Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Guilderland Town Board

Well Guilderland, it's official. I'm running for Guilderland Town Board, along with Mark Grimm. I created a website for our campaign -- Guilderland NY -- at guilderland-ny.com.

Mostly I will keep that off this blog and on my other website -- wredlich.com.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Profile: Rodney

My last post was about one minor player in the local criminal law community, and this one is about another. I've named him Rodney after Rodney Dangerfield, one of my favorite comedians. Unlike the comedian, I'm happy to say that this Rodney is still alive.

Dangerfield's signature line was about not getting any respect. Our local Rodney is a bit like this. He often makes negative remarks about himself, as if he's not as smart as the other lawyers around him. While it isn't true, I think he actually believes it himself.

The thing about Rodney is that he's always helpful to other lawyers. He's just a fundamentally decent guy. He seems to work very hard, running around to all the local courts all the time. And despite his negative self-image, he's actually quite talented at handling certain types of cases. He doesn't see himself as a fighter and may be underestimated by some, but he can handle himself well in a trial if he has to do it.

Rodney is also generally well-liked. Everyone seems fond of him, including not only attorneys but judges and police as well. There are exceptions, but they don't like anyone.

The other thing about Rodney is that he's a character. He would not be out of place in a Woody Allen film. He always has a story to tell, and it's usually a good one. He has certain mannerisms and he talks with a distinctive cadence. Rodney is one of a kind, and I'm happy to know him.

Profile: Snidely

One minor figure who stands out to me in the Capital Region legal community is a criminal lawyer whose nickname, for purposes of this post, is Snidely. I don't know him well at all. I'm pretty sure he doesn't like me, though I don't know why (there are plenty of good reasons).

There are things about Snidely that I noticed the first day I saw him. He has what seems like a permanent sneer on his face. I've seen it there when he's speaking to others, so it's not just me. Maybe he could use some face coaching.

This may just be me, but Snidely seems to interrupt my conversations with others, and does so as if I'm not even there. If I actually have the audacity to assert myself at such a moment (I usually do), the sneer grows dramatically. Somehow it seems like Snidely is "inside" the criminal lawyers club, and I'm on the outside, and he has some sense that I'm invading his turf.

We've never had any kind of verbal disagreement. It's not like there's any gossip going back and forth. Neither of us is on the other's radar enough to provoke any kind of war. We're too busy with other things I guess. Just somehow I have this negative feeling. I saw him within the past week and it prompted me to think about him.

With many of my profiles, a number of people seem to think they know who I mean. I suspect in this case no one will pick up on it, but we'll see. And if you're reading this and you think it's about you, you're probably wrong.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Batman, Robin, Batgirl and ... The Joker

There's one particular firm in the area that stands out in so many ways. They are clearly the best at what they do. They exemplify what it means to be good lawyers. They are passionate about their work, ethical to the extreme, decent and polite to all they deal with, diligent in researching the law, and to top it all off, they're interesting.

I struggled with this for a while -- what to call them, how to describe them. It came together for me recently and it starts with the guy at the top. He's Batman. I struggled with other names -- The Guru stuck with me for a while -- but I think Batman works best, and the other names follow well from it.

Batman is a living legend, known far and wide for his prowess in the field of battle ... um ... I mean the courtroom. He is a legend locally as well. Many are jealous of his fees, rumors of which border on the mythical. I have heard it said that he charges as much as $25,000 up front to take a case that some would take for less than $2500. From somewhat reliable sources (but not inside the firm) I have heard that he charges $6500-7500 for a simple local case that may require only one appearance.

Others are jealous of his reputation, thinking they are just as good as he is. I've also seen judges who think they're smarter than Batman. Both groups are wrong. I have seen Batman in action. When an opposing witness testifies, Batman fixes his eyes upon that person with a stare that penetrates into the soul. His victim ... I mean the witness ... is intimidated by a guy in a suit sitting dozens of feet away. And Batman knows the finer points of his field of law as well as anyone, not only in our state but in many others.

