Published June 28, 2008
I was out of the office on Thursday and Friday. That was for a good reason: I was in Cumberland County trying a felony-jury case. And the verdict was a good one: not guilty.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself (probably not, but stick with me), “he was a prosecutor just a few months ago, so how in the world did he get a felony jury trial so quickly? Can’t it take a year or more for a case to get to trial after a person is charged with a crime?”
Well, yes, and this case was no different. The incident happened in March of last year.
The key to this mystery is that when I left the Coles County State’s Attorney’s Office to go out on my own, I told one of the public defenders that I would like to try a case as a defense attorney and that she should feel free to call me if she had a case that looked like it was going to trial. (This was my fourth jury trial this year, but the other three were as a prosecutor.) She did have a case going to trial, so she took me up on my offer. We divided up the responsibilities and tried the best case we could.
So, how did I get to trial so quickly? I helped a PD. If you are an attorney and you would like to have more trial experience, don’t be afraid to do what I did. I am confident you will find a PD that is glad to have the free help.
Published June 23, 2008
Just like you shouldn’t talk to the police, you also shouldn’t let the police search your car. I don’t care if you are a Puritan’s Puritan, and the cop is the nicest man in the world: if the police ask for permission to search your car, your answer should be a polite “no.” Robert Guest has the details of how to properly handle the police when they want to search your car. Check it out. I left a comment on his post that you may want to check out as well.
Published June 20, 2008
A conversation about the titles “lawyer” and “attorney” once went something* like the following:
Guy: What do you do for a living?
Lawyer: I am an attorney.
Guy: Do you like your job?
Lawyer: I love being a lawyer. It has it’s frustrating moments, but I really enjoy what I do.
Guy: I’m confused. You’ve called yourself a lawyer and an attorney. Which are you?
Lawyer: Both. They are the same thing.
While I have witnessed lawyers attorneys licensed legal practitioners argue the differences between the two titles, as a practical matter, in the U.S., the words can be used interchangeably.
*This dialogue is loosely based on a real conversation I had with a person quite some time ago.
Published June 17, 2008
Junior commits a crime. Junior’s mom hires the attorney. Is Junior’s mom a client too? Click here for the answer.
Published June 6, 2008
Yesterday, at a continuing legal education program, I learned about a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that comes with a video . . . of a police chase! The case is Scott v. Harris (pdf). It was decided April 30, 2007. The video can be downloaded from the Court’s website here. You can also find it on YouTube.
Published June 3, 2008
Wow. Richard Haynes is a lawyer, in his eighties, who is still trying cases.