Renewal of CJA Panel for 2024

Jamison KoehlerCurrent Events, D.C. Superior Court

D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Anita Josey-Herring issued an order on March 15, 2024, that renewed for four years the list of attorneys eligible to accept appointments under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA).  The full list is provided below. This is the first re-establishment of the panel since 2018.  (The 2022 renewal was delayed because of the pandemic.) The order …

Ode to a legal career

Jamison KoehlerLaw Practice, Miscellaneous, Opinions/Cases

When I last wrote about my niece Emma, she was an all-Ivy scholar and athlete, the leading scorer and captain of her college soccer team. Since that ground-breaking blog entry of 2012, Emma has played professional soccer.  She is still, as I described her back then, pretty, smart, personable and modest, a woman who not only knows how to take …

DC Court of Appeals

On receiving stolen property in Lucas

Jamison KoehlerOpinions/Cases, Other Criminal Offenses, Theft/Fraud

Antonio Lucas robbed a man in Maryland.  He then traveled to D.C. where he was arrested. Mr. Lucas could not be charged in D.C. with the felony offense of robbery.  Because that crime had occurred in a different jurisdiction.  Instead, he was charged with — and ultimately convicted of – Receiving Stolen Property in violation of D.C. Code § 22-3232.  …

Looking for “white spaces” in the prosecution’s case

Jamison KoehlerDUI and Driving Offenses, Trial Advocacy

As a junior public defender in Philadelphia, I was always impressed when watching an experienced criminal defense lawyer conduct a cross-examination. I am thinking of Brian McMonagle, who at one point represented Bill Cosby. Or Scott DiClaudio, who is now a controversial judge in Philadelphia. Or Jamie Funt who, as far as I can tell, is still practicing criminal defense …

A man with a destination

Jamison KoehlerD.C. Superior Court, Miscellaneous

Many years ago, when I first started work at D.C. Superior Court, I had a daily encounter with an older woman as I came into the court building each morning. Dressed nicely and sitting on the bank of chairs outside the lawyer’s lounge, the woman always appeared to be speaking on the phone about some weighty constitutional issue.  The woman …

Baltimore graffiti

On the fumbling hand of counsel

Jamison KoehlerAppellate Practice, Criminal Procedure, Legal Concepts/Principles, Opinions/Cases, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

The brother of my court-appointed client takes me from the courtroom into the hallway to dress me down for a legal decision I just made on his brother’s behalf. The brother cites a legal platitude that, though true, had nothing to do with the decision I just made. “You and I both know I am right on this one,” he …

Storming the Capitol with Jenna Ellis

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous, Politics

Her voice is soft and tentative.  She may be trying to apologize, but the sniffling makes it hard to understand her.  What is clear is that she is feeling pretty sorry for herself.  If I stood next to her at a plea hearing in D.C. Superior Court, she would not have impressed me as someone with any substance or maturity.  …

Riding the Acela with Matt Gaetz

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous, Politics

I spend a lot of time on the Acela.    So too do other people I have encountered in the quiet car over the last year or so:  Tony Fauci, Matt Gaetz, Charlie Gibson, John King, Elise Stefanik, Karine Jean-Pierre, Joe Walsh, and Dan Goldman.  In some cases, such as with Gaetz or Stefanik, I have had to suppress the …

Limiting recross examination in Sanchez v. U.S.

Jamison KoehlerEvidence, Opinions/Cases, Trial Advocacy

D.C. Superior Court judges do not typically allow re-cross examinations.  Yes, you have a constitutional right to confront witnesses against you in a criminal proceeding.  But, with judges enjoying widespread discretion to oversee the proceedings, this right is not without its limits.   The defendant in Gabriel Sanchez v. United States, 287 A.3d 1241 (D.C. 2023), was charged with Assault with Intent to Kill …

Lousy plea offers. More trials.

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, D.C. Superior Court, Sentencing, Trial Advocacy

During the pandemic, criminal defense lawyers got spoiled with the favorable plea offers.  With dockets backing up, the government was desperate to resolve cases through non-trial dispositions.  One prosecutor compared it to a “fire sale.” Those times are over. I have noticed this.  My colleagues have noticed this.  And a long-time judge on the felony calendar who knows about these …

Checking the room for U.S. Marshalls

Jamison KoehlerD.C. Superior Court, Sentencing

Judges love to keep us in suspense. Before announcing a verdict or a sentence, they like to give us a detailed description of the reasoning behind their decision.  They say “on the one hand” and “on the other” quite a bit.  This is because they want to document that they considered all the angles. This can be excruciating.  After all, …

Photo of GRU

T.W. and the “jump out” cops in D.C.

