Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tangled Set of Events Lead to Shooting by Bounty Hunters

A long article in theNews Tribune sorts out the events that led to bounty hunters shooting a defendant who skipped his bail. The bail bond agency had turned the man over to Tacoma police, but they did not jail him because he told them and the FBI that he could lead them to a U.S. Army missile. What he did show them was a piece of bazooka ammunition -- not much of a missile -- and he never got to jail. The prosecutor said that the bail bond agency was still on the hook for $150,000 because it had delivered the defendant to the police instead of the jail. So the bail bond agency hired bail recovery agents to round him up again. When he rammed their car and reached for something in his front seat, they shot him fatally. Why the bounty hunters killed Robin Hood | | Tacoma, WA.

$3M Verdict for Wrongful Discharge of Pierce County Dep. Pros.

County hit with big jury award | | Tacoma, WA, Aug. 17, 2008.

The Pierce County Prosecutor fired Barbara Corey, the number-3 prosecutor in his office, in 2004. She sued and, this week, won a $3 million verdict from a King County jury.

The jury was asked to rule on a number of specific questions and found:

• The Prosecutor’s Office negligently disseminated confidential investigatory information.

• The office engaged in malicious and reckless conduct and defamed Corey directly and by implication.

• The office placed Corey in a false light before the public.

• The office intentionally disclosed information and its conduct was outrageous.

• The office wrongfully terminated Corey.
The county has not decided whether to appeal.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Green River Killer case started 26 years ago Tuesday

The PI's crime blog, Seattle 911, has a post reflecting on the Green River Killer case: Green River Killer case started 26 years ago Tuesday, Seattle 911, Aug. 12, 2008.

The Amateur Law Professor

Check out The Amateur Law Professor, a blog by a Justin Walsh, a new associate at Stritmatter Kessler Whelan Coluccio. (Until recently, this blog was by Justin Walsh, a law student at Seattle U.) It "contains updates on Washington Supreme Court and Washington Court of Appeals decisions, local and national legal news, and the odd bit of humor to keep things interesting."

For other law-related blogs in Washington, see this list.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

National Immigrant Bond Fund

Fund Would Aid Those Seized In Workplace Raids, NPR, Aug. 11, 2008, tells about Bob Hildreth, a financier in Massachusetts, who was so moved by an immigration raid that arrested 400 undocumented workers in New Bedford last year that he helped found the National Immigrant Bond Fund.

"Bond is important, because it starts the whole process of realizing the rights you are guaranteed by the constitution of the United States," Hildreth says.

One is the right to obtain a lawyer. Immigrants are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer for deportation proceedings, but often they rely on the pro-bono services of advocacy groups. The problem is that when they are in a remote federal detention center thousands of miles from family, the situation is a logistical nightmare.

One defense lawyer says the common practice of moving illegal immigrants across the country has created an "access-to-justice crisis." * * *

* * *

Backers acknowledge that many of those bailed out may not have a right to stay in the U.S. in the end, but they say some could qualify for asylum or could be helpful in convicting abusive employers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Study Finds Settling Is Better Than Going to Trial -

Study Finds Settling Is Better Than Going to Trial -, Aug. 7, 2008.

The researchers looked at 2,054 civil cases that went to trial from 2002 to 2005. In a majority of cases that went to trial, the plaintiffs recovered less than they had been offered in settlement.

Most cases do settle -- and we can't tell whether the plaintiffs who settled would have done better at trial.

The researchers are Randall L. Kiser (principal analyst at DecisionSet, a consulting firm that advises clients on litigation decisions), Martin A. Asher (an economist at the University of Pennsylvania), and Blakeley B. McShane (a graduate student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania). The article will be in the Sept. 2008 issue of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

In negotiations, defense attorneys might want to say: "Hey, take our offer, because most plaintiffs don't do any better going to trial." Indeed, the Times story opens:

Note to victims of accidents, medical malpractice, broken contracts and the like: When you sue, make a deal.
But any given plaintiff (and counsel) won't know whether that will be true in his or her case. After all, if 61% of plaintiffs are worse off, aren't 39% better off going to trial? And would defendants start making lower offers if they believe that plaintiffs -- because of this study -- will be more eager to settle?

The Times now allows comments. I thought these were interesting:
Could it be because it is not always about the money? That people suing are motivated to get their day in court, believing there is a righteousness on their side stronger than the odds when flipping a coin? So this study shows their legal (and usually more public) vindication has a cost, interesting, but not really surprising.

I don't think lawyer-ing and the outcomes of decisions to go to trial should be measured in this way--that more money won for clients equals improvement "in the field". . . .

— JPM, Zurich

It probably requires a certain percentage of people willing to go to trial to keep the settlement offers in the range where most parties consider it worthwhile to settle rather than chance trial. That is, it may be the most efficient market already.

— JCA, Bay Area, CA
Thanks: Maureen Howard

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Public Defenders Office Deals With Backlog | KIMA CBS 29 - News, Weather and Sports - Yakima, WA - Yakima, Washington 29 | Local & Regional

A local TV station ran a story about the Yakima public defender's office huge caseload. Public Defenders Office Deals With Backlog | KIMA CBS 29 - News, Weather and Sports - Yakima, WA - Yakima, Washington 29 | Local & Regional, Aug. 6, 2008. Dan Fessler, the head of the Yakima County Department of Assigned Counsel, likened the situation of more defendants and not enough resources to the famous episode of "I Love Lucy" when she tries to keep up with a conveyer belt in a candy factory. If you click on the link for the story, you'll even see a clip of Lucy.

Thanks: Arbitrary and Capricious (via Karen Schneiderman).

Drug dealers buy vineyards to hide pot

News from the Yakima Valley: Drug dealers buy vineyards to hide pot | | Tacoma, WA, Aug. 9, 2008. Environmentalists take note: one clue to this new use of the land is water consumption, because marijuana requires much more irrigation than grapes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lessons from Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie lists Sixty-One Things I Learned During the Sonics Trial, The Stranger, July 29, 2008.

1. I've given thousands of speeches, readings, and interviews, and once gave shit to then president Bill Clinton for claiming Cherokee heritage when we appeared together in 1998 on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. But the trial testimony in Seattle vs. Sonics was by far the most terrifying and stressful public speaking gig I've ever had to endure.
Think of that whenever you prepare a witness to testify.
12. For those of you who think that sports doesn't matter as much as literature, at least in Seattle, please count the column inches devoted to my Sonics testimony as opposed to the inches devoted to my recent National Book Award win.
I for one am impressed by the National Book Award. And I read the book, too, and it's doggone good.
42. Of course, there are plenty of things that I wanted to say—I tried to get the city's lawyers to let me say them—but I would have been objected clear out of the courtroom. If I had tried to speak as I actually speak—with a whirling and spinning and beautiful and ugly and intelligent and stupid stream of metaphors, profanity, dick jokes, insults, Whitman and Dickinson quotations, Hall & Oates lyrics, the lifetime statistics of my favorite 127 NBA players of all time, and aching grief songs for my father—I would have been held in contempt and tossed into a holding cell.

43. But my lawyer friends were shocked that I was allowed to say as much as I did. One friend said, "The judge gave you a lot of room." Yes, she did. Thank you, Judge Pechman.
What was Alexie's testimony, anyway? See Avid fan Sherman Alexie compares NBA players to Greek gods, Seattle Times, June 20, 2008; Sherman Alexie takes stand (quite funny), Seattle PI Sonics Trial blog, June 19, 2008.