Drunk & Disorderly

On the Docket of a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney

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Solitary Man


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

One of Barack Obama’s legacies — which should be lasting but probably won’t be, depending upon who replaces him as President of the United States — is that children are no longer locked up in solitary in federal prisons.

Many of the states still get their chance to brutalize boys and girls under eighteen. Twenty of them have time limits on how long a child can be kept in strict isolation from humanity, unless you count guards beating them with clubs humanity. Delaware says six hours a day is enough; California likes ninety days to teach a kid a lesson. Ten states have essentially no time limit for letting a kid rot in a hole.

But for a federal crime, kids are good to go.

Part of the reason Obama took executive action was his awareness that a sixteen-year-old Bronx boy arrested in 2010 spent nearly two full years in solitary confinement at Rikers Island, repeatedly beaten by guards (at least one of the beatings captured on video), while awaiting trial on a charge of stealing a backpack. Prosecutors were kind enough to let him go after three years when they announced there was no solid evidence to actually convict him of the heinous charge.

The boy had always protested he was innocent but, what with the effects of two years spent in a tiny room alone, one thing led to another and two years after his release he hanged himself.

There’s a website that helps people locate inmates in federal and state prisons throughout the United States. It features the photographs of a number of prominent politicians.

Maybe it’s trying to tell us something.

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

Good news for people who were afraid the Republican National Convention might be as boring as the primary campaign this year:  an even hundred naked women will be on hand to welcome Donald Trump. While not as many as typically appear for a private Trump function, still it’s a statistically significant number of bare buttocks.

It’s all for art, of course, by photographer Spencer Tunick, who for decades now has organized nearly four score massively nude public art installations, and never seems to get arrested.

It is said that a number of prominent Republicans who announced they would boycott the convention — including Mitt Romney, John McCain, and anybody named Bush — are reconsidering their decisions.

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Graduation Story


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

I didn’t graduate from Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks, California, but many of the school kids I cared most about in my primary school days did. My mother died shortly after I graduated the eighth grade at Roberts Elementary School. I had been at that school since fifth grade. Though my mother died that last year at Roberts, I always thought of it as the best year of my childhood.

Many of those kids I had known for the longest period of my life that I knew anyone. I didn’t go with them to Bella Vista. I left Fair Oaks that summer after eighth grade graduation, after my mother’s death. I went to seven high schools, five of them in Southern California, and spent the first semester of my senior year in South Bend, Indiana, the second in Muskegon Heights, Michigan.

Seven schools, and I don’t remember the names of any of my high school classmates, not one. The kids at Roberts, who went on to Bella Vista, those are the children I remember.

Those are the ones I wondered about, all my days. What became of you, you bright-eyed little ones? Who did you grow to be? Did you become lawyers, doctors, corporate chiefs? Did you become flower children? Did you die in Vietnam?

I became the first, a criminal defense lawyer, but only after a long, strange trip to the courthouse via many roads, some less traveled and some so crowded I couldn’t breathe.

I nearly couldn’t breathe the other day, so full of pride was I when I watched my son cross a stage in Santa Barbara, California, at his own, university, graduation. There to congratulate him was his uncle, a professor emeritus and Antarctic explorer who just had a cold, cold mountain named after him.

Now I will wonder — though not with the melancholy of those lost friends of another graduation — what will become of him? What will become of my son? And my wonderment is warm, warm.

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By Any Other Name


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

One million two hundred thousand children are sold for sex every revolution this planet makes around its star. About a quarter of that sex trade happens in the United States. About a thousand of those girls and boys, most of them fourteen to sixteen, some as young as eight or nine, are arrested, jailed, and prosecuted as criminals.

Yasmin Vafa is executive director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organization based in Washington, D.C. Vafa wants the cops who arrest them, and the prosecutors and judges who condemn them, to know that a child who has been raped for pay is no different from a child who has been raped, period.

The fact that girls and boys in the trade have almost always been called child prostitutes has only heightened the perception that a child who by law is unable to consent to sex is yet criminally responsible for the sale of it.

She’s led a years-long campaign, “No Such Thing as a Child Prostitute,” to change attitudes.

A couple months ago the Associated Press changed its attitude, and asked its writers and editors to stop using the word prostitute in connection with a child. A little while before that, the Los Angeles County Sheriff ordered his deputies to stop arresting children on prostitution charges.

That’s one small step for a major news organization and the country’s fourth-biggest cop shop, a giant leap for about a quarter of humankind.

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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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