OC Weekly: Federal Prosecutors Win DEA Bribery Case Involving Orange County Defense Lawyer by R. Scott Moxley:
Veteran Orange County criminal defense lawyer Lawrence Anthony Witsoe closed his eyes and remained motionless late this afternoon as a court clerk read a series of guilty verdicts against him in what could go down as one of the dumbest bribery convictions in California history.
FBI bribery probes usually capture greedy, selfish characters and yet more than a week of evidence and testimony inside Santa Ana's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse repeatedly underscored that the low-key Witsoe doesn't fit the mold.
Witsoe had no idea that his bribery option prompted an offended, suspicious Gillis to hire a second attorney before contacting the FBI and then recording damning conversations that proved to be the meat of today's convictions won by federal prosecutors Rob Keenan and Jennifer Waier.
Providence Journal: Defense lawyer accused of bribery opts for a jury trial by Katie Mulvaney:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A defense lawyer accused of bribing a witness has decided to let a jury decide his fate.
Gerard Donley withdrew his bid for a bench trial before Superior Court Judge Robert Krause. Donley initially questioned a jury's ability to understand the intricacies of the law and a criminal defense lawyer's role within that process.
"The right to jury trial is a fundamental right given to citizens under both the U.S. and R.I. Constitutions to determine the facts in a criminal trial," his lawyer Ed Roy said. "Mr. Donley trusts that a jury of citizens will see the truth."
ABAJ: Judge is suspended for jailing lawyer who advised his client to plead the 5th by Debra Cassens Weiss:
A Michigan judge will be suspended for 30 days for jailing a lawyer who asserted his client's Fifth Amendment rights when the judge asked questions about past drug use.
Judge Kenneth Post of Hudsonville will begin the unpaid suspension on May 22, report the Grand Rapids Press, the Associated Press and WoodTV.com. The Michigan Supreme Court said in a ruling on Wednesday that Post had a "failure to be aware that the judicial system is for the benefit of the litigant and the public, not the judiciary." Post also had a "failure to avoid a controversial manner or tone in addressing counsel,” according to the opinion.
Texas Tribune: Texas Prosecutors No Longer Unassailable by Ross Ramsey:
An elected prosecutor used to have one of the most respected jobs at any level of Texas government.
District attorneys were often big personalities — the courtroom muscle of the criminal justice system, the people showing up on TV to play out the real-life version of “truth, justice and the American way.”
. . .
But a strange thing is happening in the impervious ranks of high-profile Texas prosecutors. That cachet is taking a beating.
One prosecutor is in jail. A former district attorney is facing charges related to sending an innocent man to jail. One county spent nearly $400,000 settling a sexual harassment charge against its DA. Another prosecutor is fighting contempt of court charges after refusing to testify in a prosecutorial misconduct inquiry.
Law.com: Client Identities, Legal Bills Can Be Disclosed, High Court Says by Gina Passarella:
Client identities do not enjoy blanket attorney-client privilege protection under Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law, the state Supreme Court has ruled. The case stems from a request by an Associated Press reporter for legal bills related to the Pennsylvania Senate's hiring of attorneys to represent former state Senator Robert J. Mellow and other Democratic caucus employees.
NLJ: In Boston Marathon bomb case, resources aren't equal by Zoe Tillman:
The Boston Marathon bombings case promises to be a high-profile spectacle. Every move prosecuting and defense attorneys make will be subject to searing media analysis and second-guessing. The death penalty could be on the table. To all that add another complication: the federal budgetary sequestration.
On the defense, not the prosecution.
Law.com: Public Defenders for Boston Suspect Facing Furloughs by Zoe Tillman:
As the federal public defender office in Boston prepares to defend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old charged in the Boston Marathon bombings, the lawyers involved face an added challenge: managing the case in the midst of furloughs.
It's rare for a furlough announcement to be considered good news, but that was the case yesterday for the federal public defender office in Washington.
The Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference, the body of judges that decides how the federal judiciary spends its money, announced it had reached a plan for the defender services budget under federally mandated cuts known as sequestration. The details are still being hammered out, but federal public defender offices would face no more than three weeks of furloughs—a significant amount of time, but less than originally projected for many offices.
TimesLeader.com: County public defender fired by Jennifer Learn-Andes:
A litigation threat didn’t stop Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton from terminating acting Chief Public Defender Al Flora.
Lawton sent council an email Wednesday afternoon saying Flora has been “relieved of his duties” as acting chief, effective immediately. Flora officially will be off the payroll at the close of business April 29, Lawton said.
Lawton and County Council hired someone else to run the office last week, but officials left the impression Flora might stay put in a non-supervisory assistant public defender position and keep his $52,178 salary.
Flora’s employment status is an issue because he had filed a federal court action seeking an injunction prohibiting the county from firing him for filing a still-pending county suit seeking additional staffing. Flora halted that action last April after county officials agreed they would not seek to fire him.
“In [Lafler v. Cooper, __ U.S. __, 132 S. Ct. 1376, 182 L. Ed. 2d 398 (2012), and Missouri v. Frye, __ U.S. __, 132 S. Ct. 1399, 182 L. Ed. 2d 379 (2012)], the United States Supreme Court held that habeas petitioners can establish a violation of the sixth amendment right to counsel by proving a reasonable probability [that] they would have accepted the ... plea offer had they been afforded effective assistance of counsel.” Here, defendant turned down the state’s plea offer and said he didn’t want a plea offer, he wanted a trial. So, how can he conceivably benefit from Ladler and Frye? Britton v. Comm'r of Corr., 141 Conn. App. 641, 2013 Conn. App. LEXIS 162 (April 2, 2013).*
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"A lawyer shall represent a client zealously within the bounds of
—§ 1:1, Rule 3(a) (not "should" from CPR Canon 7)
"I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were
born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father is one of them."
—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, ch. 22, p. 197 (1960)
"The very premise of our adversary system of criminal justice is that partisan
advocacy on both sides of a case will best promote the ultimate objective that
the guilty be convicted and the innocent go free."
—Herring v. New York, 422 U.S. 853, 862 (1975)
"The right to the effective assistance of counsel is thus the right of the
accused to require the prosecution's case to survive the crucible of meaningful
adversarial testing. When a true adversarial criminal trial has been conducted
... the kind of testing envisioned by the Sixth Amendment has occurred. But
if the process loses its character as a confrontation between adversaries, the
constitutional guarantee is violated."
—United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 655-56 (1984)
"The only real lawyers are trial lawyers, and trial lawyers try cases to juries."
"The right to offer the testimony of witnesses, and to compel their attendance,
if necessary, is in plain terms the right to present a defense, the right to
present the defendant's version of the facts as well as the prosecution's to
the jury so it may decide where the truth lies. Just as an accused has the right
to confront the prosecution's witnesses for the purpose of challenging their
testimony, he has the right to present his own witnesses to establish a defense.
This right is a fundamental element of due process of law."
—Washington v. Texas, 388 U.S. 14, 19 (1967)
"[T]he Constitution guarantees criminal defendants 'a meaningful opportunity
to present a complete defense.'"
—Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 690 (1986) (quoting California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 485 (1984)).
"[O]ur so-called adversary system is not adversary at all; nor should it be.
But defense counsel has no comparable obligation to ascertain or present the
truth. Our system assigns him a different mission. He must be and is interested
in preventing the conviction of the innocent, but, absent a voluntary plea of
guilty, we also insist that he defend his client whether he is innocent or guilty.
... [A]s part of our modified adversary system and as part of the duty imposed
on the most honorable defense counsel, we countenance or require conduct which
in many instances has little, if any, relation to the search for truth."
—Justice White concurring and dissenting in U.S. v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 256-58 (1967)
We, as criminal defense lawyers, are forced to deal with some of the lowest
people on earth, people who have no sense of right and wrong, people who will
lie in court to get what they want, people who do not care who gets hurt in
the process. It is our job–our sworn duty–as criminal defense lawyers,
to protect our clients from those people.