Published July 28, 2008
One perk of a criminal defendant hiring a lawyer is that the person will usually get to leave the courthouse faster than people without lawyers. This is because defendants with lawyers get their cases heard before those without them. (A criminal defendant usually makes several appearances in court before going to trial or entering a guilty plea. During those court appearances, there may be dozens (or more) of other defendants who are in the courtroom waiting to see the judge. So, going first is nice.)
You might notice that I used the work “perk” above. This was intentional. I certainly wouldn’t recommend hiring a lawyer just so that you can get out of court faster, but if you do hire one, getting out of court faster than others certainly is a perk.
Published July 21, 2008
This year, Coles County will elect a state’s attorney. There are three candidates for the job and all three have been the target of public ridicule. To get a taste of some of the abuse being given, check out the comments to this letter to the editor of Charleston and Mattoon’s newspaper. I am sure that there are many attorneys out there who would like to be the state’s attorney but are not willing to run for the position. This is because they have no interest in a long election campaign saturated in invective. My hat is off to the three gentlemen running for state’s attorney — I admire their thick skins.
Published July 18, 2008
Over at The Matlock Blog, Shawn Matlock shares his frustrations over losing a potential client to an unethical law firm that promised the potential client that it would get the charges dismissed. Check out Shawn’s post.
The lesson in Shawn’s post can be summarized as follows: run away from attorneys who promise results.
Rule 7.1(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct states that a lawyer must not make a communication that “is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve . . . .”
Until lawyers can see into the future with 100 percent accuracy, a promise that a case will be dismissed creates an unjustified expectation as contemplated by Rule 7.1(b).
Published July 16, 2008
Absolutely not. “[A] police officer’s testimony is to be evaluated in the same manner as that of any other witness and there is no presumption that such testimony is more credible than that of any other witness.” People v. Ford, 113 Ill.App.3d 659 (3d Dist. 1983).
Published July 14, 2008
In the News
In Cumberland County, something smells fishy. According to JG-TC.com, a county deputy investigated a police officer for the Village of Toledo. The sheriff’s department suspended the deputy for ten working days and the Village of Toledo fired the police officer. (The story is currently shrouded in mystery, but that is how things appear at the moment.) Click here to read the story.
This story makes me wonder if the deputy’s only misdeed was breaching the Blue Code of Silence. It will be interesting to see where this story goes.
Published July 11, 2008
I recently finished the fifth book in the Harry Potter series. I thought that it provided a good example of the problem of overcriminalization. What is overcriminalization? Crudely put, it is the idea that there are way too many criminal offenses on the books that shouldn’t be there — not everything that is wrong, annoying, dangerous, or immoral needs to be illegal.
So, what does Harry Potter have to do with overcriminalization?
Spoiler alert: Don’t read any further if you haven’t yet read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Continue reading ‘Harry Potter & Overcriminalization’
Published July 9, 2008
An important part of a criminal-defense lawyer’s job is negotiating with the State. Good negotiators have knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor assigned to the case, the types of sentences the judge hearing the case typically hands down, the factual strengths and weaknesses of the case, the legal strengths and weaknesses of the case, etc.
But, all the knowledge in the world may not be enough to get the best deal possible if the criminal-defense lawyer does not know how to behave like a gentleman or lady. Up until a couple of months ago, I was a criminal prosecutor. During my time as a prosecutor, I had the opportunity to negotiate with a lot of different attorneys and pro-se defendants. It always amazed me that it never occurred to some people to be nice and check their emotions at the door. Nice people always got much further with me than nasty people, and it is always easier to go from nice to mean (if appropriate) then it is to go from mean to nice.
So, be nice or pay the price.