Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Archive for the ‘Blawgs’ Category

Racial Sentencing Disparities

Posted by Maggie on December 4, 2007

Sentencing Law & Policy reports on the Justice Policy Institute’s new report on sentencing disparities by race. The report includes an interactive map where you can search by county. 5 Atlanta metro counties were included in the study. We didn’t do so hot.

The study analyzes imprisonment rates for blacks versus whites for drug crimes. It’s just one facet of criminality, but it’s one where racial issues come up most often. Blacks tend to be targeted for drug crime, whites tend to get off the hook.

Gwinnett County imprisons blacks at 5 times the rate of whites (they have a 16% black population). Fulton is 17 times more, DeKalb is double, and Cobb is 6 times more. Surprisingly, Clayton County has blacks at a lower rate than whites. (Anyone Clayton folks have an explanation for that?)

Posted in Blawgs, General | 1 Comment »

Blogs Not Cool Enough to Warrant Change of Venue

Posted by Maggie on December 4, 2007

An enterprising defense attorney in Tennessee argued that blogs tainted his jury pool in an effort to get a change of venue. His client, Eric Boyd, is charged as an accessory after the fact in the murder of a young couple in Knoxville. The Court denied the motion.

What surprised me was the focus of the blogging in the case. The victims were white and all five defendants are black. Conservative bloggers claimed the liberal media didn’t give the story enough focus because the victims were white. To which I say, Really? Seriously? Because in this part of the South (and pretty much the rest of the country) it’s exactly the opposite. Worse, reports started that the bodies had been mutilated horrifically and law enforcement didn’t deny these claims for months.

While the defense cited local news reports as well, it’s hard to imagine blogs tainting an entire jury pool. Give it ten years and then it may work. But the debate, as noted in the law.com article, is starting to move into speech issues for bloggers. The bloggers in this case, assisted by the mainstream media, may have given inaccurate information, but you’d better not touch their speech rights, thank you very much.

Posted in Blawgs, General, The South | 1 Comment »

Lifestyle is a Bad Word

Posted by Maggie on November 29, 2007

Scott over at Simple Justice writes occasionally about Biglaw. Many of us, including yours truly are in more of a Littlelaw kind of world. Small offices, focused practices, and often a good amount of success. Most of the criminal defense bloggers you’ll find are either PD’s or in Littlelaw. Sometimes it seems the two sides are at odds with each other.

Sometimes over in our side of the profession it feels like Biglaw is the only thing that exists. Huge offices, hundreds of attorneys, giant corporate clients. (I’ve complained before that The Daily Report for Fulton County routinely ignores the existence of any other kind of practice.) My feelings on Biglaw were refined a few years ago when I dated one of the drones of Biglaw. (It’s long over and I’m happily hitched to a non-lawyer.) I was suddenly his date to all the firm functions and it was the weirdest thing ever. We had dinners with his co-workers, who complained about their divorces, missed vacations and new fancy gadgets. I couldn’t understand how they didn’t see that their jobs were slowly but surely destroying their lives. My one big realization was that these firms have to encourage socialization, it creates a hive kind of mentality where your life may suck, but hey so does everyone’s. It makes it feel like it’s all normal.

Not all firms are like that. Some of them have employees who are actually happy, though paid at a rate slightly below the insane figures paid by Biglaw. (Yeah, they barely scrape by, those “lifestyle” guys.) A lifestyle firm meant you got to see your kids at night. But apparently this has become a bad thing. Arent Fox in DC has decided they no longer want to be known as a lifestyle firm. They got that reputation after–shocker–their employees claimed to be happy. Now they’ve told employees to remind recruits that they “work hard” and “make a lot of money.”

I apologize, but if Biglaw wants a little more respect, they need to act in such a way as to deserve that respect. Work hard, do well, that’s fine. Recruit “aggressive talent,” whatever. But this kind of talk, along with all the salary raises for 1st years, does nothing to help the profession. And it makes me happier to be a member of Littlelaw.

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Posted by Maggie on October 31, 2007

I’ve been linked to recently by apublicdefender, audacity, atypicaljoe, and legalblogwatch. It’s always nice to get out there in the blawgosphere. My google search hits are often bizarre, like “craigslist meth” and such. The joys of blogging about criminal defense. I have also been linked to in a message in a private online group for Circuit Public Defenders in Georgia. I can’t see the message and don’t know what’s in it, but I can’t help be curious if they’ve linked to one of my GPDSC rants or are trying to sniff out my identity. But either way I’m happy they’re here. Please, PD’s from anywhere and everywhere, feel free to read and comment. I’d love to hear from more of you.

Posted in Blawgs, Public Defenders | 3 Comments »

Blog Props

Posted by Maggie on August 17, 2007

While I certainly enjoy blawgs that take in information from everywhere, I particularly enjoy those that have the resources to hone in onĀ one important case.

One example was the blog following the Enron trial at the Houston Chronicle’s website. As someone who never felt comfortable with what exactly was happening with the Enron scandal, the blog was required reading for me. The blogger did a great job of distilling hours of testimony into what was important and translating it for a layman.

Another blog I’ve enjoyed more recently is Durham-in-Wonderland, following the repercussions of the Duke Lacrosse Scandal. If you haven’t seen the recent post on Nifong’s letter surrendering his license, you should definitely stop by. Another great example of someone taking the time to really inform. If you have time to read through the archives, the blog is a fascinating read.

Posted in Blawgs | 1 Comment »