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My Favorite Law Blogs

My Favorite Law Blogs - Top Lawyers in America and Others
By Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Attorney, Tulsa, Oklahoma

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The law related blogs which I read the most and I like to post responses to their blogs are listed here:

The Top Trial Warriors and Top Civil Lawyers, Trial Consultants, Lawyers and Non-Lawyers, and the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in America:

Blog of Gerry Spence - Top American Trial Lawyer

Jon Katz - Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

Jon Katz - Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney

Mark Bennett - Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Blog

Scott Greenfield - New York Criminal Defense Attorney

Kevin Mahoney - Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

David Tarrell - Omaha Nebraska - In the Moment

John Bryan - West Virginia Criminal Defense Blog

Gideon - Public Defender Blog

Brian Tannebaum - Miami Florida Criminal Defense Blog,

Randy England - Missouri Criminal Defense Blog

Professor Volokh (Calif.) Legal Blog

Texas Grit's for Breakfast Blog

Professor Simon's (Calif) Governing through Crime Blog

Professor Berman's Blog (Ohio) - Sentencing Law and Policy

Ann Reed - Jury Deliberations Blog

Jamie Spencer's Austin Criminal Defense Blog


Personal Blog by Terry Hull

Shawn Matlock - Dallas Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Blog

Stephen C. Smith – Maine Criminal Defense Attorney – Sex Offender Blog

and if Clarence Darrow had had a blog I would be reading it.

Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,

Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Attorney, Tulsa, Oklahoma
My web profile:

Left anyone out: Post your suggestions.

Jury Voir Dire Question About Medications

In a recent story in the news, from the National Law Journal, story about jurors taking medications, is about some jury consultants and lawyers now asking some general medical questions to potential jurors:

“Please raise your hand when you answer the following question, and we will ask the court to allow you to discuss this matter privately in a side bar ---- Is there anyone on this jury who is taking any medications which might affect their jury service, please raise your hand?

It has been argued that this could be controversial due to the privacy provisions of various federal laws dealing with confidential health matters. The Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act limits questions about private health matters and there are legitimate concerns about maintaining individual rights to privacy. Seldom do lawyers object on behalf of juror’s rights to privacy and usually the issue is over-looked.

The National Law Journal articles speculates that over 50 per cent of the potential jurors are prescribed some kind of medication and that the many people over 40 years of age are on some kind of medication.

The article says that at a recent Florida Bar annual conference, at a session entitled "Juiced Jurors," SunWolf, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, passed around full-page drug ads torn from magazines listing a myriad of side effects for such drugs as Viagra, Claritin and Valium. The side effects can interfere with a jurors' ability to sit and concentrate during long trials, it quotes SunWolf. She urged lawyers to use the information to bounce jurors.

Some jury consultants consider it controversial to ask about medications because it could result in the elimination of too many potential jurors and can result in some jurors withholding information and other jurors using it as an excuse not to serve.

Some lawyers consider using the medication question targeted at jurors they don’t want to serve as jurors.

Ann Reed, trial lawyer who writes a blog, Jury Deliberations Blog, shies away from asking jurors about medications because too many jurors would be excused or use it as an excuse not to serve.

In various appeals around the country, the issue of juror use of medications continues to be raised as an error, but it is usually unsuccessful. In a 2007 Cleveland murder case, a juror was excused after it came to light that he was not taking his medication for mental illness and he fell asleep. See: Ohio v. Lorenzo Collins, No. CR-06-482881-A (Cuyahoga Co. Ct. of Common Pleas 2007).

In a Georgia murder case, the defendant argued on appeal that the verdict should be overturned partially because one of the jurors was asleep during the trial. The trial court declined to excuse the juror or ask what medication was taking. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the conviction in Smith v. State, No. SO8A0018 (Sup. Ct. Ga.).

In a 2003 Michigan case, a defendant’s conviction for possession of marijuana was upheld despite a complaint that a juror failed to disclose that she need anxiety medication and a police officer was sent to retrieve it during the trial. The failure of defense lawyers to request a mistrial was held to have waived the error, if any. See, Michigan v. Bradley Scott Lasco, No. 239278 (Mich. Ct. of Appeals).

Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,

Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Defense Lawyer, Tulsa, Oklahoma
My Profile:

Police Lying or Testilying and Institutional Complacency

Police Lying or Testilying and Complacency

by Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney, or email:

Mark Bennett, Houston Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer, in his blog on testilying describes the "everyday incidents" of police officers lying in court. The same has been recognized for years by many criminal defense lawyers in America. Defense lawyers from Irving Younger to Alan Dershowitz to even on occasion a judge or police officer have openly admitted that from time to time, police officers lie in court.

