Friday, December 20, 2013

"Free speech" doesn't mean you can be an asshole without repercussions

Let's play a game I like to call "civics lesson."  This is where we discuss things that the general public should have learned in school in civics class, but apparently either forgot it or never learned it. 

Today's game centers around the First Amendment and specifically, the right to freedom of speech.  As you may have heard, some guy on that stupid show "Duck Dynasty" made some assy remarks about black people and gay people. Then he got suspended from the show. 

First of all, I don't care at all about that show or that guy. That show looks stupid as hell to me and I have less than zero interest in watching it.  The only reason I would even mention it in my blog is because it's caused so many people to say "But the TV network is violating his right to free speech by suspending him!" (I'm looking your way, Sarah Palin...)  Which is 1,000,000% wrong.  And it's driving me a little crazy, so I think we should discuss. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Motivation waning

I have had an absolute bitch of a time lately concentrating at work. I don't know what my deal is but I just cannot seem to focus. I have a ton of things I need to do but getting to everything is impossible. It's feeling super overwhelming & then I start to feel like I won't ever get ahead. Then I have trouble focusing.

It's stupid, because I do good work & I have had some good outcomes lately, so I should be motivated from that. But I feel like I am dragging lately. It's really exhausting. Even w/ the good outcomes recently, I'm still having trouble feeling that same enthusiasm.

Maybe it's the cold, gloomy weather that is starting to bring me down.

In better news, I did win a hrg last week that I didn't think I would. Those wins are some of the best! It was extremely exciting to pull off a big W when I was almost certain I wouldn't, so that made my day last week. And my client was happy too, so that's always a plus.

I have 2 more weeks left of work--this week & next--and then I will be on my annual winter break vacation. Two weeks of hanging out, relaxing, & having nothing to do except what I want. It will be wonderful. Maybe after that, I will feel motivated again. Maybe I just need some time away to recharge my batteries & not have to deal w/ work for a bit.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pets make the best friends

People like to tease me about being a crazy cat lady & pick on me about recently acquiring a third cat. It's all in good fun & I make fun of myself too, but the truth is that my cats saved my sanity during 2011-2012. As any regular reader knows, that was the darkest, saddest,  loneliest, & most difficult time in my entire life. There were days where I would wake up & wish I had somehow died in my sleep bc the pain was so overwhelming. My home was suddenly the last place I wanted to be bc it reminded me of what I no longer had. And I cried every day for hours.

My friends & family were there for me as much as they could be but of course no one can be w/ someone constantly. But, my kitties were.

I came home to those two guys & they just knew I was sad. Ward let me bury my face in his belly & cry until I had no more tears. Oscar would sit beside me & put his head on me as I cried, the only way he could offer me a hug. My bed was suddenly empty of my companion, but those two curled up w/ me every night. They had never been very much the kind of cats to sleep in bed w/ me before, but they somehow knew I needed the company.

They gave me someone to come home to when I was at my lowest. They gave me constant love when I was in need of it most. They sat w/ me when I cried & never got tired of dealing with my tears. They were just there for me, present w/ me, w/o asking any questions. They loved me wholly & they took care of me the only ways they knew how. They were funny @ times & made me laugh when nothing else could & when I couldn't even remember what my own laugh sounded like anymore. They were the most loyal & dependable & steadfast of friends while I struggled to survive that time.

They loved me & they took care of me, just like a person would do for me. They were my friends just as much as my other, human friends were. They were there with me when no one else could be & when I didn't have the strength to face other people. They saved me from being so lonely I couldn't survive it.

So, yes, I am a crazy cat lady. I am so incredibly grateful to have had them w/ me during that time. I might have fallen completely to pieces w/o their constant companionship. They loved me so completely, so consistently, there is no way I could love them any less completely & consistently. I will always love them to pieces because they pulled me through that dark time.

Anyone who has ever loved a pet will understand how fully they can steal your heart, how pure & trusting their love for you is, & how much they can change your life.

People who don't have a pet or have never had one don't understand that there comes a point where the pet is no longer a pet: it's a friend & it's your family. There is nothing quite like loving an animal who loves you back. It's an amazing connection w/ another living thing.

I love my cats. I will always love them & I will be forever grateful for them. If that makes me crazy, then so be it. But I think anyone who has a pet will understand.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Public defenders: we defend the public

(This is a very long post today, so I will understand if you don't want to read all of it. I have a lot to say on this topic recently, so this got a bit longer than I originally expected it to be. Sorry!)

Public defenders get a bad rap. We are often mistakenly considered poor quality lawyers, inexperienced, not invested in our clients or their cases, in cahoots w/ the prosecution, etc. And on top of the negative stereotypes about public defenders, we also deal w/ the stigma of being a criminal defense attorney, the lawyer who "defends those people" or who gets guilty people off on "technicalities." So, you have to have a thick skin to be a public defender, and to a certain extent, a defense attorney. Because what people don't understand is that our job isn't simply to "defend those people" or get criminals off. Our job is to protect the public from government overreach. Our job is to ensure that things are done right & fairly. Our job is to police the police & to make sure that prosecutors are following the rules. Our job is to prevent the government from having unchecked power & authority. Our job, at its core, is fundamental American ideals in action.

I want to make it clear at the outset that I am not anti-police nor anti-prosecutor. As I have mentioned on several occasions, I know several prosecutors who I consider my friends & I have friends from law school who became prosecutors. I love these guys dearly & I respect the work they do. There obviously needs to be a prosecution sector of the system bc yes, some people do bad things & need to be held accountable. I also have gotten to know many police officers in my work & I think highly of the work they do & of them & we get along very well. They know I have an essential role in the system & they don't take it personally when I challenge things & they do their work in an ethical manner. So, I don't have a problem w/ officers or prosecutors based just on their job titles.

I have a problem w/ the officers who act like cowboys, who flagrantly & routinely violate people's rights, & who refuse to ever consider that maybe they should modify their actions. I have a problem w/ prosecutors who see this behavior in their officers & who don't correct it, who don't explain to the officers why this is not legal & needs to be changed, who proceed on w/ cases that have shoddy police work & obvious rights violations, bc damnit, they need that conviction.

I'm not talking about situations where I think there is an issue & the prosecutor disagrees & there is a legitimate argument to be made for both sides. I'm talking about situations where there is no legitimate argument to be made that the police conduct was permissible & yet, they still proceed w/ it.

I will share a few examples of how it should work, examples that have actually occurred w/ my cases & w/ my prosecutors.

First, a few years ago, when I was just doing misdemeanors, I had several clients on traffic tickets that would tell me that the cop searched their vehicle. In Minnesota, an officer is only allowed to search your vehicle during a traffic stop if they reasonably believe they will find evidence of a crime. So, if you're pulled over for speeding & the officer doesn't observe anything else suspicious, they can't search your car bc there isn't going to be any evidence of speeding in the car. So, I had lots of clients tell me they were getting their cars searched by the cops on cases for driving w/o a license or something like that, where no evidence of the crime would reasonably be found in the car. The problem was, the cops weren't finding anything illegal in the cars, so I couldn't challenge anything in court. When we challenge things in court, we are most often trying to get illegally obtained evidence suppressed. No evidence = nothing to challenge. But I still found this routine car searching to be troubling, so I mentioned it to the prosecutor. He was horrified by this information & wanted me to let him know how often it was happening. I kept track for a bit & reported it to him. He later came to me & said he had taken the info & spoken w/ his officers. He told them they couldn't search cars like they had been & that from now on, he wanted clean searches & seizures. No more random, suspicionless searches.

Second, in Minnesota, there is a law that allows officers to arrest someone for an alleged domestic assault up to 48 hrs after the incident occurs. After that, they would need an arrest warrant. I had a case where the person was arrested w/o a warrant more than 48 hrs after the alleged incident & was interrogated by officers after being arrested. I moved to have his statements suppressed bc the arrest was unlawful. The prosecutor reviewed the statute & the reports & ultimately came to the same conclusion: the arrest was unlawful & the statements shouldn't be allowed in. We ended up not needing to have the court hearing on the issue.

Third, I had a case for aiding an offender. The statute requires that the offender be wanted for a felony offense. My client was charged for allegedly aiding an offender who was wanted for misdemeanor offenses. I caught this, did some research to make sure that was actually what the statute required (it was), & went to the prosecutor & explained what I had found. The prosecutor checked out my research & agreed that the charge was improper, given the facts of this particular case, & dismissed w/o needing a hearing challenging probable cause.

