“Prosecutorial Misconduct” Would Be a Good Name for a Metal Band.

November 29, 2014

LeoAbbathFor those of you who don’t know me (most of you), I am a big metal-head. I listen to the loudest, fastest, most aggressive, non-musical music you can probably imagine. Unless you are a kindred metal-head, you would probably what I find most of what I listen to non-musical and nigh-unlistenable.

Furthermore, I’ve been playing the guitar on-and-off since maybe 5th or 6th grade. More recently it’s been “off”, simply because I have been spending a lot of time at work doing work things.

Recent events have made me really angry and frustrated in a way that I cannot adequately express through words alone.

So I am happy to announce the birth of my one-man legally-themed extreme-metal band “Prosecutorial Misconduct”. (What’s scarier than that? Well, besides maybe “prosecutorial discretion”.)

For those of you who are lucky enough to be my “friends” on Facebook, you’ve been subject to my polluting your feeds with requests for legally-themed metal song ideas. Now I’m extending the invitation to the wider internet.

I plan to release an EP in 2015. No, I am not sure when. It’s probably going to sound like blackened thrash, a bit of crossover, maybe a tinge of death metal, a few elements of grind, and potentially some NWOBHM sprinkled in there. I am not great at lead guitar, to there probably aren’t going to be too many meedleys.

This is the guitar I will be playing on this album:

IMG_6136

Yes, this is my office.  No, those aren’t prints of 3/4 members of KISS. It’s Abbath, Dead, and Fenriz. Look them up.

I know that you’re going to complain that my guitar isn’t black, and therefore not metal. But both James Hetfield and Max Cavalera—titans of thrash—played white guitars, so I won’t hear that nonsense.

max-cavalera-2

Max Cavalera made some great music with Sepultura from 1984-1996, until he went insane and decided to make songs with Fred Durst instead.

James-Hetfield4

James Hetfield was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of a great thrash metal band Metallica, which as far as I can tell disbanded in 1989. Then, in 1990, a band by the same name, with (most of) the same members started making adult contemporary music and doing bad covers of the pre-1990 Metallica, which are universally awful.

Now, I am asking for your help. No, I don’t want money.

I want potential song names. No, don’t give me some uninspired latin phrase like “Res Ipsa Loquitor” or “Ipso Factor”, or something stupid like “Guilty As Charged”. You’re reading this blog, so I know you’re better than that.

Four song titles I am definitely using are these:

  1. Brady Violation
  2. Gavel-Smashed Face (click here if you don’t get it); and
  3. Crum Bum.

Most creative/brutal/legally themed/amusing suggestions win and get you a mention in my liner notes.

Please leave them in the comments. I will be forever grateful.


The Appointment, Part 2.

November 25, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 10.55.39 AM

[Ed.- This is part two of an ongoing series. For part one, click here.]

It was 10.11 am, and I was in the ante-room with my client, Barnaby Jones.

Mr Jones had been my client for all of 8 minutes now, and I had trial in a month, after his previous lawyer had sat on the case for four years. I’d just given him my spiel (e.g., I’m Leo, I’ve never been a prosecutor, I’ve always fought to the defense, I don’t treat my court-appointed clients any differently than my private pay clients, etc…).

Mr Jones was receptive to all this, and smiled as I shook his hand. I closed my elevator speech by taking out my business card.

“Mr Jones, take this. You and I have to talk. Soon. My office number is on the card, but here, let me write my cell on there…”

I don’t normally give my cell phone out to clients—for good reason. I’m not much a fan of getting calls at 10.30pm on a Saturday asking “So, what’s going on with my case?” (Answer: “Call me on Monday during business hours and I will let you know”.)

But with so little time to prepare, I had to get moving as soon as possible. I mean, we were scheduled for a jury in a month, I had literally no discovery, and I had three other courtrooms to be in that morning alone. The clock was ticking, and we needed to get started.

“Mr Jones, call my office when you get back home, and let’s schedule a time for you to come in this week to discuss your case. We don’t have a lot of time”.

He looked at me and nodded: “Yes, sir. But Mr Leo, it wasn’t me!” A familiar refrain for defense counsel.

“We’ll talk soon. Call me today”, I said as I walked out the door and down the hall to my next courtroom.

Read the rest of this entry »


Stop Snitching on Yourself.

