Friday, April 28, 2006

Blogging Prosecutor Scolded

A San Francisco associate on loan to the DA's office posted comments on his personal blog about a misdemeanor case he was handling. After the posts circulated around the DA's office, the temporary prosecutor resigned his assignment because "it was just not a comfortable environment to be in any more." Then the judge heard about it. Although he did not grant the defense motion to dismiss the case, the judge called the lawyer's conduct "juvenile, obnoxious and unprofessional." - Judge Reprimands Temp Prosecutor for Personal Blog.

The lawyer's remarks included calling defense counsel "chicken" for asking for a continuance, using some obscenities, and mentioning a prior conviction of the defendant's that had not been ruled admissible at trial.

None of [the lawyer's] blogging amounted to a constitutional violation of the defendant's rights, [Judge] Karnow concluded, because [he] wasn't trying to interfere with the defendant's relationship with his attorney and didn't actually end up doing so.

"The issue of intent is of central importance," Karnow wrote. "Such thoughts were far from mind: He sought only to celebrate himself, tout his prowess and to preen his own feathers, as it were, unconscious of other effect."

Filed under: , , , - Attack Ads, Newspapers Heat Up Tort Reform War

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a vigorous campaign to change the tort system, and now ATLA is responding with a campaign of its own. The National Law Journal cites two ads -- the Chamber's picture of a man with cash stuffed into his mouth and the caption "Please Don't Feed the Trial Lawyers" versus ATLA's picture of a suit-jacketed torso with a gold "C.E.O." monogram on his shirt cuff slipping cash into his breast pocket and the caption "Haven't the Big Corporate CEO's Taken Enough?" - Attack Ads, Newspapers Heat Up Tort Reform War, Nat'l L.J., April 28, 2006.

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Life-Without-Parole Statutes' Effect on Death Penalty

Note, A Matter of Life and Death: The Effect of Life-Without-Parole Statutes on Capital Punishment, 119 Harv. L. Rev. 1838 (2006), looks at the history, policies, and impact of statutes creating a sentence of life without parole.

Some opponents of the death penalty have argued for these statutes, suggesting that juries will avoid imposing the death sentence if they know that the defendant will never be on the streets again. When death penalty statutes were invalidated, some prosecutors argued for the statutes as a second best.

Empirical studies indicate that the possibility of life without parole does affect jurors' decisionmaking. But author's analysis indicates that the presence of the statutes has affected the number of death sentences imposed but had very little effect on the number of executions. The author suggests that the people who get life without parole might have escaped the death penalty anyway -- either because of the jury or because of subsequent appeals, pardons, or other proceedings.

The author also reports that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people being sentence to life without parole -- so that many defendants who would have been eligible for parole after, say, 40 years (when they are senior citizens) now will never be released.

For links to some other interesting death penalty information, see this post on the Sententcing Law and Policy blog.

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GOP Leaders Plan Med Mal Reform

Senate Republican leaders plan to introduce a bill next week that would cap noneconomic damages in med mal cases but -- in an attempt at compromise -- the bill would not limit liability for drug companies and medical device manufacturers. BNA's Health Care Daily Report - GOP Leaders Planning to Drop Damage Caps

The bill will be S. 22 (the number has been saved for it). Leaders said they will also introduce a bill focused on liability of obstetricians and gynecologist.

A letter from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (April 21) outlines the GOP legislative plans, including health care. An op ed piece by Sen. Frist (April 28) argues for med mal reform.

For another view, see this April 27 press release from ATLA.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Recent Bar Incident Relates to Pending Case

On April 15 three men were shot at Mr. Lucky Lounge & Grill, a bar on Queen Anne Hill. This was not the first disturbance there, and the Liquor Control Board has logged various complaints: Bar, Where Three Were Shot, Logs 11 Complaints in Past Two Years, Seattle Times, April 18, 2006. In fact, trial ad instructor Karen Koehler is handling a wrongful death suit against the club on behalf of the family of a man who was killed in a parking lot there two years ago.

