The past year has seen the blawgosphere continue down its path toward meaninglessness as more lawyers have jumped in only to pump and dump their wares. But while the volume of emptiness (and truly awful content) has increased, there remains hope in a handful of great new blawgers, and the efforts of those serious about criminal law. The numbers may be down, but the value of the content has been stupendous.
This past year brought us another pseudonymous PD, Norm de Guerre at Chasing Truth, Catching Hell, who had two exceptional posts nominated this year. While Norm has slowed down since his nomination to the ABA Beauty Pageant, he’s brought great insight to the blawgosphere in his distinctly left coast style. Appellate Squawk, another PD from the civilized side of the country, continues to go strong, with biting commentary fused with humor.
2010 winner Gideon Strumpet created an evergreen post, They Have Always Been Us, which will serve as a baseline post for other criminal law blawgers forever, while 2011 winner, Mark Bennett, showed that a trench lawyer can out professor the law professors when it comes to showing the unconstitutionality of bad ideas.
Winner in 2012, Tempe’s Matt Brown is quickly reaching his stride, as he continues to gain experience well beyond his years. The other bookend, Jeff Gamso, winner in 2009, proves that he’s got plenty of life left in him, continuing his fight to remind us that these are human beings the government fights so hard to kill.
Another newcomer to the blawgosphere isn’t quite a criminal defense lawyer, but rather a federal judge who, for reasons that remain slightly cloudy, has chosen to offer both his thoughts and his response to ours. Richard G. Kopf started Hercules and the Umpire a little less than a year ago. Very sadly, today is his last post. If anyone had suggested when I started SJ that the day would come that a federal judge would go post for post with me, I would have laughed at the absurdity of the suggestion. It happened, and it was one of the most illuminating things the internet offered. I always wondered how long it would last (though I suspected it would end with my being held in internet contempt). Now it’s over. We are poorer for it.
But Judge Kopf wasn’t the only gentleman of a certain age to grace the blawgosphere this year, with Houston socialite Robb Fickman adding his strongly worded thoughts to the mix, whether at his own blawg or at fellow Texan Mark Bennett’s, who picked up what Fickman left lying around. And rounding out the over 20 (by a lot) crowd was Ohio’s Russ Bensing, who put together sage advice for lawyers who want to practice criminal defense, no matter what their age.
Longtime Houston Blawger Paul Kennedy has put together another year of excellent posts at The Defense Rests, though Paul clearly doesn’t. And Clark at Popehat, neither lawyer nor criminal law aficionado, caught a lot of us by surprise with a deeply insightful post from the outside perspective suggesting that we’ve been fighting the wrong battles all along. Rick Horowitz at Probable Cause has been toeing that line for a very long time, and this year suffered for the strength of his conviction.
As the nominations showed, together with the many posts that weren’t quite nominated but certainly should have been, the criminal law blawgosphere remains healthy and vital. While its pace of growth hasn’t always been steady, the worth of its substance remains as great as ever.
But every year, only one post can win as the Jdog Memorial Best Criminal Law Blawg post of the year. As impossible a task as this is, a decision must be made. The winner for the Best Post of 2013 is another young criminal defense lawyer who, as he stretches his wings, runs smack into the pain of harsh reality. And though he feels that pain and comes to grips with the fact that before him stands an otherwise good person, life ruined, dependent on him for his salvation, pushed through to do his job as he must.
The 2013 Winner is: