We love pro se litigants here at ATL. Like the guy suing Michael Vick, alleging that Vick stole his dogs and abused them, subjected him to “microwave testing,” and pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda.
Today’s pro se litigant is a defendant rather than a plaintiff. From an article warning that representing yourself can be risky (who knew?), in the Virginian-Pilot:
Charles Willis knew he was no match for the prosecutor.
Police had given him a citation for illegally parking in a fire lane at a home improvement store in Chesapeake, and the Hickory man wanted to fight it.
But on his income – he’s retired and lives on his Social Security disability check – he couldn’t afford it. So on Tuesday morning, the 58-year-old made his way to Chesapeake Circuit Court with his walking cane, armed with a briefcase filled with notes and pictures from the scene.
Like a growing number of defendants these days, Willis was going to represent himself.
Ruh-roh. We suspect this won’t end happily.
Read more, after the jump.
* Can you invoke the Fifth Amendment if you’re a juror being voir dired? [Southern District of Florida Blog]
* When it comes to the administrative state, you can run but you can’t hide. [DealBreaker]
* The Elizabeth Halverson saga rolls on — and social studies teachers are grateful for the judicial soap opera: “My high school students have never read the newspaper with such genuine excitement before… So please, let Judge Halverson stay on the bench, just a little bit longer.” [ABA Journal]
* Who’s up for an Italian sausage grinder? [New York Post]
* Washingtonienne, the sequel? But this time around, blame the “backdoor action” on the Spicy Mussel Soup. [Medill Reports]
* A compelling defense of Judge Dennis Jacobs’s “look ma, no eyes” approach to dissenting. [ProfessorBainbridge.com]
* “My friends said to me, ‘It would take a murder trial for you to meet the right person.’” [Associated Press]
* Because we need to use the “Weirdness” tag at least once a day. [Underbelly]
A female Muslim juror has been arrested in Britain after allegedly listening to an MP3 player under her hijab headscarf during a murder trial, police said Monday.
The woman in her early 20s was spotted by a fellow juror listening to music as she was meant to be helping try the case of a pensioner accused of bludgeoning his wife to death after 50 years of marriage.
The judge in the case thought that something might be up:
Judge Roger Chapple, presiding, said that he thought he could hear “tinny music” in the courtroom at Blackfriars Crown Court in Central London, but dismissed it as a figment of his imagination until another juror sent him a note.
Good looks could help guilty defendants dodge justice, researchers have said….
[A recent study showed] that attractive suspects were more likely to be acquitted, despite there being no extra evidence in their favour.
Sandie Taylor, the psychologist who conducted the study, said: “We set out to consider the influence of physical attractiveness and ethnicity of a defendant depicted in a photograph on mock jurors’ decisions of verdict, extent of guilt and sentencing….”
“Attractive defendants are, it seems, rated less harshly than homely defendants, so perhaps justice isn’t blind after all.”
The study showed that while the jurors were swayed by attractiveness, they did not let race cloud their judgment. Black and white suspects were treated equally. When black suspects were convicted, however, they were given longer sentences.
“It is interesting that being an unattractive black defendant only had an impact on sentencing and not on a juror’s verdict of guilt,” Dr Taylor told the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in York.
* This is in no way an admission that MTV is somehow partially responsible for your laziness and/or learning disabilities. [New York Daily News]
* More Heidi Fleiss-inspired antics! I keep forgetting this kind of thing is illegal — there should be a carve-out for the C-listed and below. [Los Angeles Times]
* This mom-of-the-year is kind of like a low-rent Joe Simpson, although we’re pretty sure Jessica isn’t faking. [MSN]
* The lurid nature of this trial may make the “sex, lies & videotape” qualifier okay, but that was, like, 18 years ago. Conversely, why do we remember Peter Gallagher only from The OC? [New York Times]
* Utah is that boring. [QuizLaw; Denver Post]
They should have induced delivery by Baker Botts associate Alexandra Walsh, so she would have popped out her baby girl in the middle of trial, before the jury (and preferably during the strongest part of the government’s case, for maximum distraction value).
Delivering a baby in open court would have created a magnificently dramatic scene. And it would have generated an unbreakable bond between defense counsel and the jurors that would have guaranteed acquittal for Walsh’s client, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. After you’ve watched a woman give birth, can you really send her client to the Big House?
Alas, the Libby defense team took a more conventional route. Alex Walsh didn’t go to court last Friday, reporting instead to a Washington-area hospital, where she delivered a baby girl.
More details about Walsh, from CNN:
Walsh — a 2001 graduate of Stanford Law School — was named by Washingtonian magazine last year as one of the “40 top lawyers under 40.” She has focused on white-collar criminal law and appellate cases.
We’ve given it almost no coverage here at ATL (largely because it doesn’t seem very amusing). But yes, in case you haven’t heard, former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is being tried on perjury charges.
The jury has been deliberating for over two days. And they’ve just lost a member:
The presiding judge dismissed one female juror in her 70s, an art curator, after she disclosed to her peers that she had come into contact over the weekend with information about the case of Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff. The foreperson reported it this morning to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, who interviewed the jurors and decided the female juror had not intentionally sought to ignore his orders that all 12 jurors avoid contact with media coverage and any other information about the Libby case.
So having contracted the informational cooties, she had to be booted. According to the Washington Post, “Libby and several defense attorneys wore broad smiles at the news of the woman’s removal.”
But why were they so pleased? This juror seemed to be an independent-minded sort:
The juror, who had white-blonde hair and wore large, stylish black-frame glasses and took extensive notes, distinguished herself from her peers at one point during the trial. On Valentine’s Day, the jury filed into the courtroom’s jury box at mid-afternoon, wearing identical red T-shirts with a white heart. She was the only juror who had not donned a T-shirt.
* Jurors become instant BFF over testimony of an intimate and sexual nature. [Los Angeles Times]
* Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
* Turns out you actually can’t dance if you want to. [Newsday]
* As kids, my brother and I were familiar with only this constitutional amendment because of the “Second Amendment = Two arms” mnemonic aid. (We knew other things, okay?) [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Faux fur is, more often than not, real fur. As in real dog fur. So who is going to cast the first stone (or, rather, paint bucket) at Anna Wintour now? [San Francisco Chronicle]
* It’s getting hot in herre. [MSN]
* “Innocence most often is a good fortune and not a virtue.” One thing’s for sure — if you’re being tried for a crime, you’re SOL. [PrawfsBlawg]
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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