I first encountered Batman when he spoke at a CLE years ago, before I started my own practice. He was an inspiration then and remains so today.

Batman is not alone. Robin, his understudy, is rapidly developing a reputation of his own. He is razor-sharp. Some who know them say he is actually smarter and knows more than Batman himself, though Robin makes no such claims.

Next we have Batgirl. Batman is cloaked in an aura of mystery and seems unapproachable. In stark contrast, Batgirl is friendly and loved by all. This, however, should not be construed as weakness. Indeed, she is also well respected for her knowledge and skill as a lawyer. Somehow she easily manages to handle something that escapes many great women. She is outstanding at what she does but still well liked.

Last, and certainly not least, is my personal favorite - The Joker. As you might guess from the name, he has a sense of humor and he's not afraid to share it. Along with the brains, he brings wisdom and something lacking in most lawyers - he's got style. The Joker can deliver a line with timing and flair. He can develop a personal connection, even with hostile witnesses. He can entertain a jury without offending them. I can picture him shredding a witness on the stand, and then taking the guy out for a beer afterward. Also going along with his name, there is this subtle hint of a dark side. Maybe I'm imagining it.


It's been a while since I've done a profile. I checked and it looks like I started on this idea in August of 2006, and ran out of steam. One profile I did seemed to get a lot of attention: The Bully. It was a semi-fictional and unflattering profile of an area judge.

A surprising number of lawyers seemed to know who I was talking about, and they all thought it was the same judge. I even heard that this judge had read the profile and was angry about it. What's interesting is that I didn't name the county, level of court, or even type of court. I cover a lot of courts, including village, town and city courts, county courts, Supreme Court, and even federal court (admitted in both Northern and Southern Districts). And we cover a wide area, regularly appearing in something like 10 counties (I was in Poughkeepsie and Kingston this past week).

So, if I didn't name the type of court or the county, why did all these people - including the judge himself - think it was about him?

Moving on, I've been stewing on a new profile for a while, and it's coming soon. Watch out for Batman!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Unsolicited attorney mailings to prospective clients

One of my clients got a letter from a local lawyer that I thought was inappropriate. Images of the letter (with information about both the lawyer and the client whited out) are at the bottom (click on them to see them enlarged). Let's take a look and see what's wrong with this:

1. Notice the enlarged fonts, boldface, and underlining. Maybe it's just me, but lawyers shouldn't shout. The only time I think we use bold in a letter is when we tell our clients that courts do not accept personal checks, and that they need to send a money order.

2. This is one of the big problems -- How did this lawyer know my client had a ticket? We've heard from one source that this lawyer does FOIL requests on all the local courts, but I don't know that for certain. Disciplinary Rule 1200-8(h) requires that he was supposed to disclose how he obtained my client's identity and learned of his legal need. It's not in the letter. I sent a letter asking for this information and he hasn't responded to that either.

3. Another big problem is the substantial exaggerations. The biggest one is where he says that if you plead guilty to a 6-point speeding ticket the total cost will be $3800. The $3800 includes:
a: $355 max fine
-- The fine range is $90-300 and there is a $55 surcharge. Technically correct, but he leaves out the minimum.

b: $300 DMV Assessment
-- This one is dead-on -- unless the client already has points.

c: $3145 insurance hike (estimated over 3 years)
-- Um ... where on earth did he get this figure? I'm guessing my client, a really nice retired fellow, pays about $500 a year now on his insurance. If his rates got bumped at all, he'd probably be looking at a 30% increase for 3 years, for a total increase of about $450. I'm guessing too, but I'll bet my guess is a lot better, and it's not an unreasonable scare tactic.

