Saturday, May 28, 2005
I guess it will be almost as good as fresh Catfish. Oh, well...I can always try and go fishing on Monday if I get all my work done.
Let's see. I wanted to post the names of a few organizations for investigator's that I've been involved with in the past that provide continuing legal/investigative education. They are CDIA (California Defense Investigators Association), NDIA (National Defender Investigator Association), and CALI (California Association of Licensed Investigators).
All three are great organizations and each have good and bad points:
CDIA has been around for several years and they offer some of the best seminars and classes. The only bad thing is their seminars are infrequent and it always seems unorganized. All of the classes and seminars they hold are in...yup...you guessed it, California. Local seminars are great for us in Cali but not so much for everyone else. The group is made up mostly of Public Defender Investigator's with a smattering of Private Investigator's. Not a bad group of people although it can get a bit political at times internally and the "good ole boys" mentality of the board can get annoying at times.
NDIA is extremely organized and well funded. I forget what their current membership rates are but they offer some pretty varied classes and conferences. The only problem is that they hold them all over the country (hence the N in NDIA) and it can get pretty expensive if you want to travel to all the meetings and seminars they hold.
CALI is extremely well organized (actually THE most organized of them all and probably the largest investigative organization in the country) and made up of mostly Private Investigators. They are an interesting bunch of old timers that are REALLY active politically in fighting legislation that will make it harder for investigator's to do their work. This is another group of "Good Ole Boy's" but most of their meetings are bearable and they have a really good network of investigators.
I would recommend visiting each organizations individual websites and e-mailing them asking what they are about and what you can expect from them if you pay their membership fee to join. (I don't mean money or prizes...I mean in terms of specific investigator education!). Don't be afraid of getting involved!
MAGNUM: If you are reading this, I'd be curious to find out what happened regarding your training issue and if anything ever got resolved regarding you guys/gals getting booted because you did defense work. You posted a comment but did not leave an e-mail. Either way, good luck out there!
I think I'm most looking forward to regaining my title as Ruler of The Riverbanks! Ok...who am I kidding. In between getting my fishing line all tangled up in a big giant mess, getting my stupid $8.00 lure stuck in a tree, or mucked up in the dreaded underwater weeds...I'm really lucky if I can just get a hook in the water.
Damn. This is bummin me out.
I think I might just run over to Safeway and buy some nice 3 day old Cod for a fish fry this weekend.
Okay, I've got to make a tough decision. I've got a binder full of files I need to read before next Tuesday since I just (yesterday) got assigned to an attempted murder case with some rush interviews needed. I'd like to read all the discovery before I start any work on it...OR....I can go fishing.
Let me close my eyes and think about this for a sec...
Friday, May 27, 2005
Thursday, May 26, 2005
I'm looking out my window at the front of my courthouse and there is a young Caucasian male (Everyone calls him 'Spike'...well just some of the women in the office...long story there...don't worry about it), about 28 years-old, white t-shirt, torn jeans, and Converse All-Stars. He is going off! Wow, I mean Spike looks friggin angry! It's too bad that the person he is arguing with is not there. I think it's some imaginary dude that follows him around. Last week he was telling the imaginary dude to leave him alone...I wished I coulda made the imaginary dude leave...he seems annoying as hell.
Is it possible that there is someone else in another part of the city having an argument with his 'imaginary' friend Spike? Maybe Spike doesn't want to leave HIM alone! Something to think about.
For anyone keeing track...My good friend 'Downey' was relieved to hear the judge tell the DA in very nice terms that SHE WAS FUCKING INSANE if she thought that sanctions would be imposed on Downey for producing so-called late discovery. Downey's jury just went out yesterday on the theft case riddled with ID issues. Let's send some good vibes her way...please!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
The point of all this is not to point out what a lazy jackass you have to be to not complete your training but it's to point out that Defense Investigator's (Private and Public) are under no obligation to attend ANY training AT ALL!
I know MORE than a handful of investigator's that have NEVER attended a formal training/seminar/conference in their last 15 years of doing defense work. The main reason is that these "old-timers" feel they know everything there is to know about investigations and the laws that govern what we do that they just blow new of any training off. They say, It's the same thing over and over again! or It's too expensive! or I've been doing this for 20 years, what is someone going to teach ME!?!?! How many of us have heard this before? I'll bet you have or maybe YOU'RE one of those "old timers."
Many of you may be saying no big deal, right? WRONG! As defense investigator's we need to be on top of any and all new laws or legislation that affect us and how we represent our clients. How many investigator's are familiar with Penal Code 1054.8? If you aren't, you could be opening up you and your office to sanctions and worst of all...NOT BEING ABLE TO USE THE WITNESS YOU INTERVIEWED AT ALL!
Those in the Private Sector need to fork out a few bucks every year for whatever training they can afford and those in the public sector need to push their Supervisor's and Chief's to get training paid for EVERY YEAR. They pay for the attorney's why not the investigator's!
I'll post more on this later tonight because I want to talk about a few Defense Investigator organizations that offer training in California and across the country (and their Pro's and Con's). We must self-regulate...nobody else is going to do it for us!
