Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Update on Grrr

Update on Grrr.

This the most thoroughly I have ever lost a case. I lost every motion, every evidentiary argument, the trial itself, and now, the sentencing.

The maximum sentence allowed by statute on each count, consecutive to each other with no possibility of parole. It amounts to a life without parole sentence.

At least I won't lose the appeal - client is retaining new counsel for that.

An interesting DA policy

Here is the scenario that every defense and prosecuting attorney has seen:

Johnny and his Significant Other Suzy get into an argument. Suzy calls the police and tells the responding officer that Johnny slapped her around. Johnny is arrested for Family Violence Battery.

Then, of course, after Johnny has been in jail for a week or two, Suzy decides that she really loves Johnny and tells the DA that she lied to the police because she was mad and that Johnny never really touched her. Johnny gets out of jail and Suzy gets probation for false report of a crime. (Johnny would have gotten 12 months to serve because he has a horrible record, including prior FVB against same victim - and may well have had his probation revoked for even longer).

For the last few months, the DA's office in my circuit has used a new policy, and the Judges are fully on board with it. If the above scenario happens, then Suzy serves exactly as many days as Johnny served. Once word of this got around the jail, then the claims of "I lied to the police" dropped to nearly nothing.

Lying rarely ever does anyone any good, and most people are terrible liars. Suzy (and Johnny) are usually a lot better off if she goes to the DA and says that he slapped her, but she really doesn't want to go forward with the case because they have a relationship that is worth something. Frequently Suzy's statement of that sort is enough to get the case dismissed (with no additional charges) or sentenced as probation/counseling only. I have even seen juries, on more than one occasion, find not guilty because Suzy so obviously doesn't want a conviction and just wants to get beyond this.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A history of the AP Poll

A while back, I started playing around with the AP Poll for college football. I took every AP Poll since the beginning in 1936 and assigned a point value to each final ranking. 25 points to #1, 24 to #2 and so on. This morning, I included newest poll and here are some results.

The overall top 25 teams, from 1936 season to present are:

1. Oklahoma
2. Michigan
3. Notre Dame
4. Ohio State
5. Alabama
6. Southern California
7. Nebraska
8. Texas
9. Tennessee
10. Penn State
11. LSU
12. (tie) Miami (Fla.)
12. (tie) Georgia
14. UCLA
15. (tie) Auburn
15. (tie) Florida State
17. Florida
18. Arkansas
19. Washington
20. Mississippi
21. Michigan State
22. Texas A&M
23. Georgia Tech
24. Iowa
25. Clemson

The top ten teams for the last ten years;

1. (tie) Oklahoma
1. (tie) Texas
3. Southern California
4. Ohio State
5. Georgia
6. Florida
7. Virginia Tech
8. Miami (Fla.)
9. LSU
10. Michigan

The top ten teams from the last five years;

1. Southern California
2. Texas
3. Ohio State
4. Oklahoma
5. LSU
6. Florida
7. Georgia
8. Virginia Tech
9. West Virginia
10. Boise State

Interesting factoids:

There have been 73 AP national championships. Of those, 10 schools: Notre Dame (8), Oklahoma (7), Alabama (6), Southern California (5), Miami (5), Ohio State (4), Nebraska (4), Minnesota (4), Florida (3), and Texas (3) have won 49 (67%) of them.

The longest current streak of being ranked in the final poll belongs to Georgia, at 12 years.

The longest national championship drought belongs to Texas Christian, who last won the AP title in 1938.

The longest ever streak of being ranked in the final poll belongs to Nebraska, at 33 years from 1969 - 2001.

A total of 129 teams have been ranked in the final poll at least once. #129 is Bowling Green, who was ranked #23 in 2003.

Back-to-back titles have been won by Notre Dame (1946-47), Oklahoma (1955-56, 1974-75), Alabama (1964-65, 1978-79), Southern California (2003-04), Nebraska (1970-71,1994-95), Minnesota (1940-41), and Army (1944-45).

Number 1 teams by decade:

1930s: Notre Dame
1940s: Michigan
1950s: Oklahoma
1960s: Alabama
1970s: Oklahoma
1980s: Nebraska
1990s: Florida State
2000s: Oklahoma

Based on current conference alignment, the all-time top 25 breaks down as follows:

SEC: 8 (32%)
Big 10: 5 (20%)
Big 12: 4 (16%)
ACC: 4 (16%)
Pac 10: 3 (12%)
Notre Dame: (4%)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Unspeakable Horror

I lost 10 SAN just looking at this picture

Would you like a Mi-Go for Christmas, little girl?

The expression of absolute horror on the kid's face is what makes it all work.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bowl Blitz

Bowl season is upon us. 'Tis the most wonderful time of the year. I do so enjoy watching the bowls - even the little ones with two 6-6 teams and only 10,000 people in the stands. There is nothing else in sports quite like it, and I love every minute of it. I'll save my anti-playoff rant for another time.

34 games starting this Saturday (4 games) and ending with the BCSCG on Jan 8. And I just happen to know the winners of each and every game.

Of course, I take no responsibility if you choose to make a financial investment in the following predictions and Fate, the Universe, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster chooses to grant victory to the wrong team.

Predictions for every bowl game.

