Buttering up the judge

We recently came across this drawing by our hero Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) (whose desperate advocate we’ve appropriated in our masthead) that says everything you need to know about preparing for oral argument:

daumier-hat “Ai-je besoin d’éloquence devant un juge si haut placé; aussi familiarisé avec la forme qu’avec le fond et qui par sa position sera toujours à la tête de l’humanité.”

Google translation: “Do I need eloquence before so high a judge? As familiar with form as with background and who by his position will always be at the head of humanity?”

Sensing that some nuances had been lost in translation, we consulted our multi-lingual friend, an interpreter at the UN in Vienna.  She wrote back:

“Humph, work for breakfast!

I’d never seen this one before.

So, he’s practicing declaiming.

One step beyond anthropomorphism, since it’s with a stick.

Nothing out-of-way in the expressions.

The French are always talking about forme et fonds, presentation/structure and substance. But these are also hatmakers’ terms:  since felt hats are molded/formed and tophats have crowns with fonds in them. When forme et fonds are in harmony, all is tiptop.

And to be at the head of humanity is to be tops, as well as a topper.

And now, back to my baguette beurre!”

 

Posted in Judges, Law & Parody, Satirical cartoons | 3 Comments

Judge Saxe tells all

Reversals are disruptive to a system that values predictability and productivity because reversal often means that the matter must be done over.  Judge David Saxe, “Paths to Excellence,” NY Law Journal.

We thought we were pretty earthy about the System, but it takes a mind like Judge Saxe to liken its values to a bowel movement.  No wonder the appellate courts never reverse. Who’d want a case of diarrhea?

Rubber stamp

 

Posted in Criminal Defense Appeals, Law & Parody, Satirical cartoons | 1 Comment

Happy New Year from the compassionate NYPD

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Posted in Humor, Photos | 1 Comment

Santa Claus is Level 3

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Scene: SORA hearing in front of Judge Dudgeon Bludgeon.

ADA Tightskirt: Judge, Mr. Claus should be adjudicated a Level 3 maximum risk sex offender. He’s a recidivist sexually motivated burglar.

Santa Claus: (appearing pro se) Nonsense! I’ve never had any trouble with the law except a few tickets for not cleaning up after my reindeer. 

ADA Tightskirt: Just because he’s never been convicted or even arrested for a sex crime doesn’t mean he hasn’t committed one. [taken verbatim from a People’s brief].

Judge Bludgeon: Yes, it looks like he’s been repeatedly breaking and entering after dark with intent to commit a crime.

Santa Claus:  What crime? I’m just bringing toys to good little girls and boys.

ADA Tightskirt: Oho! Classic grooming behavior! You want to induce them to sit on your lap at Macy’s!

Judge Bludgeon: You disgusting perv!

Santa Claus: How could I be at Macy’s when I’m busy making toys at the North Pole?

Judge Bludgeon: What? You’re telling me Macy’s Santas are imposters?  That explains why I never got what I wanted for Christmas! I begged for an atomic bomb and never got anything but socks.

ADA Tightskirt:  I never got anything but coal in my stocking.

Santa Claus: I remember you. Your kindergarten nickname was Tattletale Tightskirt.

ADA Tightskirt: You’re a menace to public safety! Unlawful sliding down chimneys! Unauthorized distribution of toys! Unlicensed driving with reindeer! Repeatedly stating, “Ho, ho, ho!” obviously referring to sex trafficking. And just what is your immigration status?  You should be under the sex offender residency restrictions and prohibited from living within a thousand feet of a school, park, daycare center, beach, playground or other area where children congregate.

Santa Claus: Good thing I live at the North Pole. Nothing there but elves and walruses.

Judge Bludgeon: An inappropriate living situation if there ever was one. Level 3.

Santa Claus: Peace on Earth and good will to all.

Judge Bludgeon: Away with this terrorist!

