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,
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Yesterday I posted about Idaho’s tough marijuana laws.  Is Idaho any closer to legalizing marijuana-based products? How about cannabidiol (CBD) oil? I don’t think so.

It seems like every week I receive an email solicitation offering to sell me CBD oil, ordered online and delivered by mail to my home or office.  Each such offering indicates that CBD oil is a lawful product in all states, including Idaho. I am not so certain.


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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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Fazliddin Kurbanov’s trial is over, and as quickly as it began, most people will forget about the issues raised in court. A jury found that Fazliddin had agreed with a person identified as “Ahmadi” to provide material support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. He had not sent them the money they asked for or the software they wanted to
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 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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 The news tonight declares that Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel has won a new trial because his criminal defense lawyer did not do enough to provide an effective defense. Robert F. Kennedy was his uncle. Mr. Skakel was convicted of the murder of Martha Moxley in 1975. She was beaten to death with a golf club after she and friends attended


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 So I took a little break from blogging about criminal defense, DUI defense, civil trials and matters of wrongful death. And then things just started "popping up." A new case or twelve. A kid in jail who just could not get it together. A former Marine facing life changing decisions. The mentally ill – fearing life and death as they


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 You may recall that last summer, local politico John McGee was ordered to spend at least 44 days in jail before being eligible for either work release or the Sheriff’s Inmate Labor Detachment. This was not how the sentencing was expected to go. McGee had a plea agreement! A deal!

We lawyers warn our clients that the judge is not bound by the agreement but I have occasionally soft pedaled that truth. After all, a judge going beyond what the parties recommend is extremely rare. When that happens, there is usually a deafening silence followed by the "whiskey, tango, foxtrot" moment. 

It apparently happened that day last July. McGee was to be the beneficiary of a deal that was negotiated by the prosecutor and defense counsel. That deal called for McGee to do five (5) days in jail, not 44 and certainly not 88 as the court ordered. Mr. McGee actually served 44 days before his release, but that result depended upon the good graces of the court and the good actions of the former State Senator. 

Maybe Judge Cawthon had simply had enough of the McGee’s misdeeds, this time while on probation following the mother of all plea agreements for his plea to DUI in 2011. The Court said it was simply making McGee accountable to the same degree any other public servant should be accountable. McGee had promised to obey the law, at least until July when his probation would have ended. 

Actually, the take away here has nothing to do with the pratfalls of Mr. McGee. He has completed his service and done so with dignity. He didn’t go nuts or whine about that unexpected jail sentence.

Just remember this – the Judge is really NOT bound by the plea agreement. He may go above or below the anticipated sentence. Mr. McGee, the prosecutor and defense counsel all expected that Judge Cawthon would follow their recommendation. He didn’t, and McGee was cuffed and lugged away to begin his sentence while he and those around him could only wonder why it hadn’t gone as planned.

I had this happen to me and it hit me and my client hard. The deal called for my client to plead guilty to a felony in exchange for a recommended sentence of 3 years fixed and 5 years indeterminate. He pleaded guilty. The State recommended 3 fixed and 5 indeterminate. I argued my client was much misunderstood, but had done what needed to be done.

The Court imposed a 20 year sentence – 8 years fixed and 12 indeterminate. That was 8 years and four months ago. My client is now out, and he served his time honorably as evidenced by the fact that the parole commission sprung him before topping out at 20 years. But when he arrived in court that morning neither he nor I expected him to leave for an eight year prison term.

My point here is that even the best agreed upon sentencing recommendation may run into a wall. Judges, lawyers and defendants do not always play from the same sheet of music. When this one was over, Mr. McGee served his sentence honorably, and the Court may permitted him to leave jail at 44 days. And nothing here is intended to infer anything about the court or the lawyers. They simply saw it differently. Mr. McGee made decisions and he had to live with them. The same is true in every case.

SuperLawyers not withstanding – there are no guarantees in most plea agreements. 

So what about that plea bargain they have offered you? Or your loved one? Will the judge follow the agreement or not? Find out what you can do to make it more likely you get the benefit of the bargain by checking other posts in this blog on sentencing. You can also start by reading the post just prior to this one on humility!


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 Dharun Ravi, 20, a student from New Jersey was recently found guilty by a jury in Middlesex County of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, and hindering prosecution for using his laptop to secretly record and broadcast an intimate encounter between his Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi, and another man.

Clementi later committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge


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