On Behalf of Matt Brown, You’re Welcome.


David DeCosta was set up, to begin with: set up by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department, and almost certainly factually innocent.

Phoenix criminal-defense lawyer Matt Brown didn’t know that at first, but he found the story of DeCosta’s arrest for allegedly trying to sneak drugs to Jesse Alejandro interesting enough to post about, especially in light of the fact that, about a year ago, one of Alejandro’s previous lawyers had also been accused of smuggling heroin to inmates. That lawyer pleaded guilty in August. Blogworthy, no?

For writing the post, Matt took personal attacks from Phoenix criminal-defense lawyers Pamela Nicholson (“Maybe tomorrow the criminal defense bar will be abuzz about how you don’t even understand the most basic Constitutional right—presumed innocence”) and Russ Richelsoph (“As an attorney who holds yourself out as someone who practices criminal defense . . . “)

So he did what any good blogger does. He wrote another post about the personal attacks. To which Phoenix criminal-defense lawyer John Thomas Banta, Esq. wrote a comment with this wonderfully ironically Esqish beginning and ending:

If there is someone who missed a point it was you. I was not condescending . . . . It is obvious you did not take your schooling to heart. For that, I am saddened.

(Writing tip for lawyers: if you sign your name “Esq.”, you’re condescending.)

And Pamela Nicholson, who might think she is not condescending because she doesn’t call herself “Esq.,” wrote:

Young man, you have a lot to learn.

. . . .

I’m not angered by your comments, I’m very concerned that you have totally missed the point.

Someone with the moniker of Jameson Johnson wrote:

Perhaps Mr. Brown is better suited to working for Maricopa County Attorney. I’ve come to expect his jaundiced point of view from MCAO. It is clear that he could use some additional time matriculating under more experienced counsel.

Scott Greenfield wrote a post about the blowup:

They don’t get it, and they’ve now embarrassed themselves by their childish attempt to blame Matt Brown for DeCosta’s circumstance.  Ironically, the issues raised by their self-serving myopia will likely cause far more people to learn of DeCosta’s arrest, and their own incredibly poor handling and judgment, then would ever have come from Matt’s original post. I would be very surprised if commentary on this attack doesn’t make its way across the criminal law blawgosphere by Monday.  This trio may be memorialized forever across the internet for having “missed the point,” long after DeCosta has been forgotten.

To which Jameson Johnson replied, claiming improbably that he was “mentoring” Matt. Oh, and Eleanor L. Miller (Past President, AACJ, doncha know) thinks “blogs are ridiculous and extraordinarily egocentric blatherings of people who apparently don’t get enough attention in their day to day lives.”

I feel confident that Ms. Miller doesn’t recognize the irony inherent in that comment.

Jameson Johnson even tried to call Greenfield out:

So…. which of you witty wordsmiths will be submitting a pro hac application to come to Phoenix to represent Jesse Alejandro? I’m sure we can arrange a sponsor. Then, once you are accused of a crime, we’ll all meet back here for another stimulating, didactic analysis.

(That’s a sucker bet: the smart criminal-defense money says that Jesse Alejandro is in cahoots with Sheriff Joe Arpaio in busting criminal-defense lawyers.)

And Greenfield demonstrated why one doesn’t try to call Greenfield out:

Still fighting the wrong battle?  Perhaps you’re right, the local talent isn’t up to the task.  Perhaps that’s why Sheriff Joe Arpaio remains in control while you attack a blawger for discussing a significant story.  It’s so much easier to fight with Matt Brown than Joe Arpaio, and you might even win a battle for once, even though it will change nothing about sorry circumstances of Maricopa County.  Yes, it sounds like the Maricopa County criminal-defense lawyers are in desperate need of some competent help.  And quick.

Beyond that, let’s just say that the discussion continues and Jameson Johnson doesn’t do himself any credit.

Jeff Gamso summed up, in the words of Bette Midler:

Everyone’s just too fucking sensitive.

And still the question remains: who missed the point of Matt’s post?

That’s easy. Matt Brown’s blog, Matt Brown’s post, Matt Brown’s point. Matt can’t miss his own point.

But whose fault is it that Jameson Johnson, Pamela Nicholson, Eleanor L. Miller, Russ Richelsoph, et al. missed Matt’s point?

