Tuesday, October 11, 2011
But there is something magical about those butterflies. If you have prepared well -and I usually overprepare- the moment you get into your opening statement to that jury, or that oral argument to the appellate judges, or the closing arguments they just seem to go away, at least for that stage. Oh, they'll be back, that's for sure. But you start realizing what they're all about. They are a reminder that you want to do well, that you have really serious business to take care of, that a human being's liberty may depend not only on the facts but on how well you perform. Above all, they're a reminder that you care about what you do, and you care about that person you are representing, yes, your client, the one who has all his hopes and prayers placed on you.
Every trial I go to is the same, and they're all different. The same in the sense that my wife always tells me (several times as it gets later and later into the night), "Tom, you've been preparing for this forever, and you just can't let go. You need to come to sleep or you'll look lousy in front of that jury tomorrow morning. Don't worry, I'll wake you up really early." She simply doesn't understand that I will not get any sleep unless I feel I'm ready or too exhausted to continue getting readier. Sooner or later, usually later, I follow her suggestion. The same routine is played at several different stages. "Dear, I need to get this just right. I have to argue that Rule 29 motion. It's really important." Or, "I prefer to be tired than not ready. Tired I can perform; not ready, no way!" They're also different in that some trials you go into feeling there is a real fighting chance, whereas other times you know that the deck is really stacked against you. You know it, yes, but you still give it all your best. Even criminal trials where the deck is stacked against you as defense attorney have a funny way of playing out once you're into it, and you just have to be ready to make your moves. Simply, you have to always be prepared.
And don't worry, the butterflies will be back even when you don't have to do much of anything, ... such as when you're standing there waiting for a verdict to be announced. You look at those jurors as they march into the courtroom, try to read them and hope they look at you or your client with a sympathetic eye. If they don't look, I usually worry a lot. But that's not always justified. I've had jurors look at me and convict, and others look away or down and acquit. But when even one of them looks at you and smiles gently just that teeny little bit, as if to try to calm you, to reassure you, ... oh boy!
In another post I'll write about the time I hugged my client before they even announced the verdict. That was funny! Well, the Judge didn't think so, ... but that's why he became a judge and I a criminal defense attorney.
Saturday, October 08, 2011
You would think that is tantamount to telling me that the check is in the mail, but it isn't. The "processed for payment" entry means they have taken some step (I think) in getting it moved towards being actually paid, but definitely not all. And as of Friday, October 7, 2011, whatever additional internal steps were required to enter the voucher for payment had yet to be taken! When they finally take all the necessary steps at the District Court here, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts will receive electronic notice and the next day will issue and mail my check. Then the prayers start for the postal service to be efficient, as the Administrative Office does not do any direct deposit of these payments, although I'm told that they have long had the capability of doing so.
So -with luck- I will actually receive that payment from the April 24th voucher sometime in mid-October, or perhaps a little later?
P.S. - I stand corrected. The CJA Voucher payment was issued Sept. 29th. But ... it still took from April 24 to Oct. for me to receive payment!!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Saturday, July 04, 2009
This also brings to the minds of many of us at the Puerto Rico Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers the passing away last October of our dear friend and Past President, Jorge L. Arroyo Alejandro, who reminds me of what Lou Gherig would have been like if he had been an attorney. As if fate were calling, Jorge died of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Not too long ago I ran into Jorge's wife, Ana, and one of his beloved daughters. All I can tell you is that I cried a little after meeting them, just feeling their own inner strength. Jorge, you must be watching over them, I know.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Yet I am deeply disappointed to see that President Obama is even considering as something acceptable the half-baked so-called public option hatched by the Democratic right wing - and I'm talking of the idea of cooperatives. This is not a solution. See Making the Case for Public Plan Option, Part III: Coops are Not the Answer at Balkinization.
Give us a real public option or else forget about 2010 or 2012!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Is this what this guy is all about? I have been feeling that he has been the one playing the race card all along, just as his wife has, and I'm more convinced than ever that is the case. There will be buyer's remorse with Obama.
In Puerto Rico he has promised things that he knows he is not capable of ever delivering, but I guess it's okay for him to baboozle us. Shame on you, Barack!