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Boeing Empl. Case Listed as Top Defense Win

A race discrimination case made the National Law Journal's list of the top ten defense wins of 2005. In Focus: Top Defense Wins of 2005, Nat'l L.J., April 17, 2006, at S3, S7, Westlaw link. In Williams v. The Boeing Co. (No. C98-761, W.D. Wash., Dec. 21, 2005), a class action involving about 4000 current and former black salaried workers, a jury found that the company had committed no acts of bias. The plaintiffs plan to appeal Judge Marsha Pechman's ruling that removed compensation issues from the jury.

The trial was the latest in a series of developments. A lawsuit over Boeing's employment practices was filed in 1998. Rev. Jesse Jackson helped negotiate a settlement the next year, valued at $15 million. Boeing agreed to alter its hiring and promotion practices (without saying its past practices were unlawful). But in 2003 that agreement was voided by the 9th Circuit because some class members objected to the distribution of funds.

Meanwhile, Boeing settled a sex discrimination case with a class of female employees for $72.5 million.

Before trial, the race discrimination class had been narrowed down, excluding hourly employees and workers from companies Boeing had acquired. About 11,000 black employees excluded from the class have filed a case in Chicago.

The lead defense counsel was Michael Reiss of Davis Wright Tremaine. (Although not currently on the Trial Ad faculty, Reiss was an instructor for many years.)

Reiss, Boeing's attorney, said that his winning technique at trial was to treat the plaintiffs with dignity and to use statistics to prove that they as a group fared as well as, if not better than, whites in securing promotions. Boeing's internal documents bolstered his claim that the company was committed to fair labor practices.

'It was with total respect, and it led the jury to conclude these are good people...but the evidence did not show discrimination against them,' said Reiss.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How Law Libraries Can Help Lawyers

The author of MyShingle, an excellent blog about solo practice, invited me to write a guest post why lawyers should remember to use law libraries.

It's not strictly about trial practice, but I'll indulge myself by linking to it here. Law libraries are good resources -- and not just for the gazillion books on the shelves!

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Legal Ethics Stories

Lawyers may face many moral dilemmas -- some covered by the formal rules of ethics and some not. Legal Ethics Stories is a new collection of essays looking at ten cases, exploring their contexts and the decisions the attorneys faced, often adding a postscript about subsequent developments. It is edited by Deborah L. Rhode and David J. Luban.

Not surprisingly, many of the stories involve litigation:

  • David B. Wilkins, "Race, Ethics, and the First Amendment: Should a Black Lawyer Represent the Ku Klux Klan?" looks at the situation of the ACLU cooperating attorney who took on a pro bono case representing a Klan leader and subsequently lost his position as general counsel for the local NAACP.

  • Stephen Gillers, "In the Pink Room," discusses the conviction and exoneration (after seven years in prison) of a substitute preschool teacher for child sexual abuse. The Bronx District Attorney's Office had failed to turn over to the defense documents that would have undercut the prosecution and, very likely, prevented conviction. Eventually -- 20 years after the man was wrongly accused -- the city offered a settlement of $5 million.

  • Michael Mello, "United States v. Kaczynski: Representing the Unabomber," traces the relationship between Theodore Kaczynski and his court-appointed lawyers. Their persistent plans to present mental health evidence, despite his clear wishes, led to his guilty plea. The author assisted him in a motion to overturn the plea because of the bind he was put under -- denied the opportunity to get new counsel or represent himself, he had to accept portrayal as mentally ill or plead guilty. Writes Mello: "Most of what the public knows about the Unabomber case is wrong. But not for lack of media coverage." p. 141.

  • In "Spaulding v. Zimmerman: Confidentiality and Its Exceptions," Roger C. Cramton looks at a case from the 1950s where defense counsel did not tell plaintiff about a life-threatening injury to maintain a strong negotiating position. "It is fashionable today to lament the decline of professional standards over time and to mourn the passing of a golden age of lawyering in which lawyers were more civil to each other and more public-spirited than in today's era of 'commercialism.' The facts of Spaulding suggest that in a number of important ways, things have gotten better rather than worse." p. 183.