These are examples of good prosecution work & I highly respect all three of those prosecutors. There are certainly situations, more often than not, where there are arguments on both sides & that's why we have a hearing & have a neutral judge decide the issue. But sometimes, things are just blatantly incorrect & shouldn't necessitate a hearing. They shouldn't require anything more than a discussion btwn the two sides to correct the error. Mistakes happen, of course, & they should be corrected when it's easy to see them.

And don't think I don't do the same thing on my side of it! I do. Of course, I don't have a full police force, but I have clients who want me to file motions that have no legal basis or who I have to sit down & explain that, while it might not seem fair to them, the police officers' conduct was lawful & that evidence will come in.

But not all prosecutors are willing to call their officers out on things that are improper. They let them think that evidence was suppressed bc the shady defense attorney made a mountain out of a molehill or the judge was wrong in the ruling or whatever excuse they can find to not correct the improper conduct. And when the police never get told to reign in their unlawful conduct, when it's never their fault that evidence was lost, they never change. And their actions become more & more egregious. They begin to think that whatever they do is fine, especially if it uncovers evidence of a crime. They begin to think that they can do whatever they want. They begin to be cowboys.

Anal probes don't seem beyond the pale for unchecked officers who never get told to reign in their conduct.

Shooting a mentally ill man as he stands there & does nothing, then lying in their police reports to say he came at police in an aggressive/threatening manner is not a problem for officers who think that as long as they use the magic words in the reports, no one will ever question them.

Tasing a man 2 to 3 times & then arresting him for trying to get back into his burning house to rescue his 3-year old step-son isn't problematic for police officers who have the mentality that they can act, tase, or shoot first & ask questions later.

Shooting six rounds & killing an unarmed teenager after his dad called in that the teen had taken the truck & after police dispatch told officers in pursuit to back off the chase is perfectly acceptable to officers who never are called out on the carpet for their actions.

Police officers who are never expected or required to answer for the actions they take begin to think they can do no wrong. They begin to act more & more unlawfully, improperly, &  unnecessarily aggressively. Some good, ethical prosecutors will not let officers get away w/ such outrageous conduct & those prosecutors are fantastic examples of seeking justice. Some officers are ethical & would never intentionally do things in violation of people's rights and wouldn't take extreme, but easier, measures when more moderate, but perhaps more difficult, measures will work.

But, prosecutors rely on police to build their cases by gathering evidence. Prosecutors have a close relationship w/ their officers (as one would expect). And it's not always easy to call someone out that you have to rely on day after day.

So, we are there: the public defenders, the defense attorneys. We are there to police the police. We are there to make that officer come into court & answer questions about what they did & why they did it. We are there to be the ones to call them out & to get unlawfully seized evidence suppressed. My hope is always that, if I am constantly calling the same officers to task over & over & over again, they will start to correct their errors. If I grill them about a report that is woefully thin in detail, perhaps they will start writing more thorough reports. If I question them about an improper pat-search & a ton of important evidence is lost, perhaps they will learn from that mistake & do better searches. Perhaps if they are made to account for their actions, they will act in such a way as to avoid constantly having to face me in court.

Society may hate the defense attorney, and especially the public defender. But, they need us, whether they know it or not. Every battle I have in court on a particular case makes society a little bit safer from unchecked police & state power. Every time a defense attorney makes an officer come to court & have his or her actions scrutinized, every citizen is a little bit more protected from cowboy cops. Every time we square off on one case, we are squaring off for the entire public & standing between the public & absolute government power.

You're welcome, America.

Friday, November 08, 2013

The U.S. needs a new Constitution like a fish needs a bicycle

Recently, there was an article in The Atlantic about why the U.S. needs a new Constitution. Primarily, the concerns expressed were that the current Constitution is full of holes, promotes gridlock, and is extremely difficult to change. The problem w/ this premise is that the Constitution was designed to do precisely those things; those are not failures on the part of the Constitution, those are the things it was intended to do. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Newest Member of the Household

So, Simon gets to stay. The vet checked him out, and other than some ear mites, he is in good shape. Nothing that can't be cured. I have to keep him separate from Ward & Hubert for now till the ear mites are gone. And I was able to convince my landlord to let me keep him! So he gets to stay! Woohoo! Although he currently has to live in the bathroom till the ear mites pass. But I let him out every evening to give him a chance to stretch his legs & explore his new home.

He is by far the sweetest kitty ever. And he is still a kitty. The vet said he was maybe about 8 months old. And he is super affectionate & cuddly & would be completely happy if I held him every minute of the day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More about Brooks

So recently, I ended up having a "discussion" on Twitter (if you can ever actually have a real discussion in 140 characters or less) about the Brooks decision, which I previously discussed over here. Because the conversation required more than 140 characters, I said that I'd blog more about it, since goodness knows I love any reason to run my damn mouth about things. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Welcome to the Crazy Cat Lady Club

This morning I was leaving my apt & I heard a cat crying & meowing. It sounded like it was a young cat, so I paused to try to find where it was coming from. I checked the garbage dumpster, thinking maybe the cat was trapped or had been thrown in the garbage. But the cat wasn't in there. Then I saw a little gray cat nearby. I tried to coax him over but he didn't want to come over, so I left.

When I came back, the gray cat was hanging by my apt stairs. I tried again to coax him over, but he was scared & hid under the stairs. I went up to my apt & got a bowl of food & water & brought them outside for the cat. I set them down near where the cat was hiding & then went & sat a bit away from the food.

Eventually, the cat crept out of hiding & went over to the bowls & began eating the food. I waited for the cat to finish eating. I sat there until he was done & then he slowly began to make his way towards me. I reached my hand out & waited for him to come over. He carefully & cautiously came over by me & sniffed my hand. After a couple of minutes, he started to headbutt my hand & legs. Then he started to purr & rub against me.

He let me pet him for a bit & was rolling around, purring & making happy noises. I was able to get him to let me pick him up & bring him inside the apt building. It was obvious he was a stray, since he wasn't fixed, he was very skinny, & his fur was dirty. He also had a big open wound on the base of his tail that looked painful & like it could get infected if it wasn't treated. He also looked young, probably no more than a year old. So, I brought him inside to get warm & to get some more food.

He was purring the whole time I carried him in. I was a bit nervous he might freak out & claw or bite me, but he was very calm. I set out another set of bowls of food & water & a makeshift litter box for him. I got a few of my cats' toys, a box of bath wipes, & a brush & brought them into the hall. I didn't want to bring him in my actual apt since I didn't know if he had anything contagious that he might pass on to Ward & Hubert, so I brought everything in the hall.

I sat down & let him explore for a bit. Then he came over to me & started rubbing his face on me. He let me brush him & use the wipes to clean him up a bit. He was super affectionate & snuggly & kept purring loudly. Any time I walked through the hall, he would follow right by feet. He seemed to know I was the one who was responsible for getting him warm & fed & was trying to show me his appreciation.

I decided to call him Simon. He is currently hanging out in the hall for the evening. I go out periodically to visit him & make sure he is doing ok. I will have to bring him to the vet to have his injury checked out & make sure he is otherwise healthy. He is incredibly sweet & very loving.

If the vet gives Simon a clean bill of health, no contagious diseases or other long-term problems, I might just keep him. I know that having 3 cats breaks my own rule about the amount of cats I can have w/o becoming a crazy cat lady. But I didn't seek out this cat; he found me. And he seems very attached to me already so he basically chose me. He is just such a sweetie, I don't know that I could give him up to a shelter now.

So, I am probably damning myself to a life of single spinsterhood by owning 3 cats (not to mention seriously limiting my housing options) but I am not sure that I care. He is might be worth the spinster life.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Brooks Decision--coercion isn't even a real thing

Oh, how the Minnesota Supreme Court disappoints lately with its terrible, terrible, completely inane rulings. Yesterday was no exception. Yesterday they delivered a nonsense, ridiculous opinion that doesn't make any sense w/ already established case law. Because apparently, the Court isn't interested in making sense. 

Yesterday's decision was about a recent US Supreme Court case, Missouri v. McNeely and a couple of Minnesota cases, referred to as Brooks. Prepare yourself, kids, because this is gonna be a lengthy discussion.  I will do my best to not talk like a douchebag lawyer about it, so that everyone can understand how stupid this decision really is--I'm thoughtful like that. 

So, here's the situation: 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lawyers & business owners are different things.

I ran into a former client of mine last night while I was out at a bar w/ some friends (drinking my usual Coke bc Mormon). This client had 2 felony files for theft by swindle, when really, it was a contract dispute and not a criminal offense. I tried to persuade the prosecutor of this but he didn't agree, so I moved to dismiss both files for lack of probable cause. I argued it was a contract dispute, there was no swindle or trick by my client, and that it should be handled in civil court. Ultimately the court agreed with me & dismissed both files.