 

 

 

Posted in Criminal law, Humor, Law & Parody, Satirical cartoons, SORA | Tagged | 4 Comments

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An eye for a story

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Posted in Law & Parody | 4 Comments

Vwar deer or vor dire? A guest post from the Public Defender of Harris Co., Texas

Alex Bunin founded the first and only public defender’s office in Houston, Texas, replacing the traditional folk custom of appointment-by-donation-to-the-judge’s-campaign. Asked in an interview with Simple Justice how he was received by the Jumbo State’s legal establishment, Alex said, “The biggest obstacle was the imaginary fear that all criminal defense would be turned over to a giant incompetent socialist machine. I guess we are a socialist machine, but small and competent.” After only six years in existence, the Public Defender’s Office has outstripped the private and retained bar in the number of trials, acquittals, dismissals and non-custodial sentences for the indigent accused.   

A transplanted New Yorker,  Alex rides his bicycle to work whenever Houston’s streets are above water.  

texas-judgeThink of this as a public service announcement for those New York attorneys wishing to understand Texas and vice-versa. First, it is important to know that each state’s courts employ confusing names. Both have supreme courts, but neither is necessarily supreme. The dictionary defines “supreme” as “an authority of office superior to all others.” However, this definition does not apply in either state.

In New York, the Supreme Court is a trial court. In Texas, the Supreme Court is co-equal with another body called the Court of Criminal Appeals. A second dictionary definition of supreme is “a rich cream sauce.” That explanation may be more appropriate. In neither state is the Supreme Court superior to all others, but either version can separate and burn when there is too much heat.

Both states have intermediate courts of appeal. New York calls them departments. In Texas, departments are typically retail stores like Dillard’s or Palais Royal. Texas courts of appeal are called just that, but the clarity ends there. In New York, its highest authority is the Court of Appeals, or what English majors would call its supreme court.

Aside from the exquisite naming differences, lawyers in the two states simply speak differently. New York attorneys are “on trial” the same as they are “on line” waiting for a hero sandwich. Texans are “in trial” as they are “in line” waiting for a po’boy sandwich. In the Empire State, as in most places, the legal phrase for jury selection is pronounced “vwar deer.” In Texas is “vore dire.” Texans love to pronounce names in the least intuitive manner possible. If you are not from Texas, try saying “Bexar”, “Humble”, or “Refugio.” No, you got them all wrong.

New Yorkers also create their own difficult pronunciations, sometimes by mistake. Houston Street is in lower Manhattan (pronounced “How-sten”). It is a misspelling, meant to honor William Houstoun, a Georgia delegate to the Constitutional Convention. It has no relation to the city where I live, Houston (pronounced “Hyoo-sten”). My city is named after Sam Houston, the governor of two states (Tennessee and Texas), a U.S. Senator (Texas) and a President (Republic of Texas). He was also the major general who led his troops to victory in the final battle for Texas independence from Mexico.

If you are standing anywhere in New York State and someone refers to “the City”, you know they are  referring to one place — New York City. Residents of NYC think the rest of the state is a somewhat inferior civilization. Texans feel the same about the entire United States, including NYC. Texas was once an independent country and, after several beers, some citizens occasionally ponder secession.

Texans prize firearms above most possessions. With the proper permit you can even bring your weapon into the State Capitol in case you need to draw down on some subversive pol suggesting renaming the State Bird. You can “open carry” your guns at our finest institutions of higher learning. You cannot, however, purchase beer before noon on Sunday because all heck would break loose.

Having spent about half my life in each state, I consider myself a neutral observer. New York has improved to the point that restaurants no longer pass off marinara sauce as salsa, nor meat fried over charcoal as barbeque. Houston is now the most ethnically diverse city in the United States. Both are border states and neither needs, nor wants, a wall. If you live in one, come visit the other. I recommend it.

Alex Bunin, Harris County Public Defender

harris-co-public-defenders-office-logo

 

Posted in Criminal law, Humor, Law, Satirical cartoons | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Trump promotes job opportunties for ex-offenders

Like most public defenders, we have clients who can’t even get a job in a car wash because they’re on probation. Who wants to hire a criminal, especially when they come with a nosy probation officer attached?

So we’re deeply impressed that Trump is contemplating hiring an ex-offender on probation! For Secretary of State! We’d unfairly stereotyped the President-elect as a troglodyte likely to bring back public hanging, flogging and Sunday blue laws forbidding restaurants to serve mimosas for brunch until noon. But instead he’s made a demonstrated commitment to reintegrating ex-offenders into the community!

