Tonight Fox News begins its three part series on Ruby Ridge. Shameless self-promotion on this one. They filmed part of it here in Boise last May, so no idea where this goes!
Stand Your Ground – when, where and who?
Among the changes to Idaho law taking effect on July 1, 2018, is an important clarification of when you can and cannot use deadly force to defend yourself, others or perhaps, your “habitation.” The newest version of Idaho Code 18-4009 lays out the places and people you have a right to defend with deadly force. Previously Idaho focused on one’s home as a place to protect with deadly force. The law now spells out your right to use deadly force – if necessary – to your place of work and your occupied vehicle.
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“Officers threw him to the ground, got on top of him and shot him dead!”
I am packing for the weekend and watching a little TV news this morning, and from that box a witness to a fatal shooting in Louisiana offered this explanation for the dramatic killing of a black man by a police officer there: “Officers threw him to the ground, got on top of him and shot him dead.” So it would…
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How can it have been so long since I last posted? Answer – too much to do, too little time!
Yesterday I was complaining to Courtney and Will that we needed to get writing. “Why haven’t you two been posting anything to the blog? It’s not like there isn’t interest out there about our cases and the law generally!” Then I looked at my posts – or the lack thereof this year. Where does the time go?
Most recent court…
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Peterson Lawyers Join the Yantis Case
We have joined with the Spence Law Firm out of Jackson, Woming and Paul Winward of Boise to represent the family of slain Council rancher Jack Yantis. An interview discussing the case is available from Channel 7 News here. Not certain that we are really “high profile” lawyers, but I am happy we are in the case,…
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Panel Kills Public Defender Changes in Idaho – Don’t Blame the Defenders!
From the Idaho Statesman tonight:
"Four years ago, a report from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association found that Idaho is violating its Sixth Amendment obligations to defendants. Public defenders across the state were being given too many cases, and some defendants weren’t meeting their attorneys until they were in the courtroom. The report also said that defendants …
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Idaho State Police stop to check on temporary license gets tossed!
Ever wonder why every drug arrest begins with a traffic stop? Because all too often the police stop first and provide some reason later! If the drug task force decides to effect an arrest, they call the ISP or locals and have them do a traffic stop. Then, they give a "reason" for the stop – a reason that is…
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Win Your Case – go to trial if there is no other way out!
Years ago I was getting ready for a monster trial – pitting the ultimate power of the United States against a little guy who held out in the face of an all out attack on his home. People died. Protestors gathered. Television cameras rolled and major magazines wrote headlines in anticipation of an almost certain end. Tanks and helicopters ferried officers and snipers about until the thing finally ended.
As the time for trial neared – nearly nine months after the siege – the question of whether we could settle the case arose. The Sage – a burley mountain man of a lawyer who was our leader – looked me square in the eyes and said it best:
"We only go to trial if we have to. If we can settle any case and walk away with our heads up, that’s what we do."
To win your case at trial you have to know if it can be won. Then again – what is winning?
If you are charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (pointing a gun at someone, a felony) and the government offers to accept a plea to simple assault (a misdemeanor), should you go to trial? I suppose it depends on your tolerance for the pain of a possible felony conviction. Sometimes you know that what you did went too far, and you can swallow a little crow and pay a small price to avoid the possibility of a felony conviction. Sometimes you can’t. And sometimes the government makes that decision for you – they refuse to negotiate and settle.
Then you try your case.
Here’s the starting point: is there an alternative to trial?
Last summer we prepared for a wrongful death trial in Wyoming. Our clients had lost their son while he was skiing at a well-known ski resort. This was the second such case we had handled against that resort in the past five years or so. In each case, the lawyers were the same, the decision-makers were the same, even the experts were the same. Two lives lost. Families destroyed. The ski industry almost never settles until you are almost at trial. They spend money defending their industry, even in the face of an unnecessary death.
The case settled just a few weeks before the trial was to start. Why? Because each side understood the risk of going to trial. We all knew that juries are impossible to predict, regardless of how many mock trials or focus groups are done. And we did not have to try the case to win.
