Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stimulus Package for the Sixth Amendment: Part II and Farewell to William B. Moffitt

Haven't we imprisoned enough people? Haven't we deprived enough folks of their civil and human rights?...The war continues. As such, those of us who believe that fairness and due process are the cornerstones of any criminal justice system must continue to soldier on, hoping that human dignity and justice will prevail over ignorance. The struggle is never ending.

William B. Moffitt; April 2000

His defense of Dr. Sani al-Arian spokes volumes of his commitment to and belief in the effective assistance of counsel. He will be sorely missed. This acknowledgment is late but timely in our efforts to promote and protect the 6th amendment. Let us rededicate ourselves to working hard on behalf of our clients and not backing down to those who promote political expediency and momentary gain.

Remember, the Supreme Court has ruled that those who cannot afford to retain private counsel have the right to court appointed counsel in the following circumstances:
1. almost all contexts in which the state seeks to deprive liberty via the criminal justice system on direct appeal; Douglas v. California 372 U.S. 353 (1963)
2. in juvenile cases with risk of confinement; In re Gault 387 U.S. 1 (1967)
3. at critical stages of the process; Coleman v. Alabama 399 U.S. 1 (1970)
4. for an appeal of a sentence where the accused entered a guilty plea Halbert v. Michigan 545 U.S. 605 (2005)
Let us remember we are the holders of a great legacy and that we should work hard everyday. Not only for our own individual clients but also on behalf of those who do not have the financial resources to hire private counsel. Help your local PDs and appointed counsel whenever possible. The war continues. Go forth and fight.

Update: Attorney Rob Henak has filed supplemental motion seeking the recusal of Justice Gableman in the appeal of State v. Allen, 2007AP795 based in part on comments made by Gableman's counsel, James Bopp, at the disciplinary proceedings. As the motion states: "As such, Justice Gableman’s views and defense in his judicial ethics proceeding, as expressed through his attorney, reflect an absolute inability to be impartial in a criminal appeal such as this."
Enough said.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stimulus Package for the Sixth Amendment

While the rest of the country is focused on health care, the adverse state of the economy has had an impact on the criminal justice system. More people out of work leads to more property crimes and other spontaneous acts of random violence. The WH has decided to stimulate the economy by the infusion of money. How can we stimulate the 6th Amendment?

As a starting point, all criminal defense lawyers need to reaffirm their own commitment to the profession. Do not speak ill of your clients. If you don't respect them how can the prosecution or the courts? Two, work every file. Your client expects it and so does the system. You're cheating yourself if don't work the file. Three, be proud of who you are and what you do. There are not a lot of people out there speaking for the first ten amendments and who they protect.

Congrats. U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow from the ND Ill recently issued a decision criticizing the US Atty's office for knowingly presenting false testimony. All counts of conviction related to the witness in question were thrown out and a new trial was ordered.

It's refreshing to see a federal district court judge actually exercise some independence. We can only hope that the three nominees for the Western District of Wisconsin (Louis Butler, William Conley and David Jones) will demonstrate the same intestinal fortitude. BTW, congrats to those three. Let's help them do their job by being strong advocates.