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Too Many Life Sentences

I wasn't under any illusions about what the sentence would be. My client was convicted of shooting a man in a drive-by shooting, killing him almost instantly. There were other charges pending, charges involving other shootings. The maximum sentence for murder was 60 years. We expected the full monty.
The judge did not disappoint; even the prosecution performed on cue, calling my client a coward. The victim's mother urged the maximum, even more—100 years would not be enough, she said.
Sixty years it was, when all was said and done.
What a ridiculous farce.
I asked...
April 23, 2015

Aaron Hernandez's Chances on Appeal

Would a different defense have spared Aaron Hernandez a life sentence? I suspect his lawyers are wondering, especially after jurors told the media they were shocked to hear the defense say in closing arguments that Hernandez was present at the scene of the murder of Odin Lloyd.
But the defense conceded in opening statements that Hernandez was present when Odin Lloyd’s was killed; it never made any secret of the fact that “mere presence” was the former football star’s defense. Defense efforts will now be directed at the appellate courts.
The former New...
April 22, 2015

Richard Lapointe's Long Journey

Richard Lapointe looked dazed, even confused, when he walked out of Superior Court in Hartford last week. It was the first time in 26 years his feet hit civilian pavement. He was supposed to die behind bars.
apointe’s long walk to freedom illustrates the complexity of the criminal justice system.
Bernice Martin was murdered in March 1987. She was raped, then stabbed, then suffocated, and her Manchester apartment set afire to hide the killer’s tracks. She was 88 years old at the time of her death. She lived a short walk from the home Lapointe and her granddaughter,...
April 22, 2015

State v. Lapointe: Boutique "Justice"?

The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Richard Lapointe's 1992 murder conviction has me rethinking the Stations of the Cross. I'm not referring to Jesus' journey on the day he was crucified. I'm thinking of the more mundane trail of tears the families of those convicted of crimes walk.
Before Lapointe, it went something like this:
"I'm sorry to hear your husband/son/lover was convicted at trial. It will be very hard to undo that, if it can be undone at all.
"First, you can take a direct appeal. All of the words spoken at trial and the various pieces of paper, whether...
April 11, 2015

A Question of Competency

April 10, 2015
Criminal defense lawyers console themselves about the self-destructive course some clients take by saying such things as: “You can lead a...

USA v. Tsarnaev: We're All On Trial Now

April 9, 2015
Now that the show trial is over, the real trial begins.
Now the United States of America will seek to convince a jury of 12 that Dzhokhar...

Why We Need Civilian Police Accountability Boards

April 1, 2015
Do black lives matter? Do cops’s lives matter? The answer to both questions is obvious: yes. That’s what makes the arrest of a fifteen...

Better Call Saul? Almost, But Not Quite

March 31, 2015
Looking for a realistic portrayal of the practice of law in a small firm? Then you had better call Saul, as in Saul Goodman, the fictional creation...

Of Rats, Sinners and Trial Lawyers

March 26, 2015
I just lost a tough case and, as in any loss, I am bitter about it. My client faces 60 years for the shooting of a rival gang member in...

Straight Talk About War on Drugs

March 25, 2015
What if just about everything we think we know about the war on drugs is wrong?
Start, for example, with the oft-repeated proposition that the...

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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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