Sunday, September 12, 2004

Mister DA Kicks Back


And it's going up on Sunday, too!

Spent yesterday decompressing from the week, more or less. Unless I'm the on-call APA, I try to avoid going into the office on Saturday or Sunday. Not always as easy as it might seem. My job has a pretty steady flow of things-to-be-done that have immutable deadlines. My brothers and sisters on the trial staff, of course, have deadlines, too. But by and large, our trial courts (well, except that one) are flexible on things like responsive motions. So, for that matter, is the local defense bar. Sort of a "we're all trial geeks here, together" attitude. The various courts of appeal are not. Even when the felony court sits as an appellate court to the misdemeanor court, the court rule deadlines are the deadlines, like it or lump it. Which is a long winded way of saying, once the swarm of interns return to law school, I either spend a couple of evenings at the office or a day or two on the weekend. We really need another APA doing appeals, at least part time, but the county board is looking to cut 4+ million from the 2005 budget, so we're doing well to stay where we are, in fiscal terms, without drawing attention by asking for more bodies.

So, what did I do yesterday? Well, as number two son had a football game Friday night, I had to tape my Friday night required viewing. By the time I got the video camera back to my ex, set up it up to view the footage of our pride and joy in his first appearance of the season, and got myself home, it was too late to watch what I'd recorded. Not if I wanted to avoid the dread slept-three-hours-in-the-recliner neck/back. So I worked the online class I teach for a bit and went to bed.

Saturday, after the usual make and mend session with the vacuum cleaner and the scrubbing bubbles, I made a bowl of popcorn and watched my shows. (God, I'm channeling my grandmother! My shows, like I've got a couple of points or something.) So what constitutes must see TV for a hard-core prosecutor on a Friday night/Saturday morning?

For now, well, until next week when the "summer finales" run, it's Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. Yeah, SF geek here, reporting for duty. I "discovered" Stargate: SG-1 by accident. I'd seen the movie, with Kurt Russell, and thought, good concept, mediocre execution. Then, oh, sometime in late '02 or early '03, in the winter, anyway, I came across the first season of the Showtime 'SG-1 on DVD for something like $10. So, $10 is pocket change, right? And I was bored out of my mind so. . . I was hooked. Happy days, indeed. Seeing as seasons 2, 3, and 4 were already on DVD, and season 5 was due out, real soon, and season 6 was underway on the SciFi channel, I almost ODd on Amanda Tapping -- I mean Stargate. Right, Richard Dean Anderson, Chris Judge, Michael Shanks, and how about that Don S. Davis!? Can that guy play a general or what? Anyway, that's my Fridays, except for high school football season.

Once the new seasons get rolling, things will get interesting. Let's see - got the VCR, got the ATI All-In-Wonder capture card on the computer and the cable drop for the broadband conveniently close to hand -- humm - Joan of Arcadia, Enterprise, Stargate (two), and whatever the WB comes up with for its Friday lineup. Rats, looks like I may have to buy that Tivo after all. Well, it's only money.

Toward the late afternoon, I managed to drag myself to the store for provisions, then made a Best Buy run to check out the new DVDs. I am a DVD junkie. TV shows, in particular. I admit it, and I think I have it under control, now. I limit myself to two movies or one TV set per payday. Yesterday I picked up Alias, Season 3. And that's what I've been doing today. Well, that and doing the weekly grades for my online students. It's my own carrot and stick approach. I do one grading chore, I get to watch one episode.

I've just finished the bulk of the grading chores, and thought I'd ramble on here, a bit. Some other things, not really work related except in the most tenuous way, that I've been thinking about:

The Kobe Bryant Case

Only because a number of my students, knowing what I do for a living, asked how the heck can this happen. All of you reading this who are in the biz, regardless of side, know the answer, more or less. I don't make it a habit of second guessing prosecutors in other counties, let alone other states, but the court out there. . . I've heard at least one of our judges refer to it as Keystone Kourt, a phrase that was picked up by a number of the APAs. You know, we get lawyers from the "big city" who come here and act like they expect to find Pa Kettle on the bench and Li'l Abner running the prosecutor's office. Indeed, one of my favorite judges, now retired, once inquired of a particularly obnoxious specimen "Counsel, where do you think you are, Dogpatch? It doesn't matter. Here in my court we use the same rules of evidence as the rest of the State. I assume they use them in your county, too." Much innocent fun can be had with these guys. But, gee willikers, how many times did that court manage to leak information? Dahlia Lithwick over at Slate has what strikes me as the best summary of what she calls "an epic debacle" that I've come across. Of particular interest is her commentary on the district judge.

Was it all District Judge Terry Ruckriegle's fault, then, for allowing his staff to leak—on four separate occasions—humiliating details as well as the name of an accuser who had already endured a year of abuse and death threats? No. His was a tiny little courthouse, staffed by honest guppies and bunnies, overmatched by the wolves of cable television.
You really need to read the whole thing. I'm never quite sure with Ms. Lithwick, is she being overly cute, or just sarcastic as Hell? Click here to judge for yourself.

1 comment:

Ken Lammers said...

My impression of the whole disaster was that it was political. It seemed that from the beginning the prosecutor's office had its doubts about pursuing this case. Somebody in the Sheriff's department realized that if there was no arrest the failure to arrest "because he's a star" could be laid at the feet of the department. Thus, the end run around the prosecutor's office to get search warrants. Once the Sheriff had the minimal evidence needed to find probable cause the arrest was effected.

And then a case that wasn't going to get much better than probable cause became the prosecutor's problem. Hot potato passed.