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Opinions/Cases

They are known on the street as the “jump out” cops. They cruise poor parts of town in unmarked cars, one car following the other.  There are 3 or 4 officers in each car.  They pull up and jump out at the slightest hint of criminal activity.  Sometimes they see a suspect walking with a lopsided gait or swinging only …

On searching a car after POCA arrest in Smith v. U.S.

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Opinions/Cases

In Arizona v. Gant, the U.S. Supreme Court held that police may search the passenger compartment of a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest (and therefore without a warrant) under one of only two scenarios.  The first scenario is that officers have a reasonable belief that the arrestee might access the vehicle at the time of the search, thereby …

D.C. criminal defense lawyer

Trial Transcript: “Bad karma” and other deadly threats

Jamison KoehlerDomestic Violence, Trial Advocacy

BY RESPONDENT’S COUNSEL Q:     Okay.  And at some point – Mr. Jones is from Russia, right? A:      Yes. Q:     And at some point he came back to the United States and he sought to re-initiate his romantic relationship with you, right? A:      Yes. Q:     And – and you were not interested in, in resuming that romantic relationship, right? A:      Correct. …

On ineffective assistance of counsel in Dugger v. U.S.

Jamison KoehlerLegal Concepts/Principles, Opinions/Cases, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

It is always painful to see a criminal defendant replace a good public defender or court-appointed lawyer with an inexperienced one. Because you don’t value what you don’t pay for. This is what happened in Timothy Dugger v. United States, 295 A.3d 1102 (D.C. 2023), an opinion issued recently by the D.C. Court of Appeals. A smart and seasoned criminal …

Rest in Peace, Noah Clements

Jamison KoehlerD.C. Superior Court

Friend and former colleague Noah Clements died last night, just after 11:00 pm. According to his wife Caroline’s post on Caring Bridge, the two of them had just finished watching a movie together.  They were trying to move Noah when suddenly, despite all the oxygen, he could not breathe.  His lungs were too damaged.  She said it happened quickly. He …

Winter came

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous

This is why we say goodbye.  Letting go is what it comes to.

Baltimore graffiti

I told you so

Jamison KoehlerTrial Advocacy

Sometimes you need to exercise your right to remain silent. Sometimes you should take your lawyer’s advice.

Lindsey road

Forever houses

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous

My wife has a history of agreeing to rent or buy the first place we visit whenever we are looking for a place to live. This is great, she says. We’ll take it.

Jefferson Memorial

On working with indigent criminal defendants

Jamison KoehlerLaw Practice

Five tips for representing indigent criminal defendants: (1) never push a plea, (2) don’t defend the system, (3) never contradict your client, (4) a light touch often works best, and (5) a thick skin will prevent burnout.

Photo of GRU

Cross-examining a GRU officer

Jamison KoehlerTrial Advocacy

I won a motion to suppress in a drug case yesterday.  The win was particularly gratifying in that it involved the notorious gun recovery unit (GRU) from the Metropolitan Police Department.   One of the lead officers for the GRU testified for the government, and he was a difficult witness:  He would not concede a thing. I usually begin with some innocuous questions. …

criminal defense attorney

Meet Bob

Jamison KoehlerInvestigations

Meet my new investigator Bob. I think you will like him. Because every defendant deserves a good defense.

art work

I don’t want to be that guy

Jamison KoehlerHumor, Miscellaneous

I have to be careful — as I grow more experienced and continue to age –that I don’t turn into the stereotype of the cranky old criminal defense lawyer.

Trump at Resolute Desk

On character and grace

Jamison KoehlerCurrent Events, Evidence

Donald Trump’s problems go beyond a lack of manners or character. He is also a sociopath. He does not learn. He has no shame. He is driven only by immediate self-interest.

Body worn camera

Violation of BWC policy –> case dismissed

Jamison KoehlerDiscovery

Body worn cameras have forever changed criminal prosecutions. On balance, I think they help the defense. No longer do we need to simply take the officer’s word on things.

Trump as tragic hero

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous, Politics

Like Oedipus, the classic tragic hero who was felled by his excessive pride and self-righteousness, Trump has been done in by his own personal failings. I am convinced, for example, that but for the fallout from Trump’s narcissism, he would have gone down in history as a successful two-term president.

Nonnie Moore painting

MAGA hat

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous

A close relative — someone I have admired my entire life — is photographed wearing a red MAGA hat. It is one of the most upsetting photographs I have ever seen.

Graffiti used to demonstrate expungements from a D.C. criminal defense attorney

Are criminal records ever truly expunged?

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure

Use of the phrase “expungement of a criminal record” suggests that the record in question is truly erased/obliterated such that it no longer exists. Whether this actually happens – both practically-speaking and from a legal standpoint – is a bit more complicated.

D.C. criminal defense lawyer

Covfefe this

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous

People laugh at your jokes when you are in a position of power. They return your phone calls. Our attention-seeking president is in for one rude awakening.