  • In "Bankrupt in Milwaukee: A Cautionary Tale," Milton C. Regan explores the influences on an ambitious young partner that could have led him to fail to disclose a conflict to a bankruptcy court -- a failure that landed him in prison.

  • Alex Beam, in "Greed on Trial," discusses litigation over the $1.3 billion in fees sought by one of the firms that represented Massachusetts in the tobacco settlement.
Each of the stories is very interesting and provocative.

The book is available in the library: KF306 .A4L43 2006 at Reference Area. Take a look -- for parts of one story or a bunch of them.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

An Easy Way to Fix a Leading Question

You want to fix your leading questions don't you? But you're sometimes baffled, right?

Here are some tips from Evan Schaeffer: The Illinois Trial Practice Weblog: An Easy Way to Fix a Leading Question. (Read the comments, too -- there's another tip there.)

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Judges on Blogs

Third-year law student Ian Best has been blogging mightily this semester, examining the phenomenon of legal blogging in his own blog, 3L Epiphany. Recently he posted a list of cases that cite blogs and then followed that up by posing questions to the judges. Interviews with two judges are posted: Justice Judith Lanzinger of the Ohio Supreme Court and Judge Richard Kopf (federal district court, Nebraska).

My guess is that legal blogs will partially fill the “practicality” gap between the legal academy and the rest of us. Blogs provide a unique opportunity for law teachers to directly influence the development of the law in near real time. Doug Berman [co-owner of Sentencing Law and Policy blog], and other legal academics like him, have already done so. They deserve great credit. -- Judge Kopf
Judge Kopf also comments on the change that electronic filing has made in federal courts and speculates about other changes that may come -- for instance, digital recordings (transcribed elsewhere rather than by court reporters) and testimony via interactive video.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Defamation Suit Over Paragraph in Freakonomics

John R. Lott, Jr., the author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws is suing a Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics, for defamation. Lawsuit Accuses Best-Selling Economics Professor of Defamation in 'Freakonomics', Chronicle of Higher Education, April 13, 2006. [This link should work for people using UW computers or others with subscriptions to the Chronicle For five days, others can see the article here.]

In describing Mr. Lott's work on statistical relationships between crime rates and laws on firearms ownership, Mr. Levitt and Mr. Dubner write that "when other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

Mr. Lott says in his lawsuit that the book's assertion is false, adding that "there are no published articles in which an economist or other researcher has attempted to replicate Lott's results and concluded that 'right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.' In fact, every time that an economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research, he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion."

The lawsuit also alleges that "neither of two articles relied on by Levitt and Dubner" in the accompanying endnote "states or concludes that they have been unable to 'replicate Lott's results."
A copy of the complaint is at, which also has some discussion.

Thanks to the reader who sent me the story.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

On American Soil

On American Soil: How Justice Became a Casualty of World War II tells the story -- or stories -- of a violent incident at Fort Lawton and the ensuing investigation and court martial. Jack Hamann, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, has written a gripping, thought-provoking tale, exploring issues of race, war, justice, and military bureaucracy. His description of the book from his website:

On a hot August night in 1944, a terrified Italian prisoner of war was lynched at a sprawling US Army fort in Seattle.

After a tumultuous two-month criminal investigation, the Army charged three U.S. soldiers with murder and forty others with rioting.

All forty-three were African Americans.

What followed was the largest and longest Army court-martial of World War II, and the only trial in American history where black men stood accused of a mob lynching. The Army prosecutor was Leon Jaworski, later of Watergate fame. The entire true story is an engrossing tale of pride, power, duplicity and redemption.
I heard Mr. Hamann speak at the Innocence Project conference last month and immediately went out and got the book. It really is this good.

Some Seattleites may not even know about Fort Lawton, which was a big, active military base during World War II. It was where Discovery Park is today. See maps and pictures.

