Scott Greenfield Day

Posted: June 7th, 2010 by .

Welcome to the first annual Scott Greenfield Day.  We will be having Scott Greenfield Day every June 7.  What happens on this day?  Nothing.  You don’t get a day off or green beer.  Nothing happens.  You don’t get the keys to twitter.  Hell, you won’t even get on his blogroll.  The thing you get is to keep reading a blog that inspires, enlightens, and sometimes angers.  So celebrate with me, will you?  On this day, June 7, 2010, we rejoice in Simple Justice

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A note from the beach

Posted: June 5th, 2010 by .

Yes, I’m on vacation and I’m sitting in a room with wall to wall windows looking out over the ocean.  But, the kids are asleep and the men-folk have gone to the deli to hunt down some lunch so I’ve got some time to kill.

There was a bit of a self-created hubub over at Simple Justice the other day and I admit to liking the attention (45 comments!  About me!), not because it boosted my SEO (if you google my name, this site comes up, but, it doesn’t help business since there is no way from here for you to call me up to hire me) but because I am vain and I like it when people think I’m worthy of spending time on.  In the meantime, I think Brain Tannebaum and regular Simple Justice reader and commenter Lee Stonum proved my point about what can and cannot be accomplished by blogging. (Lee pops over here every once in a while too.)

Let’s be honest, these days its hard to use your real name and pretend to be something you’re not.  If you have a few minutes and google my name, you’ll see that I’ve tried cases before.  I was with the A.G’s office in New York under Elliott Spitzer, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and I’m fairly active with Afghan and Muslim organizations.  My blog will not be able to convince you that I am someone else.  Besides, look at that picture over there, doesn’t that LOOK like the picture of a kick ass lawyer? 

I think, though, that Mr. Greenfield has a point.  Not that I think blogging will get one of those guys to throw me a case if one comes up in Maryland, but that its probably a good idea to spread my wings a bit and extend my reach.  I blog about things I know right now, things I am comfortable with and well, maybe its time to stop doing that.   I don’t think I need to do it to keep up with the guys because, well, I’m not a guy.  I LIKE being a girl.  I LIKE that my perspective and my audience is different.

If someone calls this a mommy blog, well, they clearly have never read a mommy blog before.  I can direct your attention to mommy blogs if you’d like and then you’d see the difference (hats off to one of my favorite mommy blogs)

Lunch is here and the beach is calling.  If you don’t believe I’m here, check out my facebook page. 

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I’m in like flynn.

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 by .

When I became a criminal defense lawyer way back in the day, I started by taking on 18b assigned counsel cases in New York.  This was before I joined Terry Kindlon and worked in his shop learning how to really try cases.  They don’t teach you much of that as a prosecutor because, well, you are supposed to win.  So, I went to TLK’s place and learned via the school of hard knocks, trial by fire, and also good old fashioned mentoring.  After a while in the office, I was admitted to federal court in the Northern District of New York.  The bar there is pretty small, so I got a bunch of federally (CJA) appointed work as well. 

Terry didn’t like that I did the state assigned work.  He thought it diminished the value of my work – if they can get me for free why would they pay?  He also was familiar with the stereotypical client that comes with assigned counsel work, people who are ungrateful and who think that we work for the government and not for them.  Still, as some of you know, I’m not one to do as I’m told so I continued to represent indigent clients.

When I say Terry didn’t do assigned work, I’m not saying he didn’t do cases pro bono or that he didn’t cut his fees when the case or the client was worthwhile.  We earned a good living in Albany, and we paid it forward when we could.  Terry taught us that our work had real value and if we were going to do it – assigned, paid,pro bono, we should do it well.  You reap what you sow, so sow some good shit.

When I started here in Takoma Park, I wrote to Terry asking his advice on how to let people know I was here – website, blog, letters to folks who’d recently been arrested?  His response wasn’t unusual for Terry.  He doesn’t have a huge web presence, he’s not on twitter.  He’s a lawyer’s lawyer.  Meaning, he practices law every single day without rest. Even after heart surgery.  He just does it.  His advice to me?  Just do it.  Get on the assigned counsel list, the CJA panel.  Let them see you try a case. Once they’ve seen you, the clients will come.

So, in this case, I followed his advice and applied to get on the CJA panel. The vetting process was fairly intense and I spent an entire day on email and phone with the head of the unit.  I gave her the names of judges, other attorneys, cases I’d tried, federal sentencing memos I’d written.  The panel in Maryland is small, not much more than 100 attorneys in the state, so despite my belief that I was well qualified, I’d have to wait and see.

I got an email yesterday saying I was on the panel.

My website still needs to get done, but I’m getting itchy.  I like the immigration stuff and while I’ve been to immigration court a few times, I’m a criminal law junkie.  Being on the panel is a step in the right direction in getting back into the game.  While google is good, trying cases is better.

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Law is not baseball

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 by .

Last night was a big night in baseball.  Detroit Tiger’s pitcher Armando Galarraga was throwing a perfect game.  It would have been the 21st perfect game in baseball history, and the third this year.  But the umpire, Jim Joyce, blew a call.  He called a batter safe when he clearly was not.  Not maybe, not sort of.  But absolutely no way was the batter safe.  So, Galarraga’s perfect game was no more because of this terrible, awful, horrible call by the umpire.

“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the (stuff) out of it,” Joyce said, looking and sounding distraught as he paced in the umpires’ locker room. “I just cost that kid a perfect game.”

So what happened?  Detroit still won the game.  The umpire apologized.  He cried.  He said he was wrong.
Everything turned out great but for the fact that Galarraga doesn’t ‘technically’ get a perfect game on his scorecard.  Folks on the team said you know, everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes.  It’s ok.  Let’s all hug and go home.

Law is not baseball.

Criminal defense lawyers aim for a perfect game every time we go to court.  We’ve practiced, set up our strategy, know who our players are and the other side’s weaknesses and strengths.  We go out ready to play, ready to win.  And, there are times when we are on top of it, we are pitching a perfect game.  But we only have so much control over how the game plays out.  We, too, have umpires who make lousy calls.  And, when our umpires make bad calls, they don’t acknowledge and they certainly don’t apologize. 

When our games go awry, people go to prison.  They lose liberty and sometimes they lose life.  We have the benefit of instant replay, transcripts of what was said, precedent to rely on, but despite all of that, our umpires are people who make mistakes. They are human.  But when they screw up, we don’t all hug and go home.

Law is not baseball.

What would happen if an umpire was having an affair with a member of the other team?  Would they let that umpire ref that team’s games?   Probably not.  It wouldn’t look good, would it?  If a player was batting .128 and had an ERA of 4.8, you wouldn’t let him start, would you?

Most criminal defense lawyers have stood in the well or at the bench and had it out with the umps in our games.  We’ve shown them why they are wrong.  Sometimes its clear as day and yet, we have to wait until our clients are convicted before we can get a final ruling.  Our perfect game is ruined.  And the consequences are dire.

On appeal we see the aftermath of the bad players, the lawyers who haven’t prepared and who didn’t know the other side’s strengths and weaknesses.  “Pick a different game” we think.  “Why did he get played at all?”  Our mistakes are not easily rectified.

 Law is not baseball.  But if only it was.

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