Representing People, Not Files

  A supervisor at the Philadelphia public defender’s office used to tell us all the time that we were representing people, not files.  This really got on our nerves.  As one colleague put it:  Maybe he needs to… Read More

Sometimes A Guilty Verdict Is a Win (At Least That Is What I Tell Myself)

D.C. skyline

  Although Virginia juries have a reputation for being unforgiving, I have also been told that juries in Prince William County can be pretty unpredictable. Going into trial yesterday, my client was facing a mandatory 5-year sentence for… Read More

Life at the Prince William County Courthouse

D.C. skyline

  We are in the cafeteria of the Prince William County courthouse in Virgina, at lunch during what is expected to be a one-day jury trial. At a table behind me is a judge holding forth to a… Read More

More on Joseph Rakofsky: The Story Keeps Getting Worse

Jefferson Memorial

“We really didn’t check him out.  He said he was this and could do that.  We thought he was telling the truth.” — Henrietta Watson, grandmother of defendant Dontrell Deaner The blogosphere has been abuzz the past week… Read More

Notes on a Lost Trial

Eleven months of wrangling comes to this:  a two-day trial in D.C. Superior Court. The argument on pre-trial motions starts out well, and I find myself in the enviable position of sitting on the sidelines as the judge… Read More

On the True Value of a Law Degree

U.S. Capitol building

Over the last year or so, there has been a lot of talk on listservs and in the blawgosphere about the glut of new lawyers coming onto the market, about the expectations of these lawyers in terms of… Read More

On Carrying Pictures of Chairman Mao

For the most part, the Assistant U.S. Attorneys here in D.C. seem to have things right. For one thing, they return your phone calls, usually on the same day, and I have to give them credit for that…. Read More

On Jabbar Collins and Other Jailhouse Lawyers

U.S. Capitol Building

I have only seen one “law library” at a prison, and I have to say I was not at all impressed. A converted broom closet with a broken chair and a rickety metal bookshelf, the library consisted mostly… Read More

You Should Be Translating, Not Interpreting

During an earlier life, I was a member of the U.S. delegations that negotiated the international ozone and climate treaties. The negotiations often lasted a couple of weeks, with the opening statements alone — from the 100 nations… Read More

Because Transcripts Can Be Unforgiving

When I was a public defender in Philadelphia, my office mate used to come across me reading transcripts from court hearings I had done and kid me. I thought I was being conscientious, working to make myself a… Read More