Drunk & Disorderly

On the Docket of a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney

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This Is Not Your Father’s Lawyer

 

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Hans Meyer is one of the finest immigration lawyers in my home state of Colorado. Given the widespread importance of immigration issues here, that means he’s also one of the finest immigration lawyers in my home country of the United States.

What I didn’t know about him until, like, today, is that he’s also one crazy-ass mofo. That guy pictured above ain’t Iggy Pop. That’s Hans.

This soft-spoken, gentle, tough as titanium advocate for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free, is the punkest punk rocker who ever set foot in a law school. Clark Kent, Dr. Jekyll, meet Hans.

You can see, and hear, what I mean here. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have in the world of criminal defense.

Hans is the singer, and to the best of my knowledge has never appeared in court anything remotely like this.

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Letter from Prague

 

False Advertising

[Editor’s Note: The following “Personals” advertisement in a Czechoslovakian newspaper sparked some pretty crazy litigation in the pretty crazy legal career of Klára Samková, who has published in these pages before:

Lonely lovely assie  [NOT “Aussie,” but rather denoting a tiny ass or buttocks] looking for skilled chimney sweep for maintaining of the conjoint facilities and/or even more.

There was a phone number as well. That was when the fun began.]

You could not find a vulgar term in that ad however much you tried. [Editor’s Note: I did try, for days, and failed.]

It just stated something in the sense of the lady concerned having very positive vibes as far as sex was concerned and right at this moment needed fellow implementors in order to satisfyingly be able to express this predisposition. But, lo and behold, soon after this advertisement was placed a nonstop flurry of criminal complaints were filed and charges pressed.

The reason? It wasn’t actually a sexually frustrated lady who placed this sexually risqué ad, but a completely different lady, to be precise Lady No. 2, who happened to leave a telephone contact for the aforementioned Lady No. 1.

Yes, you’ve guessed it: gent intimately linked to both ladies was one and the same, but wishing to avoid spreading fallacies insinuating a case of bigamy, the ladies did follow on from each other in the gent’s favours. When the gent concerned came to see me he brought documents amounting to quite a few files which contained the granting and retraction of the Power of Attorney to several lawyers (also following on from one another), and that concerned criminal as well as civil court accusations.

For the matter to be even more complicated one feels dutybound to state that the aforementioned Gent No. 1 had wee bairns with Lady No. 1 as well as Lady No. 2. Furthermore, gent was still married to Lady No. 1 and as yet not married to Lady No. 2.

The crux of the problem lay in Lady No. 1 being quite au fait with Gent No. 1, as part of his duties of caring for their kids, would also include caring for the youngest wee one which he conceived with Lady No. 2, but that this contact would solely take place in Lady No. 1’s flat and Lady No. 1’s little ones would never ever in their entire life cross Lady No. 2’s path. She is after all, sayeth Lady No. 1, a wench of extremely low morals who landed her, a woman of untainted virtue, with a herd of sex-starved men whereas she, the poor seduced and abandoned wretch is of course able to hug and kiss Lady No. 2’s baby at will…

Another small factor complicating matters was that Lady No. 2 had from her previous marriage partner two other children and so, all in all, Gent No. 1 was responsible for five sprightly tearaways of which two pairs were siblings quite homogeneous – i.e. children belonging to Lady No. 1 and Gent No. 1 and, additionally, Lady No. 2’s child with an altogether different gent (who by now had fortunately left the scene), and, furthermore, one petite child being a part-sibling to both the homogeneous pairs. If you’ve become lost in this then please believe me that I drew a graph and recommend that you do the same. [Editor’s Note: I did try, but never having been any good at Pictionary, failed.]

I was asked to arrange things to ensure that Lady No. 2’s children, both the homogeneous (or rather the part-siblings) as well as the nonhomogeneous ones, were able to develop brotherly and sisterly relationships with Lady No.1’s kids whilst making absolutely sure that these kids belonging to Lady No. 1 never came physically anywhere near Lady No. 2’s home (and, one mustn’t forget, daddy too) – an absolutely uncompromising condition set by Lady No. 1.

