Why Everyone Should Have A Lawyer

Why? So you don’t get stuck with the sort of public defender who thinks that this document is a compelling legal defense.



August 29, 2003
10:35 am

ya know, I think the “F word” document was good legal work by the publice defender:
First, a defense lawyer should always make a first amendment challenge to a law if possible (it is not often available). In most cases, the defendant must show that a law is unconstitutional as applied to him in his particular case. Under the first amendment, you can argue the whole law on it’s face is unconstitutional, which gives you a lot more leeway.
Second, Prosecutors hate dealing with this stuff. It’s not a specialty, like search and seizure law, that the prosecutor knows about. A judge will be much more interested in hearing a first amendment claim than the tenth criminal search and seizure claim he’s had to deal with that day. Likewise an appeals judge would find the first amendment case more interesting and is more likely to grant an appeal. This means more hassels for the prosecutor, and he is likely to plea bargain. I interned at a Public Defender’s office for a semester. I worked on two cases where we challenged the law on first amendment grounds. both ended up pleading out those portions of the case because the prosecution did not want to deal with it.
In most states, yelling obscene language at a person in public is disorderly conduct, because you action is likely to start a fight or other ruckuss. Yelling “fuck you pig” at a police officer is usually protected speech, however, because the officer is expected to know better than to pummel you for mouthing off (in theory, in practice I would not recomend doing this). Where would a student and teacher fall in this area? Who knows? We don’t know because the Public Defender won. The prosecutor cut a plea, and the kid gets no punishment and his record cleaned if he stays out of trouble.
So the P. D. might not have written the best 1st amendment brief in the world, but I’m sure it caused enough headaches and/or amusement in the courthouse to basically get the client off. and Victory is what it is all about.
Three cheer’s to the Colorado Public Defender’s office!

Jason Lefkowitz

August 29, 2003
2:56 pm

Nice analysis! I suppose that’s why you’re an attorney and I’m a computer programmer 🙂