Irving Younger has said: "Every lawyer who practices in the criminal courts knows that police perjury is commonplace.;” "[T]he policeman is as likely to be indicted for perjury by his co‑worker, the prosecutor, as he is to be struck down by thunderbolts from an avenging heaven." Irving Younger, The Perjury Routine, The Nation, May 8, 1967, at 596‑97.

See Alan M. Dershowitz, Controlling the Cops; Accomplices to Perjury, N.Y. Times, May 2, 1994, at A17 ("I have seen trial judges pretend to believe officers whose testimony is contradicted by common sense, documentary evidence and even unambiguous tape recordings.... Some judges refuse to close their eyes to perjury, but they are the rare exception to the rule of blindness, deafness and muteness that guides the vast majority of judges and prosecutors.");

See, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police Corruption and the Anti‑ Corruption Procedures of the Police Dep't, City of New York, Commission Report 36 (1994) (Milton Mollen, Chair) [hereinafter Mollen Report] wherein it stated: "Several officers also told us that the practice of police falsification in connection with such arrests is so common in certain precincts that it has spawned its own word: 'testilying."

Why are prosecutors and some judges willing to ignore police officers lying? Professor Jay Silver says: "The institutional tendency to tolerate police perjury likely stems from the prosecutor's interest in maintaining smooth working relations with police, who gather the government's evidence and are often its most important witnesses at trial, and from the prosecutor's own competitive drive to win and to advance professionally." Jay S. Silver, Truth, Justice, and the American Way: The Case Against the Client Perjury Rules, 47 Vand. L. Rev. 339, 358 n.75 (1994).

As stated by Professor Slobogin, herein below in the his law review, paraphrasizing:
----police lying intended to convict someone, whether thought to be guilty or innocent, is wrong because it diminishes ‑‑ trust in government. Police perjury damages the credibility of police testimony. The loss of police credibility on the stand diminishes law enforcement's effectiveness in the streets. To the extent other actors, such as prosecutors and judges, are perceived to be ignoring or condoning police perjury, the loss of public trust may extend beyond law enforcement to the criminal justice system generally. See, below, professor Slobogin's law review.

So, what can the criminal defense lawyer do ? Some have suggested web sites in which the citizen can post complaints about police officers. Others have suggested, video taping the officers and weeding out the bad officers. Some suggest polygraph tests of the police officer and the citizen. Polygraphs may not be admitted in a criminal case but they might be considered in a labor dispute, internal affairs matter, and in some disciplinary proceedings. Some people may consider the results of the polygraph even if they are not admissible in the criminal case in chief.

Others have suggested having the officer present the so-called "anonymous" informant to the judge, especially, upon request of the judge, when the officer seeks search warrants. A judge should have the authority to require the disclosure of information concerning bogus anonymous informants and to require their appearance before the judge in chambers before the issuance of search warrants.

It has also been proposed that an independent lay witness should be allowed to accompany the police officers during the service of a search warrant. In India this is called the panch system.

What kinds of cross examination questions can the defense lawyer attempt to ask the police officer:

Officer what is “testilying”?

Officer, do you know the name of any officers in your department who have received any discipline for testilying?

Officer do you know of any officer in your department who has ever being prosecuted, fired, or convicted for testilying?

Officer would you be willing to submit to a lie detector test administered by an independent lie detector administrator?

Officer what is the “code of silence” between fellow police officers?

Officer, do you agree that a police officer being indicted for perjury by his co worker, the prosecutor, is about as likely as being struck down by thunderbolts?

Officer, do you know the name of any police officer in your department who has ever received a promotion or positive reward for breaking the "code of silence" against fellow police officers?

Some of the following ideas are from "Reform the Police" by Christopher Slobogin, University of Colorado Law Review (Fall 1996), cite as: 67 U.Colo.L.Rev. 1037 (1996).

Lying to convict the innocent is undoubtedly rejected by most police, as well as by others, as immoral and unjustifiable. In contrast, lying intended to convict the guilty‑‑in particular, lying to evade the consequences of the exclusionary rule ‑‑ is so common and so accepted in some jurisdictions that the police themselves have come up with a name for it: "testilying." See, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police Corruption and the Anti‑ Corruption Procedures of the Police Dep't, City of New York, Commission Report 36 (1994) (Milton Mollen, Chair) [hereinafter Mollen Report] ("Several officers also told us that the practice of police falsification in connection with such arrests is so common in certain precincts that it has spawned its own word: 'testilying."').

