Into the Judge’s Chamber

Cover photo of "Tough Cases"

 

Looking for an excellent new book that zooms in on judicial thinking and real world legal issues? Here’s a title you can sit back and enjoy over the holidays—or give to someone as a worthwhile gift—a new collection of essays on important legal cases written by the judges themselves:

Tough Cases: Judges Tell the Stories of Some of the Hardest Decisions They’ve Ever Made

The list of authors includes two from Minnesota. Judge Gail Chang Bohr writes “A Judge’s Hidden Struggle: Overcoming Judicial Culture” regarding a difficult child custody case. Judge Edward S. Wilson writes about his experience with the United Nations mission in Kosovo where he spent a year helping to build and dispense justice in a region torn by violence, war crimes, homicide, and organized crime. Both authors are retired Ramsey County judges.

The book contains thirteen personal essays, and some cover more well-known cases such as Terri Schiavo, Elian Gonzalez, and Scooter Libby. The judicial authors weave together substantive and procedural issues and embellish their storytelling with commentary, analysis, and insights about the parties involved.

All essays are fascinating to read, they describe what judges wrestle with, and they give an idea of the personal impact on the judges themselves.

The book is edited by Russell Canan, Gregory Mize, and Frederick Weisberg and is published by The New Press. The law library has a copy; or you can purchase the book on Amazon for just over $16.00.

Whether you make this a special gift for yourself or someone else, the reader will come away with genuine revelations, a better perspective, and satisfaction with time well spent.

 

Keeping Up with Immigration Law

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Many attorneys are aware of the important immigration case Padilla v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (559 U.S. 356, 2010) which decided that a criminal defense attorney must advise a noncitizen client about deportation risks should the client negotiate a guilty plea.  The consequences of criminal activity are many and complex.  The book Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity: A Guide to Representing Foreign-Born Defendants by Mary Kramer provides detailed analysis and resources for assisting noncitizens charged with crimes.  The book regularly references two legal sources: The Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC Chapter 12) and the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 8).  Kramer details removal, detention, and deportability circumstances; she also discusses how to fashion a plea to avoid adverse consequences, including visa options for cooperating witnesses.  The section on immigration defense describes waivers and other available relief.

The Waivers Book: Advanced Issues in Immigration Law Practice provides attorneys with exceptions to the rules regarding inadmissibility and removability.  It introduces waivers—from A to Z—and includes waivers for refugees and asylees, and waivers related to unlawful presence.

These two books, as well as the following immigration titles Asylum Primer (2015), Business Immigration: Law & Practice (2017), and Litigating Immigration Cases in Federal Court (2017), were recently added to the law library collection.

 

Happy Law Day!

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Thomas Jefferson called the distribution of power “the first principle of good government.”   More than 225 years later, Hilarie Bass, ABA President wrote, “The phrase “separation of powers” does not appear anywhere in the text of the U.S. Constitution, yet it is likely one of the most important concepts in understanding how the U.S. government is designed to defend the liberties that Americans had fought the Revolutionary War to achieve.”

And today, we celebrate this year’s Law Day Theme, Separation of Powers.

What can you do to celebrate with us?  Here in Ramsey County, the Law Library and the Ramsey County Bar Association will be hosting a CLE on May 3 featuring Hamline Professor David Schultz, who will be presenting, “The Court, the Constitution and Separation of Powers in American Law and Politics.”  Profession Schultz will be addressing why the framers wanted separation of powers along with other concepts, such as checks and balances, to be a feature of American law and politics.  The CLE is at noon, and will be held in Room 40 (in the lower level of the Courthouse), and is free to the general public and Ramsey County Bar Association members.  CLE credit is available.

If you have never been to the Courthouse, one-hour courthouse tours will be available on May 3 at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.  Reservations are not required.  All tours will meet at the base of the Vision of Peace statue. Tours are courtesy of the Ramsey County Historical Society.

More Law Day Resources:

The Ramsey County Law Library has a new book on this topic called, The Supreme Court in a Separation of Powers System:  The Nation’s Balance Wheel by Richard L. Pacelle, Jr.

The President’s Proclamation on Law Day is posted on Whitehouse.gov, and you can learn more about Law Day at the ABA website.

 

 

 

You Asked: We Answered!

