Joining the Adult CJA Panel in D.C.

I have just been appointed to the D.C. Superior Court panel for adult court-appointed cases. I was one of three lawyers appointed on a “provisional” basis. (Three other lawyers were promoted from the provisional panel to the full… Read More

Effective <--->  Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

I am doing a court-appointed criminal appeal, and I am cranky with the defense lawyer who tried the case. He won’t return my phone calls. He won’t send me the trial file. I have no idea why he… Read More

Solo Practitioners Don’t Have A Jackie Frankfurt

We had a tremendous support network at the public defender’s office in Philadelphia. There were social workers and mental health professionals. There were administrative staff focusing on probation, parole, and the expungement of criminal records. If you had… Read More

Eliminate Adverbs. Improve Your Writing.

We all have our pet peeves when it comes to the English language. I had an English teacher in college who offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could find a single instance in which use of… Read More

On the Satisfaction of Doing Criminal Appeals

During the second semester of my senior year in college, I submitted a paper for my English class that was three-quarters of a page long. It was my last assignment for a class I was taking pass/fail and… Read More

Delivering the News in an Appellate Case

I call my court-appointed client in an appellate case to give him the news. Although I know many things about this man, I have never actually met him.   Up until recently he has been serving time in an… Read More

Using An Ellipsis To Misrepresent Language

You have to be honest with the court.  Your client’s fate depends on it.  So does your reputation.  It is one of the first things we learn in ethics class. MPD General Order 601.02 reads as follows: Members… Read More

Legal Writing As Poetry

One of my sister’s creative writing teachers told her once that you figure out the line you like best in the piece you have written. And then you delete it.  The chances are good that you have over-invested… Read More

Ready for DUI/DWI Appeals in D.C.

It is amazing to me there aren’t more appellate DUI/DWI decisions in D.C. Yes, a recent case – Taylor v. District of Columbia – dealt with the legal definition of impairment. Beyond that, however, there are few cases in… Read More

Mindy Daniels, My Reluctant Mentor

She doesn’t know it yet but Mindy Daniels is going to be my mentor on all things having to do with the D.C. Court of Appeals. One of the first things I do whenever I start out in… Read More