A UW connection is that the lead defense attorney, Major William Beeks, was a UW law grad. When he was twenty-four, he wanted to go to sea in the merchant marines, but his wife persuaded him to stay in Seattle, where he attended law school and became a maritime lawyer. He joined the Army after the U.S. entered World War II. After the War, he joined Jaworski in Germany prosecuting war crimes. He was a district court judge (Western District of Washington) from 1961 until his death in 1988.

More information about the book is here. It's available in the library: D805.5.F66 H36 2005 at Classified Stacks.

Moved by the story, Rep. Jim McDermott introduced H.R. 3174, to direct the Secretary of the Army to review the cases of the 28 men who were convicted. The bill now has a few dozen cosponsors.

This has nothing to do with trial advocacy, but I note that Mr. Hamann is currently working on "Generation IX", a documentary about the national champion UW women's volleyball team and its upcoming trip to China. Something to watch for!

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Coffee Update

Ten students have responded to my offer of free drinks from Law School Espresso.

The offer was for just ten students, but I'm having fun meeting them and my Husky Card has a good balance, so I'll extend it to ten more.

Being a blogger sometimes takes flexibility, so I have also adjusted the offer to be: a drink or any other smallish thing. (A student who doesn't drink coffee enjoyed a cookie. You could have a muffin or bag of carrots or a yogurt, if you don't want a drink.)

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Westlaw for KC Inmates

Inmates in the King County Jail who are representing themselves now have access to Westlaw. Self defense just got easier for inmates, Seattle Times, April 14, 2006.

Pro se inmates can get up to four hours a week of computer time, system training and unlimited online access to state and federal court cases, statutes, legal opinions, periodicals and free telephone support.

Currently there is one terminal in the King County Correctional Facility (Seattle) and one in the Regional Justice Center (Kent), with plans to install more computers.

Administrators say that pro se defense has been on the rise. Generally there are 20-25 pro se inmates in the system at any time. The King County Office of the Public Defender provides support to pro se defendants, including legal research and investigators.

The state is obligated to provide access to legal information to inmates proceeding pro se:

[A]rticle I, section 22 [of the Washington Constitution] affords a pretrial detainee who has exercised his constitutional right to represent himself, a right of reasonable access to state provided resources that will enable him to prepare a meaningful pro se defense. What measures are necessary or appropriate to constitute reasonable access lies within the sound discretion of the trial court after consideration of all the circumstances, including, but not limited to, the nature of the charge, the complexity of the issues involved, the need for investigative services, the orderly administration of justice, the fair allocation of judicial resources (i.e., an accused is not entitled to greater resources than he would otherwise receive if he were represented by appointed counsel), legitimate safety and security concerns, and the conduct of the accused.
State v. Silva, 107 Wash. App. 605, 622-23, 27 P.3d 663, 674-75 (Div. 1 2001), Westlaw, (footnotes omitted). Although the defendant in Silva did not have physical access to a law library, he had access to legal materials by requesting them from the librarian and, in that case, Division 1 found that access to be adequate.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Researching Judicial Clerkship Opportunities

Thinking about clerking or externing for a judge? Take a look at our new guide, Researching Judicial Clerkship Opportunities.

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Donations for Lighter Charges Under Scrutiny in Kennewick

The FBI is investigating a practice in Benton County District Court where the prosecutor would reduce charges if the defendant made a donation to a charity the prosecutors named (an after-school program for at-risk teens). Meanwhile, WSBA is investigating potential ethical violations by two key attorneys (a prosecutor and a defense attorney). Defendants got off the hook if they donated to charity, Seattle Times, April 13, 2006. About $18,000 in donations is unaccounted for, including one $5,000 donation from a DUI dismissal.

Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr says that his office does not have a similar practice. Russ Hauge, the Kitsap County Prosecutor, says that he sometimes has a DUI defendant make a donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving -- but only as part of a package that includes alcohol treatment and other penalties.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Go Ahead, Cite Unpublished Opinions

Today the Supreme Court approved new Rule 32.1 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, which allows citation of unpublished opinions in all federal courts. (Actually, it prohibits courts from banning the citation. Same result.) Courts may still decide not to accord the opinions much precedential weight.

