The D.A.’s Disastrous Embarrassing False Start with a Jury

When I was a rookie deputy district attorney (D.A.) one of my colleagues quickly grabbed a case file and rushed off to court for his first jury trial. He wanted to make a good impression. The judge explained that the defendant waived his right to an attorney and insisted on exercising his constitutional right to … Continue reading The D.A.’s Disastrous Embarrassing False Start with a Jury

A Vietnamese Judge Reminds Us Americans “What We Have”

 In Honor of the Fourth of July I was privileged to be the mentor judge for Nho Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American judge in the country. He is a living hero. A Living Hero In college, he protested the South Vietnam military dictatorship and led a student democratic movement. He risked his life to establish freedom … Continue reading A Vietnamese Judge Reminds Us Americans “What We Have”

“My” Unpredictable Jurors, Pt 2

I love working with jurors.  They are upstanding citizens doing their civic duty, often at great sacrifice.   However, like everything else in the criminal justice system, jurors can be unpredictable. The IRS Investigator I had just begun questioning the one hundred prospective jurors in a serious felony case.  One of my first questions is: … Continue reading “My” Unpredictable Jurors, Pt 2

In Honor of Lincoln’s Birthday: The Two Gettysburg Addresses

(Today is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. We old folks remember his birthday because it was a school and national holiday when we were growing up. We also remember February 22, Washington's birthday, for the same reason. Then, Congress smooshed the holidays celebrating our two greatest presidents into a three-day weekend "Presidents Day.") Lawyers sometimes … Continue reading In Honor of Lincoln’s Birthday: The Two Gettysburg Addresses

He was Hung for Saying, “Let Him Have It.”

In law school we discussed a criminal case where the defendant faced the death penalty based on his use of the ambiguous phrase, “Let him have it!” In 1952, in England, Derek Bentley, and his 16-year-old companion, Christopher Craig decided to break into and steal from a candy company warehouse. Bentley had a set of … Continue reading He was Hung for Saying, “Let Him Have It.”

Jury Trial of the Nervous LDS Drunk Driver

I was in a jury trial prosecuting a drunk driver. My expert criminalist testified that the defendant would have needed to consume about seven drinks in order to get reach his blood alcohol level. After finishing with the criminalist’s testimony, I rested my case, and the judge announced a noon recess.  The judge was delayed coming … Continue reading Jury Trial of the Nervous LDS Drunk Driver

Jury Selection Speech: Trial by Combat and Ordeal

While serving my mission in Britain, I visited the island of Jersey off the coast of France. This is where the Jersey cows come from. The neighboring English island of Guernsey is where the Guernsey cows originate.    On the coastal road on Jersey, high above the rocky shore, is a plaque dedicated to “Geoffrey’s Leap.” I use … Continue reading Jury Selection Speech: Trial by Combat and Ordeal