That’s also easy. Matt Brown’s blog, Matt Brown’s post, Matt Brown’s point. If Matt’s readers don’t get his point, it’s his fault. (Whether it matters to him is a separate question—we can’t  be all things to all people, and he might not care whether some of his more obtuse readers miss the point now and again.)

Here’s the thing: you Phoenix criminal-defense lawyers seem to recognize that blogging is a powerful medium, but you rant against it without using it to the good. If you don’t like the point you think Matt’s making, or if you don’t like the way he’s making it, you don’t even have to go to the trouble of starting your own blog; he’s giving you space in the comments to make the point that you think should be made. Thomas Banta, Esq. (!) started doing so in his comment on October 29th, but he seems to have run out of steam: “The Form 4 is replete with falsehoods,” he wrote, but couldn’t be bothered to reveal the falsehoods.

Not until November 2nd, when Matt got back to the story, was the truth revealed.

According to the Arizona Republic story that Matt linked to, Jesse’s girlfriend EK was charged along with David DeCosta. According to Phoenix’s KPHO:

Tempe attorney David De Costa, 42, was slipping heroin and methamphetamine to Jesse Alejandro for a month before his arrest, a representative for the Phoenix Police Department said.
. . . .
According to police, EK, 19, helped him smuggle the drugs while she was on release for another felony offense, police said.

Matt’s summary of the police reports in DeCosta’s case tells a far different tale:

Officers got to know Jesse Alejandro’s girlfriend, EK, while working in an undercover capacity. With EK’s help, an undercover officer hid drugs in the binder portion at the top of a legal pad. The plan was for EK to give the pad and other supplies to DeCosta at Alejandro’s next court appearance. DeCosta would then give the pad to Alejandro. It looks like the whole incident started at the direction of law enforcement.

Officers thought DeCosta might have been aware of the plan because they heard Alejandro and his girlfriend mention his name a few times during jail calls. Apparently, they said DeCosta previously passed a list of names to EK. They also discussed paying DeCosta, and EK complained about getting inappropriate text messages from him. I couldn’t find any direct evidence showing DeCosta had any idea about their plan.

In court, things went more or less as planned. EK gave DeCosta the supplies, and DeCosta handed them to the detention officer. You heard me right; he didn’t even give them to Alejandro. DeCosta handed them over to a deputy with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, who inspected the pad and found what EK and the undercover officer had hidden inside.

Officers detained DeCosta, who adamantly denied knowing there were drugs hidden in the pad. DeCosta talked about his fee. He admitted to flirting with EK and said EK told him they would “hook up.” He also admitted to having sex with an escort he met through EK, but said it was not in exchange for money or legal services.

Back at the police department, DeCosta showed officers the text messages he exchanged with EK. In them, EK first tells DeCosta she has supplies to give to Alejandro. DeCosta was there that morning to file a substitution of counsel and had never previously appeared on Alejandro’s behalf. In the text messages, EK insisted she’d previously gotten supplies to Alejandro every time he went to court.

You’ll note that Matt’s most recent post on David DeCosta pops up high on the first page of a Google search for DeCosta’s name—above the news story he based his initial post on.

With that single post, Matt has done more to promote the truth about David DeCosta, as well as the presumption of innocence and the cause of justice, than have all of Matt’s Phoenix detractors combined.


0 responses to “On Behalf of Matt Brown, You’re Welcome.”

  1. If I were falsely accused of a crime, I’d rather have my friends reading the police reports and publicly making the case for my innocence; than have those friends repeat platitudes about the presumption of innocence.

    It seems there is strong evidence of actual innocence. Judging from DeCosta’s friends’ responses, I’d have never guessed that DeCosta was actually innocent – rather than merely presumed innocent.

  2. Are you suggesting there is a point to the internet?

    No-one told me.

    Interested Counsel, Esq (and not your poxy American esq either)

  3. <To which Jameson Johnson replied, claiming improbably that he was “mentoring” Matt. Oh, and Eleanor L. Miller (Past President, AACJ, doncha know) thinks “blogs are ridiculous and extraordinarily egocentric blatherings of people who apparently don’t get enough attention in their day to day lives.” >

    “Blogging: Never Before Have So Many With So Little To Say Said So Much To So Few.”

    From a Despair.Com poster on the subject.

    (Present company excepted, of course.)

    Which is why Jurygeek will stay forever shuttered, I’m afraid.

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