The funniest thing is where he estimates with a reduction to a speed of 75 in a 65. Notice for fines he now has $150 with (+surcharge if applicable). I don't know where the surcharge is inapplicable, and you have to wonder why it's left out here but included in the plead guilty estimate. Funnier still is his estimate of the insurance hike at $1550 for 3 years. Under Insurance Law 2335, your rates cannot be raised for a speed of 15 mph or less over the limit. The insurance hike for this reduction is zero.

I'm eager to see comments on this. Please fire away!

Another DWI Win

I mentioned that we keep winning DWI cases in a recent post. Well, we won another one. This time the DA responded very late to an "omnibus motion" (well after the judge had already given them a generous extension). While we were waiting, I made a further motion for dismissal on speedy trial grounds. The DA did not oppose the speedy trial motion.

I'd like to claim that we're brilliant, and we're winning these cases because we're so great. But the truth is that we just do what we're supposed to do and things have been falling right for us, and of course for our clients.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A busy DWI lawyer

Got a call yesterday from someone with her third DWI case. The second was fairly recent, and third time is a charm so it's a felony.

Was talking about the second time to find out what had happened. She had hired a lawyer with a big web presence for DWI cases. She told me his name, and I started laughing. I'll call him Smelly to avoid making it too obvious who he is.

You see, this one DWI lawyer is becoming well known in the community of DWI lawyers, and not in a good way. He advertises heavily on the web and I've even heard ads for him on local radio stations here in Albany. I've never seen him in person, however. That's part of the joke. There is a community of DWI and traffic lawyers and we tend to see each other in court. Here's the guy with the heaviest advertising and yet we've never seen him.

From what I understand, Smelly's modus operandi is that he gets the cases in and then hires other lawyers to appear for him as of counsel. Maybe in his home area (a city west of Albany) he handles cases himself or has his associates do it - though I can't tell if he actually has any associates.

On his website he also claims to be a member of the National College of DWI Defense. This is interesting because I only know about the National College of DUI Defense. If there is one with DWI in the name, I haven't heard of it. He is listed as a member on the NCDD website, so I will give him credit for that. I should join and attend a workshop, but haven't done it yet.

Speaking with last night's prospective felony DWI client, she did not seem happy with the quality of the representation. I didn't get complete details, but it seemed like she had paid a lot of money for Smelly, someone else showed up, didn't do much for her and didn't explain anything to her (I spend a lot of time explaining things to our clients), and it also sounds like she didn't get much of a deal, pleading guilty to DWI on the first appearance.

Perhaps I'll learn more about Smelly as time goes on.

Why are phone companies so difficult?

I had a call today from a prospective client who left two numbers to call him back -- both overseas in different countries. I've been burned before making international calls and getting socked with huge bills, so I wanted to check the rate before I called.

First I dialed "0". The operator forwarded me to some automated system that was not helpful. Then I checked out the website for our phone company, One Communications aka Choice One. I simply could not find the rates for international calls anywhere on their site. So I called "0" again and insisted no speaking to a person. She told me to dial "00". Ugh.

So I called "00". I went through three or four different people, none of them able to answer my question. Finally I expressed to the 3rd tier supervisor how dissatisfying this experience was. This is a simple question and it should be easy for customers to get the answer. We spend about $400/month on this service. You'd think we could get an answer to a simple question. I asked her to forward that to her supervisor. She was pleasant though. :-)

I called my cell phone company (Sprint) and did no better. I got one person who put me on hold for ten minutes (yes, really) and then I got shifted back into the same voice menu I had before I spoke with her. While I was waiting I found rates on their website, though I couldn't tell which was applicable to me. $0.99/minute versus $.07/minute (on the international calling plan) is a big difference.

So why are phone companies so difficult?

Spotting difficult or unpleasant clients

I had a call today and turned away a prospective client because I picked up on signals that made me uncomfortable. One very difficult thing for lawyers is deciding which clients we don't want. It's very important, because unpleasant clients require a lot more work than pleasant clients. It's often difficult to do but sometimes we're lucky and we pick up on the warning signs.