Here are a few titles we purchased for the law library in 2017.  The following books were recommended by library patrons.  When patron requests promise to add important content to the library, we try to purchase the material and hope other users will find it helpful as well.  Please contact us if you’d like to borrow any of these books.

30 (b)(6): Deposing Corporations, Organizations & the Government, by Mark Kosieradzki, Trial Guides, LLC, 2016.  The author uses detailed examples, practice samples, and approachable language to provide techniques for depositions and an understanding of FRCP 30 (b)(6).

Pet Law and Custody: Establishing a Worthy and Equitable Jurisprudence for the Evolving Family, by Barbara Gislason, ABA, 2017.  Minnesota native Gislason provides a comprehensive and very valuable review of animal law and pet custody.  The book promises to become a classic in the field.

Minnesota Housing Court Benchbook, by Mark Labine, 2011.  Mr. Labine wrote this book while a housing court referee for Hennepin County District Court.  This concise guidebook contains eleven checklists that define actions needed in court and sample orders for judicial officers.

 

police officer sidearmJust recently law enforcement in our tiny jurisdiction has come more visible than usual.  Obviously police officers are in the news every time a major criminal act in our community is investigated or a suspect is apprehended.   But this week the headlines went further, capturing a public meeting wherein citizens weighed in on potential changes to the St. Paul Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission.  This 20-year old commission reviews complaints against police and makes disciplinary recommendations to the chief. It has always consisted of two officers and five civilians, but several meeting participants expressed their point of view that officers don’t belong on this commission. This debate is all the more significant given the fact that St. Paul Police began wearing body cameras only last week.

Also significant was this week’s announcement from Ramsey County Attorney John Choi that criminal manslaughter charges were being brought against Falcon Heights police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile, which made national news. You can read Choi’s press conference transcript from his announcement and the complaint at the County Attorney’s website.

There is not much this blog can add to these events that isn’t already covered.  However, this is a good place to bring up some of the special resources that our library has regarding law as it pertains to police officers and police misconduct.  If this is something you are researching or plan to, we have some tools that might help:

  • Will Aitchison, The Rights of Law Enforcement Officers (7th Ed. 2015)
  • Michael Avery et al.  Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation (3d Ed. 2015)
  • Isidore Silver,  Police Civil Liability (1986- )

We also have plenty of criminal law materials that explore the constitutional parameters in which police officers do their jobs. Be aware that many of the police civil liability materials are library-use only, so set aside some time to visit our library!

 

Growing and Nurturing your Law Firm

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As the Law Librarian returns from vacation, it is amazing to behold the recent legal news in our community.  Last weekend we learned of the passing of local legal icon and former Ramsey District Judge Larry Cohen.  We also received news of the final breakthrough in the decades-long mystery of Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance.  To properly acknowledge these recent happenings, we want to recognize the significant public service career of the late Judge Cohen, who also served as the mayor of Saint Paul.  We also wish to extend our deepest condolences the Wetterling family as their long saga reaches its sad close.

As the drum continues to beat steadily that legal markets and law practices are changing, be aware of some new books from the ABA that address these changes.  These books might be helpful tools as you chart the future course of your law firm, and avoid the hazards along the way.  We also remind you of our 80th Anniversary celebration and free CLE coming up on Monday, September 26, 2016, so checking out one of these books will be easy if you plan to attend.

  •  The Lawyer’s Guide to Succession Planning: A Project Management Approach for Successful Law Firm Transitions and Exits by J.W. Olmstead. The purpose of this book is to provide guidance to all firms, but especially smaller ones. After examining the “silver tsunami” of senior attorneys headed for retirement in the near future, the book offers transition approaches and action plans for dealing with the inevitable departures. Case studies and sample agreements are included, as well as downloadable files of sample worksheets and agreements.
  • Building Rainmakers: An A to Z Guide to Business Development Training by D.K. Keller.  Business development is not a traditional legal skill, but nowadays it is a necessary one.  This book is essentially an encyclopedia of business development training tools for firm management, including tips and tools from interviews with business leaders and rainmakers of leading firms.
  • Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms (3d Ed.) by A.E. Davis and K.M. Lachter. Significantly updated from its 2007 edition, this book covers recent sea changes in law that relate to technology, the financial crisis, and the rise of non-lawyers. Just “staying out of trouble” in the professional sense now involves much more than avoiding traditional malpractice and ethical snags.  This revised book now includes special guidance for risk management and due diligence in light of these new forces.