So client comes over to say hi & thank me again for my help on the files. He tells me he thinks I am very smart & "feisty" & I am very good at what I do. And then he asks the question that every client who thinks I am a good attorney asks me: "When are you going to open up your own firm?" I told him I wasn't planning on doing that & he said I should really consider it bc I was very good @ my job.

I have always found that particular question somewhat perplexing, for a couple of reasons. First, there is this rampant stereotype that public defenders are terrible attorneys. From what I know, my clients think highly of me & the work I do. This helps chip away at that stereotype, which is good. And if all "good" lawyers left public defense, what then? The stereotype would be true! There has to be some good public defenders so that people who can't afford an attorney can still get quality representation.

Second, I went to school to be a lawyer. I didn't go to business school, I went to law school. I want to practice law. I want to be in court, duking it out. I want to be writing motions & doing legal research. I don't want to bill clients. I don't want to handle client funds & specialty trust accounts for those funds. I don't want to have staff, like a paralegal or receptionist, that I have to do payroll for and whatnot. I don't want to deal w/ malpractice insurance or advertising or paying taxes quarterly or any of that. I want to be a lawyer & I want to spend my time doing legal stuff, not business stuff.

There is so much more to opening a firm than people realize. It's not just a matter of being a good lawyer; it's also about running a business & having employees & billing clients & blah, blah, blah. And a good chunk of time has to be dedicated to making the business run smoothly & keeping that stuff in order. Which is not at all what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I want to lawyer. I want to do the stuff lawyers do, not the stuff business owners do. Plus, there is the other things I get to not worry about since I am an employee: I get paid vacation & sick time; I have health insurance (for free, since I am a single adult) which I don't have the luxury of going without thanks to my myriad of health problems; I can pass off problems to my boss instead of dealing w/ them myself; I have a consistent paycheck & never need to worry about whether I will make money or not; I don't have any overhead expenses like file folders, computers, office rent, pens, paper, business cards, etc.; I don't have to bill clients or take them to court if they don't pay; I don't have to buy malpractice insurance; and so on.

It's nice to be able to do exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to practice law. I wanted to be a lawyer. Specifically, while in law school, I determined I wanted to be a public defender. I have the exact job I wanted right out of school, so why would I give that up? Especially when I never wanted to be a business owner?

Being a good lawyer doesn't mean I'd be a good business owner. And maybe part of the reason I'm able to get things done for my clients is because I don't have to worry about the business side of things & I can just devote my time to being a lawyer.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

I can't even understand this.

Sometimes it completely blows my mind what I do for a living. The gravity of my job never escapes me & I always appreciate the importance of doing a good job on my clients' cases. But so often I end up working out a plea agreement for most cases. But winning this trial is one of those moments where I can't help but be overwhelmed by what my job entails.

I had a client facing very serious charges. There was a very good offer on the table, but ultimately my client decided not to accept it. It was a HELL of a gamble. His exposure at trial was 10-15 years in prison. I cross-examined the state's witnesses, presented our witnesses, and argued the case. And at the end of the day, all the work I did in the case kept a man out of prison.

The government wanted to put this guy in prison for 15 years & I stopped it from doing that. That is CRAZY! I saved 15 years of this guy's life. I don't know that I will ever be able to fully grasp the enormity of that. It's so huge. And I don't feel like I am some rockstar attorney who always knocks them out of the park, so I am still amazed & overjoyed when I win. Especially something like this!

I may not be able to fully wrap my brain around it, but it feels fucking fantastic!!!

Win!

Not guilty on my trial from last week!! Sooo excited!!! Sooo thrilled!!!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Time For Me To Fly??

I keep thinking about moving away. It crosses my mind like 2-3x/week. It seems so appealing, like I could restart my life & be this whole new person. But I can't tell if I am thinking about moving bc I really want to actually move or if I am thinking about it bc I am looking for something to shake things up. Like would I really be happy living in another state? Or am I just wanting to change something about my circumstances in general? It's hard to say.

The idea is certainly appealing. I don't like being in a small town. It's never been my thing. And I would conceivably like to meet a guy again some day, but there aren't any in small towns in my area. So, the idea of moving to a city again, where I really belong, is really appealing. It would be nice to be in a place where not everyone is married w/ kids, which is exactly what it's like in a small town.

Plus, I like the idea of a re-do on life. This previous path didn't turn out how I wanted, so maybe I can just Etch-a-Sketch my life, shake the old away, & create something new. Have a fresh place where no one knows me & a fresh start.

I don't have anything keeping me here (other than my law license) and while I don't doubt that my friends & family would miss me, I can't think of anyone who would be deeply saddened by the thought of me not being around all the time. I could always come visit & people could see me when I was back. I don't think there is anyone who would go into a panic or be heartbroken or who would start crying if I announced that I was leaving. I don't have anyone w/ whom I have a deep enough connection for them to want me to stay. So, there really isn't anything or anyone that keeps me here.

Realizing that was actually a pretty lonely epiphany. All these people in my life but not one of them can I think of that would be really upset to see me go. I suppose that means my reluctance to & fear of getting close to people has paid off, but it still sucks to realize that. And as much as I say I want to keep people away, I do really want someone to be close w/ again who lives close enough to come be w/ me in a crisis.

But that's another topic for another time. For now, I have to keep figuring out if it's time for me to start over in a new state.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

And now, we wait...

Waiting for the verdict. It's the worst part of trial ever...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trial starts tomorrow

I start a trial tomorrow. I haven't actually tried a case since last October, so I am excited to get back into the courtroom & throw down again. Trials are very stressful but they also can be very exhilarating. It's the ultimate in lawyering. It's my own personal Law & Order episode. It's when I get to be on stage & have the courtroom's attention. And it's when it becomes even more apparent to me that my clients' lives & futures are in my hands.

They always are, of course, but once we get to trial, the client is basically just along for the ride. They want a trial & then it's on me to do the work. The client doesn't make opening & closing statements. The client doesn't cross-examine witnesses. The client doesn't make objections. That's all on me. One error, one oversight, & I could mess up a possible appeal issue or overlook inadmissible evidence. That's all on me. The client is relying on me to fight, and fight hard, to win the case. The client can only sit & watch while I do the work & can only hope & pray I do it right. I cannot imagine how powerless that must make someone feel. It's an enormous responsibility we as defense attorneys are given & I try to always remember that.

I can't even understand how a client feels after a verdict. I am either horribly crushed & sick or I am over-the-moon elated & my feet don't even seem to be on the ground. And it isn't even me who deals w/ the outcome. After a verdict is read in any case, no matter how big or small, no matter win or lose, I go back to the office & get back to work. I go home & eat dinner. I get to watch some tv & cuddle with my cats & go to sleep in my own bed. A verdict will never affect my life other than on an emotional level. But clients face the consequences, good or bad, of a verdict. So if I am that crushed or that elated about a verdict, I can't even imagine what a client must feel.

That's why I do essentially nothing but trial during a trial. My life outside of work comes to a halt & every moment is spent on trial work. Because at the end of the day, at the end of a trial, I always go home. And if my clients don't get to do that, I want to know I did everything I could & put everything I had into that trial, regardless of the verdict. If I don't know that, I would never be able to live with myself.

So, tomorrow I start another courtroom battle. I take on the awesome & overwhelming responsibility of fighting for someone who can't fight for themselves. Tomorrow, I have my client's life & future in my hands.

Let's get ready to rumble.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tough cases

I am currently working on a couple of cases that are pretty much always on my mind. I don't know exactly what to do w/ them & it's stressing me out a bit.

So far, I have never had a client take a case to trial against my advice, although I have had clients take plea offers against my advice. So, clients have put a lot of faith & trust in my recommendation about trials. Which means I need to be able to give a sound recommendation.

Usually, this is fairly easy to assess. In some cases, the evidence against the client is overwhelmingly bad & going to trial would almost certainly result in a conviction. If there is a good plea offer that would be a better outcome for the client, that's an easy assessment.

Other times, the evidence against the client is either inadmissible at trial or really weak & easy to poke holes in & point out flaws. The case is one that we reasonably could win @ trial. Sometimes there is a really, really good offer but sometimes, they're isn't and then it makes sense to go to trial.

The ones that are difficult for me & the ones that are currently on my mind are the ones where it's almost impossible to figure out whether a trial or a plea agreement is a better option. This usually happens when the state has decent, but not rock solid, evidence & we have logical counter-arguments and/or evidence. When the two sides are evenly matched, it's really difficult to make a recommendation to the client about which is the better option.