Dec 20, 2008
EagleBank Bowl: Wake Forest over Navy
New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State over Fresno State
St. Petersburgh Bowl: South Florida over Memphis
Las Vegas Bowl: Brigham Young over Arizona

Dec 21, 2008
New Orleans Bowl: Troy over Southern Miss

Dec 23, 2008
Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State over Texas Christian

Dec 24, 2008
Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii over Notre Dame

Dec 26, 2008
Motor City Bowl: Central Michigan over Florida Atlantic

Dec 27, 2008
Meineke Car Care Bowl: West Virginia over North Carolina
Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State over Wisconsin
Emeral Bowl: Miami over California

Dec 28, 2008
Independence Bowl: Northern Illinois over Louisiana Tech

Dec 29, 2008
PappaJohns.com Bowl: Rutgers over North Carolina State
Alamo Bowl: Missouri over Northwestern

Dec 30, 2008
Humanitarian Bowl: Maryland over Nevada
Texas Bowl: Rice over Western Michigan
Holiday Bowl: Oklahoma State over Oregon

Dec 31, 2008
Peach Bowl: Georgia Tech over Louisiana State
Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force over Houston
Sun Bowl: Oregon State over Pittsburgh
Music City Bowl: Boston College over Vanderbilt
Insight Bowl: Kansas over Minnesota

Jan 1, 2009
Capital One Bowl: Michigan State over Georgia
Outback Bowl: Iowa over South Carolina
Gator Bowl: Nebraska over Clemson
Rose Bowl: Southern California over Penn State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech over Cincinnati

Jan 2, 2009
Cotton Bowl: Mississippi over Texas Tech
Liberty Bowl: East Carolina over Kentucky
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Utah

Jan 3, 2009
International Bowl: Buffalo over Connecticut

Jan 5, 2009
Fiesta Bowl: Texas over Ohio State

Jan 6, 2009
GMAC Bowl: Ball State over Tulsa

Jan 8, 2009
BCS Championship: Florida over Oklahoma

Monday, December 15, 2008

get your own lawyer

I’m a public defender

That means that I provide criminal defense to people who can’t afford to hire their own lawyer for their case. The large majority of my clients are unemployed, on disability or working for minimum wage. Even my drug dealer clients are usually broke because they are just selling crack or weed on a small-time basis and probably averaging out to about five bucks an hour for their troubles.

In order to have a public defender appointed, a defendant needs to fill out an application, under oath, as to his financial situation. If he is sufficiently broke, he is declared indigent and a PD is appointed.

There are two loopholes in the system, however. First, there is no checking or verification of an application – not even a credit report. Second, if a person is in jail at the time of the application, he is automatically indigent.

This means that we get a statistically significant number of clients who are not only not indigent, but make considerably more money that I do. I recently had a client who was able to pay off his $15,000 fine in a single payment. I have had several clients who signed an application form stating that they had no income, no job, and no savings. But when I interview them they start telling me about their great job making $20/hr or more, or how their rich great uncle just left them $200,000 in his will a few months ago.

I have clients who make $680/month on SSI, but somehow can afford to drive a tricked-out Escalade or a BMW M5. I have young clients, 17-20 years old, whose parents are, if not wealthy, at least comfortable.

This is a real problem. We are spending a lot of time working cases for people who can, and should, be hiring their own lawyers. I practice in a micropolitan area and there are several very good private attorneys who do primarily (or only) criminal defense in the area. Most of these attorneys will do outstanding work and will not beggar their clients in the process.

When someone is perfectly capable of hiring her own attorney for her case, but hires the public defender office instead, she is damaging the system. She is taking time away from someone who really is indigent and really cannot afford an attorney.

I typically have about 150 open cases at any given time. These will range from traffic offenses up to rape and murder. We have one investigator, two secretaries and two paralegals to work for nine attorneys. We have virtually no budget for outside investigators or expert witnesses or anything else. We simply do not have the time or the resources to give the kind of attention to cases that a private, paid attorney can provide.

For example: the police in this circuit are, for the most part, pretty bad at doing field sobriety tests. I do not have the money to hire an expert to tell the jury how screwed up the FSTs were. Sure, I can do a pretty good cross exam, but in the end the cop just tells the jury that his “training and experience” tell him that the driver was drunk. A private attorney – especially a DUI specialist – can hire an expert to explain why the FST were done so badly that the cop had no probable cause to arrest, and at least have a chance at getting the Intoxylizer results suppressed.

A private attorney can hire a traffic engineer to explain to the jury why the intersection is so badly designed that car wrecks are unavoidable and the crash in which you crippled another driver is not really your fault.

A private attorney can hire a private investigator to go out and find witnesses who can support your “I was drinking at the bar” alibi

If you can possibly find a way to hire an attorney, do so. Sell your BMW and buy a Ford. Use the difference to hire someone to defend you. We public defenders are good at our job – we believe in what we do and we work hard at it. But we are spread too thin. Leave us to work on the cases for people who really need us.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Just finished a long trial.


Guilty on all counts.

I worked my ass off on this trial. I'm a public defender, so I don't have to keep track of hours worked in 6-minute increments like private attorneys do, but I worked on nearly nothing else for 2 solid weeks - with many days being from 5:30am til 6:30pm. Add in the hours spent prior to this and I have probably devoted 150 hours to trial prep on this case. I knew it absolutely cold and was ready for everything.

Well, everything except overwhelming evidence of guilt.


What really bugs me is that the jury didn't even pretend to think about it. Four days of testimony and 89 exhibits, and they came back with guilty on all seven counts in only 45 minutes. Couldn't they have gone back there and played Canasta for a couple of hours or something?

I also have no chance of any kind of success at the sentencing hearing in a couple of weeks. Even so, I will devote everything I can to winning something on the sentencing. In this case, a sentence that includes the possibility of parole would be a success.

On Monday, it is "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more."** We start a trafficking in methamphetamine trial in which I will be reduced to trying to punch holes in the state's case. My theory of the case seems to have crystallized as "not going down without a fight."

Oh well. At least I have a nice juicy armed robbery coming up that I have a real chance of winning.

**Henry V, Act III, scene 1