Our clients had already lost their son. They wanted a resolution that mostly included an acknowledgement of their loss and the defendants’ partial responsibility. A mediated settlement achieved that solution.
If you have a case – civil or criminal – and a trial is your only way out, by all means, go and fight and do everything you can to "win." But after 31 years in the courts, I can tall you the Sage is right. If there is another solution, explore that option first.
Think you have a civil case? Wrongful death? Personal injury? Wrongful discharge? Or a criminal matter? Maybe we can help you win – whether you go to court or not.
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Supreme Court weighs question of cruel and unusual punishment for teens
The Supreme Court recently heard arguments surrounding two new cases up for review. Both involved the question of just how severe a penalty imposed on a juvenile offender must be in order to declared unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.
The first case, Miller v. Alabama, involved a 14-year-old in Alabama who beat an older man to death and subsequently burned his house down. Evan Miller, the teen, and a friend stole a collection of baseball cards and $300 from a neighbor. They attacked the man with a baseball bat, and killed him when they set fire to his home. The second case, Jackson v. Hobbs, involved another 14-year-old boy in Arkansas who, along with two older boys, tried to rob a video store in 1999. One of the older boys involved in the robbery shot and killed the store clerk as he was going to call the police. Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Jackson received mandatory sentences of life without parole for murder.
Proponents for harsh penalties point to the “sanctity of life” as the reason a juvenile should be sentenced harshly for crimes involving killings. There age should not be an excuse for punishment given the severity of their crimes. However, in oral arguments, Justice Ginsburg turned the argument around, noting that the same interest in the sanctity of an individual’s life could be used as justification for not severely punishing young offenders. By imposing a life sentence without the possibility on a 14-year-old, the state has essentially thrown away that person’s life.
Those opposed to meting out such harsh sentences believe that teenagers are immature and should be given a more lenient punishment because of that inexperience. While they acknowledge a life sentence is appropriate in such heinous situations, they believe that tacking away even the hope of parole is a step too far for such young criminals. Proponents of harsh punishment worry that teens have less incentive to commit such crimes in the future if they know that all they have to do is claim immaturity when they’re caught.
The Court weighed several possibilities when hearing the case and they include the following options:
· Prohibiting life without parole sentences for any minor under the age of 15.
· Prohibiting life without parole sentences for anyone under the age of 18.
· Ban life without parole sentences for defendants who only acted as accomplices to a crime.
· Bar mandatory sentences, relying on the discretion of the particular judge to consider all the facts and circumstances of the case before reaching a decision.
Headed to trial? Got a case that you want to talk about? Call our experienced Idaho criminal defense lawyers today at (208) 342-4633.
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Just One Tool – Protecting Your Sixth Amendment Rights
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides you with many of your most important tools at trial. It is intended to guarantee a fair trial to every person accused of a crime. Whether you are charged with DUI, a drug crime, a sex offense, fraud, manslaughter or murder, the Sixth Amendment helps us to get you a fair trial.
If you have been charged with a crime, we will be happy to meet with you to explain your Sixth Amendment rights and how they can help us defend you in your particular criminal defense matter.
So what does the Sixth Amendment provide? It provides you with these essential rights at trial:
You have the right to be tried by an impartial jury.
You must be informed of the nature of the charges against you.
You have the right to confront the witnesses against you.
You have the right to a lawyer.
These basic rights are just the start – for example you don’t want just any lawyer – you want an experienced trial lawyer.
You don’t really want just any jury that might be impartial – you want a lawyer who can use his or her experience to choose jurors most likely to listen to your story, and jurors who will want to help you.
So the Sixth Amendment gives us a framework to defend you, but the key to your defense – your trial and your innocence – is the lawyer you choose.
Before you hire a lawyer who says he or she has the experience you need to face a prosecution – STOP. Ask that lawyer the five questions we have here. Then give us a call. For over thirty years we have been providing the best defense in criminal cases in state and federal courts.…
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