The rule becomes effective December 1, unless Congress votes to block it.

Legal Times quoted two contrasting views:

"This change will facilitate lawyers' representation of their clients, and it will facilitate the courts' informed decision of future cases," said Mark Levy of Kilpatrick Stockton, a member of an advisory committee that recommended the change. "It will also bring national uniformity to the process."

At one point in the debate, 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, the leading opponent of the rule change, said unpublished opinions were so designated for a reason: They are drafted "entirely" by law clerks and staff attorneys. He added, "When the people making the sausage tell you it's not safe for human consumption, it seems strange indeed to have a committee in Washington tell people to go ahead and eat it anyway."
Tony Mauro, Supreme Court Votes to Allow Citation to Unpublished Opinions in Federal Courts, Legal Times, April 12, 2006.

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Changes to Federal Rules of Evidence

The Supreme Court today voted to approve some changes to the Federal Rules of Evidence. The changes will become effective December 1, unless Congress votes first to block the changes.

Here's the summary from, which links to the text of the amendments.

  • Evidence Rule 404 (Character Evidence Not Admissible to Prove Conduct; Exceptions; Other Crimes) (clarifies that evidence of a person's character is never admissible to prove conduct in a civil case)
  • Evidence Rule 408 (Compromise and Offers to Compromise) (resolves conflicts in caselaw about statements and offers made during settlement negotiations admitted as evidence of fault or used for impeachment purposes).
  • Evidence Rule 606 (Competency of Juror as Witness) (clarifies that juror testimony may be received only for very limited purposes, including to prove that the verdict reported was the result of a clerical mistake)
  • Evidence Rule 609 (Impeachment by Evidence of Conviction of Crime) (permits automatic impeachment only when an element of the crime requires proof of deceit or if the underlying act of deceit readily can be determined from information such as the charging instrument)
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New Civil Rules for E-Discovery

The Supreme Court today voted on a number of changes to court rules. Most will take effect December 1, unless Congress first votes to block the change.

Several changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure concern electronic discovery. Quoting from the summary on (which includes links to the text):

  • Civil Rule 16 (Pretrial Conferences; Scheduling; Management) (establishes process for the parties and court to address early issues pertaining to the disclosure and discovery of electronic information)
  • Civil Rule 26 (General Provisions Governing Discovery; Duty of Disclosure) (requires parties to discuss during the discovery-planning conference issues relating to the disclosure and discovery of electronically stored information)
  • Civil Rule 33 (Interrogatories to Parties) (expressly provides that an answer to an interrogatory involving review of business records should involve a search of electronically stored information)
  • Civil Rule 34 (Production of Documents and Things and Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Other Purposes) (distinguishes between electronically stored information and "documents")
  • Civil Rule 37 (Failure to Make Disclosure or Cooperate in Discovery; Sanctions) (creates a "safe harbor" that protects a party from sanctions for failing to provide electronically stored information lost because of the routine operation of the party's computer system)
  • Civil Rule 45 (Subpoena) (technical amendments that conform to other proposed amendments regarding discovery of electronically stored information)
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Free Coffee Update

Two of the free drinks have been claimed (one hot chocolate with whipped cream, one double tall latte with a shot of hazelnut syrup). Eight are still available!

Coincidentally, the first two students to contact me subscribe to Trial Ad Notes via email -- a very convenient way to have the information delivered. You can skim, skip, delete, or read, as you wish. To sign up, just fill in one of the yellow boxes in the sidebar.

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Exercises for Judges to Counter Unconscious Bias

Evan R. Seamone, an Army trial lawyer, proposes that judges use some exercises -- using theories from the disciplines of clinical psychology, drama, creative thinking, and critical thinking -- to become of and address possible sources of bias. Understanding the Person Beneath the Robe: Practical Methods for Neutralizing Harmful Judicial Biases, 42 Willamette L. Rev. 1 (2006), LexisNexis, Westlaw. (Sorry, the latest issue on the Willamette Law Review's website is volume 40.) The article began as a presentation to the Ohio Judicial College in 2003.

