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Criminal Law, Practice & Policy

Hey Biglaw – A Reprisal

June 13, 2006 by Carolyn Elefant

Yesterday brought two Supreme Court decisions granting last minute relief to two death row prisoners.  And equally important, at least one of the cases brought vindication to solo practitioners who handle death row appeals.  Clarence Hill, defendant in Hill v. McDonough (holding that a defendant can bring a Section 1983 challenge to lethal injection even […]

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When You Get Too Close to A Client: Is It a Risk or Part of the Job?

May 14, 2006 by Carolyn Elefant

A few weeks ago, I posted here on the dangers of getting too close to a client.  That issue came to mind again in reading this article Killer Charisma by Glenn Frankel (Washington Post Magazine 5/13/06) which ponders why advocates for Roger Keith Coleman, who was executed for the murder of his sister-in-law, continued to […]

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Hey Biglaw – Where Were You When It Mattered?

May 12, 2006 by Carolyn Elefant

Apparently, competition for Supreme Court cases has now grown so intense that biglaw firms are trying to poach criminal cases from small fry defense lawyers.  That’s the distinct impression that I came away with after reading Will Defense Lawyers Accept Help on High Court Criminal Cases? The article reports that this past term, the Supreme […]

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Why Solo Practice is Like A Box of Chocolates

March 22, 2006 by Carolyn Elefant

What I love most about solo practice is that, to quote Forrest Gump, it’s like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.  And as this article, Big Case for Fledgling Lawyer, Don Thompson, AP (3/19/06) bears out, you just might get the case of your life eighteen months out […]

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The Death Penalty Must Be Wrong If Its Too Big for Biglaw

February 22, 2006 by Carolyn Elefant

I’m not sure where my own personal opinion on the death penalty lies.  I’ve always believed that it’s incredibly disparately and arbitrarily applied – I’m just not certain whether the remedy is wholesale elimination of the death penalty or reducing its random application by improving the quality of legal representation provided to indigent defendants. But […]

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Wouldn’t It Be Great to Have Your Own Monday Morning Blogger-back?

February 2, 2006 by Carolyn Elefant

As an energy regulatory attorney who knew of Enron when it was just another IPP (independent power producer) pushing for deregulation, I’ve followed the company’s rise and fall, up through this last chapter, the Lay and Skilling Enron trials.  My favorite source of news and commentary is from the Houston Chronicle’s Enron Legal Commentary Blog.  […]

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Court Appointed Work Is Not Supposed To Be A Full Time Job!

July 22, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

Well after all of the controversy, looks like the Massachusetts legislature will raise rates for court appointed attorneys as reported here in State House OK’s Raises for Lawyers for the Poor, David Abel (July 22, 2005).  According to the article, lawmakers will increase court appointed rates to $100 an hour from $61.50 for homicide cases; […]

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When a Client’s Right to Access Counsel Hangs by A Hook…Of A Bra

July 14, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

Donna Thompson-Schneider is a solo criminal defense attorney who hasn’t visited her incarcerated clients.  Lest you think that this is another story about an irresponsible attorney giving her clients ground for an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, read on.  The reason that Donna hasn’t visited her clients is because the prison has a practice of  […]

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Sometimes, You Really DO Need A Lawyer

June 22, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

I’ll admit that there are many tasks currently handled by lawyers that a non-lawyer or pro se could take on just as competently.   At the same time, there are  certain  matters that a nonlawyer is bound to  screw  up,  often with  tragic  consequences,  as this article,  Paralegal Accused of Posing As Lawyer (Dallas Morning News, […]

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Why You Can’t Just Take Your Client’s Word for It

June 22, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

The Supreme Court just issued a ruling in Rompilla v. Beard (see this link at SCOTUS blog for a good summary and links to the opinions) a case that I blogged about several months ago here. In Rompilla, the Supreme Court reversed a death penalty ruling, finding that the Rompilla’s defense attorneys were ineffective because […]

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