Police perjury sometimes occurs in connection with the police reports. Although not technically testimony, police know these reports may be dispositive in a case resolved through plea bargaining, and can be compared to testimony in cases that aren't. As a result, "reportilying" also appears to be pervasive in some jurisdictions. The Mollen Commission, for instance, described how narcotics police "falsify arrest papers to make it appear as if an arrest that actually occurred inside a building [in violation of departmental regulations] took place on the street." Professor Stanley Fisher has also documented prolific use of the "double filing" system, in which the official police file forwarded to the prosecution and provided to the defense is cleansed of exculpatory facts or possible impeachment evidence.

Prosecutors put up with perjury because they need a good working relationship with the police to make their cases.

Additionally, at bottom, some prosecutors probably agree with the police that the end justifies the means. To the extent judges ignore obvious perjury, it is probably for the same reasons attributable to the prosecutor: sympathy for the police officer's ultimate goal and, as Professor Morgan Cloud put it, "tact"‑‑the fact that "[j]udges simply do not like to call other government officials liars‑‑especially those who appear regularly in court." Morgan Cloud, The Dirty Little Secret, 43 Emory L.J. 1311, 1323‑24 (1994).

Officers should be commended and promoted for their efforts to prevent testilying. The rewards would have to be significant to break the code of silence followed by the police. The challenge is there to try to correct this problem.

What will you do?

Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,
Glen R. Graham, Attorney at Law, Tulsa Criminal Defense Lawyer, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Different Kinds of Lawyers: Trial Lawyer vs. the Poser Who Seldom Goes to Trial

Different Kinds of Lawyers: Trial Lawyer (Warrior)
and the "Poser" Who Seldom Goes to Trial by Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Defense Lawyer (918) 583-4621

What is the difference between a lawyer who goes to trial on cases and a lawyer who pleads everyone out based on a plea bargain without a trial?

Over the 21 years that I have been practicing law, I have observed different kinds of criminal lawyers, some are the "real deal" - a genuine criminal trial lawyer --- warrior --- capable of going to trial on a case and winning it. Some are lawyers who seldom go to trial on the case. Some are just businessmen --- out to make a fast buck by pleading the defendant "guilty" and almost never going to trial on the case.

There are some lawyers who just withdraw from the case when they find out the client will not accept some kind of plea bargain in the case. Then the client is forced to scramble at the last minute to look for the "real" deal --- a genuine trial lawyer.

Why did the "poser" lawyer who seldom goes to trial on the case even accept the client's money to begin with if they never intend to fight the case?

Sometimes, it boils down to the plea bargain lawyer's idea deep within his heart --- something like he thinks everyone is guilty and should plea bargain, and he does not respect the jury system.

Why do some lawyers fail to advise the client from the very beginning of the case --- hey --- this is a case that may go to trial and you will have to borrow the money to pay a lawyer sufficient money to go to trial on the case or the lawyer will withdraw?

What is the lawyer afraid of? Are there some lawyers that just don't know how to do an effective job at a jury trial? Are there some lawyers who never go to trial on a case?

A defendant has an absolute right to a jury trial. A defendant should have an absolute right to competent --- effective assistance of counsel.

Ultimately, it is a buyer beware world. You might want to check your lawyer out before you hire him. Ask him how he feels about doing a jury trial in your case and look him in the eye and shake his hand. You can learn a lot by asking a few more questions of the lawyer.

Master Trial Lawyer - Warrior, Gerry Spence, Invites You To Visit His Blog

Master trial lawyer - warrior, Gerry Spence, has started his blog, began July 15, 2008, and has invited everyone to visit his blog:

"The trial of a case, in its simplest form, is telling a story jurors can understand. Yet most lawyers are taught little, if anything, about communicating with others."

"I have told my students at Trial Lawyers College—where we teach practicing people's lawyers how to be real, how to win by caring, how to be honest in the presentation of themselves—that if they take care of their clients, no matter how meager the compensation, that the money aspect of the practice will eventually take care of itself. That is a promise."

“I instruct the lawyers, we call them warriors, for these warriors fight for the rights of people against the daunting power of corporations and government…”

Spence wrote: "I think of William Lloyd Garrison, the Abolitionist leader on Slavery in America who in 1831 wrote:

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think or speak or write with moderation.

“No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm. Tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of a ravisher. Tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen, but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard.”

And so, dear friends and readers, Mr. Gerry Spence, master trial lawyer and warrior, has started his blog and he will be heard !

Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,

Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney, Tulsa, Oklahoma