of Virginia allows us to bill $90 per hour in court appointed cases.

2 And I leave extremely frustrated because I think the case was very winnable.
Ken Lammers

Well, it's not criminal law but I'd love to sit in on this deposition.
Ken Lammers

At least they didn't get ambushed like the real Bonnie and Clyde.
Ken Lammers

Attorneys in the News:

(1) Don't defraud the Road Accident Fund in South Africa or they will take your house.

(2) An attorney can be sued for not doing a good enough job. I am curious as to what the truth is behind the claim that the attorney didn't talk to an important witness. I cannot count the number of times a Defendant has sworn to me that "GG" saw it all and could back his story but couldn't tell me a real name, an address, or a phone number. And then, of course, it's all my fault when I can't find him or get a subpoena served on him to make him come to court.

(3) Mr. Divorce is charged with owing the IRS $995,000.
06 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

If you try to stop people from enjoying something which they don't view as wrong they will find a way around you.
Ken Lammers

Last Week's Death Cases:

(1) Muhammad moves for dismissal based upon the fact that law enforcement appears to have leaked information to reporters writing a book - or removal of the possible death penalty - or exclusion of any evidence in the book - or. . .

(2) The federal supreme court will decide whether the fact that a jury received wrong instructions is enough to require a new trial in a case where the government is trying to kill the Defendant. The closure argument disturbs me in death penalty cases; every time I hear it it sounds like the prosecutor is saying, "Just let us kill the S.O.B. and it will be the end to all this useless legal wrangling." Of course, the problem in these cases is that, if the Defendant is innocent or the jury would have sentenced him to life, once you kill him there is closure.

(3) The prosecution increased a Defendant's sentence after he tries to commit suicide. What exactly does that accomplish?

(4) Driving a car can lead to homicide charges sometimes because of your own actions and sometimes because of the actions of others.

(5) 15 years later a murder is proven.

(6) A "honor killing" in London. I don't think this jerk will get only 6 months in jail in Britain. Somehow, I doubt the reasoning which allows this kind of garbage will cut it in civilization:
[L]enient sentences deter women from sin. [Greater punishment is] contradictory to . . . tradition and Islamic teachings.
(7) Charging a mother with child abuse because she left her daughter with the boyfriend who killed the girl and the child had been previously injured.

(8) N.C. kills a man.

(9) The defense argues involuntary intoxication. The prosecution says the Defendant ain't intoxicated she's just touched. The judge finds her guilty.

(10) It's hard to defend your client when he's convinced the victims are still alive and visiting him in jail.

(11) The NC Peterson Case: Prosecutors close by saying that only a novelist (such as the defendant) could have put together the story he's trying to sell you. The Defense counters with the top ten reasons not to believe the prosecutor's theory.
05 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Currently, witnesses in Britain can only be punished for not showing in court if the court is satisfied that they can provide material evidence. However, there is an ongoing attempt to punish them merely for not showing - even if their evidence is inadmissible, irrelevant, or repetitive.
Ken Lammers

The Police Complaints Authority ordered an officer be charged with a disciplinary offence of misconduct after the Metropolitan police refused to do so. It ruled that a police officer whose patrol car drove into a teenager, smashing his leg could have been "unjustified" in his actions.

Of course, the worst it can do is impose a 13 day loss of pay.
Ken Lammers

Closing the barn door after the horse is out: after the Defendant's been extradited it doesn't really matter how many mistakes were made - how do you get her back?
Ken Lammers

Law Enforcement:

(1) The FBI is investigating solely because a location returned big verdicts. I hope there is more to this than the article indicates. Otherwise, it appears to be intimidation.

(2) Good gracious. It looks like Danville promoted half of its police force.

(3) Is there any difference between CSI and real forensic scientists?

(4) 2 tons of marijuana go to the feds to prosecute.

(5) 4 years later, after the Crown refused to prosecute, an inquest "decided that police officers used dangerous, excessive and unlawful force restraining Roger Sylvester, a vulnerable and mentally ill young man, in the prone or three-quarters prone position for some 15-20 minutes until he stopped breathing."
Ken Lammers

They may still be in the military but you can bet (innocent or guilty) their careers are done.
Ken Lammers

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be helpful.
Ken Lammers

Charged with a crime because of campaign contributions.
Ken Lammers

Guess what? All those gun laws which have been foisted upon the U.S. don't work.
Ken Lammers

When someone pays you to cremate thier loved one they shouldn't have to worry about if you are going to part out the body.
Ken Lammers

A man who set fire to "two synagogues, a Presbyterian church, a Bahai Faith center and a Jewish education center" is incompetent to stand trial.
Ken Lammers

What's coming up in front of the federal supreme court.
Ken Lammers

"Stealing the intellectual property of others is no different from any other form of thievery."

That strikes me as not being absolutely true. Taking a copy of a piece of software does not deny others its use as taking a car does. There also seem to be a business models which allow the free distribution of software. I can download my favorite web browser (Opera) as many times as I wish without paying a penny. I can also download other browsers (Mozilla Firebird or Netscape) free of charge. There's free media playing software such as Real Player and Quick Time. There's free office software such as Abiword and OpenOffice Suite.