There is also the concern that maybe my assessment might be tainted by "trial psychosis." This is a common thing we defense attorneys get. As we work a case up for trial & as we are in trial, we become convinced that there is no way that we could lose @ trial. The closer the trial is & the more work we do to prep it for trial, the more certain we are that we are going to win. This happens no matter how awful the evidence is against the client or how unlikely a win really is. Which means my advice, if given during a trial psychosis moment, might not be the most reasoned assessment.

So, I am trying to think out the cases before I hit trial psychosis mode. I want to be able to make a rational assessment of the cases that I am currently mulling over. But they are tough, because both sides have decent arguments.

So, I cannot stop thinking about them. Even when I am not @ work, they are stuck in my head.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Some things I just can't get used to

One thing I have never really adjusted to about being single is not having someone to talk to about the small things in my day. I used to come home & rehash my day w/ someone, going over the stuff that happened in both of our days. I miss having someone to do that with. It was nice to have someone who remembered the names of the people I dealt with in my work & who knew enough about my work so I didn't have to give a whole background schpiel. It was nice to be able to have someone who cared about the little details of my life that I could talk to & who also talked to me about those things in their day. I miss having someone who genuinely cared about how my day was, every day.

I don't want to impose on people by making them listen to a recitation of my day when I don't know that they want to hear it. Most people already have a partner that they share their daily lives with & don't need or want another. I don't want to be that annoying person who overshares w/ people who don't want to hear my rambling.

The other thing I miss is having someone who can take care of me. Not in a pay-my-bills, kept-woman sort of way. In an emotional sense. I am a pretty strong, independent, self-sufficient person, but there are times when I get tired of always being strong. Sometimes, I want to fall apart & not be strong. Sometimes I wish I had someone to let me curl up next to them & have them hold me so I could have a break from being strong all the time. When I was really stressed or sad or just couldn't deal w/ things anymore, Hat used to hold me like I was a little kid till I felt better. Sometimes he would sing me a song to cheer me up bc he was a good singer. It was very comforting to have someone who could take care of me when I was tired of being strong all the time.

As strong as I may be, it's a strength out of necessity, not one that I necessarily wanted to have. And sometimes, I just want a guy to be there to take care of me, as silly & unpfeminist as that may be. I don't need someone to take care of me, but I do want it. Singing me songs would be optional, of course. But I could sure go for someone to hold me when I need to take a break from keeping it all together.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I take it back, I take it back!

Remember how I am always saying I am never going to date anyone ever again and I am never going to be in a relationship ever again?

I take it all back!!

I need a boyfriend specifically so I don't have to carry 37 lb boxes of cat litter up all the stairs to my apt. It's brutal! And heavy! And totally a boy job that I shouldn't have to do bc I am a girl!

(And yes, for the record, I am pulling the dainty lady/damsel in distress card. I am selectively girly when it benefits me!)

Serious, look at how awful this is!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Drugs are bad. Drug laws are worse.

A Duluth shop owner and two employees are on trial for 50+ felony charges alleging that they sold "synthetic drugs," in violation of federal laws. He is also facing a number of state charges for the same reason. 

He isn't alleged to have been pushing heroin on innocent schoolchildren at the park or anything so dastardly as that.  He's alleged to have sold products that are used to get high but that aren't what people normally think of when they hear "drugs." 

These so called "synthetic drugs" go by a variety of different names. Plant food, bath salts, K2, spice, etc. They are often packaged and sold as a product w/ a legitimate use, for example, plant food or bath salts. Some are sold as potpourri. Almost always, the packaging will have a label somewhere on it that clearly states: Not For Human Consumption.  


Sunday, September 15, 2013

I like to document these days

Today is one of those days where I can say that I am really, truly happy. I am much more acutely aware of these days when I have them than I ever was before, which is of course due to the fact that I was once, not that long ago, worried I would never be able to be really, truly happy ever again. So, when I have days where I feel like everything is fantastic & I am brimming w/ happiness & good feelings, I want to document it. That way, if I ever go through another dark period (I sincerely hope not) and feel like I can't be happy again, I can know that that isn't true.

The really great thing is that nothing huge happened today. I didn't win the lottery, I didn't get a promotion, I didn't meet the love of my life, I didn't have anything remarkable happen. I just went to a Twins game w/ my friends & coworkers & had a really fun time. It's ridiculously cheesy, but I am incredibly grateful that something as simple as a Twins game w/ my friends is enough for me to feel really, really happy.

It's so incredible to know that I am actually ok again. And now I know w/o a doubt that I can get through anything. I was convinced I couldn't survive the divorce, that it was too much & that I would never recover from it. But I found that I am stronger & more resilient than I ever imagined. And I can be happy again.

I am happy again.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Finally something @ work wasn't like pulling teeth

I had an interesting thing occur @ work on Friday. I have a client who has a probation violation hearing coming up, so I requested the chronos from the state. Chronos are the probation records & should have all contacts btwn the probation officer & the defendant, any intermediate sanctions that were imposed, the defendant's progress, etc.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hubert

It's been awhile since I have talked about the cats. I can't be a crazy cat lady if I don't talk about them, right? So cat post today. You're welcome.

I recently found out that Hubert has asthma. I didn't even know that was a thing for cats, but apparently it is. I discovered this bc about 3 weeks ago, Hubert started making this choking, gagging noise. At first I thought it might be a hairball but nothing came up & he kept doing it. I thought he might have eaten something he shouldn't & that it was stuck so I took him to the vet.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Change is the only constant

I found out on Friday that CB got a PD position in the cities & she will be starting there on October 9th. This also means she will be moving out of the apt across the hallway from me. Right now, it's just the 2 of us in the building (there are only 2 apts) so it's been pretty cool bc we have the whole building to ourselves. But she isn't going to be there much longer & I have no idea who will be moving in across the way. I'm pretty disappointed about the whole thing bc I was really on the fence about moving to this location & knowing that I would have someone I know there w/ me tipped the scales. But now I will be by myself in a town I don't know w/o people I know close by. So that sucks. I am happy for CB but very sad, too.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Why I always sound like a sourpuss

It occurs to me that I have been quite complainy lately in my posts. I suppose there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that this has always been my outlet of sorts, the place where I go dump everything that I am thinking/feeling to get it out of my system. That way, it isn't still kicking around in my head. I tend to be someone who mulls things over & can't stop thinking about things (I'll bet that's not at all a news flash), so just getting my thoughts out of my head helps me to stop that cycle of dwelling on things.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Doldrums

Work has been really tough for me lately. I can't say that the work has been overly demanding or rushed, like I was this time last year. But it's still tough because of the area I am in. And it seems like my clients are more difficult recently, as well. It's been really draining emotionally & mentally.
It's been very difficult to feel passionate about work now. It's hard to feel excited about what I am doing because things are just really not clicking for me the way they used to. I have started to dislike being @ work, which really sucks. I want to feel excited & passionate & driven again @ when I am working on my cases. I don't want to be a crappy public defender who doesn't connect w/ the clients & who doesn't have the fire in the belly for this work. But I worry that maybe I am starting to lose my fire. Instead, I just feel...tired & worn out all the time @ work now.
I am trying not to let that be my default attitude @ work. I am trying to find things that make me feel excited & passionate. But so far, things aren't changing. I really hope this is just a phase.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Plague

I have been crazy sick since Friday. I left work early on Friday bc I started to feel it hit me. My throat was really raw & sore, so I was hoping to try to catch it before it really took off, but it was of no use. I spent all day Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and most of today feeling like death. Monday & Tuesday were the worst, since that is when the deep, hacking cough started. So that's been fun! I have managed to cough so hard & so violently that my abs hurt.

Thankfully, the worst of it is over so I will be going back to work tomorrow. But the timing sucked bc I was finally going to be in trial this week for the first time since last October! I was looking forward to being in trial bc it has been way too long since I have been able to do one. Ugh. But, given that I was coughing up phlegm & had almost completely lost my voice on Monday, I wasn't make to go in to work & my trial had to be postponed.

But it looks like I will have a chance to do another trial soon, since I have a number of them scheduled to start over the next few weeks.

Ok time for a nap. Getting better but not entirely back to normal!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Why DNA at a crime scene is sometimes totally meaningless

Remember that time I wrote about the SCOTUS decision on DNA swabs taken from someone who was only arrested, not convicted of any crime, and why that was a terrible, terrible ruling?  Some people responded to my hypothetical in that first post by saying it was so remote of a possibility that it was nonsense (see the comments on that for responses).

I mean, who cares what I think? I'm just some fear-mongering public defender who gets criminals off on "technicalities" (also known as "your constitutional rights"). I mean, I am clearly conjuring up the most ridiculous, far-fetched scenario possible just to freak people out. It's so unlikely that something like that would ever actually happen. 