Today's caller had a warning sign right off the bat. I recognized his name and he had called a week earlier. My instructions to potential clients is always that they do not need to call back. If you want to hire us, make payment and get us your paperwork, and we'll take care of the rest.

The fact that this gentleman was calling back was a subtle and minor hint he might be a problem. Sometimes, of course, there's a good reason for calling back.

Anyway, the second warning sign was much bigger. It's when a prospective client asks a question and is not satisfied with the answer. This client wanted to know how he would be sure we're taking care of things. I told him we would be in touch with him and all the things I generally tell people that we do to make sure. This was not enough, but I couldn't figure out what he was looking for in an answer from me.

Something he said, and I don't remember exactly what it was, I took as an insult. Essentially his question (again, I don't remember exactly what he said) implied that we don't do a good job for all our clients and that he wanted to make sure we were going to do a good job on his case.

This made our conversation much shorter. I explained to him why his question was insulting. He did not disagree, but insisted on his question and threatened not to hire me if I didn't provide a satisfactory answer. I still didn't know what he was looking for, and at that point I didn't care. I told him to hire another lawyer.

My experience with callers like that in the past suggests to me that this guy would call our office repeatedly and harass me and my staff. Aside from this being unpleasant, it also distracts us from doing our work, on that client's file and for all of our other clients. I actually saw this the other day at my bank, where the bank manager was on a call with an obviously difficult client, and this kept him from helping me open a new account. Fortunately for him and the bank (and me), I was happy to leave my paperwork and we resolved the details over the phone.

We are fortunate in our office. We get enough business that I don't hesitate to turn away unpleasant clients when I see the warning signs. For other attorneys, who do not have enough business, it's harder to turn away those clients. And even for us, we often do not see any warning signs until we've already accepted the client.

Today's call involved a speeding ticket case. The vast majority of our traffic clients are easy to work with and appreciate our work for them. We do represent criminal defendants, and it is a reality of that business that some clients are really not good people. I've actually been surprised that even in this area, most of our clients are decent, even the ones who are "guilty."

While I'm on the topic, I forgot to mention the caller last night, after 10 pm, who wanted to know if it was legal for them to let their kids ride motorcycles. I tried to find out what made her think I could answer that question. She said something about my website. I have a page on motorcycle accidents, and we do handle traffic cases, but this does not sound like something you call a lawyer for. When I told her that she called back and left another message saying that I was rude to her and she was going to report me. Not sure who I get reported to for that, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

I know, woe is me. Poor Warren, having to suffer with a few odd phone calls. Yes, I will get past it. Hey, I gotta complain about something, right?

Friday, July 20, 2007

More about phony lawyer websites

A comment on my most recent post on fake lawyer websites asked how the scam works.

The scam is that potential clients see a somewhat attractive website that gives the appearance that it is a law firm in New York State. For example: "Our professional staff of Lawyers and Paralegals specialize and concentrate solely on NY traffic tickets." (from the home page)

This is not a law firm, at least not in New York. NY law firms are required to state their firm name and their firm address in any marketing. You cannot find the name of the law firm, any lawyer, or the address on the site. Lawyers in NY are also generally prohibited from saying they "specialize" in anything. This is picky, since we can say "focus", but it's still a rule binding NY lawyers.

The truth is that the entity behind this website is a Canadian marketing operation, not a NY law firm. How do I know it's Canadian? For one thing, the whois mentioned above shows a Canadian (.ca) e-mail address. For another, the site menu has the word "Offences" in it, and the site refers to "Demerit Points". Here in America we spell it Offenses, not Offences. And demerit points is the Ontario term for points you get on your license. NY does not refer to them as "demerit" points.

So what they do in the end is charge a fee to the client. Then they find a lawyer in the US to handle the case for them, and pay that lawyer a share of the fee. In other words, they do not disclose to the client that the $X they are spending really buys them a lawyer who is only worth $X-Y. I don't know how much they charge, but if they charge $750, and pay a lawyer $250 to show up, then you just paid $750 for a $250 lawyer.