All of which would seem to indicate that there is a big difference between stealing even one Yugo and making several copies of a piece of software. Not that I am championing theft of intellectual property but by its very nature this particular type of theft makes something more available rather than less. Of course, the creation of value in intellectual property depends on some sort barrier to the availability of the intellectual property. As these barriers become more and more artificial1 - in response to the easy availability of information and its derivatives thru technology such as VCR's, computers, high-speed internet, writeable CD's/DVD's, &cetera - it becomes harder and harder to convince someone that he should pay $25 for the newest CD (for the one good song on it) or $60 for a computer game when he can pick up either for free using Limewire.

1 The most frustrating of these for me - while not exactly concerning intellectual property - was when the MLB made radio stations stop broadcasting baseball games over the internet. I used to listen to a Red's game every couple of days on Ohio or Kentucky stations which carried them. This obviously helped baseball by keeping alive interest in baseball in locations where there is no nearby pro team. Since I moved to Virginia and MLB cut me off I've not been able to root for my team and there is no team which is rooted for locally (despite whatever delusions the owners of the Orioles might have as they fight to keep a team from being in D.C./Northern Virginia). Of course, I could go to MLB's site and pay to listen but I refuse to pay for an artificial barrier set up by MLB and basically don't pay much attention to baseball anymore except for the Little League World Series, parts of games in the MLB playoffs if the game is good, and I try to go to a couple of the AAA Braves games in Richmond each year.
04 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Lawyers and the Law:

(1) Being in charge of the big cases gets you promoted: Martha's prosecutor gets a promotion.

(2) Plotting to keep your law license can be a felony.
Ken Lammers


(1) Discussing Ashcroft's latest actions.

(2) A bio of Ashcroft and short discussion of his importance in the Bush administration.
Ken Lammers

Shock of shocks! The judge in the Moussaoui case has refused him access to the press.
Ken Lammers

The death of a 7 week old child leads to calls for solutions for gangs.
Ken Lammers

Sex and the Law:

(1) A 52 year old going after girls as young as 11. Disgusting.

(2) At the Air Force Academy one cadet is charged with rape while another is punished because he "valued sex and money above honor and dignity."
Ken Lammers


(1) The Hong Kong authorities have allowed an inmate to offer a reward for evidence of his innocence.

(2) Did drugs cause a death in jail?
03 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

The head of Interpol complaining about anti-terrorism efforts.
Ken Lammers

Okay. This just does not instill confidence in officer firearm safety.
Ken Lammers

The Judge hits the Justice Department where it hurts.

In what appears to have been a move calculated to hurt the Justice Department as much as possible, the judge in the Moussaoui case didn't dismiss the case but absolutely crippled it.
Ken Lammers

A family trying to get a father freed because he is dying.
Ken Lammers

After Orange activity increases Northern Ireland puts "hate crimes" on the books.
Ken Lammers

Attention: To All Attorneys With Cold Hit Clients

For what it is worth, the 9th Circuit has declared DNA tests (and thus DNA databases) without suspicion of illegal activity an unconstitutional search. Basically it called the taking of DNA a fishing expedition.

Basically, I agree with them. However, I live in Virginia, in the 4th Circuit where quoting the 9th is the death knell of any legal argument.

The question I have is that if this database is unconstitutional what is the status of the fingerprint databases?
Ken Lammers

Marrying a women - by proxy - whom you've not seen since 1998 when she was transferred to a different prison than the one you were in.
Ken Lammers

Police convince a kid to confess to murdering his parents by lying to him (your father ID'ed you before he went) and telling him he must be suppressing the memory. Now a contrary witness shows up.
Ken Lammers

Teens Gone Wrong:

(1) Out of control hazing at football camp.

(2) 311 Boyz.
02 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

Quick question for all you law students out there (or anyone else looking for a position): You recieve three offers from (1) Milton, Chadwick & Waters; (2) Bandini, Lambert & Locke; and (3) Wolfram & Hart. Which do you accept and why?
Ken Lammers

God in the jury room.

Personally, being a great believer in the common sense of juries, I think jurors should be allowed to decide whether the prosecution is applying the law in a just manner. It's condescending to say that 12 regular citizens cannot tell if charging someone with larceny for taking a paperclip from work is justified (yes I know it's an extreme example).

Generally, it is my belief that prosecutors don't like jurors to exercise this power (they always have it but it is verboten to mention it during a trial in most States) because it has a lopsided democratization effect. When "the mob" gets out of control in most of life's situations it can act in a way that is either pro or anti government. In court the prosecutor, by bringing a particular charge, has limited the mob's ability to be pro-government1. Therefore, should the jury think that the prosecutor has not been severe enough it cannot void his decision in favor of a more stringent penalty even if a more stringent penalty is justified2.

