Friday, September 30, 2005

The ending isn't here. (There's something wrong.) It's coming real soon. (Lock step, I'm gone.) The feeling isn't fear. (There's something wrong.)

It's just tellin' you to move. (Lock, Step, I'm Gone.)

I thought I would expound a bit on today's lyric, since all but one or two of you probably do not know it... and those that do probably heard it at high volume whilst riding shotgun in my car.

It is a group called Rancid. The song is Lock, Step, I'm Gone, from the album ...And Out Come The Wolves. I have several of their discs, but that one is my favorite. They are clearly big fans of the Clash, and sound a lot like them... and what the hell is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. (Say it again.) In fact, it is probably the best Clash album since 1983. Maybe better. So if you feel like rocking out, you're not afraid of mowhawks, and you like a little melody with your punk rock in the morning, give this one a listen. Email me nicely, and I'll even burn you a copy.

Criminal Defense, A Primer.

I used to do a fair amount of criminal defense work. I actually enjoyed it, simply because the case files and discovery made for some interesting reading. Well, that and the fact that I was dealing with some of the dumbest people alive. Dumb people do some really dumb things. And when dumb people do dumb things, I laugh.

The idiocy I witnessed is a subject for another post, since I am here today to educate. Well, educate and make off-color jokes.

Criminal Defense is easy. First of all, everybody is guilty. I would say close to 99% of my clients actually did the things they were accused of doing. As for the 1% that didn't, District Attorneys are generally reasonable people, and when presented with convincing evidence of innocence, they will drop a case. In addition to being reasonable, they are smart. Who wants to do a lot of extra work proving up a case, only to get your ass kicked? Not me.

But I digress. I am writing about "Criminal" defense, not "Innocent" defense.

Like I said, Criminal Defense is easy. All you have to know are the four basics:

1. The cops fucked up!
2. It wasn't me!
3. It wasn't mine!
4. It wasn't that bad.

Actually, #1 comprises about 30% of your effort, and about 98% of the case law on the subject. I am not here to bash cops; they are just doing their job, but sometimes they fuck up. It is a Fourth Amendment thing. Illegal search and seizure. Probable cause. Whatnot.

It's also a Fifth Amendment thing. You know, right to remain silent, not to incriminate, all that business.
(I plead the Fifth!)

Tricky cops, always getting idiots to admit that they commit crimes.

Usually in return for a jelly donut and a can of Sprite. We're not talking airplane portions... the whole can. Verrrrrry tricky.

Unfortunately for criminals, cops do not fuck up very often. Probably less than 1% of the time, you will find an honest-to-goodness 4th or 5th Amendment issue.

But let's not get all bogged down in little things like "rights" and "case law," (booooring!) because everybody knows that doesn't have anything to do with lawyering!

#2 and #3 comprise 1% of your effort apiece, simply because they are so easy to disprove.

"It wasn't me!"

"Um, we've got six witnesses saying it was you, and a videotape. Plus, when the cops came, you admitted it. Before they even asked you. You just blurted it out."


"It wasn't mine!"

Ahhh, the backbone of any drug case, and the excuse of every ninth grader with a pot pipe in his sock drawer. Cops, judges and district attorneys have hardly ever heard this justification, and they fall for it every time.

Except when they aren't all hopped up on goofballs and just wanting to give the world a great big hug, man, and maybe have a big-ass bowl of ice cream. I love ice cream. Or maybe go outside, and just feel the grass, man... whoa... "grass." That's a weird word, dude. Try saying it. "Grass." Weird.

You'd be surprised to discover, though, that cops, judges and DA's aren't all hopped up on goofballs as often as you'd think. Well, not all of them at once, anyway. They are kind of clique-y and don't really dig hanging out with each other.

"It wasn't mine. It must've been that hitchhiker I picked up and dropped off, just before you pulled me over."

"I was holding it for someone else."

"That's not mine! That's not mine! You fucking planted it in my safe, you pig! ACLU! ACLU!"

All of these work like a charm, and, as a lawyer, you feel nothing like the ninth grader with a pot pipe in his sock drawer when you pose this defense.

This leaves the remaining 68% of your time and effort saying, "Come on, dude. It wasn't that bad...

Come on...

Wasn't that bad, dude... really.

Come on."

"He only did it twice."

"It's been five years since the last time!"

"He has had no police contacts since this incident." (My favorite. I love it. The dude is out on bail during the pendency of his case, and he didn't fuck up. Cookies and medals all 'round!)

"Sure, people were hurt. But not that badly. Look at that guy! He walked in here under his own power. It's not that bad!"

And, there you go. That is all you need to know to make $ 300 per hour. Live long and prosper.

(Spock would have been a kick-ass lawyer. All logical and shit.)