To be clear about this, there is nothing wrong with a lawyer having another lawyer appear for him or her at a court appearance. We handle most tickets ourselves, but in some cases we have attorneys outside our firm appear for us. They appear "of-counsel" to us, and we certainly do not pay them the entire fee we received from our client. But we do a substantial amount of work on the case before and after the court appearance, and we instruct that attorney on how to handle the case. And we are legally responsible for their work, since it is our client. These marketing operations do not have NY law licenses and cannot be held responsible in the same way.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Virginia Speeding Ticket Fines Make the New York Times

Seems the State of Virginia has decided to up the ante on speeding ticket fines. According to an article in yesterday's New York Times about Virginia speeding fines, getting ticketed for a speed of, say, 20 mph over the limit, carries a civil penalty of over $1000, plus the fines from the Court (up to $2500 more), and then maybe court costs too. Ouch!!

So as a result, of course, we are working on adding courts to our Virginia Traffic Court directory.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another dubious "lawyer" website: New York Traffic Ticket Solutions

I found another dubious traffic lawyer website today. It's nytrafficticketsolutions -dot- com. It does not identify who the lawyers are, if any, that work with this "company" - New York Traffic Ticket Solutions.

I did a whois lookup and the administrative e-mail address is a Canadian site. Indeed, the site looks remarkably like the Canadian site, trafficticketsolutions -dot- ca. The whois shows a guy named Kevin Markis. This savvy marketer posted a comment on a speeding ticket blogpost: http://www.wisebread.com/fight-your-speeding-ticket-save-yourself-some-dough
where he said that his Canadian website would be a great help.

Oh, and the address shown on the whois is:
55 America St
Newyork, NY 10019-5497

I couldn't find an America Street in New York City, and that 9-digit zip is the same as The Museum of Modern Art.

I like the line on their site:
"Our professional staff of Lawyers and Paralegals specialize and concentrate solely on NY traffic tickets."

Of course I called just now. It does not appear to be the same as the previous fraudulent website. The person who answered the phone claimed she is a paralegal. I asked for the office address and she said that they're in upstate New York. She had a distinctive Canadian accent (I represent many Ontario drivers and one of my best friends is from Timmons).

The other day I had a call from someone in Long Island who had been looking at the other fraudulent lawyer website I've posted about: New York Traffic Tickets -dot- US. He was thinking of hiring them and read my posts, and wanted to thank me and ask for a referral to a real attorney.

Well, at least I'm doing something worthwhile with my life. You'd think the government would protect consumers from stuff like this ... oh no, wait, that's why I'm a Ron Paul fan.

More problems with AdWords -- Audio Ads

Back in January I posted about a problem with AdWords, the advertising service I use for sponsored links on Google searches. I do generally like AdWords and continue to run ads. I also carry Google ads (AdSense) on our traffic court directory.

AdWords has a new feature for "Audio Ads," and I'm trying it out. Once I started with it I had some problems and requested a review. I'm not satisfied with their efforts. The e-mail conversation is down below, edited for brevity and perhaps for privacy where appropriate.

I found this "conversation" extremely frustrating. It appears to me that "Varun" did not read my e-mails or investigate my concerns in any way. The most offensive part is that some of my radio ads appear to have been static (I wonder if that station might be dead), and I raised that in my e-mail and "Varun" says he didn't find it. This guy is supposed to be a specialist and I'm just learning it, and I found it easily.
I'm also irritated that he did not understand, and did not try to understand, the difference between Pittsfield and Albany-Schenectady-Troy. You would think Google would spend some money for better customer service than what you see below.

