Jailhouse Lawyers, The Unicorn In The Next Cell

Shon Hopwood was a freak of nature.  How he was capable of such astounding success as a jailhouse lawyer is a mystery, but he was.  And so to the clueless eye, this means jailhouse lawyers are saviors of the downtrodden prisoner. Yet again, the Marshall Project, the self-proclaimed savior of criminal law because no one else has ever bothered to write about it, dives into the cesspool.

In a post entitled, ‘For $12 of Commissary, He Got 10 Years Off His Sentence,’ itself a silly conflation of unrelated things typically used to create an impression designed to fool the unwary.  Or, had the outcome been different, as it is in 99.9% of the cases, “for $12 of commissary, he got squat.”

The post has two thrusts, an homage to jailhouse lawyers and debunking their “myth.”

What Everyone Gets Wrong

“There’s this story about prisoners constantly using lawsuits to complain about frivolous things,” says Meeropol. The image of the prisoner with too much time on his hands, filing one lawsuit after another, gained currency in the 1990s, and remains potent today. “Rikers Island inmates cost city big $$ with ‘frivolous’ lawsuits,” blared the New York Post(citing anonymous sources) in 2013. A San Diego paper ran a similar story that same year.

It’s “debunked” because Shon Hopwood. Except one data point doesn’t make the million others false.  But then, logic and numbers have never been the strong suit at the Marshall Project.

While reliance on the New York Post is a straw man in most efforts at thoughtfulness, every experienced criminal defense lawyer can offer stories of wild and weird motions, habeas petitions, writs of error coram nobis (used by no one in New York but jailhouse lawyers), so incomprehensible, baseless, frivolous and just outright false that they will make your head hurt. They certainly make my head hurt.

And oftentimes, when they raise issues relating to their defense at the trial level, criminal defense lawyers are constrained to spend significant time explaining things because the judge ordered them to do so and the defendants, upon the advice of their jailhouse lawyers, waived privilege.

Before someone wearing a tinfoil hat raises the point, this has nothing to do with defense lawyers taking issue with jailhouse lawyers depriving them of legal fees. The defendants who use them lack the wherewithal to pay for a lawyer, and turn to the jailhouse lawyers for the very reason that they have nowhere else to turn.  And again, to the ignorant, this seems like a feature rather than a bug, as jailhouse lawyers offer legal help which inmates can’t get elsewhere.

So is this a bad thing?

Well, yeah. Not every time, and not in every instance, but in the vast majority of instances, it’s very dangerous.  And unlike the view from 30,000 feet, I can tell you why.

Initially, it’s important to remember that most people in prison are, indeed, criminals. Many have managed to survive on their wits, their scams, their bullshit, lying without empathy. Many are poorly educated. Many are, well, not very bright. Some are dumb as dirt. Most are desperate for some relief from life in prison, and all have time on their hands.

The stupid and desperate are preyed upon by the scammers, who tell them glorious stories of how they’ve chopped 10 years off a sentence for $12 in commissary. Except they’re not Shon Hopwood. Jailhouse lawyering is a form of currency in prison, and perfecting a pitch designed to give the pigeon just enough hope while leaving open the possibility that it doesn’t always succeed is a great way to earn a supplemental living.

But the $12 in commissary is only one form of payment. There is the family outside paying another family outside the rent money, or the diaper money, for a cut and paste motion that has already failed a thousand times, and will no doubt fail another thousand times, at relief.  But it succeeds spectacularly at sucking in the ignorant and desperate inmate, who is illiterate and thinks all those squiggly lines on paper with latin-y sounding words mean something.

Then there’s the breakdown of the inmate who learns that his child won’t eat tonight because he had baby mama hand over his last $20 bill to the jailhouse lawyer’s account in exchange for papers that were tossed immediately. If he appreciates the error of his judgment, his heart is broken by the suffering he causes his child.  If not, he seethes at the injustice of the world, and still his kid goes hungry.

And then there’s the jailhouse lawyer’s supporting affidavit that includes some ridiculous and flagrant lie, that’s apparent to everyone but the inmate who signed it, whether because he couldn’t read what it said or he was guaranteed that it wins almost every time.  What could possibly go wrong?

The annoyed judge or vindictive prosecutor decides they’ve had enough of this crap, and then a charge of perjury or obstruction of justice smacked the prisoner upside the head.  Or maybe it’s a prison strike, and he gets a year in SHU to contemplate why lying is not appreciated.