FOR FANTASY BASEBALL GEEKS ONLY: Ok...You know what sucks? My Yahoo Fantasy Baseball team sucks! I think they were doing better off in Blonde Justice's Fantasy League when I DIDN'T have access to my team and I was unable to drop and add players and move them around the roster willy-nilly. I need to go home and re-work them tonight. They don't completely suck...last I checked I was 6 out of 12 which I guess just means I'm "In the middle" or "Mediocre" if you will. Average...I can't live with that. As long as I'm not in last place!
Monday, May 23, 2005
While eating lunch and doing my usual 15 minute rundown of my favorite blogs, I came across a great link from Skelly over at Arbitrary and Capricious to DELLA MAE JUSTICE, an attorney in Pikeville, Kentucky.
It is a short article from the NY Times about an attorney who didn’t have her life and career handed to her on a platter, kinda an example that poverty doesn't necessarily breed more poverty. I don't know if that's what I should have gotten out of it but it was just a real pleasure to read…
On other news...I just heard from a good friend of mine (We'll call her "Downey") who just started a trial this morning on a case she has been working on for a while. Downey can be a real stress case come trial time and I think it's beginning to rub off on me. Anyhoot, she was just saying that they should be done picking a jury this afternoon and the DA has already asked for sanctions against her for late discovery (for the record...It wasn't). The battle picks up again this afternoon. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for her.
It's not like we just rocked the legal community with this win but hey...I'll take a win where I can get one!
I did learn my lesson. Even though I still go with what my gut says...if an issue arises from an interview with a witness and although it may seem un-important to me...I will try and run it by the attorney before committing it to writing.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
I’m not gonna bore you all with the details but I had a case assigned last week in which our client was charged with a Battery(PC 242) and Unlawful Fight In A Public Place (PC 415.1).
In the interest of shits and giggles...For those readers unfamiliar with the CA PENAL CODE I have included the definition’s of the PC'S courtesy of the Legislative Counsel of The State of California:
PC 415.1: Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonmentand fine: (1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place orchallenges another person in a public place to fight.
PC 242: 242. A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violenceupon the person of another.
Shoot, I can't go into too much detail because I know some people in my office read this blog (I've managed to stay anonymous so far) and I don't want to give anyone reason to fire me since I am an "At Will" employee until I pass probation in a few months.
Basically what happened was our client had been "picked on" for a long time by the vicitim until one day the victim took a swing at our client, missed, then...our client took one swing at him. Our client didn't miss and knocked the the victim out with one punch. It should be noted that our client is 25 years older, and 100 lbs smaller than the victim.
I interviewed the many witnesses of this incident who said they all had seen our client take a swing at the victim only AFTER the victim had attemped to knock our client's head off. One witness said that she had used drugs in the past (she made comments that she knew the victim was a druggie and that he was high at the time he got into a fight with our client).
When I wrote my report, I felt it necessary to write a report AND include the drug use comment in the final draft for several reasons, the most important being we planned on issuing a subpena to the wit for trial. Also, the admitted drug use was over 5 years old (the client and most of the witnesses ALL have extensive drug history AND criminal records). The witnesses (not recent) past use could easily be brought up as character issues during trial and would have been, even without the wits statement in my report.
The point is, the Attorney was irritated that he could not use the witness anymore because the wits comment about drug use ruined that individuals credibility. No, he didn't ask me to change the report but he was irritated that one was even written.
I for one don't feel it's belieavable to a jury to paint our witnesses as "snow white" perfect. We need to show them as the flawed people that we all are. My practice has alway been to write a report of an investigation on witnesses we plan on calling at trial and if I do an interview where a witness is either damaging or doesn't provide anything helpful, I'll prepare a memo to the file/attorney that in theory should never see the light of day. This memo will have my thoughts and opinions on why I am recommending that we don't call a particular witness at trial.
I think I lost my point in all this and if any of it made sense I would be curious to hear from any other investigators out there or attorneys that might care to comment or email. I can clarify things after I've had some coffee in the morning. I guess what I want to know is...Does anyone else do anything radically different?
Thursday, May 19, 2005
In the interest of being open and honest (as best as an anonymous blogger can) with the 3 faithful readers of my blog...I am including a letter I received about a month ago (I think) from a television producer. Here it is (my comments on it will follow):
I am a producer at a New York production company, Stick Figure Productions. We are developing a new television series for Court TV. We are looking for cases for which we will provide - for free – the legal services of a renowned defense attorney in exchange for participation in our show. In terms of the case, we are open to different scenarios; our only stipulation is that it not be rape or murder. The case could be criminal or civil – it could be a clear case of injustice, or more in the gray zone. The case could already have a lawyer working on it or it can be unassigned.
Our company’s website (www.stickfigureproductions.com) will give you a sense of the kind of programming we do. We are not “reality TV” producers – this series for Court TV will be all documentary footage and will in effect showcase the towns and townspeople where the case is taking place, as well as follow a case from start to finish.
If your office is interested in working with us, you can reach me at 212/***-****. Many thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.