Mr. Seamone concludes:

The maxim for judges to know themselves applies to every decision where behavioral influences can negatively interfere with the judge's thinking process. While most cases afford the judge little room for the exercise of discretion, not all cases are easily decided. Judicial discretion can surface based on an alteration of one small fact in a case. Faced with discretion, judges must have tools on hand to guarantee the integrity of their decision-making. As one noted judge observes, 'A basic condition of the reasonable exercise of judicial discretion is awareness of the existence and exercise of judicial discretion.'

Judicial mindfulness presents a set of hands-on techniques to help judges determine precisely how they are influenced by their memories, emotions, and initial perceptions. These techniques overcome the pitfalls of many existing judicial debiasing methods, such as common checklists, by relying upon the judge's intuition and abandoning the notion that all judges think in the same predictable manner. It is possible to approach subconscious impulses mainly because the techniques all draw on a judge's own subjective feelings and experiences. Judicial mindfulness encourages judges to act well outside of their comfort zones in order to discover hidden truths about themselves. While many methods exist to accomplish greater self-insight, the starting point for judicial mindfulness rests in the proven techniques of meditating, focusing, psychodrama, journaling, and cognitive therapy. This beginning framework for self-awareness can be supplemented by other methods at any time.
Id. at 75-76.

Of course, there's nothing in the exercises that limits them to those who serve on the bench. And behavioral influences can negative interfere with anyone's thinking process.

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Korea Plans Online Trials

Futurelawyer links to an article from The Korea Times reporting on a Korean court experiment to conduct some trials via court-run blogs. The Korea Times : Courts Test Internet Trials - Trial by Blog?. Futurelawyer (Richard A. Georges) says he'd love to file motions and pleadings and to make oral argument in his blog.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Washington Supreme Court Upholds Death Penalty

Last week the Washington Supreme Court upheld a death sentence over a challenge that it was not proportional, given that Gary Ridgway (the so-called Green River Killer) was not given the death penalty after pleading guilty to 48 counts of murder. Death Sentence Upheld in Triple Murder, Seattle Times, March 31, 2006.

The case, State v. Cross, was narrowly decided. Justice Chambers wrote the majority opinion, in which Justices Ireland, Bridge, Alexander, and Fairhurst joined. Justice Alexander also wrote a brief concurring opinion. Justice Charles Johnson wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Madsen, Sanders, and Owens.

Cross raised several arguments on appeal, including alleged errors in jury selection, absence of a premeditation instruction, ineffective assistance of counsel, and the constitutionality of the death penalty.

On the death penalty issue, Justice Chambers wrote:

Since Cross's trial, the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, was caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to life in prison. We cannot begin to calculate the harm his abhorrent murders caused. The fact he will live out his life in prison instead of facing the death penalty has caused many in our community to seriously question whether the death penalty can, in fairness, be proportional when applied to any other defendant.

We do not minimize the importance of this moral question. But it is a question best left to the people and to their elected representatives in the legislature. Under the United States Constitution (the only constitution plead [sic] here), Washington's death penalty is constitutional and nothing about Gary Ridgway changes that.
It may be that there will always be aberrations like Ridgway. We do not believe that these horrific aberrations make a statute unconstitutional. We look at the entirety of first degree aggravated murder prosecutions, not just at whether any particular case is within an order of magnitude of the worst we have known.

We do not agree with those who say that no rational explanation exists for Gary Ridgway escaping a death sentence and Dayva Cross not. See generally Matthew R. Wilmot, Note, Sparing Gary Ridgway: The Demise of the Death Penalty in Washington State? 41 Willamette L. Rev. 435 (2005). Ridgway was spared because a highly respected, honorable, and thoughtful prosecutor made the decision to stay the hand of the executioner in return for information that would otherwise have died some midnight within the walls of the state penitentiary. The information received in return for a life sentence allowed so many families to, at long last, know what happened to their loved ones. While many may disagree with that prosecutor's decision, no one should deny that it was highly rational.