Except for that time that is totally did. 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Set 'em up & knock 'em down

I had 2 motion hrgs today. The first was for a sentence modification, which the State opposed. I won that motion. Which was a kickass way to start the day.

The other one was the state requesting an order to collect a DNA sample from my client, which I opposed. The court took it under advisement.

I considered that a momentary win. The State had 3 officers there to take the sample (I don't know why they needed 3 but they were all there). They assumed the court would grant the State request on the spot & they would take the sample right there. But that isn't what happened. Instead, all 3 officers left empty-handed while the judge makes his decision. I heard one officer zip his kit back up after the judge made his statement re: under advisement & it made me feel all smug inside.

And tmrw, I am going to post something about DNA that is crazy!! So hold on to your butts!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

It's not me. It's them.

People seem to think that bc I am skeptical that I will date anyone in the future that that somehow means that I have a low opinion of myself or that I lack confidence in myself or something along those lines. That is completely not the case.

I think I am the shit. If I were a dude, I would totally date me in a heartbeat bc I am a phenomenal girlfriend. Here is my list of awesome girlfriend characteristics that would make me want to date me:
*I am ridiculously funny
*I am smart & educated
*I have a good job
*I am super low-maintenance
*I am rarely, if ever, jealous in a relationship
*I firmly believe we need separate time w/ just our friends & w/o the partner.
*I don't get mad & then not say why bc "he should just know!" Bc that's moronic unless you're dating a psychic.
*I don't bring up old arguments in the future.
*I'm pretty & have a great rack
*I can hang out w/ my guy's friends & actually have a good time.
*I scream @ the TV when watching the Twins.
*I actually eat real food
*I am super good @ making out (or so I have been told on many occasions)
*I loathe drama. I prefer a drama-free relationship, thanks.
*I like playing video games

And so on & so forth. So basically, I think I am the bee's knees. My belief that I won't be in another relationship isn't because I don't think highly of myself. It's bc, as a straight woman, I am stuck dating guys. And guys are, by & large, idiots (although I will concede that there are exceptions to this & that I do actually know some non-idiot guys, but they aren't the norm). Basically, about two months into dating a guy, he turns into a moron. They either get all weird bc I am smarter than them in something (like, you know, the law...). Or they get all weird bc they feel threatened that I don't NEED a guy to take care of me (but I have no problems w/ being some hot, rich guy's trophy wife, just for the record!). Or they date me for awhile & then forget that I am a fucking catch & start to take my awesomeness for granted & then dump me (cough, cough, YKW, cough, cough). Or the guys that are interested in me are guys that I would never go out with (clients, for example, or creepers or clingy, needy, smothery guys). Or they do that weird thing where they put me on this pedestal & idolize me to the point that they will let me walk all over them, which is really unattractive.

Essentially, the reason I think it's highly unlikely I will date anyone else is bc I have to date guys & guys are terrible relationship partners. It's not me--I am the shit. It's them. I don't need to be told to have more confidence in myself or to work on my self-esteem. I need someone to make guys stop being royal idiots.

Because have I mentioned that I am fabulous? Bc seriously...I am fabulous.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Our full time office intern is hilarious

We have a full time intern this summer @ the office. He is very funny. Most recently, he asked me why one of my nails on each hand was a different color than the rest. I said, "It's called an accent nail. Ask your wife, she'll tell you about it."

Then yesterday, at lunch, he tells me & CB that he asked his wife. "She said she had heard of it, but didn't do it because she thinks it's stupid." CB & I disagreed with her opinion.

Later in the evening yesterday, I get a text from the intern. It says: "My wife would like me to inform you that she actually does find accent nails cool. She just doesn't do them because she isn't good at them. She also wants me to tell you that I am stupid."

I laughed for like 5 minutes straight.

For real, best intern ever.

Monday, August 05, 2013

So good after so long

YKW moves to Iowa tomorrow. I know this bc he told me. I don't exactly know why he tells me these things, but he does.
The interesting thing is that I don't really care about it. I remember when he told me initially, I was devastated. But now, I don't really have any feelings on it one way or the other.

It's strange, when you really think about it, how quickly someone can stop loving another person. He told me he wanted a divorce on September 20, 2011. We had been together for 6 years & I loved him more than I could comprehend. I couldn't imagine a day without him in it. And now, less than 2 years later, I can't imagine a day with him in it. He is no longer someone I think about very often. In a way, it's quite sad how quickly the heart can stop loving someone. But in another way, I am grateful for that.

YKW still texts me. I don't know why & again, I don't really care one way or the other. For awhile, it made me hope we might fix things. Then it made me angry that he would even think I wanted to hear from him. But now, I just don't really care. If he wants to text me, ok. If he doesn't, ok.

I suspect his need to stay in touch despite having absolutely no reason to do so stems from either a sense of guilt for what he did & wants to make amends of some kind or a desire to keep one foot in the door with me, just in case he decides he wants me again. I can't think of any other reasons why he would want to stay in touch. Neither reason makes much sense to me, bc I have already told him I have forgiven him & the reconciliation ship sailed when the divorce became final. But I suppose he has his reasons & I don't really care what they are.

It's taken awhile, but I feel good again & it's an incredibly freeing feeling to know I don't care what YKW does anymore. My life is good w/o him & I am happy (for the most part).

It feels so damn good to realize that I have finally been able to let go.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Breathe, stretch, shake, let it go

I meet with my therapist for what will most likely be the last time tomorrow. I am a little scared about that, but mostly I am somewhat relieved. Because I think that not needing to see him anymore, not needing to work through everything with him anymore, is the final goodbye & last door to be closed on my old life. I don't feel like I need help coping anymore. I feel okay again.

My life certainly isn't perfect. Work has been a definite struggle since being assigned in my current county. I am not happy with my weight currently & don't feel super attractive lately. I still feel lonely @ times. But overall, my life is pretty good. Especially when compared to this time last year. Last year my heart & spirits were so low, I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to stop feeling miserable & despondent. I wasn't sure if I would ever stop loving YKW. I wasn't sure if I would ever have the strength to make it through everything. So, life is far from perfect right now, but it's substantially improved from a year ago. And for that I am grateful.

I think sometimes about whether I will meet someone else in the future, but I don't think that's in the cards for me. I am pretty gun-shy @ the thought of being in another serious (or not so serious) relationship, for one. And for two, I am not the type of chick that guys seem to want to date. Although, I have gotten 2 marriage proposals from guys who follow me on Twitter & another one who told me he thinks he is a little bit in love with me, so I guess I am pretty charming online? But I am the relatively the same online as I am in person but the charm seems to fall flat in real life. But whatever, it's totes fine since I don't even know what I would do in a relationship anymore besides freak out & get all anxious & flighty.

So I doubt there is a relationship in my future but I am not wasting time worrying about that. It is what it is. I have enough other things in my life to occupy my time.
In an unrelated but interesting note, someone who just recently started reading my blog told me it was very funny & said he didn't know how I can came up w/ this stuff. My response was just, "That is what it is like in my head all the time. I just write my blog in the same voice & language as how I think." So, yeah...reading my blog is basically the same as spending time listening to my internal monologue .

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Damnit

As I was driving home last night, someone unexpectedly took a left turn across traffic & into my lane. I tried to swerve to avoid hitting her but I wasn't able to avoid it. I collided with her back end. Then, she drove away!

I called my insurance company & the police. I found out from the officer who called me back that the woman who caused the accident had called to report it too. Apparently she explained that her sudden erratic turn into my lane was because her son started choking & vomiting in the back of the car, so she was trying to turn into a business parking lot to see if he was okay. Why she didn't turn right, NOT into oncoming traffic & into a parking lot on that side, I don't know.

So now my car is all sorts of jacked up. It runs still, but the bumper looks like it's going to fall off, the wheel well is misshapen, & I can't open the passenger door. So that's great.

Ugh.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Spinning my wheels & going nowhere

Lately work has been making me want to scream in frustration. It is really difficult to get offers from the prosecution & then the ones I do get aren't that good. And they aren't very specific as to what my clients can expect.

A majority of my clients are willing to plead guilty to something (not necessarily what the charges are) and the biggest concern they have is what will happen to them. They want some sort of assurance about what they can expect if they plead guilty. A trial is unpredictable & a high risk venture. Clients who are pleading guilty generally don't want to have that unpredictability & uncertainty. The draw of a plea bargain isn't just a reduced charge. It's also knowing what will happen & how this will affect their lives. The draw of a plea is in large part the certainty that comes with it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where are we going? And why are we in this handbasket?

SIGH. 