My first message:
> > From: wredlich@gmail.com
> > Subject: Audio Ads - not really in market, not playing
> > Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2007 21:18:13 -0700
> >
> > I listened to a few of the ads for my Audio Ad campaigns. I then learned that apparently all of my ads are playing on Massachusetts radio stations. There appears to be some limited coverage in the very edge of New York State, but almost none of this is what I would refer to as the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area.
> > A second problem is that the "Listen" link on the "Oldies" ads are all static. It appears my ads did not actually play.
> > I would appreciate it if someone would review this and contact me. I'd like to know if any stations that are actually in Albany, Schenectady or Troy (or maybe other nearby cities/towns in New York State) are participating. I'd also like a thorough review of my ads to see if they actually played -- especially the "Oldies" ads.

The first response (long), with my comments in **stars**:

> On 7/16/07, AdWords Support wrote:
> > Hello Warren,
> > Thank you for your email. I understand that you are concerned with the targeting of your Audio Ads. Also, you are not able to use the 'Listen' link on the 'Oldies' ads and are not sure if your ads are playing. I have looked into your account and am happy to inform you that all your Audio Ad campaigns are active and running. They are successfully accruing impressions and Ad plays. Below, I have addressed your concerns in detail.

**The next several paragraphs explain how Audio Ads works - I already knew this and it did not address my question**
> > First, while we don't offer the ability to select specific stations on which to play your ads, we do allow you to fine-tune a number of targeting options. These options include the types of station on which to play your ad, to ensure that your ad reaches your desired audience. It's also worth noting that each station in our network is rated by Arbitron (http://www.arbitron.com), a third-party company that measures the number of listeners likely to tune in to a station at any given time. Once your ads air on the radio, the call signs for many of the stations in our network will be visible in the Report Center, accessible from the 'Reports' tab in your AdWords account.
> > Adding additional, relevant markets will increase the likelihood your ad will win a spot in the auction and air on the radio. Follow the steps below to edit your target market selections:
> > 1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com/.
> > 2. From the Audio Ads tab, check the box next to the ad group you'd like to edit, and then click 'Edit Settings.'
> > 3. Click 'Edit' next to 'Target Audience.'
> > 4. Use the search box to find additional target areas by market, state, or zip code.
> > 5. Click 'Add' next to any of the markets in which you'd like to play your ad.
> > Second, we want to make sure you know exactly how your money's being spent, so we've provided detailed, real-time reports of your ad plays in the Report Center accessible via the 'Reports' tab in your AdWords account. From the reports generated from the Reports Center, we can often provide a link to an 'air-check' - a recording of your ad as it played on the radio, including a short snippet of the surrounding broadcast for your reference.
> > There are times when we're unable to provide an air-check, either because we haven't yet placed a recorder in your market, or due to technical issues. In these cases, there will be no link from your reports, but we will have record of the exact time your ad was played.
> > For additional information about Audio Ads, please visit http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=11986
> > If you have additional questions, please visit our Help Center at https://adwords.google.com/support to find answers to many frequently asked questions. Or, try our Learning Center at http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/ for self-paced lessons that cover the scope of AdWords.
> > Please feel free to write me with any further questions. Google looks forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.
> > Sincerely,
> > Varun
> > The Google AdWords Team

My response:

> From: "Warren Redlich"
> Subject: Re: [#174165184] Audio Ads - not really in market, not playing
> Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 09:29:01 -0400
> I'm sorry to say your failure to read my original message is becoming typical of AdWords customer service.
> As I said in my original message: "A second problem is that the "Listen" link on the "Oldies" ads are all static. It appears my ads did not actually play." The Listen link does work for "Oldies" ads, but unlike the other ads, when I click on it what comes up is an audio file that is just static. I don't hear my ad or anything else intelligible.
> Your message also fails to address my concern that radio stations in Pittsfield MA are not really in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy market. All three of those cities are in the State of New York, approximately 1 hour from the border with Massachusetts, and Pittsfield is not on the border. Technically it may be that Pittsfield is in the correct DMA, but I still think it's deceptive to market these stations as part of the Albany market.
> I spend a lot of money on AdWords, generally over $1000/month. If customer service continues to assume I don't know what I'm talking about when responding to my questions, my spending will drop significantly.
> Warren

