Tag Archives: philosophy

Casey Anthony Trial Attorney thoughts — Get mad

Now that the last post is out of my system, let me talk seriously about this case.  And if you are deeply invested in Casey Anthony’s guilt, then know my heart goes out to the whole family in this and Casey will have to live with whatever she did for the rest of her life.  She will never be afforded a normal life, and will be marked as “guilty” no matter what the jury says.

Also, like the movie Final Destination, Justice comes back to get its own: see OJ Simpson.

And please don’t read the rest of this post.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=su2PuprjMCY]

(embedding is disabled but it’s an interesting take, minus the lack of modesty in victory.)

Casey Anthony is not who you should be mad at.

Jose Baez is not who you should be mad at.

You should be mad at the talking heads who are right now congratulating themselves for knowing better than the jury.  The same people who told us she would be found guilty, now tell us she should have been found guilty and anyone else is wrong.  The same people who said  Jose Baez is a horrible attorney and will lose the case, are now saying Jose Baez is a horrible attorney and won by accident.

Jose Baez didn’t make them predict the entire case wrongly last Friday.  This was as much of a “dry bones” case before the verdict was read.  So who is the person who knows less about the legal system now?

So Is Jose Baez as bad an attorney as they say?  Is he the next Johnnie Cochran?

Slow down.  These are two of the questions I’ve received since this case started and the answer is, slow down.  Baez gets his moment of the sun.  No matter how horrible is, he won. And to the victor go the spoils.  He gets to celebrate.  He gets to charge more for his next few cases.  That’s the rule.  But you’re only as good as your last case.

This week, he’s the best in the world.  And he has the perfect rebuttal to anyone who criticizes him.  ”You  go win that case.”

Baez reportedly acts like he doesn’t know basic courtroom rules.    Acting amateur is an old, useful scheme many people use.  One of my most recent cases I purposely misspoke a rule of law during Voir Dire.   I knew the judge would catch it, correct me in front of the jury, and that the rule would mean more coming from him.  This is the one rule I planned to argue in closing.  And I did.  And I told the jury “You remember at the beginning, I said _______, the judge interupted, he said ‘No, __opposite___’, and I said ‘Really?’ and he said ‘yes __opposite__ is the rule.’  It was that important. The judge corrected me and told you TWICE what the rule is.  Now, FOLLOW IT.”  My client walked out the front door because the jury followed the law.

I would also point out Baez completely ignored the chloroform evidence in his closing.  I would have done that too. I think that’s a smart decision even though I think many people would demand he address it.  I can’t be mad at that.

More people to be mad at:

You should be mad at the attention in the case.  Publicity comes with good attorneys who come with investigators who come with jury consultants who come with medical examiners.  All wanting to get one sound bite on camera to make a career.

Be mad at the Medical Examiner for making an absolute rookie mistake and being a completely unbelievable witness.  By testifying to something that was so clearly untrue (that she was able to determine it was a murder) she undermined the whole prosecution’s case.  If you don’t know how someone died, you can’t say it was a murder. Period.

Be mad at whoever suggested “Beautiful life” is somehow a tribute to Casey’s life after Caylee died.  It just doesn’t ring true and jeopardizes every other argument.  Getting a tattoo as a tribute to your dead daughter’s lost “beautiful life” sounds way more realistic.

Be mad at the American system.  We let some of the guilty go free in order to assure the innocent go free.  We insure the rights of the guiltiest among us so that the innocent among us get that same assurance of procedural fairness.  Decide what number of innocent people are allowed to be in jail, or put to death, in exchange for what number of guilty people are allowed to go free. The traditional standard is 10 guilty must go free to save one innocent person.

Now decide when that innocent person is your brother, your mother, your wife?

Be mad at whoever sold you that a jury trial is about “Justice for Caylee”  If you feel “Justice for Caylee” is more important than assurance of fairness for the defendant, I’m afraid we can’t be friends.  Not because i’m against justice for the victim.  (The first client I signed since going private was actually a victim’s rights client.)  But because you’re a horrible person if you believe convicting someone, anyone is somehow justice if that person isn’t proven guilty under the rules you’ve agreed to in advance.

Be mad at anyone who gave this case coverage.  The largest jury panel I ever had was in excess of 150 people.  The first question the judge asked was “Who has heard of this case”  Over half the room raised their hands.  So everyone who has read the paper, reads the news on the internet, watches television news or updates, or listens to morning radio, all these people were instantly dismissed! Understand, in a high publicity case, anyone swayed by the publicity must be dismissed.  It is an entirely different jury pool if you disqualify anyone passingly interested in daily, local news.

If this case was not championed by the lawyer TV circuit, it would have been a much different case.

The final takeaway for this is simple: What makes a good episode of Nancy Grace, doesn’t make a good murder case.  For some reason prosecutors seem to buckle under media pressure when Defense attorneys thrive on it (see: Marcia Clark/Christopher Darden).  Every time I’ve seen an attorney act as if his case was a slam dunk, he’s lost.  Run every race like you’re ten feet behind.

It’s a tragedy what happened to Caylee.  But that doesn’t mean we should compromise our underlying principles to convict her mother.  One tragedy isn’t fixed by inflicting another. Compromising traditional, long-standing values is always a tragedy.  An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Insure the process and perfect the means. As soon as the ends are more important that the means, the whole system is lost.

No matter what the system is we’re talking about.