On the other hand, should the jurors think that the prosecution has overcharged or that applying the law as written to the Defendant is unjust they can unequivocally show their displeasure by refusing to convict. Why do you think that prosecutors fight so hard to keep the mention of mandatory sentences in Exile cases from being put before the jury? If a jury knew that the Defendant would get a mandatory 5 years in prison because he had a felony 20 years ago, he borrowed his son's car to go to the market to pick up some bread, and the son kept a pistol in the glove compartment which the father knew about (but forgot) would the jury convict if it were allowed to decide whether the charge was just? Anyone who has seen the wide eyes when jurors are told they must impose the mandatory time knows that there's a good chance they would not.

Which, all-in-all, is a long winded way of saying that I understand why prosecutors dislike this role of the jury. That judges disapprove of it also is a posting for another day . . .

1 I am assuming for this argument a prosecutor who makes an appropriate charge Of course, a prosecutor may overcharge for leverage, political reasons, or as a trial tactic. Usually this occurs in the manner of the Defendant being given a number of charges for a single happening. An example is when a man is charged with forging, uttering, and grand larceny for handing over one bad check. If the law limited the prosecutor to the most serious of the charges in this one temporal event (one event = one charge) it would make much more sense but by charging all three two can be negotiated away and a felony conviction obtained with less muss and fuss.

2 Yes, I realize that it is unlikely that a jury would be tougher than the prosecutor but we're talking theory here, not reality.
Ken Lammers

Never thought I'd see the day someone would be found guilty of making bootleg wrasslin' tapes.
Ken Lammers

Gangs and the Law:

(1) Because of its "relatively high rates of crime and gang activity" Richmond is the first city in the U.S. granted $250,000,000 from the feds to fight gangs.

(2) The leader of the Outlaws is found guilty of racketeering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice but acquitted of two murders and conspiring to distribute cocaine.
Ken Lammers

Terrorism and the Law:

(1) The federal supreme court is being asked to decide if someone born in the U.S. can be detained without recourse to the legal system.

(2) I know we're all shocked by this but Malvo invoked his 5th Amendment rights when called in the Muhammad case.
Ken Lammers


(1) A bar code scam nets $400,000, 15 months in jail, and a free trip out of the country.

(2) A stock swindle nets $100,000,000, 114 indictments, and (eventually) up to 8 years in prison.
Ken Lammers

Law Enforcement and the Law:

(1) Crown prosecutors will have to start pulling 24 duty shifts because the burden of charging is switching from police to the prosecution.

(2) In L.A. the deputies have been sick en masse.

(3) Prisons cannot take away a prisoner's money to cover the prison's expenses.
01 October 2003           
Ken Lammers

You have to admire this child's will to live. On the other hand, the mother deserves anything she gets - probably more.
Ken Lammers

"C-Murder" is not a good street name to have in a murder trial.

Many of my clients have street names. My favorite so far was Batman. He brought several witnesses to court and not one of them knew his actual name. They knew him very well but every single one of them knew him as Batman. I spent a good ten minutes making sure they all knew "John's" name before we went in to trial. It must have worked - a not guilty verdict followed.
Ken Lammers

213 leaves the bench. Now all those people who kept making death threats will probably start lining up to make her their attorney. After all, if you're going in to fight desperately against terrible odds with the cost of losing being most of your life in prison or possibly even death, you can't feel too bad about having an attorney known as the Dragon Lady.
Ken Lammers

Good News. BusinessWeek Online is recruiting courtroom experts for us.
Ken Lammers

Ever get really angry at the opposing attorney? The good news is that you get two shots at him before the judge will injoin you from attacking him.
Ken Lammers

Federal Sentencing:

(1) A recap of the conflict between judges across the spectrum (conservative to liberal) and sentencing laws espoused by Ashcroft.

(2) A quick comparison between Virginia's sentencing guidelines and the federal sentencing mandates.
Ken Lammers

Terrorism and the Law:

(1) Malvo is being called at a pretrial motion for Muhammad - probably because the prosecution wants to establish that he will plead the 5th and thus be unavailable, opening the door for hearsay exceptions.

(2) The judge is still trying to decide what to do about the Justice Department's defiance of the court order in the Moussaoui case.

(3) It's a little late to be troubled about labeling someone a "person of interest" after you have destroyed his life.

(4) Proof that soccer is evil.
Ken Lammers

Black police officers are planning a march on Scotland Yard in full uniform to protest unfair treatment.
Ken Lammers

Fraud and the Law:

(1) Now here's an interesting way to try and cause trouble for your enemies. File false forms with the IRS indicating that they have earned millions of dollars; the IRS will check to see why they didn't pay the taxes on that money. I've heard of the militia / soveriegn individual types doing this sort of thing but never thought I'd see it out of a Richmonder.

(2) Are you really sure that phone you bid on at e-bay actually exists?
Ken Lammers

Florida's Supreme Court has stopped the deadline for DNA innocence testing from going into effect.

Email Ken


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In case anyone out there needs this warning: This ain't legal advice. Everything in the blog is off the cuff and no one goes back and reads all the cases and statutes before blogging. The law may have changed; cases misread and misunderstood two years ago can still lead to a clinging misperception. Courts probably don't even operate as described herein. In fact - just in case someone is stoned enough to start quoting this blawg as authority to a judge - It is hereby stated that everything in this blog is pure fiction.


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