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Thank you for 2011. Look out 2012!

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Thank you for the most amazing 2011.

Just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year from the Landsberg Law Office. In 2011 we went, in a short time, from Zero to the Penthouse. We made successful appearances in front of the Liquor Commission, Family Court, and Military Court (in addition to Circuit and District). We beat the same cop twice. The only time they let us go to Jury trial, we won on the first vote. The very first case we consulted on was a murder in the news, and this week we again were assigned a murder, and again in the news!

We launched our social media presence. We made great contacts and partnerships throughout the legal community, and more importantly we made great friends from everywhere.

I just wanted to take a moment to be thankful to each and every person who reads, responds, and shares this page. Thank you ever-so-much for taking this ride with me. I can’t aim for anything except being the best. I appreciate you riding shotgun as, in 2012, we aim to be better than the best.

Happy New Year!

Honolulu Attorney Lawyer Hawaii Criminal Defense


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Honolulu Liquor Commission Battle for Wang Chung’s

“When life throws lemons at you, let Marcus throw them back”.  – Danny Chang, Wang Chung’s after an the Honolulu Liquor Commission.

Honolulu Liquor commission, Gay, gay bar, Landsberg, Landsberg Law Office, Criminal Defense, Gay lawyer, hawaiiLandsberg Law Office is a proud member of the Waikiki community.  And we do what we can to support other members of our community.  It is with great pleasure that I was able to help a tiny bar, Wang Chung’s, get the Liquor Commission to reconsider a previous ruling.  Before the case came to me, the Liquor Commission handed down a ruling that would have effectively shuttered this local watering hole.

In a very intense hearing, we got the Liquor Commission to reconsider that order, allowing the bar to stay open for all of its patrons.

These are the moments I dreamed of in Law School.

Read it in Danny’s Own words: Wang Chung’s Review of Landsberg Law Office

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Parental Discipline — The defense to Abuse

abuse, parental discipline, acquit, lawyer, win, hawaii, Kamehameha

Not for hitting children.

“What high school did you go to?” I asked him in front of the jury.


This defendant didn’t go to Kamehameha, I knew that.  No one from Kamehameha calls it “Kam”, they’re trained to call the school by the full name.  He’s lying to the jury, I told him he’s not allowed to do that.  If I catch him saying something I clearly know is untrue, I think I have to report him.

Pause. Jaw drop. Look at him sternly.


Campbell High School.  Beat. Jury laugh.  Everyone fell for it. He smiles.

What’s he thinking, *I* tell the jokes here.  But now he has a taste for it…


He was a large Hawaiian man.  Many kids of his own.  His new wife brought a few of their own to their blended family.  He worked during the day and she worked at night, and while they rarely had time together, they found time to make sure people were always home with the kids.  They lived on old family land and the kids had enough space to run and play.  Homework always got done first.  No one was getting straight 5′s on AP tests, but no one was getting arrested before they were 18, at least as far as my defendant was concerned.

So when his 14 year old son (who could easily passed for 21) got questioned by the police at the local mom & pop market for stealing, that wasn’t allowed.  Now compound that by hiding in from the father.  Now mix that up with the father finding out by going down to the store and getting thrown out, “Get out of here! Your son steals ‘Girlie Mags’ from my store! Your money is no good here.” And then the boy lies when confronted with the facts:

Not only did he steal, but he stole pornography.  (Which was probably as much the reason for the secret from dad.)

Someone’s getting hit.

So when the student was sent to the school nurse for limping, he didn’t mention

1. Theft.

2. Pornography.

3. Lying.

4. Talking back.

All he mentioned was:

“My father beat me with a bamboo stick”.  He didn’t mention the father told him the purpose of the stick was to limit the strength of the giant ham hocks at the end of the Defendant’s arms.    He didn’t mention that Defendant was aiming for this boy’s rear end, but he kept moving, causing other bruises.


“How many kids do you have”.

“Nine, or ten, I’m not sure.”

An uncomfortable laugh, now we’re on the wrong side of the jury.  He breaks the first rule of testimony: “Don’t answer more than you have to.”  The more you answer, the more ammunition they have. Get in, say the facts, say the feelings, get out.  If there’s a second rule its “don’t be flippant in front of a jury”.  This is about as serious as a situation gets.  There’s a jail sentence hanging over your heard.

I suppose I should say here, there’s an exception to the second rule:  I have a full presentation on “The use of Humor for the Lizard Brain: Comedy in Courtrooms” that is beyond this post here.  And really only for attorneys.  The purposeful sublimation of perceived Court customs (but never court rules) is just about the second most important tool we have to make jurors listen.

But that one line flipped the momentum of the trial from us to the prosecutor.  And the Prosecutor seized on it in closing:

This is a man who wants you to think he cares about his children.  He doesn’t even know how many he has!

Hard to come back from that.  Good thing the jury never heard about his prior Abuse convictions on two of these ten children.  Explainable, but better left unsaid.


Now, even if the boy had mentioned WHY he got punished,  School’s often have mandatory reporting. Police still get called, still make arrests.  Prosecutors are given the duty to dismiss these cases.  Often that duty is taken away by their supervisors.  Often these cases just aren’t dismissed.  Overcharging is the number one reason cases go to trial. Overcharging and over arguing for punishment.

They should. They just don’t.

So we go before the jury, and we explain. Everything.  Tell them everything.  Lay bare the the home life and the discipline plan of these nine or ten kids.  Then the judge reads the law and they all go to the jury room to deliberate.

