Thursday, October 26, 2006

The "CSI Effect"

A recent newspaper story discusses the growing phenomenon known as the "CSI Effect." In short, potential jurors are seeing science solve crimes perfectly and quickly several times a week on their tv sets. Jurors then expect to see the same science put into play in trials. In reality, science doesn't work as quickly or as neatly as seen on television, nor does every defendant confess when confronted with evidence indicating guilt like on your favorite CBS series.

Because lawyers are people too...

Sometimes, people do stupid things. Even lawyers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A recent article, using the eye-catching example of a federal appellate judge resigning his seat for a corporate job, highlights the growing role on in-house legal staff.

The legal field is, in my opinion, still in a state of transition. The proliferation of lawyers from the baby boom generation changed the face of the practice, just as it did much of the rest of society. The sheer numbers played important roles in redefining what it meant to be a lawyer and the roles advocates can play, for better or for worse. Without massive numbers of lawyers, we wouldn't have the ability to properly staff legal services offices. At the same time, we probably wouldn't have billboards for fiercely competing personal injury firms every other block if there were fewer lawyers. It will be interesting to see how the field continues to evolve as today's partners retire and the next generation may not find as many options and openings. Or, at least, so I speculatively theorize as someone that would like to see the return of a less-commercialized and more "professional" profession.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Crim law meets music biz

A post from the road: A story out of Houston highlights some interesting aspects of the music business, such as the complications in booking tours to various locales.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Out of town.

Traveling for a few days. Posting will resume soon.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oxley & Location

One of the reason I follow things like the Oxley trial, or the Porco trial in Albany, is I'm interested in the way location effects the trial. St. Lawrence County, for example, will probably have no more than one homicide trial a year. Compare to an urbanized area like Albany County, or Orange County (where the trial was held due to a request for a change in venue). In the Oxley trial, defense attorney Richard Manning (a former county DA) has brought in a noted criminal law specialist, a former law school classmate of Mr. Manning. What experts or experienced attorneys are regularly available in urban areas? I'm going to guess (without doing any research) that not only are the numbers greater, but some of the ADAs and defense attorneys would probably qualify as national experts.

I won't pontificate, as my phone is ringing off the hook this morning, but it seems that there is some food for thought (or for some bright young future judges to write law review pieces) on the urban/rural dichotomy in felony prosecution.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

School Aid

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit has now been around long enough so that, if it were a student, it'd probably be in junior high by now. This is the lawsuit, covered variously in the press over the years, alleging inequality in school funding which shortchanges NYC/urban students at the expense of property-rich suburbs. It's back at the Court of Appeals, and some are suggesting this will be the last go-around before action must be taken to revise the state's education funding system.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Oxley Murder Trial

The trial of Wayne Oxley began in St. Lawrence County Court this week. Oxley is accused of beating another Ogdensburg man to death, and the case has been notable for a myriad of procedural issues. There have been numerous hearings related to the suppression of various materials and statements, which I will chronicle at some later point. (No in-depth links as the Watertown Daily Times is subscription only, but WWNY tv has provided some coverage.)

One part that concerns me, as an attorney, is the issue of whether or not Oxley had asked for a lawyer. Allegedly, according to the defendant, when he was being taken away by police, he yelled something to an onlooker, the husband of a local attorney, about calling the lawyer/wife. There was recently a hearing, calling the husband to the stand, on whether this was a request for a lawyer. When a person in police custody requests counsel, all questioning is supposed to stop until such time as the lawyer is present. When I update, I'll also try to find Judge Jerome Richards' decision on the issue. While I'm also in favor of broad Constitutional rights, I'm also not sure (exaggerating beyond recognition) that "Get me Matlock!" yelled into a crowd is sufficient to trigger these protections. As a lawyer, as well, I like to exercise some say in the cases and issues I become involved in. Even if there is no further involvement in the murder trial (as the lawyer/wife above is not representing anyone involved), her name is linked with this case.

Northern New York follies: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Perspective and comments from on the ground in the North Country, in regard to the ATV issue.

Northern New York follies: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Friday, October 06, 2006

ATVs in the Adirondacks

The latest in the ongoing controversy: the Adirondack Council has filed a lawsuit (it appears to be SEQRA-based)in relation to Lewis County opening certain areas to ATV traffic.

ETA, on a related note: The Adirondack Council also has had a lot to say recently on snowmobile trails.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Jury Duty, Part 2

Last week, I posted comments by a friend following her jury duty experience. In her narrative, she noted the ADA wasn't exactly wowing her. I asked for more detail, and attributing it to post-lunch sluggishness, she wrote back with a bit more detail:

Anyway, the ADA was trying to use a different example than he had with the first group (as if we remembered it after an hour and a half...) and just
kept gesturing with his hands and you could see the wheels spinning but
nothing was coming out of his mouth that made any sense. He was trying to
censor his words before they came out...ended up he screwed it up anyway.
I'm trying to remember...I was trying hard to be bored (didn't take much
trying)...he said something about the defense wanting you to feel sympathy
for the defendent and would try to tarnish the image of the victim. At
least, that was what he was trying to get out. The judge stopped him when he
said "sympathy" because the judge had just instructed the jury panelists
that they needed to put their sympathy aside and make a decision based on
the law despite their own feelings. So the ADA just used his orginial
example which I now forget since I'm trying to black it all out...