I suggested to the client (Gent No. 1) that as a favour I’d give him a contact for an ex-client of mine whose job was setting up the logistical systems of the company J.D. Edwards. As far as I was aware my ex-client’s last job was the programming of the unloading process of oil tankers in the port of Hamburg – which seemed to me sound preparation for solving the problematics of contacts between the children. To my amazement Gent No. 1 didn’t agree to my proposal that co-operation be established with my former client and demanded that a solution be found within the remits of Family Law.

I really didn’t fancy that but as he insisted I started (to his great wonderment) to draw graphs of relocations: who, when and where should appear, or, as the case may be, who, when and where from should he or she take off – and with a heavy heart picked up the Civil Legal Code manual and quoted par. 885. That says:

If only one parent cares for a child, the husband or partner also shares in the caring process of the child and his or her upbringing if living with the child in a family household.

There is no doubt that even though Lady No. 1’s children do not live in a joint household with Lady No. 2 permanently, they will be living with her at the time when they will have contact with the father and with one´s part-sibling. Thus, I expressed, in a slightly meandering interpretation of the law, the opinion that the demand made by Lady No. 1, of refusing any contacts whatsoever between her children and Lady No. 2 (who, by the way, is mum of their part-sibling) was dumb. [Editor’s Note: I tried to determine whether this is an official Czech legal term, and failed.]

Further, I asked what actually fired up Lady No. 2 so much that she assailed Lady No. 1 with such a moronic advertisement? Oh well, Lady No. 1 kept sending Gent No. 1 unceasing text messages. What does unceasing mean? Well, it means on a daily basis. OK, what does daily basis mean? Hmm, like ten. Sorry?? TEN TEXT MESSAGES A DAY?? Yep, ten text messages every day and if Gent No. 1 didn’t respond immediately to Lady No. 1’s communication the lady in question telephoned right away asking why he didn’t answer.

I expressed my surprise that Lady No. 2 didn’t use an axe on Lady No. 1 instead of placing an ad, and articulated my consolation that even if the advertisement resulted in criminal proceedings against Lady No. 2 for the criminal act of infringing another person’s rights, it managed to stop the harassment. But it DIDN’t stop! Excuse me? Thing is, I’m still getting those ten text messages a day, said Gent No. 1 and showed me in his smartphone with an extended memory in which he received 700 text messages over the previous two months from Lady No. 1. Has he told anyone about it? No, Gent No. 1 never said a word to a living soul because — is it of any significance?? I quivered and for a change picked off the shelf the Criminal Code law book, to be specific focusing on par. 354 under the heading of Dangerous Harassments:

(1) Whosoever harasses another person on a long-term basis by… c) persistently harassing them through the use of electronic communication, in writing or other form…
and such an action reasonably makes that person fearful for his life or health, or life and/or health of his kith and kin, he will be punished by a sentence of maximum of one year in jail or an Order will be made for harassment to cease.

At the time when the advertisement was placed, this section of the Criminal Law as yet did not apply, so Lady No. 2 defended herself lousily, nay even stupidly, but most clearly in self-defense.

At the present time, when the new enactment has come into force (even though “such action reasonably makes that person fearful for his life or health” — i.e. I’d definitely feel threatened, at least in terms of my common sense – is a formulation which seems to me to be a little shaky) the activities of Lady No. 1 can simply be defined as stalking. So, in my view, Lady No. 1 should belt up and in order to solve her problems should seek an altogether different path to the one chosen thus far. At the same time it would do no harm if Lady No. 2 apologised to Lady No. 1 in writing.

Gent No. 1 was taken aback by my proposal… Eventually it ended up by Gent No. 1 taking Lady No. 2’s surname in order that Lady No. 1 took on board that he no longer had anything to do with her. An exchange of criminal police complaints – against Lady No. 2 because of the advertisement she placed about Lady No. 1, and against Lady No. 1 because of her incessant text stalking – was played into touch by me by mediating with the relevant courts, ensuring no criminal record ended on file. So, apart from a healthy contribution to my bank account for my legal fees, nothing much really happened.

