Thursday, February 7, 2008

This started out as a friendly debate...

It appears as if the City of Portland has been secretly persuing a program where some of my clients are offered drug treatment in lieu of prosecution.

Problem arises when these clients are on some secret list that the City won't turn over to me or the other attorneys in my office.

This article was posted by one of our newspapers and the comments have now gotten ugly. I think I just told another lawyer, publicly, to "bite me." Childish?

Check it out:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Random Musings...

I, apparently, am a terrible blogger since I haven't written anything in 6 weeks or so. I could have lots of excuses, but why would anyone care anyway?

My roller derby team won their first game of, this, the Rose City Rollers third season. Heathers Por Vida!

I've been in trial almost non-stop since the New Year. Oddly, I was on a winning streak. Since I mostly represent thieves and junkies, winning streaks are few and far between. It all started with winning a 11 to 1 "not guilty" on a simple possession case where my client said to the officer, "yes, those are my drugs."

Next, I won an elude in a vehicle case where a jury member contacted me afterwards to let me know that they thought my client was a really nice young man and they just wanted to help him out. OK, it was only mostly a win. I won the felony charges and lost on the misdemeanor of reckless drive. Best of all, the client had been convicted of delivery of drugs "within 1000 feet of a school" back in 2001. He was placed on five years of probation and told that if he took one step wrong within those five years, he'd be sent to prison for 60 months. The reckless drive that I lost at trial happened about 45 days before his probation expired. So, we had a hearing about the probation violation. The judge told me off the bat that she wasn't going to send him to prison for 5 years, but that 1 year in jail might get the message across. After I had presented all of my arguments, she terminated probation as successfully completed and let my client walk out of the courthouse.

Finally, I won a motion to suppress when the police found the stolen lap top when my client--who was not being arrested--opened the trunk of his totalled car to take his stuff out. The cops told the judge that they are "required" to "inventory" all of the stuff that was in the car that they are towing. They need to make sure nothing the guy who isn't being arrested and is free to walk away is taking with him is stolen. Really. The very strange thing about this motion was that the judge ruled that the "inventory" of the stuff in my client's arms was just fine and dandy, but the police officers went too far when they "ran" the serial number on the computer through their network and it came back stolen. That "running" was a search without a warrant. Well, yes, it was. But, ummmmm, the cops are allowed to randomly look at the stuff that I'm carrying away from a car that is being towed and there is no suspicion that I broke any laws other than the ones that say I shouldn't run my car into light poles? Ooooo Kay.

I haven't won since, but there's lots of up comming opportunity!

My friends have a great blog: Super funny. Apparently, when they registered the domain name, no one noticed that there is a previously existing blog, Now readers of that blog want to firebomb my friends' houses. Isn't that a tad bit of an over reaction to an honest mistake?

I cried when John Edwards decided to end his campaign for President. I got over it and I think I'm an Obama girl now. Yes, I know I am.

I've been composing a special post just for Woman of the Law in response to her New Year's resolution (here: I think it's an important issue.

There, that was a laundry list of musings, for sure.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Probably Small of Me, but...

I am completely irritated and annoyed by a phrase in common use among attorneys. "Split the baby." As in, "well, the judge didn't really rule for us, she split the baby." Or, "the Oregon Supreme Court made some interesting rulings today on two cases. Seems like they decided to split the baby."

Look. I understand what is meant by the phrase. It's a colorful way of saying that the decision was a type of compromise or whatever.

This use of the phrase is completely wrong and really, really stupid.

King Solomon, son of David, King of Israel had wisdom that was renowned far and wide. Solomon had a rare gift in helping people resolve disputes. He would have made a heck of a mediator. He could have run one hell of a restorative justice program. He helped people see the error of their ways and to forgive those who had wronged them. He was one true mensch.

He was also a premier author of ancient erotica, but that's a bit beside the point.

Two women came to King Solomon, each very upset. This being ancient Israel and all, I'm sure there was some rending of clothes and beating of breasts involved. Each of these two women claimed to be the mother of an infant son. They each told the King the story of the child's birth and how they decided to name him and all that other stuff that mothers know about their infants. Not being a parent myself, someone can fill in all those details for me.

King Solomon was stumped. In all of his wisdom, he couldn't determine which of the women was the baby's real mother. After thinking for a while, Solomon turned to one of the palace guards and ordered him to seize the infant, cut the child in half, and give each woman one half of the kid.

One woman was pleased with this arrangement (please don't ask me how anyone could possibly be happy to receive half of a human child. Unless they were planning on eating him. Yeah. Maybe she was a cannibal).

The second woman cried and fell at the King's feet begging him to please spare the child's life and give him to her rival.

King Solomon made the determination that the second woman was the baby's true mother and awarded custody to her (I'm really glad that our dependency courts don't include sword wielding palace guards--I think the judges might be tempted to use them on the lawyers from time to time).