It's like a never-ending onslaught of destroying people's rights lately! Did no one take civics class in high school?? What is wrong with people lately?! Recently, this little piece by Lawrence O'Donnell from MSNBC started circulating on Twitter. And I saw it. And it made my head almost explode. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Two Sides of the Same Coin

I have learned a lot about myself since the divorce and the one thing I have come to realize very distinctly is that I am two people. I am the person I let most people see & then I am the person I rarely let anyone get to know.

They are both technically accurate versions of who I am. It's not that one is fake & one is who I "really" am. It's more that the one everyone sees is an incomplete picture of my personality. There are pieces of the whole that are missing from the person I let people get to know.

Defending the public defenders

This article is probably the most offensive thing I've read about public defenders in a long time. It's so full of ridiculous assertions I barely even know where to begin. Let's review the idiocy put forth in this moronic article, bc I'm angry about it and feel like eviscerating it. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jury verdicts: what do they mean? Zimmerman, etc.

I don't have much to add to the cacophony of opinions on both sides of this George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial. Everything that could be said about it has been said. But this case, along with all the other media-fodder cases, has polarized people.

The problem with this polarization is that there were only so many people who sat inside that courtroom day after day after day, and who heard all the admissible evidence. Yes, Zimmerman's trial was available via live stream, but that doesn't mean that people who weren't on the jury but who watched it via live stream are in a position to give opinions on the justice system as a whole. For one thing, there were discussions on evidence that were heard outside of the presence of the jury. As a practicing attorney, I can safely say that discussions on evidence heard outside of the presence of the jury are discussions about things that, often times, are inappropriate for a jury to hear, as doing so would improperly impact their decision. So, by watching the live stream of the trial or hearing/reading about things that the jury was not privy to, you have already compromised your ability to fairly assess the situation.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I did my very first 5k today!

I did the Run For Your Lives 5k zombie obstacle course today w/ CB & it was such a blast! Exhausting as hell but super fun!

It thunderstormed all morning, so by the time we did our wave, the course had turned into this super sloppy, wet, muddy nightmare. I slipped & fell on the mud so many times I lost count. It made some of the parts of the course almost impossible to get through, but CB & I powered through.

Everyone got these belts w/ 3 flags on them & there were zombies throughout the course trying to grab your flags. I was able to hang onto @ least 1 of my flags through 6 crowds of zombies (I lasted longer than CB!) and then I lost all my flags about halfway through. By that time, I was pretty tired & didn't mind not having to run away from the zombies. The obstacles were pretty difficult! There was a maze, monkey bars, wires to climb under, water to wade through, shock wires, a balance beam...not to mention super steep hills that had been turned into a mudslide by the rain.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Time to start playing hide the ball...

I am extremely annoyed with a case I am dealing with currently. I found out today just how differently I have to deal with the prosecutors in my current county from the prosecutors in my old county.

My general approach to lawyering/plea negotiations has been to be as honest & forthright as possible, w/o revealing any client confidences. I expect prosecutors to do that with me so I do that on my side of things. But apparently this general policy is not one that I should continue in this new county, since it's now being used to the detriment of my client, something that has never happened before on any of my cases.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Grumbles about things

Work has been exceedingly frustrating lately. It's making it really hard to feel any real satisfaction or enjoyment @ my job lately. There are a few things all kind of coming together that are making things tough.

The first is the rapid pacing of probation violation hearings recently. Unlike new charges, where a person has to be given bail, on probation cases the person can be held w/o bail until the hrg, which has to be w/in 7 days. This week I have 3 or 4 of those hrgs scheduled which means I am scrambling to try to get things done on the cases in time. It's really difficult to get everything done when it's so fast & so many at the same time.

I am also getting little in the way of offers on cases. This makes it difficult to make any headway on the cases. Most of my clients want to resolve the case but it's hard to get offers out of the prosecution & when I do, the offers aren't even all that good. So clients are just of the mindset that they might as well take their chances @ trial. So that means extra work for me bc of trial prep.

In a non-work related but still frustrating item, I am doing my very first 5k this Saturday w/ CB and I am pretty excited for it, but no one is coming to watch & cheer me on. A couple of my friends said they would try to but couldn't get the day off work. My family isn't coming for whatever reason. So no one will be there w/ me except CB. I am glad she will be there w/ me so @ least I won't be totally alone, but it would be nice to have @ least one or two of my friends or family there, too. I know it's just a dumb 5k but it's my first one & kind of a big deal to me. Really sucks that I won't have anyone to celebrate with me.

Grr, I am a crankypants.

Hopefully this won't crabby mood won't last too long.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Summer Bucket List

Work is making me feel very stabby today so I need something to distract myself from being in a crabby mood.  It's been really nice outside the last week or so (it was a non-stop rainfest for basically all of June) so I started thinking about all the stuff I always say that I want to do over the summer but never get around to actually doing it. So, I'm going to have a summer bucket list and make sure i do the things on my summer bucket list. 

So, here's what I've thought of so far: 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Today was the best day I have had in a super long time

Went for a run. Had brunch w/ a friend I haven't seen in awhile. Spent the afternoon tanning on a dock w/ a friend playing Mad Libs.

Perfect. So happy.

After spending so long being miserable, I can't help but be incredibly grateful & appreciative of these happy, wonderful days.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Happiness is...my life

I am in the middle of unpacking my new apt. It's much nicer this time around than it was last time around. Emotionally I am miles away from where I was the last time I had to move. I feel more like this is my own place, my own space. I feel like I am carving out my own life again, which is a great feeling after spending such a long time feeling like my life was on hold. It's really satisfying to feel like I am back to the person I used to be & that I am finally creating a life for myself again.

So things have been going well lately. Work has been going pretty well. The move went well. The cats are doing well. Etc. Etc. Etc. I have put dating on hold & took my profile on the dating website down today. I wasn't really finding anyone interesting on there. And the dudes who were contacting me on there were either creepy, way old, or pervy. So it was just irritating more than anything. But that's cool. I found out that I am capable of dating, which I wasn't really sure of when I signed up, and I think just getting out there was important for me to finally put the past in the past. I still have my doubts that I will be in a serious relationship anytime soon (or ever again). But I thought that way before I met YKW, so it's not like the divorce made me think that way. I think it's bc I am too awesome & no one can keep up w/ my awesomeness. Duh! But it's cool. I really like my life right now & I can honestly say I am really happy for the first time in a long time & at this point, that's what matters.

I am finally happy for the first time in forever. And it's awesome.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Catharsis

I am all moved out of my old apt. There is a small part of me that is vaguely sad about this, bc when I moved into that bldg I had such a different plan for my life & moving to a completely new town by myself wasn't part of the plan.

But that is only a tiny sliver of me that feels like that. And it's not so much sadness; more like nostalgia. I look back on the person I was back then & I am a little wistful @ how unsuspecting I was, how unprepared for what waited for me. So it's not so much that I am sad but more that I wish I had not had to go through that time in my life. I don't still want to be with YKW anymore but I do wish I could just erase him from ever having been a part of my life.

My new place feels like the cherry on the sundae of my reconstructed life. I like to think of myself now as a phoenix rising from the ashes. In part, I like it bc it seems very fitting. The other part of why I like it is bc everyone knows Jean Gray as the Phoenix was exceptionally kick ass, so I like the comparison.

But in reality, I like that I am here bc I chose to be here, not because I had to figure out what to do bc my life was falling apart. I like knowing that I am back to myself again. I like knowing that I am happy again and that I am making decisions on what I want for me.

I feel like moving was the final purge of the last remaining thing from my old life. It was the catharsis I needed to finally close that chapter on my life forever. And I am okay with that. This new chapter is looking really good so far. I started a new decade in my life (30 this year), I have a new place, I have new hobbies (I have taken up running), I have recently been on a few dates with a really cool guy, I have a new county I am working in...things have been pretty damn good. Moving was the final thing I needed to really seal the deal & add the finishing touch on my new, happier, & more fulfilling life.

Here's to my future.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Omfg please just shoot me now

I am soooo em-effing stressed out about tmrw that I can't even sleep. It's almost 2:00 a.m. and I am awake. Tomorrow is going to suck so much.

I have court in a super far away county. Like an hr away from my office. So I have to be up extra early. The case is really difficult & the prosecutor is very set on his offer & won't budge. My client doesn't like the offer so we are @ a difficult cross roads tomorrow about what to do.

I also am moving to my new apt tmrw after work but I am such a moron that I forgot to rent a truck so I will have to do that tmrw if I can.

Basically, I am a mess. Although I shouldn't be surprised bc seriously, when am I not a mess?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Judicial activism vs judicial restraint

Now that SCOTUS has ruled on the same sex marriage cases, I have already heard "activist judges" being thrown around. This term is used a lot but often incorrectly so let's review what it means so you can use it correctly.