Body Count

Ice-T looking like a serious Honolulu criminalHere’s a story I choose to believe is true, about one of the original “Gangster Rappers” named Ice-T.  Now he is an actor on Law and Order:

Ice-T had a meeting with a record exec once. The exec said he wanted to hear a sample of a proposed song before signing a contract. Ice-T says, “If I was selling hand grenades in an alley, I’m not gonna let you throw one to see if they’re any good. You either believe I’m selling good grenades or you don’t! So you either believe I can give you good records or you don’t!”

The exec says, “You’ve got good business sense. Did you go to business school?”

Ice-T replies, “Naw, but I did sell hand grenades in an alley once.”

So, as clients come in my office, I try to let them know exactly how well I can perform in court.  Ethically, it’s illegal for me to guarantee a client anything.  I am not allowed to tell them how many trials, or jury trials I’ve done.  I am also not allowed to tell them my win-loss record.

My feeling is, these ethical rules were created by someone not as proud of their record as I am.

The two or three most important questions any of my potential clients have for me, the two or three top sales points I absolutely have (and would like to put on a billboard) are the two or three things I am absolutely not allowed to say.  Hopefully, they believe what I’m doing is upholding justice and enforcing the rule of law to their benefit.   Unfortunately more often the defendant starts to think I’m hiding the ball and that I’m in bed with the prosecutor, the police, and the judge and that I’m trying to lock them up.

Only nothing could be farther from the truth.  What I want to do is set them free so they can tell their friends, “Wow, this guy the best!”

I can show them the newspaper articles I have around the office. I can tell them about the “Oh Wow!” cases Daryl Huff covered on KHON and that they remember.  I can explain to them the “Oh Wow!” cases no one ever heard about because our plan was to keep them as low key as possible.  I say that no results are guaranteed, and each one of these cases had a peculiar situation that I was able to ferret out.  That their case may or may not have these situations, but that’s what I’m trained to find, or expand if these situations are microscopic.  And we won’t know what that situation is until they hire me, and I’m able to read the police report and go through their entire case, page by page.

And the whole time I feel like:

Ice-T believes in the First Amendment in Honolulu Hawaii

And I’m thinking:

Wow, I never realized being an attorney was so much like selling hand grenades.


Justice League Bulgaria

It turns out overnight someone in Bulgaria turned this:

Into this:

Turning a Soviet War Monument into the modern-day Justice league of Capitalism.  I cannot divine who the completely yellow man on the left is, but the rest, from left to right, seem to be ersatz versions of the Joker, Wolverine, Santa Claus, Superman (with a gun!), Ronald McDonald, Captain America, Robin, and Wonder Woman.

By any definition, this is vandalism.  I also think, by any modern definition, this is art.  And it is not just art for art’s sake, but rather a clear comment on the evolution of the former Soviet Bloc countries;  probably Bulgaria in particular.  Where before the monument recognized the Communist overlords, so to speak, now the monument recognizes the new string-pullers: the Capitalists.  McDonald’s, Time-Warner, Disney, and the entire toy industry.

Many Americans don’t see the trouble in prosecuting vandalism.  But it really is two of the most basic American principles in sharp contrast: Freedom of Speech vs. Property Rights.  More problematic is the fact that this is probably public property, so the artist theoretically owns a small piece of it as a taxpayer.  Furthermore, this is a speech with a real message, a true warning on the trappings of Capitalism, not just a CHAKA thrown up on the back of a bus.

England’s Banksy is the most famous of these  street artists.  Making a movie, making an international hunt for his identity, making a introduction for a Simpson’s episode, of all things.  Making money for a lot of people.  And some point, is he still on the hook for simple vandalism if he gets caught, or does he contribute to a greater good? Not only with the high quality of the art, but with the intellectual message his art often implies (whether we agree with it or not).  Should that be “Vandalism” under the law?  Especially if he actually adds to the value of the wall, by really giving someone an internationally marketable piece of work.

Or by updating a monument that brings your city international attention and potentially new tourism, as I can’t imagine the prior Soviet War Monument was still a tourist draw?

Probably wouldn’t win, but it would sure be a fun argument to make!

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She Drives Me Crazy


One of the main reasons I left the Public Defender’s office, is that I really want to get into Personal Injury law.

Two hundred and fifty years ago, at the founding of our Country, the biggest fear was always the King, the “Crown” and ambitious people acting on behalf of the Crown. People more worried about climbing to the top, no matter who they used as a ladder.  They would wear the cloak of authority to enrich themselves.  See: LAPD’s Rampart division.  This is the sole reason Criminal Defense attorneys exist: just to make sure no one working for the Crown crosses the line.

So what about corporations who don’t hold a public trust?

Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, CA times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.

You can’t put a corporation in jail.  You can’t shoot it (there’s no heart).  What you can do is take all it’s money, so that it can’t produce anymore. And hopefully, the next corporation thinks twice about taking the same liberties with human lives. Personal injury lawsuits are the way we make saving lives worth money.

But none of that gets in the way of me enjoying a lawsuit against a NASCAR driver for hitting Juan Valdez’s horse.

(Read the rest of the lawsuit here)

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Hawaii Criminal Defense: The Legal Blog

Issues in Hawaii Law.

Below is a collection of Articles I've written about Hawaii law.  Most are about criminal defense, Honolulu trial work, or future legal trends. Courtroom experience is probably the most common.  Others are comments on local or national law.  Hopefully there is something for you to find and enjoy.  If nothing else, you'll see the way I feel about certain issues, and the thought processes I put into legal problems we solve.

And some stories are just too funny NOT to tell.......

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