Saturday, June 29, 2013


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


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