Monday, January 07, 2008
Lo que usted encontrará aquí, son una serie de columnas sobre temas de Historia de Puerto Rico y el Caribe, previamente publicadas en días viernes alternos en el periódico El Vocero de Puerto Rico. Las mismas no necesariamente llevan una secuencia cronológica o analítica de la historia. Son más bien el fruto de un modesto esfuerzo por provocar la discusión de temas históricos, políticos, jurídicos y antropológicos, más allá de los espacios académicos. No son textos para citar ni mucho menos; pero son un esfuerzo.The discussion of the Insular Cases from the beginning of the 20th Century is very good, one covered by my former boss, Judge Juan R. Torruella, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in his book The Supreme Court and Puerto Rico: The Doctrine of Separate and Unequal (1985), as well as other scholars. I invite you to check out this new blog.
El paso de los años no debe ser óbice para la rectificación y la iluminación del entendimiento opacado por el barniz de la leyenda.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Meetings before President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status and Congressional Action on October 23, 2007
Also on Tuesday the House of Representatives will be going through the markup of what appears to be an Amendment In The Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 900 Offered by Mr. Rahall of West Virginia. In essence, this provides for a referendum vote for or against the current status -- a colonial status.
UPDATE: You can view the House Committee on Natural Resources markup hearing here.
On the Puerto Rico front, we had the recent embarrassing news spread all over the world about the dozens of pets seized from their owners and thereafter apparently thrown over a bridge some 50 feet to their deaths (for the most part). The pet owners resided in public housing and had been threatened with eviction unless they handed over the pets. A lawsuit requesting in excess of $20 millions has been filed in U.S. District Court against the municipal government of Barceloneta, PR, the mayor, personnel from the municipality, as well as a private entity --Animal Control Solutions, Inc. (ACS)-- alleged to have carried out the part of taking the pets away and throwing them over the bridge to their deaths. ACS owner Julio Díaz has also been sued.
More news on this later as it develops.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
In the photo on the left is attorney Lydia Lizarribar (probably discussing a case with a client) before starting her run at the World's Best 10K this past Sunday.
There were runners, dominated by the Kenyans, and there were walkers (of which I was supposed to be one). A bad cold during the last week, probably the result of a recent change in climate while visiting New Orleans for the Annual CJA Panel Representatives Conference, caused me to drop out of the race. Next year we plan to organize a team of runners and walkers from the Puerto Rico Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Luis says he is "very happy." We are also very happy for Luis, who should have a distinguished future in anything he sets out to do.
Monday, April 03, 2006
- Yale Law School
- Stanford Law School
- Harvard Law School
- Columbia Law School
- New York University School of Law
- University of Chicago Law School
- University of Pennsylvania Law School
- University of California, Berkeley School of Law
- University of Michigan Law School
- University of Virginia School of Law
Thursday, December 22, 2005
My wish for the coming year? That all local politicos would only say things to the public as regards the status issue that would serve to properly educate the public and help them make proper choices, rather than the choices necessarily advocated by the particular politicos. If they do this, then win, lose, or draw I'll be more than satisfied.
Friday, November 18, 2005
As is natural, some of us who knew Carlos all our lives were talking about him. Some of the outrageous (at least in his mom's eyes) things he would do as a kid, only made us laugh a little. But we also spoke of the manner in which Carlos dealt with his muscular dystrophy. He never gave in to his illness, but did everything humanly possible to continue living as normal a life as possible despite his condition. Others may have become extremely depressed, but Carlos, in his own way, faced up to the harsh reality and did not want anyone to feel sorry for him, nor did he feel sorry for himself.
A funny thing happened to me today. My cell phone rang, and it was a call from Carlos! At least that is what the caller ID indicated. Actually it was his older brother, who is my age and also a lawyer, who was calling me from Carlos' house to let me know the time of the funeral this morning.
Carlos never seemed to have asked "why me?" Instead, he accepted it and set out to live with and around his illness. In so doing, Carlos not only made life easier for himself, but for all of us around him as well. And, even more important, he taught us all how to deal with adversity.
