aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, September 10, 2007
Blonde Justice (a criminal defense attorney working in a big city) guesses “somewhere around 10-15% of the people who are pleading guilty are not....” Thats less than I’d have guessed; the post and its comments enlightened me. But this anecdote moved me:
I had a case just last week, where my client told me that he “didn’t do it,” and came to court every month for months waiting for his trial. And I knew, no matter how it shook out, that we had a good shot at trial. And, worse case scenario, he was probably facing probation and some fines.
Recently, though, my client lost his job. Last week, he got hired for a new job. He told them that he could start the day after we had court. So, he asked me, “Can you just work out the best possible plea for me today? I won’t be able to keep taking off work at my new job.” I explained to him that he had consistently told me he was innocent, and that I thought we had a good shot at winning at trial, and that to plead guilty he’d have to “admit his guilt” to the judge.
And he told me, “I just can’t afford to lose this job. I just need to get this over with.” It was his fourth or fifth day spent in court.
I went to the prosecutor to work out a plea. And I said to him, “Look, I don’t think my guy did it. But he wants to get this over with.” I laid out the evidence I thought the prosecutor would have at trial, I laid out the evidence I would have, some of which I had been saving for trial. I think the prosecutor recognized that this was working out well, and offered my client just a fine, no time on probation.
So, he pleded guilty, “admitted” his guilt.
It’s kind of a weird thing, because of course I’m never allowed to lie to the court… but this is kind of a lie, right? I stood next to my client and let him lie and say he did it, after he told me twenty times he didn’t do (and had kind of proven it to me).
I guess the cynic would say, “For all you know, he could have been lying when he said he didn’t do it, and finally telling the truth when he was pleading guilty.” But, really, then why doesn’t the reverse work? If my client had told me twenty times he did it, and then I led him through testimony in which he finally claimed that he didn’t do it, I would be suborning perjury.
But guilty pleas are what makes our judicial system efficient.
Pay too low In GA for court-appointed attorneys
Christopher Hill, the state strategies coordinator for the ACLU-Capital Punishment Project, writing in the AJC today:
Whenever athletes are looking to renegotiate their contracts and say, “it’s not about the money,” it’s usually about the money. When Chris Adams resigned as director of the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office 11 days ago, it was also about the money.
The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, which funds Adams’ office, was created four years ago to ensure indigent defendants receive zealous and qualified representation. But in his resignation letter, Adams said his office could not provide the representation its clients deserved with only a $4.3 million budget - less than half of what was requested from the Defender Council. [...]
Defendants are fighting for their lives during capital trials. The Constitution guarantees effective lawyers and a fair trial - that means lawyers with the time, resources and skill to properly represent them. It also means expert assistance, access to technology and investigators. All of this costs money. As things now stand, adequate resources are sorely lacking in many parts of the country. As a result, the death penalty is too often reserved not for the “worst” offenders, but for those defendants with the worst lawyers.
Chris Adams wants Georgia to provide better representation to its capital defendants. He can no longer participate in a system that fails to protect the rights of defendants. For Georgia to give capital defendants a constitutionally adequate defense, it has to realize that, in large part, it is about the money.
MTV & TMZ: role reversal
...in the age of YouTube and cell-phone video clips of concerts, MTV is adapting to find relevancy. So MTV cut the awards show to two hours from three, showcased multiple simultaneous performances, and made the actual handing out of awards almost an afterthought.
In other words, MTV — which, despite its game-changing genesis, has long been a traditional TV giant like any other — is shrinking to fit in with a generation raised on Web-styled entertainment. So it strikes me as especially ironic that Web giant TMZ.comis expanding with a half hour (traditional) TV show this week.
The TV version of TMZ is a syndicated entertainment news and gossip show that will premiere on 25 FOX affiliates across the country (representing about 41 percent of the population). It will compete with the likes of entertainment TV stalwarts such as Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.
But should it?
Hiring a fleet of journalists to catch the celeb-of-the-moment “in the act” and hastily post the video online is one thing. Creating a half-hour show complete with graphics, editing and a script is another matter entirely. Then there’s the audience — will TMZ.com fans migrate to the TV? Will the attention span required by the Web be enough to support 30 minutes on TV? And of course it raises the editorial conundrum of whether being the first to post a story on the site will cannibalize the TV audience (and vice versa).
Liberals are smarter
A study says liberal brains “are more responsive to informational complexity.” Test: You sit in front of a computer screen and wait for a letter to appear on it. You’re supposed to tap your keyboard if it’s an M, but not if it’s a W. The experimenters mix it up but give you more M’s than W’s to see whether you get lulled into tapping when you shouldn’t. Results: 1) On M’s, liberals and conservatives responded equally well. 2) On W’s, liberals were twice as likely to be among the more accurate responders. 3) On electrical measurements of the brain area that monitors conflict “between a habitual tendency Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ and a more appropriate response,” liberals were five times more likely to show brain activity. Unofficial scientist/media spin: Liberals are smarter. Official scientist/media spin: Liberals are smarter, except when circumstances call for a knee-jerk ideologue. Knee-jerk liberal spin: We’re smarter because we have more agile brains. Thoughtful liberal spin: Then again, maybe we have more agile brains because we’re smarter.
Tristero comments, “The next thing to study is which kind of brain is more grounded in reality.”
Giuliani’s Emergency Command Center decision
SEE ALSO: Wayne Barrett’s five big lies told by Rudy Giuliani about 9/11 (the emergency command center is #3).