 

 

Law Day 2016 – Miranda: More than Words

 

Leslie J. Rosenberg

Leslie J. Rosenberg
Minnesota Assistant
Appellate Defender

Once again National Law Day will soon be upon us. Sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA), this annual event highlights the role of law and justice in our society, while giving attention to the special role of courts in our democracy. Congress designated May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day in 1961. This year’s theme, which is Miranda: More than Words highlights the 50th anniversary of the well-known U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The theme explores Miranda rights as they traditionally apply to police interrogation, but also shines light on all the procedural protections afforded by the Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty.

Be sure to attend our own upcoming Law Day event, to be held on Wednesday, May 4 in conjunction with the Ramsey County Bar Association.  We will feature a talk by Leslie J. Rosenberg, “The Making of Justice – The Role of Miranda in the ‘Making a Murderer’ Series.” Ms. Rosenberg will explore the origin and meaning behind Miranda case law, and how it gets maneuvered by police and prosecutors. She will highlight the application of Miranda to juvenile defendants, and specifically to the teenaged Brenden Dassey that we all remember from  “Making a Murderer.” (This is a can’t-miss event if you enjoyed the Netflix documentary series.) Besides being an Assistant Appellate Defender with the Minnesota Public Defenders’ Office, Ms. Rosenbeg is also an expert in the field of international juvenile justice, and recently served as a volunteer public defender in China. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place Wednesday, May 4 in the Training Room of the First National Bank Building. The event will commence at 9:00 a.m., with registration beginning at 8:30. One standard CLE credit is available.  (Teleconference and on-demand available for $10.)

If juvenile justice or Miranda rights are of special interest to you, consider reading one of these books which we have in the library:

  • Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room by B. Feld (New York University Press 2013)
  • Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison by N. Bernstein (The New Press 2015)
  • The Privilege of Silence: Fifth Amendment Protections Against Self-Incrimination by P. Hynes Jr. and S. Salky (ABA 2nd)
 

CourtroomApparently it was a big deal last week when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas broke his decade-long silence on the bench and began ask counsel several questions during oral arguments. Maybe Thomas spoke up was because this particular case (involving 2nd Amendment gun rights) was a subject he is passionate about, or maybe he had previously been hiding in “Nino’s” shadow all these years (as the graph might suggest). In any event, this news event raises the subject of addressing the bench, encouraging judges to ask questions, and hopefully providing accurate and persuasive answers in response.

Indeed, lawyers should pray for a rainstorm of questions from the bench. A judge who has no questions might have already decided on the matter at hand (or not read your brief or memorandum). Probably nowhere should you hope for questions more than when you are presenting and arguing a motion. (After all, you are asking the court to diverge from its otherwise-planned path.) So anticipate those questions and be ready to offer brief-but-enlightening answers with which you can engage the judge in a stimulating informational discourse. To this end, we offer some helpful materials:

  • Motion Practice (6th Ed.) by D. Herr, et al. Its chapter 6.05 on oral argument specifically presents tips for answering the questions a judge is likely to ask.
  • A Checklist Approach to Successful Practice (CLE 2015) contains “8 Ways to Make the Most of Oral Argument,” an excellent three-page tip sheet for communicating successfully with the judge.
  • The end chapters of informal-but-informative McElhaney’s Trial Notebook (4th Ed.) for helpful lessons on set against story narratives on making your points and handling questions from the bench.
  •  Consider reading “[T]he Judge Looks Bored: How to Keep the Judge Interested.” Here, Hennepin District Judge Jay Quam offers his own tips to lawyers for successfully interacting with the judge. (Minnesota Bench and Bar, Dec. 2011)

You may be presenting your argument at the appellate level, which means multiple judges.  If so, consider “[T]he Word on Oral Arguments” by David Ziemer (Minnesota Lawyer, May 25, 2005).   Ziemer reminds you to be confident, considering that your case was taken because the court wants to hear more about it and possibly give it precedential significance. Extensive questions in the appellate setting mean that the judges have not only read your brief, but are considering policy ramifications of their possible decision options.  Ziemer also provides tools to help you focus the attention of the judges. (A recitation of multiple dry details will only have a tranquilizer effect on them.)

