Clients and other stuff
One of the reasons I enjoy criminal law is that the clients are generally an interesting lot. I'm handling an appeal for someone who's a resident of one of the finer institutions the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections offers, and I recently got a letter from him. One of his requests was that I write all future letters to him in Spanish, since that's his native tongue. Not mine, alas. I mentioned this to another attorney, but he claimed he could top it. No way, said I. Then he'd explained that he'd recently gotten a letter from his client, who was sitting in County Jail, instructing him on a long list of motions that the attorney was to file, and closing the letter with the admonition, "Do it now, bitch!"
A heat wave isn't conducive to wanting to spend a lot of time writing and researching stuff, even in an air-conditioned office, so this is one of those Fridays where I just sort of go wandering around the Internet to see if there's anything interesting out there. And there always is. Like, for example, this data supplement to the 2005 report of the White House Drug Czar. (Don't even ask how I found it.) It's chock-full of helpful information. For example, if you look at Table 45 (which is on page 37 of the pdf file), you'll find that way back in 1981, a dealer could purchase 10 grams of 12% pure heroin for just a tad more than $10,000. By 2003, after the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars in the war on drugs, a dealer could buy 10 grams of 46% pure heroin for about $1,390.00. As a retail purchase, a gram went for $1,974 back in 1981; in December of last year the Los Angeles Times reported that it was running as low as $90 a gram.
Turning to the news, there's an interesting twist to the case of Genarlow Wilson, the Georgia honor student who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 17. (I've talked about the case before, here and here.) The conviction was based on a video that someone else had taken (the incident occurred at a party), and at the trial the state prosecutor released about 30 copies of the tape to the news media, believing it was required under the state's open records act. Might have been a bad move, according to this story: the USDA has determined that the tape is child pornography under Federal law, and "would 'neither confirm nor deny' whether there was a criminal investigation related to the tape's release."
And last, from the Department of Maybe It Wasn't a Good Idea to Have the Defendant Testify, we bring you the recent case of State v. Devaughns. The defendant had been convicted of felonious assault and kidnapping, and given maximum, consecutive sentences, which seems to have been fairly warranted: his girlfriend showed up at the hospital with "two fractured ribs, a collapsed lung, blunt force trauma to the chest wall, burns on her arm, multiple bruises, and a fractured and dislocated finger" after having been "hit, kicked, and beaten with an impact wrench and a table, and burned with hot water" by the defendant. He took the stand at trial, and after responding that "the government" paid child care for his children, he was asked,
Q. And that's under the name of James Dozier.
A. Yes, that's correct. It's really complicated.
Q. Why do you suppose it's complicated?
A. Because that's not my real name. I have two identities. It's kind of screwing me up. A lot of pressure and I snap.
Q. Are you saying that when you beat Lynelle with that table, it was because you snapped?
A. No. I'm going to say I don't remember beating her. I don't. I actually don't. I'm saying this, I feel bad about that, but I'm not saying I did it.