Apart from this, for the clients undoubtedly an unpleasant circumstance, I convinced myself of one thing: if, by any chance, J.D. Edwards’ logistical set-up dealing with the unloading of oil tankers in the port of Hamburg collapsed they can relax and ring me. After representing Gent No. 1 I’d manage some silly Hamburg blindfolded.

[Editor’s Note: I tried to find out if the Hamburg agents did their work blindfolded anyway, and failed.]

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Bury My Heart

 

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

[Editor’s Note: eight years ago, I was fortunate to second-chair a trial with a gracious and compassionate Denver criminal defense lawyer, Leslie Krueger-Pagett. We were part of a team of pro-bono lawyers who defended scores of courageous Native American men and women, and others in sympathy with them, who decided the 100th Columbus Day Parade in Denver was one hundred parades too many.

These people felt there was nothing honorable about how Columbus treated the Indians he encountered, and so he should not be honored every year in this way. On the day of the parade, they sat down in the streets where the parade was to pass.

These were the opening remarks I prepared for the trial of two of them.]

Colorado was the first to make Columbus Day a legal holiday, in 1907. Our state has celebrated the explorer’s achievements for a hundred years.

But why do Indians, year after year now, for at least twenty years here in Denver, bang their drums, raise their voices in chant and song, and sometimes sit down in the street, and say Columbus was a bad guy?

Columbus was a great guy, wasn’t he? He had the courage to sail an ocean most people thought was flat and he’d fall off somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He discovered America. True, he discovered about eight million other people had discovered it first. But that’s okay. He didn’t know that, and these eight million other people…well…they weren’t really people at all.

So what’s the problem? Why do these Indians bang their drums, sing songs of mourning, sit in the street on a great day celebrating a great man?

Let’s ask Columbus…what did he think of these people, who now protest the parade that honors him?

When you first met these people, these Indians, what was your impression?

They do not bear arms, and do not know them. They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

What promise did you make regarding these people to your King and Queen?

As many slaves as they ask. Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.

He did sell them, when he wasn’t killing them. Within two years of his historic landing in the Americas, by murder, by mutilation, and by suicide rather than slavery, half of the two hundred fifty thousand Indians Columbus encountered were dead. By 1515, there were fifty thousand left. By 1550, only five hundred.

But that was then, and this is now.

Last October 6, we celebrated the 100th Columbus Day Parade in Denver. For many of us, it was a celebration of this great man, Columbus. For many of us, including my clients, the people you judge today, it was a day of mourning, one of one hundred days of mourning to be endured, year after year after year.

And so they came to this one hundredth parade, not to celebrate this great man Columbus, but to bear witness to their pain. The pain of centuries, passed on to their young lives through the oral and written histories of their parents, grandparents, and ancestors. Pain made fresh every year, by this celebration of this great, and terrible, man.

You’ll hear today that the parade organizers originally intended, and made it known, that they would lead the parade with a cavalry contingent, an in-your-face celebration of the armed force that decimated the Indians. Even the National Football League penalizes players who celebrate the defeat of their opponent. And the Indian people are not our opponents. They are not our enemy. My clients are not our enemy.

I don’t think the Denver police consider the Indians our enemy. In fact you’ll hear today that the police this year, as in many years past, made special efforts to help the Indians make their point about Columbus. The police didn’t tell the Indians to clear the street, or they would be arrested. The police cleared the streets for them, blocked off traffic so they could march, walked with them in escort.

Then, at a certain point, the police said, this is as far as you go. Police, not the protestors, blocked off the street, erected yellow tape that said do not pass. And the protestors, some of them, sat down, under the eyes of the police, who did not tell them they could not sit down.

The prosecutor will tell you that my clients were two of the people who were kindly helped by the police on the peaceful Four Directions march, to where they sat down at 15th and Stout. But prosecutors won’t tell you that my clients could not possibly have known that they were blocking the parade, because at that point the parade wasn’t anywhere near 15th and Stout. It was half a mile away, and remained a half-mile away until police decided to clear the street.

The prosecutor also won’t tell you that neither of my clients could possibly hear police warnings to clear the street, when police finally did decide to clear the street. There was so much noise, from the drumming, from the chanting, from the singing, and from non-Indian bystanders who came to jeer the parade, that the only person who could clearly hear the warnings was the police captain with mouth to megaphone.