The next response from Google/AdWords:

On 7/17/07, AdWords Support wrote:
> Hello Warren,
> Thank you for your email. I understand that you have questions regarding your Audio Ads. I apologize for your frustration and any inconveniences caused. Below, I have answered your questions in detail.
> First, If you can't find your city in the Metro areas available list, try entering your selection in the search box just above that list. It's possible that your city isn't listed as a top-level metro area, but is instead included below a larger area.
> If you still can't find your city, it's likely because we don't have any stations available there yet. We're constantly expanding our network of Audio Ads radio stations, so keep checking back to see if we've entered your city. In the meantime, try selecting a major metro area nearby.
> Second, I have looked into your account but can't find the 'Oldies' ads that you are referring to in your email. I would be happy to assist you further if you send me more specifics about the same.
> If you have additional questions, please visit our Help Center at https://adwords.google.com/support to find answers to many frequently asked questions. Or, try our Learning Center at http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/ for self-paced lessons that cover the scope of AdWords.
> Please feel free to write me with any further questions. Google looks forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.
> Sincerely,
> Varun
> The Google AdWords Team

And my latest response to that:

Tue, Jul 17, 2007 at 11:22 AM
To: AdWords Support

Thanks for another generic response to a specific question.

Regarding the audio ad that is static, please check out the following Air Check, which shows up on my latest Audio Ad report:

Morning Drive Time n/a* Oldies Albany-Schenectady-Troy MA, NY, VT
Jul 13, 2007 8:43:00 AM EDT Jul 13, 2007 8:47:25 AM EDT Redlich -
Code Red Listen 1,800 1,800

**The above is the detailed report on one play of my ad on an unspecified Oldies station.**

The listen link points to:

The file is attached.
** Readers can download the file at:


DWI Laws and "The Joe"

On a previous DWI post, I got a comment from pml, a regular commenter. Originally I was going to respond in a comment on that post, but decided to do a whole new post once I realized how long it was going to be.

I certainly agree with pml that all drivers should know about the .08 law and that they should not drink and drive. However, a recent experience hit me with the contradictions of the nanny state. I just went to a Valley Cats baseball game at "The Joe" (named for NY Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno). They serve alcohol at the Joe. The Joe is a government-built, government-run facility on the campus of a government-run community college (which has a number of under-21 students I might add). There are sponsored messages from alcohol producers - I remember one from Bud or Bud Light that seemed to really captivate the many children at the park - I think it was Mr. Baseball Glove Wearing Guy, or something like that. The Joe also has plenty of parking.

The Joe is a wonderful place for people to bring their kids, have a few beers, and then drive home with them.

Please understand that I'm not criticizing minor league baseball. I had fun at the game and think it's a wonderful thing for kids and families.
But it's hypocritical for the government to invite people to an event, encourage them to drink at the event, provide alcohol, offer no meaningful public transit to or fro, offer free parking, thereby encouraging people to drive, and then punish them when they drive home.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

Our associate David M. Cooper went to court last night and talked with a prosecutor I've always liked (since before he was even a prosecutor). This particular prosecutor made a remark to David, saying "Warren thinks everyone is innocent."

I am quite flattered by this remark. There's this long-standing phrase that sticks with me -- "innocent until proven guilty."

Now I am aware of the reality that some of our clients may have done something wrong. In most of these cases, our clients are good people who made a bad decision at the wrong moment. In a few cases our clients are really not wonderful people.

But nevertheless, there is this principle about being innocent until proven guilty. If I'm going to represent criminal defendants, you better believe I'm going to embrace this concept.

Unfortunately our system often presumes guilty and treats defendants - even the truly innocent ones - quite badly. That's why all defendants deserve a lawyer who believes they're innocent.