Carlos, I will try to recall your lesson often. Until we meet again, a big hug.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Monday, July 18, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
And on the question of who will replace Justice O'Connor, I only hope that it is someone who will be an additional vote to undo the Booker remedial opinion, and who will also vote to undo Harris and Almendarez-Torres, but I will not hold my breath waiting.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
JUSTICE BREYER: All right, if I believe that that is just out of the question, it's so complicated, nobody could do it, it would [*45] be a radical change, Congress could never have intended that, what about a much simpler approach? What you would do is take 3553(b), and you say, "Read the word 'shall' -- i.e. 'shall apply the guidelines' -- to 'may,'" so that the guidelines become advisory, either because the "shall" becomes a "may" or because you give each judge the power to give any reasonable reason at all as to why the Commission's guideline, they didn't actively consider this factor. In other words, read 3553(b) as permissive. And now, assuming I've expressed myself on the underlying Apprendi questions, so I, but suppose Blakely does apply, would you -- is -what would be wrong with taking that approach?That was Booker and Justice Scalia was quite cocky as to "shall" does not mean "may." But somehow he found a new dictionary when it came time to write the opinion in Castle Rock v. Gonzales, and decided that he would interpret the Colorado statute at issue so that every shall was magically turned to a discretionary shall or a may. The statute reads in part (taken from Court's opinion):
MR. CLEMENT: Assuming I understand the approach you propose, there would be nothing wrong with taking that approach.
JUSTICE BREYER: All right, I have thought of one thing that might be wrong.
JUSTICE BREYER: So I'll ask you about it, if you want.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Could it be that "shall" [*46] does not mean "may"? Right?
JUSTICE SCALIA: Oh, that's not it? "Shall" -
JUSTICE BREYER: All right, well, I -- you see nothing wrong with that. That makes the guidelines advisory, and there are a number of objections -- maybe not, maybe big, maybe small. One objection I was worried about is -- I'm giving you my thought process, you know, and I -- because I'm trying to get a -- your response -- is that if we did take that approach, you'd leave the appellate section in place. That means every time the judge didn't use the guideline, the appeals courts would have to review for reasonableness. Now that would be in place. We would discover judges all over the country having different views on that. Courts of appeals would have different views about was or what was not reasonable. We would be here to review those differences, and we would become the sentencing commission. I thought I had escaped.
JUSTICE BREYER: Now, how, how serious an objection is that? Or do you recommend that, if [*47] you lose on this point, we take the approach of, in that way, making the guidelines advisory?
“YOU SHALL USE EVERY REASONABLE MEANS TO ENFORCE THIS RESTRAINING ORDER. YOU SHALL ARREST, OR, IF AN ARREST WOULD BE IMPRACTICAL UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, SEEK A WARRANT FOR THE ARREST OF THE RESTRAINED PERSON WHEN YOU HAVE INFORMATION AMOUNTING TO PROBABLE CAUSE THAT THE RESTRAINED PERSON HAS VIOLATED OR ATTEMPTED TO VIOLATE ANY PROVISION OF THIS ORDER AND THE RESTRAINED PERSON HAS BEEN PROPERLY SERVED WITH A COPY OF THIS ORDER OR HAS RECEIVED ACTUAL NOTICE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THIS ORDER.” Ibid.Nino, you are less than consistent. As a matter of fact, you have done in Castle Rock that which you so much complain of: you made up the law to suit the result you wanted.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Law.com reports here that the director of the U.S. Marshals Service, Benigno Reyna, announced his resignation Friday, following strong criticism over inadequate security for federal judges. The resignation is effective July 31, 2005, bringing to a close his tenure in that office since October 2001.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
As a citizen, I like to see justice done. And when proper convictions have been achieved, I like to see them upheld. But as a lawyer I also understand that prosecutors sometimes do things that jeopardize these convictions, and this annoys me because the prosecutor acts in a manner that may deprive a defendant of a fair trial, not to say jeopardizing a conviction that should otherwise stand. I mention this because in an Associated Press article on the conviction, it states that "Prosecutors had asked the jury to send a message to the rest of the world that Mississippi has changed and is committed to bringing to justice those who killed to preserve segregation in the 1960s." Prosecutors should not be asking jurors to send messages to the world. This is absolutely improper argument, and may well jeopardize an otherwise valid conviction. That jury was not there to atone for past wrongs by some of Mississippi's citizens; it was only there to decide the guilt or lack thereof of one man in the deaths of 3 young men 41 years ago. Shame on the prosecutor for making this sort of argument. The end does not justify the means. If it did, someone would have probably murdered -justifiably- Mr. Killen long ago, rather than wait 41 years for a modicum of justice.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Moreover, Bert must also be thrilled to have something to distract the attention momentarily from a lawsuit filed against him and others by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Marquez, who Bert fired. Carmen was a serious prosecutor, and she now has a formidable attorney named Judith Berkan. I would not enjoy being on the opposite side of Judy Berkan.
