Sunday, April 13, 2014

Everyone has the right to bail in Minnesota

Recently, there was an article in the Star Tribune about the ongoing criminal cases involving victims Palagor Jobi and Anarae Schunk.  In the article, it states that "Monty and Mariana Schunk are pushing for changes to the bail and sentencing system for repeated violent offenders.  They have proposed the Anarae Schunk Repeat Violent Offender Bail Law that would deny bail to a person with two prior felony convictions, one of which was a violent crime, when that person is charged with another violent crime involving a gun or other lethal weapon.  They have also proposed an Anarae Schunk Repeat Violent Offender Prosecuting and Sentencing Law that would impose a mandatory life sentence without parole for a person convicted of a third violent crime involving a gun." 

There's much to say about both of these proposed laws, but let's start with the first proposed law for this post.  The one involving bail.  

My boss has always said that if a law is named after a person, it's probably not a good law.  And I've found that to be true.  Usually laws that are named after a person are sledgehammer solutions and are a reaction based on a particular case involving a particular set of circumstances that are terrible, but not common.  Yet, the law catches people in it that it wasn't necessarily intended to initially, because it's not a thought out and rationally debated law.  It's a law based on emotion and terrible circumstances.  

However, this proposed bail law is not only a bad idea, but it's also guaranteed to fail.  Here's why...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Everyone thinks we have a ton of cases

Recently, I have been waiting for court & there were officers there for other hrgs & we got to chit-chatting. On two occasions, officers asked me how many cases I had. I said about 150, give or take.
Both times, the officers seemed shocked by how many I have @ one time.
We have so many cases...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Say hello to Guy.

So, I made a brief statement about it awhile ago, bu I figured I should give this dude I'm dating a name and some context.  For continuity's sake, I'ma call him "Guy" since that's what I refer to him as on Twitter. So, Guy it is. Not the most creative but whatev, it's my blog so I can make up whatever names I want. 

We've been dating for about 5 months now. We have known each other for a long time--actually since high school. He is not at all involved in the legal world.  He is does corporate business stuff that sometimes I don't totally understand because my brain doesn't always (or ever) understand business stuff. But, he's always very interested in my work and what I do for a living and thinks it's very important work, which scores major bonus points in my book. Anyone who respects what I do is already off to a great start. 

We have very similar senses of humor and we get along very well, which is great. I have to have someone who has a sense of humor and can make me laugh. Not having a sense of humor is a total deal breaker. So, it's awesome that he has a great sense of humor and we always have fun when we hang out because we're constantly making each other laugh. 

He also appreciates that I hate pants--he is also a member of the pants-hating club. And he doesn't care that I sometimes (read: always) go out in public looking like a crazy homeless lady in sweatpants. BAM! Match made in heaven right there! 

And, the most important of all, Ward and Hubert love him. They totally gravitate to him anytime he's over and they want to snuggle up on him. It's pretty damn adorable. He also figured out pretty early on that the way to my heart is through my cats. He went pheasant hunting and brought a feather from one of the birds for the cats. Which they loooooved! They couldn't get enough of that feather and they ripped it to pieces w/ absolute murderous joy. He also brought over a fishing rod--he's a big time bass fisherman--that doesn't have a hook. Apparently in the wintertime, bass fishermen practice by casting around and under furniture in the house.  He calls this "flipping."  So, he comes over w/ a fishing rod w/ just a lure and no hook and flips my living room and the cats lose their minds! They love chasing the lure around the living room. Hubert will start freaking out and leaping into the air and race after it. It's pretty great. And he likes getting to play with the cats since he's never had cats as pets and doesn't know how to play with them (he's a dog person). But he's doing a pretty good job at getting in good with the cats and, as a result, with me. 

So, that's the skinny on Guy. He's pretty cool. I will probably keep him around for awhile. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

MN Court of Appeals says, "If the police COULD get a warrant, then it's totally fine if they don't."

I am so appalled today by the recent MN Court of Appeals decision regarding Test Refusals that I can't even express it in words.  I'm sure I'll have more to say once I've had time to stop beating my head against my desk, but here's today initial reactions to this wrong, wrong, wrong decision. 

