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It surprises most people to learn that in the state courts of Connecticut, judges almost never permit opening statements in criminal cases. Lawyers get a chance to give them in state civil cases, however. And openings are permitted in both civil and criminal cases in the federal courts. Such are...
Among the many defining errors I've made along life's way is my public and open scorn for law professors. Those who can't do, teach, and those who can't teach in a traditional discipline such as history, philosophy or even economics, teach law, I've said. I've been willfully blind to what scholars...
"I know that a certain percentage of folks I send to prison are, in fact, innocent," he said. "I just don't know how to identify who those folks are."
"Then how can you do what you do?" I asked.
"I believe in the adversarial system," he replied. "If you do your job, then the risk of my...
Some contend that trials, especially criminal trials, are won or lost during jury selection. Although jury selection is intended merely to assure that litigants get a fair trial, jury consultants and savvy lawyers spend a great deal of time trying to frame the questions they ask jurors so as to...
Richard Kopf, a U.S. District Court judge in Nebraska, writes a blog. The other day, he vented about the Supreme Court's recent decision in Hobby Lobby, the decision that extended the fiction of corporate personhood to the point of now offering the law's protection to "corporate" beliefs....
Over the many years I've written this column - I think it is now 14, but who is counting? - I've taken pride in never missing a week. (Except for the couple of months years back when I impetuously quit, and then returned.) Only once has a column been spiked, or not used by the editor, and that was...
Despite the fact that I spend as much time as I can in courtrooms, I still enjoy reading fiction about the law and lawyering. I worry always about what I am missing as I stand in the middle of someone else's storm. Legal fiction provides perspective, and, frankly, entertainment.
Why is it...
A lawyer representing himself, the saying goes, has a fool for a client. So what of a physician who decides to represent himself in a high-stakes criminal case? Is he, too, a fool?
Dr. Lishan Wang is charged with murder. He is alleged to have shot to death another physician, Dr. Vajinder Pal...
I've noticed a certain uneasiness in the chambers of several judges. They don't like talking about plea bargaining in any public way. Indeed, in one case, the state prepared a draft of a waiver a client was going to sign as a condition of entering a plea. The state included the term "plea bargain"...
One of the best scenes in "The Wizard of Oz" is when Toto, Dorothy's dog, pulls back the curtain on the Great Oz, exposing a terrified man hiding behind his fearful machinery. One lesson: Appearances are deceiving.
I thought of that scene the other day as I read the Connecticut Supreme...