So, Bert, the distraction will only last for a short while. Enjoy your depo. Maybe I'll help Judy set it up in TrialDirector so that the same can be videotaped and then the transcript can be played along synchronized with the video. And, remember, the truth and nothing but the truth! Can you handle that?
You cannot bully people around and expect all of them to go away quietly. Some will inevitably come back to haunt your life. You cannot sully someone's reputation and expect them to take it in stride. No, Bert, you can't do that. And I believe Carmen any day, just any old day, before I believe you.
To the reader it may seem as if I have something against Bert. Well, I really do not know Bert other than by what gets out to us defense lawyers - but that's usually an earful - and the lousy treatment he gave me the one time I called him directly on a civil forfeiture matter. Bert, you could have been courteous, it would not have hurt much. Arrogance, sheer arrogance!
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Google celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright.
(CTRL + left click on image) And I again daydream what if's about my architectural career that never happened. But, hey, being a lawyer --particularly a criminal defense lawyer-- is not bad at all.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Friday, June 03, 2005
This year's Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest is dedicated to the great Brazilian singer Gal Costa. She will be performing Saturday night and I will be right there to enjoy. Lawyers who have gone through the hassle of having to reinstall everything in their computers, and then do innumerable updates, do deserve some leisure time.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Now, if that download would only end soon, but it's only about 42% through. I've had to download Windows XP Service Pack 2, Norton Internet Security 2005 (plus all the updates), Acrobat Reader, and a few other programs. We have both DSL and cable internet connections available in San Juan, so maybe it's time to think of upgrading from my old trusty dial-up.
Monday, May 23, 2005
The memorandum and order of this court issued on May 12, 2005, should be amended as follows:Well, my favorite Circuit Judge has always been the one with the least seniority on the Court, since it is to that Judge that the Chief Judge traditionally delegates the review of all CJA Vouchers from the District Court, so Circuit Judge Howard may now be last, but certainly not least, certainly not in my view of things.
On the cover sheet replace "Torruella, Selya, Lynch, Howard and Lipez, Circuit Judges." with "Torruella, Selya, Lynch, Lipez and Howard, Circuit Judges."
Monday, May 16, 2005
Fed up with people targeted by false rumors turning up dead or wrongfully arrested, the mayor of a small Colombian town has made gossip a crime punishable by up to four years in prison.According to this Associated Press story, a story that could have just as well been written by Gabriel García-Marquez, the move to criminalize gossiping was necessary --said the mayor-- because "in a country as violent as Colombia, gossiping can have serious consequences."
"Human beings must be aware and recognize that having a tongue and using it to do bad is the same as having dynamite in their mouths," says an official municipal decree issued last year in Icononzo, 40 miles southwest of the capital, Bogota.
Nobody has been charged with felonious gossiping, but officials say it is not because they aren't gossiping, but merely that they have not been caught. There are also fines up to $150,000.00 for gossiping.
While the story does not mention our esteemed Representative Feeney, we have noticed that Rep. Feeney did not vote on the House of Representatives' latest harsh sentencing bill, H.R. 1279. See this Final Roll Call under NV here. Could it be that Rep. Feeney has moved to Icononzo, Colombia? Ooops, better not start gossiping now.