Judicial activism is when a court doesn't let the lower court ruling stand or when the court takes some action.

Judicial restraint is when the court lets the lower court ruling stand or when the court refuses to act.

The ruling on DOMA is judicial activism bc it overturned an act of Congress.

The ruling on Prop 8 is judicial restraint bc the court didn't act & let the lower court ruling stand.

The DNA case is judicial restraint because the court upheld the law & didn't act to overturn it.

The Voting Rights Act case is judicial activism bc it overturned a law.

The Obamacare case was judicial restraint bc the court upheld the law & didn't act.

Judicial activism IS NOT the same thing as liberal politics. Judicial activism refers to a court that ACTS. Be that overturning laws or overturning lower court rulings, the court does SOMETHING. It is inaccurate to say the court is full of activist judges just bc you disagree with the ruling.

The key is that the court does something, whether you agree w/ it or not.

So, please don't use "activist judges" as a pejorative term bc you don't like the outcome. Please use it correctly.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The silent worry

I have a hearing today on a serious case with serious charges. It's a routine hearing; nothing too complex or interesting will happen at the hearing. But, this is a case that breaks my heart.  It's one of the cases that drains me emotionally and has since I was first assigned to the case.  It's one that will continue to drain me emotionally until it's over, and possibly, even well after it's over. 

The charges are serious.  The defendant is young, just out of high school.  A good kid, by all accounts.  Never been in trouble before.  Freckle-faced, sharp, good-looking young kid.  And now he's facing 2 felony charges. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

SCOTUS & the Prop 8 case create an interesting scenario

I am interested to see what the Supreme Court does with the California Prop 8 marriage case. The facts in that case are such that the Court could possibly limit its ruling to just CA (or similarly situated states, although I don't know there are any). I don't think they will, especially bc there are a couple other cases with that one, if I recall correctly (and I am too lazy right now to go look it up). But the situation in CA with Prop 8 & marriage is definitely unusual.

Normally, most other states that have prohibited gay marriage have two groups: heterosexuals who can marry their partners & homosexuals who can't. The argument (a weak one, if you ask me, but whatev) is that no one is being treated any differently: no one, be it heterosexuals or homosexuals, can marry someone of the same sex; everyone, be it heterosexuals or homosexuals, can marry someone of the opposite sex. Thus everyone is treated the same under the law.

But in California, the situation is quite different. There is not such a neat, clean line drawn. Prop 8 means that no one FROM THAT POINT ON can marry a person of the same sex. But, there are already same sex couples that got married when gay marriage was legal but before Prop 8 passed. Those marriages are still valid even after the passage of Prop 8. So, no longer is there a sure division of no one can marry a person of the same sex. Because they COULD at one time & there are many legally married same sex couples in California. So, the analysis is different: the analysis should look @ same sex couples who could marry during the time it was legal against same sex couples who can't after Prop 8.

It's a really interesting question. At least for me bc I am a nerd. But it will be interesting to see what the court decides to do with it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Things are really good...

Things are going remarkably well for me right now. I am almost unsure what to do since things are so good recently & I have been having so many good days lately. It's been such a long time since I have had a lengthy run of good days that I almost don't know what to do with myself. It is so, so, so indescribably amazing to feel happy on a routine basis after spending such a long time feeling awful.

I really hope I can keep feeling happy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

And there goes the Fifth Amendment

So, today we have another ridiculously mind-boggling SCOTUS decision. This one deals with the 5th Amendment right to remain silent.

Here is how this plays out in court normally. A defendant who exercises his or her right to remain silent is protected from the state using that against them. The prosecutor can't argue to a jury, for example, that if the defendant wasn't guilty that he or she would have told the police that much. The fact that a defendant decides not to talk to police not admissible as evidence against the defendant.

So, if police question you, just remain silent & that should protect you, right? Well not according to the SCOTUS. In an absurd ruling today in Salinas v. Texas, the Court decided that in order to be protected by the right to remain silent, you can't remain silent.

Need a minute to try to wrap your brain around that?

The Court has ruled that your right to remain silent only kicks in if you explicitly say that's what you're doing. Because, as they apparently determined, your right to remain silent only exists if you've got the right reasons for utilizing it.

So in this case, the Def had voluntarily started speaking w/ police about a murder. (Don't ever do this. I know I say that all the time but it bears reiterating that because no one ever listens to me & they always run their mouths. So, just don't.) When the questioning became such that he didn't want to talk anymore, he just quit answering questions and shuffled his feet & looked down, etc. And the State used this as evidence of his guilt @ trial.

And the Court said this was totes fine, no problem here, move along, nothing to see...

From the opinion: “A witness’s constitutional right to refuse to answer questions depends on his reasons for doing so, and courts need to know those reasons to evaluate the merits of a Fifth Amendment claim."

I know, I am just a bleeding heart, crime loving, liberal defense attorney who shouldn't even be able to sleep @ night, so of course I think this is a problem. But everyone should.

The problem here is that the Court has once again decided your rights are contingent upon when the government wants to allow you to utilize them. Your rights, be that the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, the right to be free from unreasonable searches & seizures, exist on their own. They are not bestowed upon you by the government. The Constitution guarantees them bc governments have been known to snatch them away from people. But the Constitution did not create them out of whole cloth. You have them because you do.

And so, the fact that you have these rights regardless of what the government wants to let you have has paved the way for landmark rulings such as Miranda, when the Court decided your rights were so important that you had to be told them before police talked to you if you were in custody. Shit, if I were arrested, they would have to tell me my rights even though I tell them to defendants roughly 10x/day. The fact that you have these rights led to Gideon, where the Court determined that your right to counsel was so inherently important that if the government wanted to prosecute you & you couldn't hire your own attorney, then the government had to pay for one for you.

These rights are inherent and do not exist just because the government decides to let you have them. All the important cases have established, over the government's objection, that these rights exist for you even if the government would rather they didn't and even if it makes it harder to prosecute people.

But now, apparently the right to remain silent during a voluntary conversation with police only exists if you tell the police that you want to remain silent, so the courts can determine the "merits" of your 5th amendment claim.

Bullshit! The right to remain silent doesn't (well, shouldn't, since the Court has made it so it does) depend on whether you explicitly state that you are using its protection. If you have the right to remain silent, and then choose to remain silent, there shouldn't be any question that you are using the protection afforded to you. It's absurd that in order to remain silent, you have to do the exact opposite & say that you're remaining silent.

Only a group of lawyers could reach such a tortured result. Anyone else, anyone who isn't an attorney and who uses common sense (something that isn't always in the court system), would assume that shutting your damn mouth is the best way to remain silent.

So, the Court bashed the 4th Amendment on its head a week or so ago, this week it's the 5th. Maybe I should worry about my job security, since they are on a roll & my job is found in the 6th Amendment.

I just cannot even with this nonsense.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This is why my mom is awesome & hilarious

This is the actual conversation I had with my mom yesterday via text.

Mom: I am going to your aunt's today to see the baby kittens this afternoon. Do you want to come with?

Me: I definitely would but I have plans with (name withheld) for our second date this afternoon.

Mom: Oh that's exciting! What are you guys doing?

Me: We have lunch plans. I am going over to his place & then we are making lunch there.

Mom: Where does he live? It's a little soon to be going over to his place, isn't it? Ted Bundy was charming & attractive too, you know*.

Me: It's just lunch, mom. His address is (withheld). I have let people know where I will be, I have plans w/ RV in the evening, I am not being careless. I will be fine.

Mom: Hmm...

Me: Besides I already told him that Dad went to prison & threatens guys I date by saying he isn't afraid to go back.

Mom: Oh, ok! I feel better about this now. Have a great time, hon!

(*I would like to point out that her concern wasn't that it might be too soon to go over to his place bc she was worried we would be having sexy time, but rather that she was worried I might end up being ax murdered. This is the hazard of having your mother work at a state prison facility.)

I love my mom. She is hilarious.

And yeah, I had a second date yesterday. I went out w/ him for the first time on Thursday to a Twins game (pretty much the best first date idea ever given my obsessive love of baseball) and yesterday we had a lunch and tv date, where we ate lunch & then watched Law & Order: SVU & I semi-dozed on the couch (pretty much the best second date idea ever given my obsessive love of lunch, SVU, & napping). So basically, this man knows all the ways to my heart: baseball, delicious lunch, SVU, and naps. I think we are going to try to get together again sometime this coming week.  I have had a lot of fun w/ him on dates #1 & #2, so I am looking forward to #3.

That's all the news for now! I think it's naptime, anyway.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bebe!!

RV popped out another baby. He is super adorbs. I can't get over how tiny he is!

Babies are so small.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy days

Wahoo, I am really on a roll w/ this whole being in a good mood/happy thing. It's been such a long time since I have really felt like myself (instead of a sad, crabby, depressed version of myself). I was in a great mood today, for no reason @ all. This is bizzaro world! But it is awesome. I like it.

I am doing my very first 5k next month. It's a zombie obstacle course, so it sounds pretty fun. I still have exactly zero desire to run a marathon (bc gross...running for HOURS?!?! I'll pass.) but a zombie obstacle course sounds so much like being a kid on the playground that I can't resist. It just sounds fun. CB is going to do it w/ me so that will be fun. I wish I had someone to cheer us on, but that's okay. My mom was going to do it w/ us, but she has been too sick to get ready for it. So it looks like it will be just me & CB. Still fun though.

Work has been okay. I miss working w/ my old prosecutors, but that's the way it goes sometimes I guess. Hopefully I will be put back in that county eventually. I did feel touched when one of the prosecutors I used to work w/ told me I was missed. Plus, I will admit, I liked having the reputation of being "the good public defender" in my old county. I don't know that it was necessarily true, that I was somehow better than the other PDs in the area,but it was nice not to have to be met w/ the normal expectation from most defendants that PDs suck or don't care or won't work on the case. It was nice to know that a good majority of my clients were happy to have me on their case right from the start & to not have to overcome that stereotype of PDs. Now I have to start from square one again, with a new crop of clients who don't know me & most haven't heard anything about me so most come in expecting the worst. I haven't had to deal w/ that in a long time, but hopefully I can do enough work so that new clients are not expecting the worst when we meet. And I am also hoping to forge awesome relationships w/ the new prosecutors like I had in the old county. It makes it so much easier when we can not fight about needless things & instead focus our time & efforts on stuff we need to fight about (in court, of course).

Other than that, nothing new to report. Ward, Hubert, & I are all three little happy campers. Speaking of, I am writing this while in bed, with a very snoozy Wardy curled up beside me. He clearly needs me to cuddle him, so I'ma go do that now.

And here's a Ward pic for you all, because he is seriously so freaking cute. It wouldn't be fair for me to keep all this cuteness to myself.

Monday, June 10, 2013

This is good

I know, it's a rare two-post day! Whaaaa?? Craziness. But I had a minor epiphany this evening that I felt was worth noting.

So I had kind of a wah wah day today. Nothing major happened that I can really complain about, just a bunch of little annoyances. I didn't realize that I had a hrg on in the afternoon, my necklace kept falling into my cleavage so much that I ended up taking it off @ lunch (drawback of my giant rack is that I am limited in my necklace options), the office was really humid & gross, I had like 8 motions to file, the wire in my bra popped out (apparently I was having a really tough time with my boobs today...). So nothing really worth complaining about but enough that at the end of the day, I was glad it was over.

But then, this evening it occurred to me that, if those kind of trivial things are bothering me, then I must not have much to be bothered by. I thought about a year ago--shit, even 6 months ago--and how much of a wreck I was still quite often. And that isn't the case anymore. I am not a wreck anymore. I feel like my old self almost all the time.
I still have my moments. Whenever I am @ church surrounded by married people, I can't help but feel very divorced, for example. But even then, it's no longer that I miss HIM. It's that I miss the companionship. Eventually I am sure that will fade too but I am glad to see that I have come as far as I have. I haven't cried in probably 6 months about it all, I don't think about him or the divorce much anymore, & I don't wake up feeling miserable anymore. I am actually happy most days (although don't start thinking I am going to become some ball of sunshine & optimism bc that isn't happening).

So, the fact that my "bad" days now are really insignificant compared to where I used to be is kind of a major realization. And it's really nice to be happy again. Especially after such a long time feeling like I could never be again.

I am still the same weird, anxious, strange, nerdy, pants-hating chick I always was, but now I don't hate everything all the time (as much as I used to bc let's be honest, my hatred of things will never disappear entirely & that's what makes me hilarious).

Also, I get to go to my first Twins game of the season this week, which is super awesome. I haven't been able to go @ all this year, which is a travesty. So, I pretty excited to go. Plus, hot dogs! Omg, I love those Target Field hot dogs way more than I should. I might have to call into work the next day. I'll be all: "Can't come in today. I got super wasty-face on hot dogs last night, so I am hot dog hungover today." I think that will go over well.

Woohoo, I'm back! So, prepare for a return to pre-divorce awesomeness from this girl. And by awesomeness, I mean napping.

This is my work conversations...

Coworker: I don't think he has ever heard of sizzurp (cough medicine and Fanta).

Me: I don't think he has either. And did you really think you had to tell me what sizzurp is?

Coworker: What was I thinking?

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Ugh moving

Boo, I hate packing & moving. I have to move @ the end of this month, so I am packing my things into boxes. Weeee...

I am not moving far, which is nice, but I think I will still have to rent a truck (sigh). And I have people to help load my furniture into the truck but I am not sure if I have people to help me bring my furniture into my new place. Which is up a flight of stairs. Crap. I may end up sleeping outside if I don't have anyone to help me get my bed upstairs...

Luckily, I can start moving stuff in any time this month, so I can get some of the easy boxes & whatnot to the apt & into place before the final hurrah w/ moving the furniture. It will definitely make things less stressful that way. Last yr when I moved, I was so exhausted after we got done @ 8:00 that I could barely move & then I was overwhelmed with how much stuff there was to deal with. I couldn't even find my suits for work the next day! Thankfully, my boss was cool about it & let me be out sick the next day to get myself together & find my essentials for work. But I really don't want to have to do that again! So, I am going to start bringing stuff over this week, which will make the transition easier.

Of course that assumes that I will have things packed & ready to be moved. And that is a doubtful question so far. The picture is all the packing I have gotten done this weekend. Oops.

Well, @ least it's a start, right?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Bail: What Was Once Your Right and Protection from the Government Has Now Been Usurped By the Government

Bail is an interesting issue. Someone's arrested, the state drafts a complaint, the court finds there's probable cause to believe the person committed the crime alleged (and keep in mind, probable cause is a relatively low standard. Not the lowest possible, but definitely not that much of a hurdle to meet.), and then the issue is whether or not the court should order the person be held until the posting of bail or if it should release the person, either with or without conditions. 

The reason that bail is interesting is that so few people realize the purpose of bail. And therein lies the problem. When we don't understand why bail is a thing, we don't understand why it's important to everyone (not just "criminals") and how it should be used by the courts. 

So, let's discuss. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

DNA swabs and the Fourth Amendment, Round Two: Why Fingerprints and DNA are Different

First of all, OMG you guys, I made it into the MPR News Cut blog! I've made it in there a couple of other times, with a couple other posts, and I always feel really honored that my stream-of-consciousness ramblings are worthy of Bob Collins' notice. But this one was super exciting because he said yesterday's DNA post was "outstanding" and that "this is the kind of writing that legal reporting needs; it needs to wake up the people who think if they didn't commit a crime, what's the big deal about cases involving people who do?" So basically, I kind of felt like I won an Emmy or something. :D  

Now that I'm done gushing w/ excitement, let's get down to business.  Today's post is in response to a few reactions that I got about the DNA analysis from yesterday. Mainly, the primary question I was seeing was, "How is this different than taking someone's fingerprints for identification?"

I did answer that a little bit in yesterday's discussion, but I didn't fully go into it since there were so many things to be upset about and the post was getting pretty long. So, let's go into it a little bit more thoroughly and explore why this is NOT like fingerprints.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Fourth Amendment, Schmourth Amendment.

So, I couldn't not get mouthy about the latest Supreme Court travesty decision, Maryland v. King.  It was just released today and it's pretty much the worst.  If you're not familiar w/ it (and I'm guessing you're not because you probably have a life and don't read this kind of stuff for fun), the quick and dirty version of the case is as follows: 

Guy named King gets arrested for a "serious" offense (assault charges).  While he's being booked for this charge, the police collect a buccal swab from him as part of the booking process. (This is not routine in all states--yet. But I am guessing it will be soon after today's decision...).  Once they had this, they eventually ran it through a database of unknown DNA samples collected from other crimes and--what do you know--it matched DNA collected from an unknown perpetrator of a rape.  Boom, Mr. King now finds himself facing a new charge because his DNA matches that unknown DNA from the rape. 

The question presented was whether police could obtain a DNA sample from a person who was arrested--not convicted, just arrested and thereby still presumed innocent--without needing to get a warrant.  Now, pretty much every state allows the collection of DNA evidence to be collected from convicted persons.  That's a different situation entirely--those people have actually been found guilty and convicted of a crime.  However, when we are at the arrest stage of the proceedings, the person is not convicted and is not guilty of any wrongdoing