Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day . . . .

On this important day, we should not only remember the men and women who have died in service to the United States.  We should also take the time to consider the needs of our veterans who continue to be denied timely access to medical care once they have come home.  In this post from last week, I discuss the shameful state of affairs at the VA.  In this election season, both Democrats and Republicans should take a long hard look at how our veterans are being treated by the government they served.

Why Criminal Defense? Part Three



How do you defend a murder case when your client is caught on camera committing the crime?  I asked myself that question over and over again as I read and re-read the discovery and watched the security video.  I sat through hours of strategy meetings, I walked up and down the alley where the police found the ski mask, and I drove by the front of the store trying to imagine what the witnesses saw as they drove by seconds after the shooting.  I could recreate the crime scene from memory.  What I could not do was come up with a viable defense.  And then the more experienced voices on our team opened my eyes to the reality of the situation. Continue Reading

What Do Disney And The Veterans Administration Have In Common?

Veterans PostI have a friend who is a very talented photographer.  Sufficed it to say, he is building a very successful business.  He works hard. He works nights. He works weekends.  He is also a veteran.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend wasn’t feeling well.  When he went to the VA, he was kept waiting for several hours.  When he finally saw a doctor, he was told that he would need to see a specialist.  Of course, before he can see a specialist, he needs a referral from his primary care physician. Because the doctor he saw that day was not his primary care physician, he will need to wait.  If all goes well, he may get to see a doctor in August.  After that, he will go back to waiting for the next appointment.  Silly me.  I thought things had improved at the VA.  Continue Reading

The Undeniable Link Between Race & Gun Violence

It’s so nice to live in a bubble.  Every morning, I wake up, I walk outside my door, and I go for a long run along the streets of my quiet, well-lit, very tidy, neighborhood.  As I run, I see at least one, but more often two or three, police cars patrolling the streets.  I wave and the officers wave back.  I feel safe.  I do not worry about getting shot, robbed, or otherwise attacked.  Am I naïve?  Nope.  I’m just white. Continue Reading

The Mindful Lawyer

Mindfulness PostMindfulness – as a philosophy and a way of life – is everywhere these days.  It has even become a popular topic of discussion within legal circles thanks to lawyers like Jeena Cho and Karen Giffords whose forthcoming book, The Anxious Lawyer, should make for excellent reading.  I have to admit, I was not an early-adopter of the mindfulness movement.  Ever since I can remember, I have lived at full-speed. Continue Reading

Cross-Examination – The Art of (Self) Control

Of all the skills a trial lawyer must master, cross-examination is likely the one that requires the greatest level of control.  However, I’m not talking about controlling the witness.  While that is an essential element of a good cross-examination, it ultimately flows from the lawyer’s ability to control him or herself during the questioning itself. Continue Reading

Why Criminal Defense: Part Two

naive childNaïve is how I would best describe myself the day I met my young client.  I had never set foot inside a jail and the entire experience was jarring. The Cook County Jail is one of the largest pre-trial holding facilities in the United States. It surrounds the criminal courthouse, feeding it a daily diet of poor men and women who are being churned through the justice system. From the moment I stepped inside the main reception area, I was intimidated. Continue Reading

The Sad Truth About Recidivism

PrisonThe U.S. Sentencing Commission has released its findings from a study of recidivism rates among federal offenders.  According to the numbers, of the 25,431 offenders who were released, almost half were rearrested for a new crime or a violation of supervision conditions.  That represents 49.3% of the total sample.  There are additional statistics breaking down the sample size by age, ethnicity, education, and type of offense.  All of which make for sobering reading.  Continue Reading

The Power of Redemption

Charles Dickens“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

With these words, Dickens’ character, Sydney Carton – a lawyer who squandered a brilliant career – walked to his death in the climax to this great novel.  In writing these lines, Dickens meant to highlight the power of redemptive acts.

A man willingly goes to his death and in doing so resurrects his name, his reputation, and the unfulfilled promise of his life.  Without going to the literary extreme, I wonder whether this notion of resurrecting one’s life, of bouncing back from a mistake, even a terrible one, is a viable concept in our modern criminal justice system.  Continue Reading

Why Criminal Defense? Part One.

5402862565_d0588c2446_b  The snow began falling some time in the early afternoon. It would continue to fall at a steady pace until a blanket of white covered most of Chicago. As I walked out of the Cook County Criminal Courts building that winter night in 1998, I stopped to admire the simple beauty of a sidewalk covered in a fresh layer of white powder. The sun had set, the temperature had dropped, and my South Florida blood began to freeze. Nevertheless, I stood there, transfixed. It was the only beautiful thing I had seen in that long, hard day. Continue Reading