-- M****** B*****
Stick Figure Productions
6 West 18th Street 11th Floor
NY, NY 10011
At first I was totally flattered...then I realized it was a damn form letter...I thought that maybe I'd gotten the attention of some bigtime TV producer, that I have a chance to be featured on COURT TV!
Not so much.
The producer was very nice when I responded with, "Is this for real?" She was interested in juicy cases....just not anything involving the life of a Public Defender (Investigator included). I'm convinced that if someone would produce a LAW & ORDER: PUBLIC DEFENDER tv show, they would have people riveted by the possible stories!
Ahhhh damn...maybe I have a life in TV if this whole investigation thing doesn't work out.
OK...obviously I'm being sarcastic but C'MON people! Are they so understaffed at the jails that shit like this is allowed to continue? It seems to be a pattern with Sac County. I ran a GOOGLE search for Sacramento Jail Suicides and the results were scary...I'm not sure what suicide rates are in other counties or if more is done to minimize them but I read about this last night and I just got pissed...what else can I do?
On to better news....let's see....Oh! Any PD Investigator's (or not) that are looking for employment, there are several Public Defender offices (Federal and County) that are currently or in the very near future, accepting applications for new investigators: Federal Defender-Las Vegas (oops, May 20, 2005 deadline!), Federal Defender-Fresno (June 5, 2005 Deadline). I'll have a link up for the two other counties that are supposed to be hiring 1 investigator each before the end of the year.
I came across a great web page on Top Ten Public Defender Myths, courtesy of the State of Connecticut Public Defender which is really, really simple but is perfect for printing out (obviously with changes appropriate for individual offices) and handing to new client's or even keeping copies of at the front window of our reception room...actually, the only things I don't agree with is the part about our offices's not being overworked and not having adequate resources....try comparing our budgets with ANY District Attorney office in ANY state...I dare you to find any parity between the offices ANYWHERE!
Allrighty, I'm done ranting for the day...I do have something VERY VERY IMPORTANT going on today and it involves...STAR WARS BABY! I'm watching the 8:15pm showing at my local theatre...Yeah, I'm a geek but it's not like I've been waiting in line since January of this year or anything!
Now where did I leave my Han Solo wig and tights?
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I never had the pleasure of knowing him, but a friend who reads this blog did. Peace be with you Hermano.
Alrighty folks, I’m back in action. I’m sorry for being gone so long. The new job, moving, and testifying on a couple of cases from my old office were taking a bit of a toll on me but after pulling a “Chapelle,” I am back, refreshed, and ready to Blog!
First off….Has anyone heard about ROBERT CEA? He is an Ex-NYPD Detective who wrote a book (No Lights, No Sirens) admitting that he was a lying sack of shit and he and other NYPD detectives routinely lied on reports and in court (he actually uses the word “Testi-lying”).
Ok, for those of you that are going to hammer me and say, “Don’t be an ass…not ALL cops are like that! It’s just one or two ‘bad apples’ that ruin it for everyone!” I gotta say, read this story in the Daily News (try a GOOGLE search on his name) and it will make anyone who loves the constitution and has any respect left for law enforcement get sick to their stomach.
I’m actually not sure how long the link is going to stay up so I’m just gonna put an excerpt from the story (New York Daily News [05/16/2005] - By Robert F. Moore and Nancy Dillon):
Cea, who doesn't name names in the book - he uses pseudonyms - insisted his account is accurate.
In one harrowing passage, he describes putting one bullet into his gun and spinning the chamber. Then, he writes, he stuck the gun into a suspect's ear and pulled the trigger. It didn't fire. His partner, he said, stopped him.
Other real "rules of the game," according to Cea, include:
- Let big drug dealers walk so they can act as informants - even if the junk they sell spurs murders.
- Look the other way when any kind of marijuana is found. The paperwork is long and tedious, and the charge is only going to get tossed or dropped down to a misdemeanor.
- Lie to suspects, allowing them to think confessing on camera will lead to a light sentence.
- Personally cook up heroin for your informants if you need information for a bigger arrest.
The most chilling tidbit I read was this:
"I knew these were crimes I was committing daily. But I'd do it again and again," Robert Cea writes in "No Lights, No Sirens. It's the only way to get things done."
Do I want this scumbag to make a ton of dough on his history of lying and putting possibly innocent clients behind bars? No. Am I going to read his book? Yes…but It’ll be rented from the library. I ain’t shelling my hard earned dollars out to this dickhead.
Ahhh…I feel better. I gotta tell ya. Reading the article on Cea the other day REALLY got me all worked up…I feel a little better now. I’d be interested to find out what any criminal defense attorney’s are doing about cases that he worked in the past. I know that he retired about 10 years ago (he was investigated for the MURDER of one of his informants) but this guys like this need to pay a price for the hellish nightmare’s they cause.
I’ll write more later…one of my new attorney’s has a trial and I might need to be around for handholding.
Oh! In a totally unrelated matter…Who else is excited about the last STAR WARS movie coming out this week!?!?!
It’s good to be back!