The lucky candidate for a job with The Donald is David Petraeus, who’s on probation for Giving Away Military Secrets with His Pants Off (28 USC § 2 million).  During his abruptly terminated tenure as director of the CIA, he couldn’t resist bragging to an adoring bimbo about how he’d made Afghanistan safe for democracy back when he was a four-star general. And to show he wasn’t just blowing in her ear, he gave her a bunch of notebooks containing classified information.  The zany things married guys will do to impress a doll! But at sentencing he expressed deep remorse and recognition of the harm caused by his offense, saying, “Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half year ordeal. I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life.” Who could fail to be touched by such passionate breast-beating?

Trump isn’t the only Republican to recognize that the best way to rehabilitate ex-offenders is to give them meaningful jobs. Senator McCain, asked for his opinion, lectured the press on Truth and Reconciliation, or at least Reconciliation, explaining, “I think people make mistakes in life and you move on.”

A buddy of Petraeus’s at the Brookings Institution, referring to his disclosure of military secrets while head of the CIA as “personal shortcomings,” compared them to General Grant’s heavy drinking or Eisenhower’s bit on the side. “It’s not like he was giving this to the National Enquirer,” he explained.  After all, Petraeus only gave the classified information to his girlfriend, a self-styled “soldier-scholar” who was writing a book about him. “The world has deemed it clear that we recognize that we’re all human,” concluded this mouthpiece of Think Tank Row.

You might not appreciate what a revolution in penal thinking this is unless you’ve sat at a defense table being sprayed by a prosecutor screaming at your client for leaving a drug program. Or failed to get your 89-year old SORA client a risk level reduction because the prosecutor pouts and stamps her little foot about a 1957 conviction. (We’re not making this up).

All of this will change under the new Administration.  “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury,” prosecutors will say on summation, “Ever since his arrest, the defendant has been going through a terrible ordeal. You’ve spent three weeks hearing about his personal shortcomings.  But now that the world has deemed it clear that we recognize that we’re all human, I urge you to put them aside and move on.”

Still, we wonder if Trump quite grasps the implications of having a Secretary of State on probation. Like all federal probationers, Petraeus has a long list of conditions requiring him to do whatever his P.O. tells him and truthfully answer any question she asks, on pain of being remanded to the pokey. Although, this being the Western District of North Carolina, the federal judge made an exception to the prohibition against having a gun. (We didn’t make that up either).

Scene: World Summit on Nuclear Warfare

UN Secretary-General: It’s been a long night, my friends, but I think we’ve reached agreement at last. In a top secret pact that will never be disclosed outside this room, every country in the world has promised to destroy its nuclear weapons and not build any more, on condition that America  stop referring to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the Axis of Evil. All in favor, raise your right hand.

Enter P.O. Treadwell, glaring at Petraeus.

P.O. Treadwell: David, I need you to come with me right now. You’re out past curfew and what’s more, consorting with known criminals in violation of your probation conditions.

Iraqi Foreign Minister: Who are you calling known criminals, Madam? I shall recommend an immediate declaration of war.

P.O. Treadwell: Don’t you go telling me my job, Ali Baba. It’s right in this here 3-page list of probation conditions. Not only that, he’s missed two sessions of his “blabbing state secrets to impress girlfriends” management program. Plus, he needs to give me a urine test right now.

Petraeus:  Wait, wait, don’t handcuff me until I’ve raised my right hand.

P.O. Treadwell: What are you voting about? I demand that you truthfully answer my questions

North Korean Foreign Minister: The subject cannot be disclosed! We would lose face and have no choice but to launch nuclear missiles at New York.

P.O. Treadwell:  Serves them right for invading North Carolina in 1863. Under Probation Rule #11, he’s obliged to answer all my questions truthfully, including disclosing any personal or business financial information. David, what’s the defense budget of North Korea?

Petraeus: Sorry, fellas, but I have to abide by my probation conditions and disclose all. It’s not like she’s from the National Enquirer.

UN Secretary-General: Fortunately, we foresaw this contingency when you were made Secretary of State. (Pushes button on his desk. Petraeus and P.O.  Treadwell blow up).  Now that that’s settled, who’s for the elimination of nuclear weapons? Unanimously carried with one abstention by the U.S.

Posted in Law & Parody | Tagged , , | 2 Comments