Reporters Make Lousy Lawyers

This topic has been on my mind for months now, for obvious reasons.

Apparently Matt Lauer brought it to the forefront with his lame “interviews” of Trump and Clinton. I wouldn’t know. I can’t bear to watch this stuff any more.

I say “interview” in quotes because nobody who does what I do for a living is able to take what these clowns pretend to do seriously. They don’t “interview” anyone. They simply invite them to spew sound bites: in Clinton’s case, canned rehearsed pre-packaged focus group approved sound bites; in Trump’s case, more off-the-cuff riffs that he obviously literally makes up as he goes along.

Lying Just Gets You Into More Trouble - Lochte

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million times.

I’ve blogged about it a million times. At least it feels that way.

I have definitely lectured clients about it about a million times: lying to get out of trouble just winds up getting you into more and more trouble. Think Martha Stewart. Or, now, Ryan Lochte.

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Olympic Swimmers in Trouble in RioAs usual, I have no idea. But I can guess.

Here are some of the rather sketchy “facts” that have emerged so far:

Ryan Lochte was out with some of his other superstar swim team members for a night on the town after completing his grueling week in the water, winning medals and flashing his winning smile all over TV’s around the world. Not to mention the years and years of hard core constant exhausting training he went through to get there in the first place. Now he was finished… for now. Can anyone find it horrible or surprising that he might be out blowing off some steam with his teammates?

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Witch Trials and False Rape Accusations

False Rape Accusations

Why on earth would a woman possibly lie about being raped? That was a valid question that was raised in comments to my last post. I could wax poetic about the sacred presumption of innocence, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the right to have a unanimous jury decide guilt or innocence. But I won’t. It would fall on deaf ears.

The fact is that rape accusations are such that they are basically presumed to be accurate by the vast majority of the public in virtually every case. That’s partly because people can’t understand why women would make this stuff up only to then be put through the wringer of a criminal prosecution and all that that entails.

False Rape Accusations

Even criminal defense attorneys, like me, need to be reminded occasionally about the presumption of innocence.

I read a piece recently in Seattle’s “Stranger” about Matt Hickey (no joke, that’s his name), a well known techie who was being accused of sexually assaulting several women. I confess. After reading it I was pretty convinced that he must be guilty of rape. I’m not on his jury and not his lawyer, so I am free to think (and say) whatever I want.

But, then, I began to reflect on similar cases I have worked on as a criminal defense lawyer.

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OK, this time it’s personal. It hasn’t been, lately; I’ve been watching the recent carnage in a sort of state of shock. It seems surreal, as if it can’t really be happening. Not part of my world. Too horrible. And sad. And depressing.

So, sometimes it’s just easier to distance yourself and hope it goes away; only it won’t. I knew that last Thursday night when I turned on my TV.

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How Technology Changed Law Practice

My law firm is older than the Internet.

I hate it when I say stuff like that. It makes me sound so old. I don’t feel old. I definitely don’t act old. I’m one of those annoying old guys who overuses the word “Dude” and still tries to stay on top of the current music scene. I’m certainly not sitting back at home quagmired “with my Beatles and my Stones”, as Mott the Hoople once said. (Although THAT makes me sound old – I know.)

As for technology, I was resistant. For years I proclaimed my independence from the coming onslaught by proudly maintaining that I was a Luddite, eager to smash the machines that were out to replace me. Let’s face it; I was hiding behind that self-righteous front in order to avoid change.

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Assault on Michelle Fields

I want to begin by thanking Donald Trump’s campaign manager. Just when I was wondering what new legal issues were floating around that were relevant to criminal law, there it was. Assault! Campaign Aides Gone Wild! Or not…

Which is what this is going to be about:

What, exactly, happened in that video that is all over TV news shows this week, showing some sort of physical altercation between Trump’s campaign manager and a reporter?

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You know that feeling you get when something seems very familiar to you but you know it isn’t?

I got that recently when I was listening to one of the Presidential candidates wax poetic about every little detail concerning their poll numbers, on and on ad nauseam. I’m not even sure who it was (other than it wasn’t Kasich – for obvious reasons). Listening to them, I got this knot in my gut that this was somehow an intimately personal experience I had once had. But I couldn’t see how. I am a lawyer, not a politician.

There was that one time I ran for election myself. But it couldn’t be that… I am pretty sure Gallup wasn’t running any major polls to monitor the Island County Superior Court Judge job at the time.  No, it was hard enough just reminding people to remember to vote in the primary when there was basically no press coverage.

Then it hit me.

Politicians and Criminal Defense lawyers are very much alike.

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Vote

image by Theresa Thompson, edited for size

Finally. I found a way to be able to talk about this crazy election. I’ve been dying to, but I haven’t been able to. You see, the problem is that I try to stay neutral here, and the fact is that it’s virtually impossible these days to say one word about anything online without being accused of being partial to one side or the other.

I mean, even when I write about the “God of All Things Conservative” for the past few decades, Antonin Scalia, and say what a great writer he was, or how sweet it was that he was able to be BFF’s with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or how much I loved to read his opinions, or how important some of his opinions were, (e.g. masterpieces like Crawford or Blakely or Johnson), along comes my Marine Colonel brother in law describing my blog as “left leaning” (sorry Chris, but I owed you that.)

One of the fundamental rules of blogging for me is trying to stay neutral. Except that I do not know a single person who is neutral about this election. That’s the first time in my adult life that has happened – which got me thinking. Thinking about what the heck is going to happen once we get to the actual election. Of course, I’ve been wondering that for months.

I have finally found a very obvious framework to analyze this all in a legally oriented way that works. And if anyone calls it “left leaning” I give up. That would be hopeless. But there is hope.

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