Criminal defense lawyers who practice in federal court bemoan the lack of jury trials these days.
According to the administrative office of the U.S. courts, in the twelve months ended March 31, 2013, in our federal courts, 83,614 people entered a plea of guilty. Only 1,953 went to a jury trial (there were 173 bench trials too, for what it’s worth).
So, around 2 percent of the folks who are charged in federal court go to trial — the rest plead guilty.
The numbers in white-collar cases are a little better. For fraud cases there were 9,925 guilty pleas and 411 jury trials — so about 4 percent of people accused of fraud opt to see a jury. For regulatory offenses there were 1,480 pleas and 47 jury trials — about 3 percent.
There are a lot of reasons why so many people plead guilty and so few go to trial. One reason is that the acquittal rate is low — about 13 percent overall (there were 260 acquittals overall in FY 2013). For what it’s worth, while fraud acquittals were in line with that, regulatory offenses had an acquittal rate that was much higher — 20 acquittals (counting bench and jury trials) out of 55 trials. That’s about 35 percent.
Another big reason is that people accused of a crime are meaningfully prevented from testifying — and if a trial turns on what a person knew, as many white-collar cases do, their ability to put on a defense is compromised by their inability to testify. They can see a bad verdict coming….
* Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may retire by the end of summer 2015, or she may retire by the end of summer 2017, or she may retire whenever she damn well pleases. For the love of God, please stop with this. [Legal Intelligencer]
* The Fourth Circuit appears to be split on Virginia’s gay marriage ban. The Tenth Circuit appeared to be split on Utah’s gay marriage ban. We’ll give you three guesses on the eventual Supreme Court outcome. [New York Times]
* Law deans lose their jobs when their schools drop in rank, and it seems Biglaw chairmen lose their titles when their firms post the worst single-year drop in revenue ever. Sorry Bingham McCutchen. [Am Law Daily]
* Ex-D&Ler Zach Warren wants to sever his case from the likes of Joel Sanders and the Steves, using a “guilt by association” argument. The only thing he’s guilty of is being too cute. [National Law Journal]
* The drama continues at Albany Law, where faculty members now face possible pay cuts or being put on unpaid leave following a “smear campaign” waged against Dean Penelope Andrews. [Albany Times Union]
It’s been a couple of months, so maybe you thought that there were no more dumb criminals doing dumb things with technology any longer. Well, that was a very silly thought, silly-thought-thinker. You should know by now that nothing will stop the deluge of dumb. This latest is special, however, due to the impressive dedication to stupid by our criminal mastermind. This case is one in which an 18 year old man videotaped himself driving like an idiot on purpose, injured himself to the point of needing an airlift to a hospital, after which he uploaded the video to YouTube — accurately titling it “Me Driving Like an Idiot”
On today’s date in 1905, the trial of the Stratton brothers began in the London Criminal Court. The case marks the first time in recorded Western jurisprudence that fingerprint evidence was used to obtain a murder conviction. This week, On Remand looks back at courts’ dealings with fingerprint evidence and the story of a lawyer whose fingerprints led to his erroneous arrest as a terrorist.
In March 1905, Thomas and Ann Farrow were murdered in their south London art shop. The crime scene suggested the motive — a cash box had been pried open and left empty — but offered investigators few clues about the perpetrator. With only a bloodstained sink and two discarded masks at the scene, and no murder weapon, signs of forced entry, or witnesses to the crime, investigators appeared to have no leads. But one other clue found at the scene — a bloody fingerprint on the cash box’s inner tray — would eventually break the case….
You can’t be a judge very long without having a trial that presents concerning situations. We handle them by talking them through with the marshals…. This sounds like something that could have happened at any courthouse, at any time.
It’s a brutal attack on an attorney running for governor, blasting him for representing criminal defendants. How can he protect battered women when he helped their abusers beat the rap? How indeed. Oh, and it’s not just that he helped their abusers, he did so for money. Because counseling the accused for fees in this country is where all the money is. It’s a seedy racket no way at all as admirable as, I don’t know, lobbying elected officials for political favors at the expense of the citizenry. If only this guy was smart enough to take hundreds of thousands to poison rivers and streams he wouldn’t be such a scumbag.
This ad is just goddamned brilliant at connecting the disingenuous dots for the easily duped.
And this message was “approved” — ultimately — by a former prosecutor who’s now being investigated by the office he once led….
At the Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion that aired Sunday night, cast member Porsha Williams laid the smackdown on cast member Kenya Moore. At issue was that Moore accused Williams of cheating on her husband, NFL superstar Kordell Stewart.
Moore called 911 from the reunion, though Williams was not arrested on the set. Instead, an arrest warrant issued and Williams voluntarily had herself booked on a misdemeanor assault warrant and was released on $2,000 bail…
* Retired Justice John Paul Stevens isn’t exactly too thrilled about the Supreme Court’s opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC: “The voter is less important than the man who provides money to the candidate. It’s really wrong.” [New York Times]
* Neil Eggleston, a Kirkland & Ellis partner who served as a lawyer in the Clinton administration, has been named as replacement for Kathryn Ruemmler as White House Counsel. Please, Mr. Eggleston, we need to know about your shoes. [Associated Press]
* The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says the D&L trial could last for four months or more. Dewey know who one witness could be? Yup, the partner who allegedly shagged a spy. [Am Law Daily]
* Thanks to the turn of the tide in DOMA-related litigation, a gay widower from Australia is petitioning USCIS to approve his marriage-based green card application, 39 years after it was first denied. [Advocate]
* Here are three reasons your law school application was rejected: 1) you’re not a special snowflake; 2) your LSAT/GPA won’t game the rankings; and 3) LOL your essay. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* No, Jodi Arias didn’t get Hep C in jail and file a lawsuit to get a restraining order against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Nancy Grace. We have a feeling we know who did. We’ve missed you, Jonathan Lee Riches. [UPI]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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