So. You see?! Not even King Solomon actually split the baby. He was just bluffing! He was using his wisdom to ferret out the identity of the baby's true mother. He was NOT making a compromise between two warring parties. He was not, as mentioned here by the Wall Street Journal (who really should know better),, trying to decide how wide of a net to cast when granting the Justice Department a subpoena for Google data. He was not trying to decide how much money to award the battling parties in a civil suit

Seriously. Please. No one wants the guts of half an infant spilling on the floor. No one splits babies (except for the above mentioned cannibal woman).


Monday, November 19, 2007

I need a word, but just not THIS one

Another thing I could call C:

My "domestic partner". That's abbreviated "DP." "Domestic Partner" is not what "DP" means to me.

Anything but that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I need a new word.

For years I have been attempting to find an appropriate description for my relationship with C.

I've lived with C. for four and a half years. We have a dynamic and rewarding friendship. We have a fulfilling (and frequent) sexual relationship. We fight. We bought a house together and we own a dog and three cats. "Boyfriend" doesn't quite do it, does it?

Why isn't he a "husband?" I'm a unrepentant feminist and I don't believe that we should own each other. Some of our dear friends are not allowed to marry the person that they wish. Seems unfair to me. All that, and I've been married twice--hasn't worked very well for me yet.

Other possible terms:

"Significant Other." Definitely something out of a "Cathy" comic strip. Also used frequently by my clients. Doesn't quite cover it.

"Partner." Closer, but since I am a lawyer, people ask me when I quit the public defender's office and started my own practice. Doesn't really communicate the depth of our relationship, does it?

My ability to communicate about this wonderful man is a bit limited. C. has been calling me "My Lady" for years (sometimes with a "darling") added in. It's a bit of that ownership thing, but I really like it. "My Man" or whatever, is just disturbing and repulsive.

So--you can see my issue. What the hell do I call this guy!?

I'd call myself happy.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Everyone Loves War Stories, Right?

I once second-chaired a murder case with the best facts.

Alright, they were really good facts for the state, but they make a good story.

My client walks in to Southeast Precinct one warm, summer afternoon and says, "there's a body in my bathtub. It's my husband. I want a lawyer." Good client. Good boy.

The cops ask if the client will take them to the house so they can get the body out if they promise not to talk to him. Client agrees. Cops ask no questions and the client lets them into the house. There is, indeed, a body in the bathtub.

Actually, there is a bathtub full of frozen food. Amongst the frozen food is a hairy, human toe. Cops exit and get a warrant.

My darling client (and he was a darling), not knowing what to do when he awoke from an alcoholic blackout to find his husband dead, had spent three days emptying the freezer in an attempt to preserve the body. Oh, and sprinkling baking soda.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma and/or strangulation. We had no motions. We tried to find a defense (in addition to the obvious alcoholic blackout). My client was horrified that we were even trying. He had a record, he just wanted the best deal we could get him.

We got him 20 years on a Manslaughter and a misdemeanor abuse of a corpse.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stop Picking on My Clients!

I'll admit it. I talk to myself.

More to the point, I talk, scream, and jump up and down at inanimate objects that bring me bad news.

Like this morning.

I represent this 18 year old kid. Sweet guy. Graduated from high school this past spring, doesn't cause any trouble, listens to his mom, and keeps his ears clean.

On a balmy spring evening last March, sweet kid is walking with his sweet kid friends, minding their own business. Officer Friendly sees these kids minding their own business and he thinks he needs to shake things up a bit. Must have been a particularly slow night in the Republic of Portland. After Officer Friendly engages my poor client in an illegal stop, my kid admits he has "quite a bit" of marijuana in his backpack.

A couple of notes for those of you who don't practice law in Oregon...

1. Our search and seizure law is good and it is getting better all the time. Our Supreme Court doesn't care what SCOTUS says. We're in Oregon, damn it and we do things our own way. Pioneering spirit and all that. Hell, we've got a whole wagon trail named after us!

2. This is Oregon. More importantly, this is Portland. I think I might be the only person in Portland who isn't getting baked on a nightly basis. OK, that's maybe an exaggeration. Point is, we don't care that much about pot in this city!

I've had this case since I took over another attorney's case load in May. In August I filed a kick-ass motion to suppress evidence. No reasonable suspicion to stop my client. No reason to demand his ID. Unlawfully extended stop. All the good stuff.

The DDA kept setting the case over. He's going to file a response to my motion. Yeah, right. In all my time as a PD in this city, I have never had a written response to anything from this DA's office.

This morning, I got my response via e-mail. "Dear Miss Conduct: Plead out your client now or we'll go back to the grand jury and we'll reindict him for much, much worse. Love, DDA."

I screamed at my computer.