Category: federal

  • Jurisprudential Retardation: Rodriguez-Parra

    In August the Fifth Circuit decided U.S. v. Rodriguez-Parra, an illegal-reentry case in which Mr. Rodriguez argued that his fully-probated five-year sentence for marijuana trafficking should not have been used under section 2L1.2(b)(1)(B) to increase his offense level for illegal reentry by 12 points. The court found that Mr. Rodriguez should indeed not have suffered […]

  • Why Federal Court is No Place for Amateurs

    If I were to pick one U.S. District Judge from the Southern District of Texas before whom one should not appear pro se, it would be David Hittner: (I’m guessing Judge Hittner wants to get the parties before him to see if the plaintiff can control his temper better in person.)

  • Problems With Judge Voir Dire

    Notes I wrote during a federal judge’s voir dire a few months ago: A judge’s voir dire is calculated to get jurors to promise to follow the law while a lawyer’s voir dire is calculated to find those who might have difficulty following the law. A judge’s voir dire is calculated to get jurors to […]

  • Happy Anniversary Friends

    Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice blog just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Anne Reed’s Deliberations celebrated its anniversary on Saturday. I had a blog back in 2004-2005, when the blawgosphere was young. I posted 17 times between August 2004 and June 2005. Then I quit, figuring that this “blogging” thing would never catch on. When I resumed […]

  • Flight to Nowhere

    So . . . the Government puts on this witness, see? And this witness, she works for Air France, right? So the Government puts her on the witness stand in a federal jury trial, and asks her about airfares. They want to know what the lowest fare from Houston to Port Harcourt was in April […]

  • Becoming a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer II

    This morning I was visiting with dinosaur-in-training Feroz F. Merchant (actually a super lawyer despite the cheesy SuperLawyer designation) about developing the trial lawyer’s art. Feroz was lamenting the many lawyers practicing criminal law who are just there for the money, and care more about their clothes than about either their clients or their art. […]

  • Busting the Panel

    What do you get when you combine my friend (and fellow dinosaur) Norm, a federal drug case, 20 minutes of lawyer-conducted voir dire, and a 35-person jury panel? Nothing even remotely resembling a jury. Come back and try again later. With 11 people disqualified for cause, that panel is not big enough. We’ll bring in […]

  • Now I’m Supposed To Be the Reasonable One?

    Last Monday I went to federal court to help my friend (and fellow dinosaur) Norm pick a jury on a cocaine case. Before the jury panel was brought in, the judge handled some motions in limine. She became frustrated, first with the prosecutor and then with my friend because she thought that they should both […]

  • How to Become a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

    If you’re a young lawyer interested in defending people in federal court, listen up. A few days ago an anonymous commenter to this post asked: How would you recommend that a new lawyer get started defending people in federal court? How did you get started? I started in federal court long enough ago that I […]

  • The Tyro’s Return

    This guy is back. Now he’s been retained to represent another of my former clients. It’s beyond me why people hire this guy. He has handled five federal criminal cases to completion, all at least six years ago. Between 2001 and this year he didn’t have his name attached to a single federal criminal case […]