But they walk past something that I couldn’t plan or predict.

Outside, on the bench the jurors have to pass on their way to the jury deliberation room, the jurors walk past the two boys who testified.  They’re taking a nap.  The larger boy is using a rolled up jacket for a pillow, the smaller boy is using the larger boy’s lap.

A picture of boys raised correctly.

And no matter who wins on points or pontification, spilling guts or speechifying before the jury.  The jury seeing that these kids are raised to love and protect each other.  Raised to do the right thing when their father isn’t there.  The jury realized this was real honest discipline meant to guide the children to do right by each other, themselves, and their family.  Not for simplistic, sadistic reasons.

And you can’t beat that with a stick.  Not Guilty.  (And I don’t think he ever came back.)

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Good morning!

Marcus Landsberg review, review, Marcus Landsberg, Lawyer Review, Honolulu Lawyer, attorneyWoke up to this today.  They are absolutely a lovely couple and I’m glad we were able to meet.  More glad that I was able to actually provide them something that they are pleased with.

Also got a new call from an old friend to clean up some old cases.

And the sun is shining.

And mama cooked breakfast with no hog!


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Laying foundation In Trial – A Cute story about trial work

Laying foundation In Trial - A Cute story about trial work

Bullcoming’s talk about the Gas Chromatograph Spectrometer reminded me of one of my favorite trials and how lawyers have to lay foundation in trials:

It was a three co-defendant case.  The police came to serve a search warrant on an old family property deep in a valley.  Like most warrants, they came on the property at dawn and busted in the main house.  My defendant and his wife came out of a small lean-to that looked thrown together.  Inside the lean-to was a denim pencil case. Inside the pencil case was some drugs.  They cooperated with the police in every way.  He was a 56 year old local Portuguese gentlemen who had lived the last few years in the back of his truck.  White hair, craggy skin, and hands that have worked on so many engines that they are permanently stained with oil.

When we got to the Drug Expert in this case, she was an attractive local Japanese-Hawaiian. Maybe mid to late-20s. The Prosecutor laid the foundation like foundation should be laid in trial, methodically.  Step by step he built up the credibility of the Drug Expert, the infallibility of her procedures, and the reliability of her results.  The next attorney up attacked the foundation of the the Drug Expert but she was prepared.  She had answered these questions more than once, she had trained how to answer these questions, and the jury was loving her.  She had done everything right in their eyes.  The testimony using unpronounceable words had become monotonous.  Not monotonous like the jury would tune out and miss evidence, monotonous like the jury would tune out and assume she gave all the evidence she needed to.

And I was up next, time to throw a curve ball.

I changed topics from the Drug Testing itself, to the larger procedures of how things get tested.

  • Who orders the tests.
  • How these tests get requested.
  • Where the items go to get tested.
  • Could the pencil case could have been tested for different types of evidence.
  • To the best of your knowledge, was this pencil case tested for ANY type of evidence?

Then I switched tack. Time for the curve ball.

  • I want you to look at this pencil case.
  • Is there a drawing or a marking on it?
  • Oh, it’s an embroidery.
  • And are you familiar with this character on the  embroidery.
  • Is this a character that you have seen before.

The purpose is to make the witness only answer “yes” to questions.  This is called a “yes ladder”.  A skilled attorney can make a witness climb a yes ladder until he admits to just about anything.  In practice I’ve had witnesses admit to crimes I know they hadn’t done, just because they feel the pressure to say yes.  I was catching objections now, for relevance, but the questions were foundational and I think the judge wanted to know what I was doing.  Curiosity killed the cat, so to speak.

  • So you saw this character as a kid?
  • You owned items featuring this character?
  • Your friends owned items featuring this character?
  • You bought or had your friends or family buy items featuring this character on it.
  • You saw ads or posters featuring this character, when you were growing up.
  • And in your life you’ve experienced, owning, buying, seeing, or talking about this character, right?

This whole time, the Drug Expert was looking at the pencil case, but the jury had yet to see the case itself.  Proper foundation had been laid and it had been admitted into evidence, but in order to save time the Prosecutor had not “published” it (meaning shown it) before the jury, so when I asked the judge permission to publish the pencil case to the jury, it was the first time the jury got a chance to see which cute, familiar character I was talking about.  I held the pencil case in my hand, smiling, as I showed the jury.   I confirmed with the Drug Expert my next question:

  • And this character is known to you as “Hello Kitty”? Yes.

As the jury smiled at me, happy I stopped talking about the incessant drug testing issues, I balanced the pencil case on the beam in front of the jury box where they all could see.  I moved around the courtroom and stood behind my Defendant, put my hands on his shoulders, and asked the money question in my loudest accusatory courtroom voice:

  • Isn’t it true, based on your training and experience, including your life experience, that “Hello Kitty” is not marketed to 56 year old Portuguese males!!!

The court broke out in laughter so loud, the prosecutor was laughing as he objected.  The judge was laughing as she sustained, and I was grinning ear-to-ear as I withdrew my question.  On this, the most solemn of occasions, the 12 stone faces in the jury box fell out of their  chairs laughing their fool heads off.

This wasn’t the type of man who had a Hello Kitty pencil case, let alone use it to hold his drugs.  Unless he had a very well-developed ironic sense of humor, or he was a criminal mastermind (who remained homeless), that simply wasn’t his pencil case.

Not his pencil case, not his drugs.

Although I hear Sanrio is making in-roads in the Middle-Aged Mililani Portuguese community!

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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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