You Are Not A Professional Criminal

by Jamison Koehler on September 30, 2014

You should not feel bad.

Believe me, you are not the first person to be fooled by police into making a statement or doing something else incriminating.  Remember:  They are professionals.  They are good at what they do.  And you are not a professional criminal.  Lots of educated, savvy and sophisticated people have fallen for the exact same trick.

Some people may in fact talk police out of arresting them.  It is hard for me to know because, typically, I only see the people after they have tried and failed to do this.  But you should not be fooled by the suggestion that you can avoid criminal charges by writing a letter of apology to the victim.  The letter serves only as your signed confession.  And you shouldn’t be taken in by assurances that police just want to hear your side of the story before they decide whom to charge.  This decision was made a long time ago.  By the time you are sitting with the detective in the interview room, their only purpose in getting you to talk is to build a criminal case against you.

There is only one word you need to say if you find yourself in this situation:  Lawyer!  I have seen interview recordings in which the detective walks out of the room without saying another thing the moment this word is said.

They may give you a hard time when you do this:  What are you trying to hide if you are innocent?  But, believe me, deep down they will respect you for it.  You have just made their job that much more difficult.  Somewhere across town, a prosecutor is looking at the exact same recording as I am.  The difference is that the prosecutor is cringing.


D.C. Police to Wear Body Cameras

by Jamison Koehler on September 28, 2014

The Metropolitan Police Department will begin a pilot program this week in which police officers will be outfitted with body cameras to record their interactions with civilians. According to the Washington Post, 165 officers will be equipped with a camera on either their shirt or glasses. The purpose of this program is to “increase public trust between police officers and the city residents they are sworn to protect.”

This is welcome news. Officers will be on their best behavior. And when there is some type of dispute, we will no longer need to rely on the police officer’s version of events.  Below is a simulation of how the cameras will work in practice.  H/T Patrice Sultan



In Defense of a Well-Timed Stink

September 21, 2014 Trial Advocacy

Clients love the courtroom theatrics. There was a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia – I will call him Larry — who could put on the best show you have ever seen.  Larry was fearless and he was funny.  He would talk back to the judge.  He would dress down the prosecutor for interrupting him:  “You […]

Read the full article →

“Leteracy Night”

September 5, 2014 Humor
Read the full article →

“Darling, I Love You But Give Me Park Avenue”

August 27, 2014 Miscellaneous

We live on Park Avenue. It is a beautiful tree-lined street in an historic part of town.  But it is not what you think:  It is not Park Avenue in New York City. And that is because we live in Baltimore. That is the thing about this city.  For every street, bridge, monument, or tourist […]

Read the full article →

My Real (and Not So Real) Heroes

August 19, 2014 Law Practice

Guest Post by Somers Brush I normally tell people that my desire to be a lawyer came after the couple of weeks I spent with my aunt and uncle during the summer before my senior year of high school. I shadowed my Aunt Susan and watched her in action during one of her trials, and […]

Read the full article →

Judge Easterly Lets The Facts Speak For Themselves In Damning the Government for Brady Violations

August 1, 2014 Evidence

You suspect it happens all the time:  the prosecutor withholds exculpatory information from the defendant, thereby preventing the defendant from mounting an effective defense.  The problem is that, with the government in sole possession of all the information, you have no way of proving it. And then there is Vaughn v. United States, __ A.3d […]

Read the full article →

“Equal Justice Under Law”: Why Alec Karakatsanis Is Not Your Typical Smug, Humorless Public Interest Lawyer

July 30, 2014 D.C. Superior Court

One of the hazards of public interest work is that it seems to contribute to smugness.  I may be underpaid and overworked.  But at least I am doing the Lord’s work.  And that work is more important than anything my higher paid colleagues with more prestigious jobs are doing. I encountered a little bit of […]

Read the full article →

“Observe and Report”: The Duties of Fake Cops

July 24, 2014 Humor

This is what the witness’ duty is.  It is not to “protect and serve” like a regular police officer.  Instead, it is to “observe and report.” The judge isn’t sure she heard this right, and she asks him to repeat it.  He doesn’t flinch.  He obliges. I have some fun with this on cross. So […]

Read the full article →

Who Wants To Be The Last Person Arrested for Possessing An Ounce Of Marijuana In DC?

July 18, 2014 Current Events

With the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 having gone into effect yesterday, the Washington Post did an article today discussing the fate of the last few people who were arrested under the old law.  (From now on, possession or transfer without payment of one ounce or less of marijuana will be a civil […]

Read the full article →