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USA v. Rowland: Fiddling While The Country Crumbles

Editor's Note: John Rowland was convicted today after scarcely any deliberations at all.
Why don’t jurors get a pause button, or some other instrument, so that they can stop the government mid-sentence when a prosecutor says something so craven, so stupid, so misguided and even disingenuous as to warrant scorn? If such a device existed, it would have broken on Thursday, when the government gave its closing argument in the case of United States of America v. John G. Rowland.
Prosecutor Christopher Mattei was preaching to a packed house in the New Haven courtroom where Rowland...
September 19, 2014

Why Ban Opening Statements?

During the past year, I've been surprised by the number of times jurors have requested read backs of testimony they just heard only a few days earlier in criminal cases. In some instances, it seems to take almost as long to listen to the testimony again as it did to try the case in the first instance.
I suspect that is because, in state criminal courts, we do not permit opening statements. As a result, jurors have no idea what is important once the evidence begins.
A better, more efficient, criminal justice system would permit opening statements. What would be the harm in letting...
September 18, 2014

I'll Bet You Are An Anarchist

Folks are sometimes surprised to see a black anarchist’s flag hanging in the corner of my law office. “Aren’t you a lawyer?,” they ask. “Don’t you believe in the rule of law?” Shouldn’t I be wearing a small American flag in the lapel of my suit, as is the fashion of some lawyers? The answers are yes, kind of, and no.
Anarchism gets a bad rap in the popular press. An anarchist doesn’t bathe, has no regard for the property or dignity of others, and is a threat to the social order. That’s a silly stereotype, but, truth be told, we...
September 13, 2014

Ray Rice Meets an Angry Mob

I have a confession to make: I enjoy watching college and professional football. It’s the only thing I watch on television with any regularity. The speed and athleticism of the individual competitors is part of the attraction. So is the pageantry, the hype surrounding the game — it’s something even Fox can do. I also have my favorite teams, whom I root for as though my destiny were somehow at issue; we bleed maize and blue for the Michigan Wolverines at my place.

And I do not beat my wife; nor do I condone the behavior of those who beat...
September 9, 2014

Criminal Defense Lawyers Need To Apply

August 29, 2014
I will miss United States Magistrate Judge Holly Fitzsimmons. She’s retiring effective April 2015, reportedly to spend more time writing the...

The Fire Next Time?

August 27, 2014
Odds are you never heard about the killing of 20-year-old Dillon Taylor. He was shot to death in in Salt Lake City, Utah, just the other day. The man...

Put a Leash on Sunil Dutta

August 20, 2014
I couldn’t stop thinking about the allegory of the metals in Plato’s Republic as I read the op-ed piece in The Washington Post written...

Sunil Dutta is an Entitled Asshole

August 19, 2014
Perhaps you missed the piece in today's Washington Post by Sunil Dutta, a member of the Los Angeles Police Department, and junior college instructor....

The Courts Helped Kill Michael Brown

August 17, 2014
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Michael Brown’s blood is on the gavel of the federal judiciary. In the past couple of decades, the...

Closing Courts to the People

August 14, 2014
"If you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." I think about this line of Friedrich Nietszche's more often than I care...

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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.

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