Summary of the Tonya Craft Case
White v. McKinley: Must-Read Case of the Year

Criminal Law Links & Commentary

Connecticut criminal lawyer Kevin Murray Smith offers sage advice about probation.  Add to that: Dudes, if your woman accuses you (truly or falsely) of domestic violence, get out of the relationship.  There will be no happy ending.  You will eventually be in prison and convicted of a felony.  

* A Terry stop-and-frisk must be justified by reasonable suspicion.  In New York, 99.99% of searches do not reveal a gun.  The numerator is 762 guns found, and the denominator being 575,000 searches.  Nevertheless, a police police or custom that has less than a .001% success rate is routinely upheld in courtrooms nationwide.

In a sane world, Terry would be re-examined in light of statistical evidence.  The problem is that judges only see cases where a Terry stop turned up a gun.  

The availability heuristic is a cognitive bias that makes us believe that x is more or less likely based upon or last experience with x.  See Wiki entry. ("The availability heuristic is a phenomenon (which can result in a cognitive bias) in which people predict the frequency of an event, or a proportion within a population, based on how easily an example can be brought to mind.")

In 100% of cases judges oversee, a Terry stop revealed a gun.  Thus, judges take seriously a police officer's claim that the defendant's "furtive gestures" justified a stop-and-frisk.  After all, judges see all of these cases where the officer was right.  Judges don't see the 99.99% of cases where the officer was wrong.  Thus, the police officer's judgment seems highly reliable.

That police officers are either lying or completely unable to accurately read body language, cannot penetrate even an honest judge's mind because of the availability heuristic.  

Norm Pattis blogs about the real life of a big-name criminal defense lawyer.  If you do real criminal defense, every client is in a life-or-death situation.  One of the challenges of being a lawyer is treating a client like your first client.  

After a few years of practice, nothing shocks you.  Prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers all have gallows humor.  The jokes would offend most sensible people.  Nothing surprises a criminal lawyer.  Nothing that the client is going through is novel to the experienced lawyer.

To most clients, everything is novel.  They want the entire process explained.  They can't understand why you didn't call them at all this week.  "Hasn't stuff been happening?!"  No.  Even in a small state like Connecticut, criminal cases move slowly.  Nothing happens for weeks at a time.  

Meanwhile, clients stew.  They think about their case non-stop.  It is, after all, their only case.  They want to discuss "new" case angles.  If you don't call them back within 24 hours, they believe you're conspiring with the prosecution.  

Most client issues in criminal cases have nothing to do with the law, and everything to do with psychology.