November 14, 2014
My next cards are going to look like this.

My next cards are going to look like this.

There is a space on my potential client interview form that prompts me to ask my potential clients if they gave any statements to the police, whether on the scene where they’re arrested or back at the station.

I am considering removing it, because it is useless.

Invariably, when I first ask them this questions, 9/10 clients say “No, man, I know my rights”. Great! I love when my clients know their rights. It makes my job a lot easier.

Then I start talking with my clients about what happened when they got arrested, and that “No” becomes “well, I guess I said it wasn’t me”. Or “I told them I didn’t have any drugs on me because I wasn’t a dealer, I was a user”. Or, my favorite “Why are you arresting me? I didn’t shoot anyone!”. Or “I just wrote down everything that happened, and I apologized for taking all the money”.

Folks, I have four words for you: “Shut. The. Hell. Up.” Read the rest of this entry »


Brian Tannebaum’s ‘The Practice’ is the most important book since Jay Foonberg’s ‘How to Start and Grow a Law Practice’

November 9, 2014
the practice

I am super handsome

I remember when I graduated law school in 2008. I had just been hired at Foehl & Eyre as an associate, not really sure where this strange journey would take me. One afternoon, I got a call from my Uncle Jim, a successful commercial litigation attorney:

“Jordan, it’s your Uncle Jim.”
“What’s up?”
“Come to my office. I have something for you.”

I dropped by the office, and there was a package at the receptionist’s desk. A book called “How To Start and Grow a Law Practice” by Jay Foonberg. I called my Uncle Jim back:

Read the rest of this entry »


The Appointment, Part 1.

November 8, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 10.55.39 AM“Mr Mulvihill, you’re appointed”.

The sound of the judge’s voice speaking my name startled me from my stupor. I’d been sitting in the courtroom for an hour waiting for the District Attorney in my case to show up.

Until a moment ago, I had been bored. All criminal defense lawyers are familiar with the “hurry up and wait” endemic to the system, and today had been no different.

It was June 10 at 10.03am. I’d been in the courtroom since 8.59am, intermittently checking my phone while waiting to have my case called so I could get back to the office and address the approximately 372 things outstanding on my to-do list. With no secretary or staff, all my administrative work was my own, and it was piling up every second I waited for the DA.

“Yes, Your Honor?” Because I was too busy looking at LOLCAT memes, I hadn’t caught what the Judge said. I hoped he didn’t notice.

“You’re appointed in Commonwealth versus Barnaby Jones. Trial date to remain, July 20 for a three-day jury. Mr Mulvihill, you’re attached, and it’s must-be-tried”.

July 20th?

A month away?

Fuck.

I felt as if I’d swallowed a lead brick.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jordan Rushie joins Randazza Legal Group

September 1, 2014

When I was in law school, I used to read The Legal Satyricon. I remember thinking “This blog is awesome! But I could never do anything like that.” Marco has always been known for his high flyin’, foul mouthed, unique breed of legal representation. Something I always wanted to do but couldn’t. Because I was a nameless, faceless associate at a law firm billing hours and serving corporate clients.

One fateful day in April of 2011, I was checking my email before going to Whole Foods. Little did I know how much my life would change that fateful morning. As I was checking Solosez (a lawyer listserve where stupid people go to ask other stupid people stupid questions to get stupid answers), I learned that I had been named as a defendant in Rakofsky v. The Internet (hysterically and appropriately named by Scott Greenfield). Not sure what to do, I called Brian Tannebaum, a lawyer who used to write a good blog (two, actually), that I read regularly. When Brian got done yelling at me for interrupting his day, he put me in touch with Marc Randazza, who became my lawyer and proceeded to decimate the lawsuit.

Since then, I have started my own firm, wrote an ABA 100 Law Blog, and have had a career that I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Much of which involves protecting the First Amendment, intellectual property rights, and zoning. I went from working in a law job to having a practice that I feel excited and energized about every single day. Life is good. [Editor’s Note: Scott Greenfield nominated Philly Law Blog to the ABA 100. I love him forever.]

I blame Marc for most of it. 

Over the last few years, we’ve done a lot of work together, a lot of which was in the press. Just one of many examples, Me and Marc handled The Bellwether Trial, which was the first bittorrent case ever to see the inside of a courtroom. We are currently working on other interesting cases throughout the country, most of which I can’t blog about just yet. (stay tuned).

