- Since starting with Sumpter & Gonzalez almost two years ago, one of the things I’ve found so surprising is the contempt that defense attorneys have for MADD. I mean, we’re all opposed to drunk driving, right? We just want to see rights preserved and innocence presumed, while MADD wants to make sure that kids are safe, right? Well, MADD just scored a D from the American Institute for Philanthropy’s non-profit grading system, ostensibly because what they really want is to spend 2/3 of their fundraising on staff salaries, with the remaining 1/3 going to charitable work. The battle between overhead-spending and direct services-spending is always fairly heated – the average American thinks that 25% of their donation going to overhead is reasonable, while the average non-profit tends to put 35% of it toward those costs, meaning most people aren’t going to be satisfied to begin with. Still, that being said, 65% is an awful lot of your check to see eaten up by salaries, instead of finding ways to innovate against drunk driving (maybe that’s why all they’ve got time to think about is tougher sentencing laws?)
- I cite his blog a lot here, but Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice continues to be the best writing from a defense attorney’s perspective on the Internet, so leaving him out of these roundups just so I can go a week or two without linking his site seems short-sighted. Today, he’s got a post heralding Sam Adam, the defense attorney for Rod Blagojevich, and the way that he stood up to a judge who – bizarrely – insisted that Adam had a “profound misunderstanding of legal rules” and could be held in contempt for mentioning in his closing argument that the prosecution failed to call a number of witnesses as a way of pointing out that they had a weak case. Greenfield points out that, while it’s true that a prosecutor can’t point to a defendant’s choice to invoke his 5th Amendment rights in his closing argument as a way of indicating that he has something to hide (it’s not really a right if you can be penalized for exercising it), n0 such parallel right exists for the state, its witnesses, or the prosecutors who opted not to call those witnesses. Greenfield’s take is deeper – read the whole thing.
- Virginia and Maryland-area criminal defense lawyer Jon Katz has a post from last week about meeting a prison warden who surprised him with his thoughtfulness. This one stood out to me because a few months ago, I had a good conversation with Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton at the jail. (My wife runs a non-profit that serves woman inmates at Travis County Correctional Complex, which the Sheriff’s Department oversees, and was receiving a service award.) Hamilton similarly surprised me with his insight and open-mindedness (which are reflected in the variety of services provided to inmates at the jail, extending well beyond my wife’s offerings) – he insisted that his management principle is rooted in the knowledge that the only real difference between himself and his deputies and the men they incarcerate is that they never got caught for the mistakes that they made, and related a story about his campaign – in Westlake, a voter playing “gotcha” argued that “Your policies sound like you want to hold hands with the prisoners and sing ‘Kum-Bay-Ya’.” Hamilton responded, “Absolutely, and I’ll sing ‘Kum-Bay-Ya’ with anyone I have to, if it’ll reduce crime in Travis County.” I don’t agree 100% with anyone in law enforcement, but it was a nice reminder that our objectives really aren’t dissimilar most of the time. It sounds like Katz received a similar reminder himself.
- The pseudonymous author of Preaching To The Choir, a public defender’s blog, offers How To Hit On A Public Defender: “‘Oh,’ you respond with a smile [when told that the object of your attention is a public defender], ‘so you’re on the side of truth and justice.'”
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