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Friday Roundup

Overburdened prosecutors.  Friday's my "lazy day" here.  Instead of reading cases, I read other legal blogs to see what's going on, and pull stuff I find interesting.  I started doing that because I figured it would be quicker.  Actually, it's turned out the other way; I spend so much time wandering around the Internet that these posts actually take longer.  But there's some thought-provoking stuff out there, like this article over at the Social Science Research Network (hat-tip to SL&P for the pointer), explaining that case overburdening is not limited to public defenders; in many jurisdictions, prosecutors' caseloads approximate those of PD's.  And, as the article, explains, "Counter-intuitively, when prosecutors shoulder excessive caseloads, it is criminal defendants who are harmed."

Because overburdened prosecutors do not have sufficient time and resources for their cases, they fail to identify less culpable defendants who are deserving of more lenient plea bargains. Prosecutors also lack the time to determine which defendants should be transferred to specialty drug courts where they have a better chance at rehabilitation. Overwhelmed prosecutors commit inadvertent (though still unconstitutional) misconduct by failing to identify and disclose favorable evidence that defendants are legally entitled to receive. And excessive prosecutorial caseloads lead to the conviction of innocent defendants because enormous trial delays encourage defendants to plead guilty in exchange for sentences of time-served and an immediate release from jail.

I'm not sure I buy into it, certainly not completely.  I'm a great believer in preparation being the key to winning a case, and if I've got a choice between a prosecutor who's had a couple of weeks to prepare for trial versus one who's looked at the file the first time that morning, I'm going to take Door B every time.  But it's an angle that I really hadn't considered.

Reason #33 why I don't have a video camera in my helmet when I'm popping wheelies on my motorcycle.

Well, it might have seemed like a good idea at the time to Anthony Graber, who apparently figured that if he drove I-95 in Maryland at excessive speeds, he should record the event for posterity.  Not only did he record his recklessness, but he also recorded a policeman pulling in front of Graber, leaping from his car with gun drawn, and ordering Graber off the bike:


Except, as you can see, the officer is in plain clothes, and in an unmarked car, and it's at least five seconds before he identifies himself as a policeman.  If you watched the first few seconds of the video without reading any of the above, you might think it's Graber's posthumous memorialization of a road-rage incident.

Graber apparently also thought it would be a good idea to post the video on YouTube, so everybody else could see how badly the cop had overreacted.  (Let's face it, unless Graber was shooting out car windows while he was doing wheelies, driving recklessly isn't generally regarded as a crime of violence.)  Turns out that was a bad idea; the local prosecuting attorney decided to prosecute Graber for "interception of a wire communication" under Maryland's wiretap law, which makes it a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, to "intercept" with an electronic device -- in this case, the microphone in Graber's helmet cam -- an oral communication in a private conversation.

Presumably, Graber will be represented by an attorney who didn't flatline his last EEG, who will point out to a judge that no one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a shouted conversation in the middle of a road.  And presumably, that judge will have an IQ which exceeds room temperature, and will lecture Graber about the perils of driving recklessly, before dismissing the felony charge to save the commonwealth further embarassment.  And presumably, the judge will then retire to his chambers to wrestle with the question of who is the biggest jackass in this scenario:  Graber, the cop, or the prosecutor?

Reason #58 why I don't do divorce work.  Because you run into people like this guy:


But if you want "to be on your way to getting rid of that vermin you call a spouse," now you know where to go.


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