It’s been a wild ride.

So, in the interest of keeping things simple, I have decided to join Randazza Legal Group as Of Counsel. This actually happened awhile ago, but I was too busy to write about it.

It’s a great honor to be working with someone who I have idolized for many years, who defended me in my first lawsuit, and helped me get my own career off the ground.

And don’t worry. Fishtown Law won’t be changing one bit. Me and Leo continue to be your neighborhood Fishtown Lawyers, drinking all the craft beers and hanging around town. I will still be working out of 2424 Studios here in Fishtown and harassing Leo on an everyday basis (although I will be in Vegas from time to time, mostly to skirt open container laws).

 


Pa Superior Court: Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Scheme “Unconstitutional”

August 21, 2014

Appellant brings this appeal challenging the constitutionality of one of Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9712.1, following the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Alleyne v. United States, U.S. , 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013). We find that Alleyne does indicate that the sentencing practice under Section 9712.1 is unconstitutional.

-Judge Ford Elliot, August 20, 2014, writing for an en banc Superior Court.

Just yesterday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court released an opinion in Commonwealth v. Newman, that seems to provide some direction to divided Pennsylvania Common Pleas Courts left to fend for their own in the wake of the United States Supreme Court Alleyne v. United States decision.

Let’s break this down simply. In Alleyne, the Supreme Court held that all facts that increase a mandatory minimum sentence must be submitted to a jury and found true beyond a reasonable doubt.

In many states, Pennsylvania included, mandatory minimum sentences could be imposed by a judge who found certain facts to be true only by a preponderance of the evidence at sentencing.

Alleyne held this scheme unconstitutional.

Prosecutors in Pennsylvania have been fighting to apply mandatory minimum sentences ever since. But one by one, counties across Pennsylvania have been finding mandatory minimum sentences unconstitutional.

What Happened in Newman?

In Commonwealth v. Newman, the defendant was arrested following several controlled drug buys at an apartment in Glenside, Pa. Based on those buys, the police got a search warrant for the property, and found a “large quantity” of crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and a handgun a few feet away from the drugs.

The defendant went to trial, where the jury found him guilty of possession with intent to deliver, among other crimes. The prosecutor filed a “Notice of Intent to Seek Mandatory Sentence” under Pennsylvania’s gun & drug law, 42 Pa. C.S. §9712.1, which means a mandatory 5-10 years for a person found in possession of a firearm and drugs. The defendant was sentenced overall to 5-10 years.

He appealed, and the Superior Court affirmed his sentence on June 12, 2013. But just days later, on June 17, 2013, the United States Supreme Court released its Alleyne opinion, so Newman filed a petition for reconsideration, which the Superior Court granted.

Skipping over the legalese, after a review of trial court opinions from the Courts of Common Pleas across Pennsylvania, the Superior Court  in Newman ultimately found that “the very trial courts entrusted with the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences after Alleyne have found Section 9712.1 as a whole to be no longer workable[.]” Specifically, the Court found that the mandatory minimum sentencing provision at issue were not severable, and that under the statutory construction rules of Pennsylvania (1 Pa. C.S. §1925, Constitutional construction of statutes) the statute therefore as a whole must fail.

The Court then ruled that §9712.1 was unconstitutional, vacated Newman’s judgment of sentence, and remanded the case for resentencing “without consideration of any mandatory minimum sentence provided by Section 9712.1″.

What Does this Mean for Me?

If you’re not currently facing charges where mandatory minimum sentences may apply, then nothing, really.

But if you or a loved one is facing a case with a potential mandatory minimum sentence, then things change a lot.

Just today, I filed my first motion to bar application of a mandatory minimum sentence under 42 Pa.C.S. §9712.1 under Commonwealth v. Newman, in expectation of a hearing scheduled tomorrow in a client’s case.

We don’t yet know if the Commonwealth (the prosecutors trying to keep people locked up) is going to petition the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for allocatur (aka ask them for permission to appeal the Superior Court’s judgment), but we’ll find out soon.

I’ll be paying close attention in the meantime.

Congrats to Patrick I. McMenamin, Jr. for this victory for the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

-Leo.

Update 2014.8.22: The Judge granted my motion without even requiring argument.

 


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