Gifting Table Sentences A Disgrace

I’ve long thought the most significant criminal justice reform imaginable would be simple to impose: Require all lawmakers and judges to spend some significant period of time, let’s say six months, behind bars as an inmate. Make them taste the product they are dishing out.
After watching the federal sentencing of a client of mine, Donna Bello, I think our Solons should be required to spend not just six months, but a full year, behind bars. A year, they might learn, is a long, long time.
Bello was just sentenced to six years in prison by a federal judge. She was involved...
August 15, 2013

Split Verdicts Aren't Wins

The congratulatory phone calls started to arrive before I made it from the courthouse to my car. My client, a physician, had been found not guilty of rape. One newspaper quickly ran a banner headline announcing the verdict. The Internet broadcast the result immediately.
But I cannot call it a victory. While we beat the top charge in the case, the jury convicted my client of misdemeanor sex assault and tampering with a witness, the latter a felony carrying up to ten years in prison. As if to signal his intentions come sentencing day some eight weeks hence, the judge hammered my client by...
August 8, 2013

Sidebar, Anyone?

I write today about the much maligned sidebar. That’s when lawyers huddle in open court, backs turned to everyone, and whisper things they think no one else in the room should hear. Sidebars come in all shapes and sizes.
My all time favorite sidebar came moments after informing a judge a witness was going to take the stand to announce his belief that I was romantically involved with the judge. (Just where the witness got that idea is a mystery to me, as the notion was untrue. The witness, I soon learned, had “issues.”)
The judge’s eyes widened.
“The...
August 3, 2013

Sex Crimes and Double Standards

I’ve been practicing law just long enough to know that I will never make sense of it all. It’s not that I am stupid, although my shortcomings are certainly an issue. The larger truth is that the law is irrational. It bumps, grinds and gyrates in ways that simply make no sense.
This is especially true in criminal cases alleging sexual misconduct.
Suppose a man is accused of rape. He is, of course, presumed innocent, but the details of his arrest are made public. In the eyes of many, he is condemned by mere accusation. We know the shaming power of a public accusation....
July 27, 2013

Motor City Blues

July 20, 2013
I suppose it is now official: Detroit has gone bankrupt, or, at the very least, has sought protection from its creditors in a federal bankruptcy...

A Closer Look At Zimmerman's Acquittal

July 18, 2013
So what do you make of juror B37 in the Zimmerman case? She was released from jury duty late Saturday night. By Monday morning, she had a book deal...

Eric Holder, Hamlet and George Zimmerman

July 15, 2013
George Zimmerman was acquitted of both the crimes of murder and manslaughter in Florida last week. Today, plenty of folks are angry about...

Will Zimmerman Be Prosecuted By The Feds?

July 13, 2013
Six women -- five white, and one Hispanic -- acquitted George Zimmerman Saturday night for the killing of Trayvon Martin. The jurors rejected both a...

FISA and Kangaroo Courts

July 11, 2013
Forgive me if I think of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as little more than an obscene joke. But what else are we to think of a court...

The Joy of Zinn

July 7, 2013
History, it is often observed, is written by the winners. Losers die, are marginalized, are forgotten. History, then, is often a partial truth. It...

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Taking Back the Courts
Norm Pattis Taking Back the Courts

The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorites movies as a kid. Little did I know judges were so much like the wizard, hiding behind empty trappings of power. This book tells you things you need to know about what really goes on in court. Read it, weep, and then demand that the courts do better.

In the Trenches
Norm Pattis In the Trenches

Plenty of lawyers write about the law, but few who write try cases. Judge for yourself whether I talk the talk and walk the walk in this collection of occasional essays about life in the law's trenches.

Juries and Justice
Norm Pattis Juries and Justice

How prepared are you to take seriously the notion that 'we the people' are, in fact, sovereign? Discover the secret, and unused, power of jurors. 'Ask why; then nullify.'

Norm Pattis

About Norm

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 150 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

© Norm Pattis is represented by Elite Lawyer Management, managing agents for Exceptional American Lawyers
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