All of these suggestions are short and easy reads, so come by the Law Library to check them out.

 

Getting Schooled in Education Law

ClassroomWith area schools back in swing, legal professionals know that education and all of its related issues can pose a landmine of legal challenges. From issues that include school funding, security lockdowns, religious expression, and student disability matters, many areas of law are touched upon in a typical school day.   These legal areas can include, but are not limited to contracts, criminal, and constitutional law. Of course, if you are researching a legal issue related to education, you already know that much of education is under state and local control.  Your research will likely require consultation of the applicable Minnesota Statutes, as well as the  Minnesota Administrative Rules for the Minnesota Department of Education.   You might also want to consult the policy manuals of your local school board and minutes of their meetings.   In addition, the State Law Library also provides a handy list of resources specific to education law. We also have local CLE binders as on the subject, as well as some other unique print materials:

  • Special Education and the Law: A Guide for Practitioners (Corwin, 3rd Ed.) by A. Osborne et al. Special education is an area of law impacted by significant court decisions and changing legal developments.  This book can provide a road map to meeting today’s special education requirements. Helpful analysis in specific areas such as IDEA, discipline, parents and students rights, and preventive suggestions on avoiding litigation.  More information is available from the publisher.
  • 2015 Deskbook Encyclopedia of American School Law (Center for Education & Employment Law). Its publisher describes this book  as “a one-stop reference guide that helps you learn how courts are deciding school cases, what the legal issues are and how your colleagues across the country are faring.”  Case summaries are provided in areas covering employment practices, school operations, academic practices, students with disabilities and  more.  This resource is reprinted annually for the most up-to-date coverage.
  • The Principal’s Quick-Reference Guide to School Law: Reducing Liability, Litigation, and Other Potential Legal (Corwin, 3rd Ed.) R. Hachiya et alThis book presents information that shows school principals how to address issues including:  student use of technology, zero-tolerance discipline policies, and school safety and violence prevention.  It also includes useful insights for collaboration with other school personnel for addressing these issues.
  •  Education Law: An Essential Guide for Attorneys, Teachers, Administrators, Parents, and Students (Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, Inc. 2nd Ed.) by  M. Gerstein & L. Gerstein.  This substantial treatise understands how the incidents that arise in school touch on the many areas of law mentioned previously. How do these broad legal practice areas intersect with state and local laws? This broad treatise can be your road map to putting the details of your particular education issue into the right legal framework for your continued research.

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  If people don’t make an automatic connection between mental illness and law, perhaps they should.  A study by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) from 2006 showed that 64% of local jail inmates, 56% of state prisoners and 45% of federal prisoners had symptoms of serious mental illnesses. According to NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness), about 25% of the men and 65% of the women in Minnesota state prisons receive treatment for mental illnesses.  These numbers would indicate that jails and prisons have become the default landing place for those with mental illnesses.  This is further demonstrated by this state-by-state survey from the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Ideally, people with mental illnesses get the help they need outside of the court system, but too often this is not the case.  The end result is that people frequently wind up in the criminal justice system directly or indirectly as a result of untreated (or inadequately treated) mental illness.  It is fortunate that our justice system is becoming more aware of this reality, and that these cases need more than traditional criminal justice and penal tools.  Ramsey County’s Mental Health Court Program (RCMHC) is one of 3 mental health courts in the state of Minnesota, and was created so that the 2nd Judicial District could deliver “more specialized and individualized” justice to mentally ill criminal defendants.   For an inside look, see this recent William Mitchell Law Review article written by Ramsey District Judge John Guthmann about the RCMHC and mental health courts in general.

Are you an attorney working with a mentally ill client and need to know how best to advocate with their special needs in mind?  There are some great resources online, especially from NAMI Minnesota.  These include ”Advocating for People with Mental Illnesses in the Criminal Justice System”  and “Juvenile Justice: Advocating for a Child with a Mental Illness.”  Here in the law library we now have the Mental Disability Law: Civil and Criminal (Lexis 2nd Ed.) treatise set by Michael Perlin.  We also have the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 for your convenience, as well as books that address the legal uses and interpretations of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).  Finally, you might find this simple issue spotting list helpful.