The case is State v. Bernard.  It's a published decision, which means that the lower courts (such as the ones I spend all my time working in) are required to follow the holding in the case.  And what was that holding?  Well, here it is: 

"The state is not constitutionally precluded from criminalizing a suspected drunk driver’s refusal to submit to a chemical test under circumstances in which the requesting officer had grounds to have obtained a constitutionally reasonable nonconsensual chemical test by securing and executing a warrant requiring the driver to submit to testing."

Let's pull out the important pieces of that extremely wordy sentence and break it down. "The state is not constitutionally precluded from criminalizing...refusal to submit...under circumstances in which the requesting officer had grounds to have obtained...a warrant." 

Okay. What does that mean, exactly?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Technology moves faster than the law

Lost my trial last week.  I wasn't particularly surprised by the verdict, but of course, I was disappointed.  As always.  Losing sucks, even if it isn't a surprise.  But, it was good to get back into the courtroom to do a trial, since it's been over a year since I've done a jury trial and my last trial (just in front of the judge) was in September of last year.  So, it's been awhile, which made it nice to get back in there and do another trial again.  Can't let my trial skillz get all rusty and out of use. 

In other news, there's some interesting stuff going on in the legal world recently.  The most interesting one, which I'm a bit late to comment on, is that SCOTUS agreed in January to hear two cases regarding the police's ability to search through a cellphone without a warrant when they arrest a suspect.  One case, Riley v. California, involves a smartphone; the other case deals with a flip phone and I think is probably less important in the grand scheme of things than the Riley case, since flip phones will likely not be around for too much longer, but smartphones and/or similar technology will be in the hands of more Americans as we move forward. 

So, let's discuss this case, searches incident to arrests, and why the decision that SCOTUS makes in this case is going to be extremely important for every citizen in the nation. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

First trial of the year

In trial this week. First one of the year. Game face on!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New development in my life

I haven't said anything about it because I didn't want to jinx it or talk about it too soon only to have to retract it. But, there's been a new development in my life that's a pretty significant step for me, all things considered & given what has gone on in the past.

I'm dating someone. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that I have a boyfriend.

I have discussed him a bit on Twitter and given him the not-very-creative pseudonym "Guy." So that will be his name on here, as well.

So, that's the deal. That's the new development in my life. I won't say much more about it than that because, like I said, I don't want to jinx anything. But, he makes me very happy & I'm really enjoying my time with him.

Ok, that's all.

Let's talk about sobriety checkpoints

At the request of @RunoftheShipe, today's post will be about sobriety checkpoints.  The request for my piercing insight nonsensical ramblings was due to a recent post by Bob Collins in the 5x8 Newscut blog.  The latest MADD report gives Minnesota an abysmal 2 out of 5 stars on our DWI laws and suggests 2 ways we can--and according to MADD, we should--fix this low rating. 

Thing one: require an ignition interlock device for ALL convicted DWI offenders w/ a BAC of .08 or more. 

Thing two: allow for sobriety checkpoints. 

I could go on and on about thing one and the ridiculousness of mandating ALL defendants convicted of a DWI be required to have an ignition interlock device, but in the interest of addressing the question that was posed to me, I'll stick to just thing two today.  Ignition interlock is a conversation rant for another day. 

So, checkpoints.  What's up with those? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

This line of reasoning terrifies me a little

So, I've talked before about the McNeely/Brooks decisions on DWI cases in previous posts, here, here, and here.  We've now been in court battling these issues and there are plenty of varied arguments that are being utilized by both the prosecution and the defense to support their positions. 

For the most part, I understand why the prosecutors are going with certain arguments that they are using.  I disagree w/ the application of the legal concepts they are relying on, but I can at least understand the logic that got them to that argument. 

But, I have seen one that has been argued that I find truly mind-boggling.  If I were a prosecutor, I would not be able to argue it because I have such a visceral reaction to it. 

The argument, in sum, is that DWI cases should be considered a "special needs" situation and should be completely exempted from the warrant requirement and the protections of the 4th Amendment. 

If you didn't choke a little right then, you're not understanding the implications that argument has for you and for everyone if it were to prevail.