Once upon a time, as I returned to private practice from my time as Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of Idaho, I made plans. Not going to get behind. Going to keep that calendar clear enough to run, ride or swim every day. Keep my time for me, and Sue and the kids.

“Sweet dreams are made of this….”
Continue Reading I remember thinking, “I’m going to blog every day.” Nice Dream!

You may have read that my dad, Chuck Peterson has returned to our law firm, Peterson Lawyers, after a year as the Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of Idaho. His selection to lead that organization a year ago was an occasion for celebration, and loss. I was proud he had been selected to lead the great lawyers and staff
Continue Reading Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers In America and Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent

A year ago I left private practice to become the Executive Director of the Federal Defender Services of Idaho (FDSI). I became the head of the office, hoping to manage, supervise employees and practice federal criminal defense.

I had been handling federal criminal cases as private counsel and as a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel (CJA) since leaving
Continue Reading Back in the Saddle – an overview after a year as the Federal Defender

   Last week I tried an aggravated assault with deadly weapon (AR15) case that resulted in those two beautiful words: NOT GUILTY. The case involved a former military service member accused of using his firearm to threaten ten neighborhood folks who had gone to his home on the 4th of July to “get an explanation” for his having run over their
Continue Reading Three things I learned or confirmed from last week’s self-defense ACQUITTAL

This summer the Idaho Supreme Court considered the circumstances in which a law enforcement officer may make an arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in his or her presence. State v. Clarke involved an arrest for misdemeanor battery reported by a woman in a park. She claimed Clarke had harassed her and grabbed her rear-end. Clarke admitted he had touched
Continue Reading Arresting Development – that warrantless misdemeanor arrest may violate the protections of the constitution

Deadly force.

The subject is frequently in the news and often becomes the subject of even local conversation. When a law enforcement officer uses deadly force against someone it amounts to a seizure of that person, and the Constitution prohibits unreasonable seizures. So the simple question posed in such a case is whether deadly force was reasonable under the circumstances
Continue Reading When May Officers Use Deadly Force? The answer may confound you!

A while back (what’s a couple months between friends) I wrote a post about inherent bias and prejudice, the premise of which was that it is difficult for the defendant to win any criminal case because jurors – the decision makers – start with a bias in favor of the prosecution. They prejudge the defendant because he is charged with
Continue Reading The Decision Maker – convincing 12 people of anything is nearly impossible!

Impartiality is a myth. So the idea that you will start with an impartial jury or fact finder (maybe a Judge) misses the mark. We all have inherent bias and prejudice that colors our decision making. All of us.

Let’s start with a simple example involving cars. I have a bias (or preference) in favor of Westfalia vans and Porsche 911s. The two are polar opposites – sexy German sports car and utilitarian German fun wagon. If I had both in my garage I would be a happy camper. Over time I have had both but modern automobiles have taken my eyes away from each. So too the two grandkids I cart around daily.

Continue Reading Start with Bias and Prejudice – your story must deal with these or you lose!

Slate Magazine has done a great job recounting what happened at Ruby Ridge in its Podcast Standoff. Listening now and remembering how life can turn in an instant. Want the inside story? Ron Howen, Gerry Spence and others tell the story from their viewpoint. Episode 4 tells how the FBI held back the most important evidence in the case,
Continue Reading On Slate Now – Standoff – Ruby Ridge Revisited