No police officer clearly told them to move or they would be arrested.

These young women didn’t go to the Columbus Day Parade. They didn’t get near the Columbus Day Parade. They went to the Indian parade organized to protest what they believe is an unlawful gathering of people to intimidate a conquered people by celebrating the man and the policies that made them slaves, raped and murdered, stole their lands, and robbed generations of Indian children of hope and heritage.

These are those Indian children. Grown now, and putting their safety and freedom on the line for the next generation of Indian children.

They believe their federal government protects them from a celebration of aggression and domination. And their federal government does: it is a crime, under United States Code (18 USC 241) to conspire to oppress or intimidate anyone. They feel oppressed; they feel intimidated.

They believe their state government protects them from a celebration of aggression and domination. And their state government does: it is a crime, under Colorado law (18-9-121 CRS) to intentionally intimidate or harass someone because of their race, and cause emotional damage. They feel harassed by this parade; they feel emotionally attacked.

They feel this is hate speech, and hate speech is not protected by the Constitution. The prosecution wants you to believe this is a First Amendment issue. But not all speech is protected. Your boss can’t tell you, you’ve got a great ass. You can’t hang a sign on your store, “Whites Only.” You cannot yell to a crowd, “Kill the Indian.” Yet this parade screams, “Kill the Indian.”

And so my clients came to the Indian march, and sat down in protest of the Columbus Day Parade.

At the end of this trial we’re going to ask you to stand up and say, based on the evidence you see and hear, that these two women violated no law, that these two women are not guilty.

[Editor’s Note: My clients were indeed found not guilty of all but the least serious of the charges against them. They were not guilty of resisting arrest, not guilty of obstructing a parade. Because the women admitted to sitting in the street, the jurors, tears in their eyes, said they had no choice but to find them guilty of that.

The women told the judge that rather than pay a fine, they would go to jail on their principles. The judge replied that would not be necessary, because he would impose no fines. He sentenced them to community service only, for the Indian organization of their choice.

That day, at least, and at last, the Indians defeated Columbus.]

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Oral Argument

Fair Game in Oklahoma

Fair Game in Oklahoma

 

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the aisles of that state’s Court of Criminal Appeals.

There are attorneys who will swear that the judge who presided over their case was an idiot. But, five idiots in one courtroom? What are the chances?

Yet all five appeals court judges signed their agreement late last month that while it may be bad manners, it is not a crime for a man to stick his penis in the mouth of a woman “so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation.”

While I don’t often find myself on the same side of the podium, I’m having a hard time working up a disagreement with prosecutors who described the decision using words like insane, dangerous, and offensive.

The embarrassed state legislature is rushing to plug the hole of the unconscious court’s embarrassing interpretation of what constitutes force.

Sooner the better.

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Black Monday

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice

 

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Some things you can buy with six million dollars:

  • A replica of the White House built for a Texas governor in the 1920s who had higher ambitions but a lower skill set.
  • A season of “Game of Thrones.”
  • A Galaxy Super Yacht, though you’ll have to settle for the cheapest model.
  • A week’s supply of makeup for Kim Kardashian.
  • A twelve-year-old black boy’s life.

That’s how much money they’ve settled on the family of Tamir Rice, who was gut-shot on a playground by a Cleveland police officer who was so frightened of confrontation with a black face of any age that he leaped from his cop car gun blazing before cowering behind the car lest the boy manage to draw his toy gun with his dying breath.

The settlement spares the city from a federal civil rights trial that would have shown just how little black lives matter in Cleveland, as they do in so many places in this land of the free, where most native American black folks are descended from slaves who only counted for three-fifths of a real person. And, as the mayor of that fine city said, the payout to make up for butchering the child and his civil rights serves the higher purpose of “protect(ing) the rights of the city and its taxpayers.” How the scales of justice are freighted with coin.

I once helped bury a child not quite Tamir’s age. Six hundred million dollars couldn’t begin to dilute the grief her family felt, feels, and will feel till someone else helps bury them.

Under the terms of the settlement, Cleveland admits no wrongdoing. Nothing wrong about being the home of police who kill black boys on playgrounds.

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