Thursday, February 28, 2008

NOT guilty!

Not a bad start for my legal career!

This semester I'm participating in a criminal defense clinic at the law school, which means I take on real clients with real criminal charges. The public defender's office refers a few cases over to the clinic, and we do all the work on the cases (with supervisors looking over our shoulders). Because I have my third-year practice certificate, I can advise clients on my own, and I can appear in court with my supervisor.

So today my first case had a court date. After lots of investigation and preparation, I appeared this morning with my client in the Charlottesville city General District Court. Since we weren't making a simple appearance or making a plea bargain, but instead we were having a trial, we had to wait until the end of the docket. The long wait made me pretty nervous -- I think the prosecutor was just trying to ice the kicker.

The last case of the morning was mine. It was thrilling to stand right in front of the judge, shoulder to shoulder with the prosecutor, and stay on my toes throughout his questioning of the arresting police officer. It was a DUI case. The officer explained about the accident, the field sobriety tests, and arresting my client. He was very honest about how well my client had done on the field sobriety tests, and didn't try to spin anything to make my client look worse. I was really impressed by the officer's integrity.

Fast forward, there was no record of when the accident actually took place. No evidence whatsoever. So they couldn't establish that the breath test taken after the arrest was done within the necessary 2 hours required by law. Because they lacked this key piece of evidence, they couldn't get the blood alcohol content certificate admitted. When the prosecutor said, "No further questions," the judge replied, "aren't you going to move the certificate into evidence?" We all looked at each other with smiles, realizing he couldn't get it in. The judge jumped in and said, "As far as DUI cases go, this isn't the strongest case ever." The prosecutor added, "Plus, there's so much reasonable doubt since he did so well on his field sobriety tests." Essentially, the case was over right there. The prosecutor just made my closing argument in one sentence.

But the prosecutor added, "I don't think it's fair for this clinic student to win his first case without having to ask a single question." I quickly pointed out that I had made an objection during the questioning of the officer. "That's true," he said. "Okay, then." My supervisor defended me, saying, "He was very prepared with everything anyway." The judge agreed: "I could see he was ready to go with all his questions and everything, just chomping at the bit."

The judge looked at my client and said, "You're free to go." So exciting! My client had the biggest smile ever on his face. He shook my hand and gave me a hug, then gave my supervisor a big hug. As soon as we got outside the courthouse, he and his girlfriend were just jumping for joy. After he was arrested for DUI, he got fired from his pizza delivery job, and now he can probably get his job back. So thrilling.

And for anyone concerned reading this, we did take the opportunity to remind him he might not get so lucky in the future. The case might be a little stronger next time. So don't drink and drive.

It was exciting to win, though I can't credit myself for having done much. I felt very prepared, and I knew when to object, and I knew why the prosecution didn't have enough evidence. So I guess I did something. And I held this poor man's hand through the process, which I hope was a help to him. All in all, it was a great start for me. I'm 1-0. We'll see how the next one goes...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


UVA has chosen a new dean. I've never had a class from Professor Paul Mahoney, but he served as advisor for my journal and the symposium we produced last year. He was always very nice.

I did have a class from his wife, Professor Julia Mahoney. She was eccentric to say the least, but the perfect person to teach property. You'll never find anyone so excited about remainder interests, public easements, and adverse possession.

Although John Jeffries' wingtips will be hard to fill, I believe Mahoney will be a good man for the job.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

And the answer is...


Seriously, think about it. Craft.

Congratulations to my mother-in-law for coming up with the answer in about three seconds. But boo for not writing it in the comments! (just kidding)

This weekend was a blast, but my body took a little toll. I ended up pretty sick the last couple of days. I'm only now just beginning to move around again...

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I'm off on a crazy driving tour of the southern United States this weekend, as I produce ICCA shows in two different states. Friday I have a show in central Georgia and then by Saturday afternoon I'm supposed to be in southern Virginia. I'll be a busy bee this weekend. Home on Sunday.

Before I head out, I wanted to leave a clue about the riddle in my last post. The answer is a single 5-letter word that starts with C. Keep guessing!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A little riddle for you...

I'll leave this riddle up for the next few days. Post your guesses in the comments section.

Sometimes I am very sly;
Other times a trade I ply;
Through the air swift I fly;
Now, pray tell me, what am I?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

True Story

In honor of Papa Parma's new joke blog and Rosa's real life news reporting, I thought I'd post a true story I recently heard about. This comes from a little email newsletter I subscribe to called This is True.

ALL ABOARD: A conductor on a commuter train from Grand Central in New York, N.Y., and Stamford, Conn., stopped the train and went up top with a fire extinguisher after he noticed a power glitch when the train switched from track power to overhead power lines. It was handy that he took the extinguisher: a man riding on top of the car had burst into flames from the 11,000-14,000 volts that surged through his body after the switch-over. It was unclear why he was on top of the train. Thanks to the conductor's quick reaction, Ricardo Chavez, 36, was hospitalized in fair condition. (White Plains Journal News) ...Clearly, Chavez was an excellent conductor too.

Oh zing! I know the Parmas will appreciate the punchline.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

CASA President

Most of you know I've spent the past couple of years participating on the board of directors for a non-profit music organization. Last month, I was elected president! The editor of our website did a quick interview of me recently, and it's now been posted. You can check it out here if you're interested.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Giants Win!

What a game!

Rosa and I were invited over to the Olsons' house to watch the big game on their new flat screen. The food was fatty and delicious, and the game was just awesome. Since Rosa and I are planning a move to New York this coming fall, we've been trying to follow all the local teams there (especially since Virginia isn't much of a capitol for professional sports). So we were rooting for the Giants, and boy did it pay off!

I think we have a new "Big Catch!"

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley

Today the LDS community gathered throughout the world to remember the life of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who passed away this week. His funeral services were broadcast across the globe. Never forgotten, he will always be the prophet of my youth.

I recommend reading the positive and largely accurate New York Times article about President Hinckley, as well as some highlights from his memorial services.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Meet the Mormons

This week Charlottesville's local newsweekly published a huge piece on the local growth of the LDS Church. It's actually the cover story! The article features photos of my bishop, some of our friends, and the new stake center.

Check out the article here.