Justice Johnson wrote:
The majority abandons any rational attempt to fulfill our statutory responsibility to conduct a proportionality review, effectively rendering the statutory duty meaningless. Properly recognizing and analyzing what has happened in the administration of capital cases in this state inevitably leads to the conclusion that the sentence of death in this case, and generally, is disproportionate to the sentences imposed in similar cases. Contrary to what we had expected to find when we established an analytical framework to conduct our statutory review, that the worst of the worst offenders would be subject to the death penalty, what has happened is the worst offenders escape death. When Gary Ridgway, the worst mass murderer in this state's history, escapes the death penalty, serious flaws become apparent. The Ridgway case does not "stand alone," as characterized by the majority, but instead is symptomatic of a system where all mass murderers have, to date, escaped the death penalty.
The dissent goes on to discuss other mass murderers in the state who have escaped the death penalty. Only four people convicted of aggravated murder in the first degree have been convicted and executed. Three chose not to exhaust their appeals. Another person sentenced to death committed suicide. There have been some 268 convictions for first degree aggravated murder.

The Seattle Times editorialized:
The state doesn't have to have [the death penalty], or to use it, but the state can.

We think it should, but only for the most heinous of crimes, and in cases for which there is no doubt of guilt. If, under that standard, Washington has only four executions in 15 years, that is acceptable.

The question in this case is whether to have a death penalty at all. And that question, Chambers wisely wrote, "is a question best left to the people and to their elected representatives in the Legislature."
The Proper Role of State's Death Penalty, Seattle Times, April 3, 2006. The P-I agreed that "Ridgway's was a unique case," noting that the "P-I Editorial Board has failed to reach a consensus on the death penalty issue itself." Death Penalty: Goal Is Justice, Seattle P-I, April 4, 2006.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Free Coffee!

Free Coffee!

I will buy a drink (not just coffee -- any drink available at Law School Espresso) for each of the first 10 UW law students to contact me and mention this blog. Send me an email message (whisner@u) or talk to me when you see me. Offer also good if you see me at the Book Store Cafe.

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Thursday, April 6, 2006

Reverse CSI Effect?

A Connecticut civil rights lawyer (Norm Pattis) suggests the most likely effect of CSI's popularity is that "jurors love scientific evidence, even if the prosecutor presents it poorly." Crime & Federalism: Reverse CSI Effect? This a bit different from the observation by some prosecutors that CSI's effect is to make jurors less likely to convict without dazzling scientific evidence. (I suppose both positions could have some merit -- that jurors are less likely to convict with NO scientific evidence, but more likely to convict if there's ANY.)

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Are Contingency Fees Fair?

Are Contingency Fees Fair to Consumers? is a post in's Legal Blog Watch. The author summarizes posts by David Giacalone, who argues that personal injury lawyers are profiting at the expense of the consumers they represent. It also links to a long response by Jonathan Stein at The Practice taking the opposite position.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Upcoming Conferences in Washington

Coming soon:

  • 2006 Washington State Access to Justice Conference, June 9-11, 2006, Red Lion Yakima Center Hotel. This is sponsored by WSBA's Access to Justice Board. (Among other things, participants will have the opportunity to discuss Anne Fadiman's excellent book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, about the cultural disconnect between California medical professionals and a Hmong family whose child has epilepsy.) Law student registration is $40.

  • 2006 Washington State Bar Association Bar Leaders Conference, Access to the WSBA: Serving All 25,754 Bar Leader Members, June 9-11, 2006, Yakima Convention Center & Red Lion Yakima Center Hotel. This conference is for the leadership and leadership-to-be of various bar associations (e.g., county, minority, and specialty bar associations).(The overlap with the Access to Justice Conference isn't coincidental. Organizers encourage participants in the two conferences to visit both.)

  • Getting Ahead & Giving Back: Diversity in Washington's Legal Community, Seattle University, June 2, 2006 (reception the evening of June 1). The first annual conference on diversity in the legal profession, this meeting is sponsored by a coalition of minority bar associations. Law student registration is $25.
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