I am both amazed and astounded when a Shon Hopwood comes along, and to add to the confusion, he’s not the only jailhouse lawyer who has helped inmates and had great success. But these are the outliers, by a million miles. Most have only one skill, the ability to scam other inmates, and no conscience about taking whatever they can no matter the harm caused.

So should the mother of a prisoner read this post at the Marshall Project, squander the last of the inmate’s savings on paying off a jailhouse lawyer who has nothing to offer but empty assurances, and leave a child without dinner, give Bill Keller a call. I’m sure he’ll buy the kid a meal with the millions raised to fund his vanity baby, the savior of criminal law.

H/T Radley Balko

66 comments on “Jailhouse Lawyers, The Unicorn In The Next Cell

  1. Dave

    Thanks for helping me be even more cynical than I already am. The vast majority of the habeas pleadings I get are pro se, and I am sure many were done with the help of “legal writers” in the prison, and many were done by less official jailhouse lawyers. I have certainly noticed trends where the same bogus argument gets used by multiple prisoners and I attributed it to that. And I attributed the emptiness of the arguments to the fact that they are not lawyers and sometimes never even finished high school. But what never occurred to me, and never would in a million years had I not seen this, was that the jailhouse lawyers knew their arguments were crap and were just exploiting other prisoners with false hope in exchange for cash.

    Might as well tell me now too there’s no Santa Claus.

      1. Dave

        What makes me even sadder is that this puts a crimp in my plan, if ever I am unfortunate enough to land in prison, to use my knowledge about criminal appeals to trade for protection (which I will sorely need). Hard to sell quality when the market is flooded with crap and the consumer may not be able to tell the difference. (I mean, even with quality appellate representation, you are still going to lose 95%+ of the time on a criminal appeal.)

  2. Piedmont

    There’s a whole subset of attorneys whose only differences from the jailhouse lawyers you mentioned are that they have a law degree and they’re not locked up.

    1. SHG Post author

      True. And that’s why I rail about lawyer competence and ethics. But that’s an unhelpful argument, as one being ugly doesn’t make another less ugly. The idea of to rid the law of all the bad. This post is about jailhouse lawyers, not all things evil everywhere in the world forever.

    2. Sgt. Schultz

      Are you one of that subset? Curiously, every lawyer will concede that there are some truly bad lawyers out there, but I’ve never heard anyone admit that he was one of them. So are you? If not, how do you know?

      1. Charles

        Since the post is about jailhouse lawyers, are you suggesting that SHG is blogging from jail? Maybe that explains his ability to post so frequently.

          1. Sgt. Schultz

            Huh? Charles’ comment was a total non-sequitur and make no sense at all. Are you now in the business encouraging stupid?

      2. Piedmont

        Sgt. Schultz,

        I was okay. I’m pleased with the quality of the work I did, but I was nothing to write home about. I busted my tail handling court-appointed cases and a few retained cases at cut-rate prices (because I was 1) new, 2) had first started practicing in a less-expensive area and didn’t really know the going rate in the very upscale market I’d moved to, and 3) wasn’t willing to charge someone an arm and a leg for a case that was a slam-dunk for the prosecution).

        One reason I switched back to prosecution was because I didn’t think that I would be able to make the jump (especially in that market and at my experience level) from basically being a freelance public defender to being able to subsist on cases where I could charge a lot of money for doing a lot of legitimate work. I wasn’t willing to charge people, for example, $10,000+ for a DUI, $1,500+ for an Underage Possession of Alcohol, or $500+ for a Driving on Suspended License case where there were no real issues and there was a standard plea offer available. Unless you’re willing to charge a boatload for doing very little work, are doing criminal defense as a sideline, or can get well-paying cases that require a lot of work, it’s very hard to survive as a criminal defense attorney.

        1. Sgt. Schultz

          This is what I get for being snarky? A serious answer that reflects integrity? Do you care nothing of internet etiquette?

          Seriously, I am very impressed by what appears to be a very frank self-assessment. You win today.

        2. Shon Hopwood

          Scott, that goes both ways, you know. How was your “entitlement” comment, which was incredibly condescending, any different from mine? Would you have let that go if it were the other way around? I doubt it.

          You haven’t seen the things I’ve seen. The truth is there are many bad jailhouse lawyers, but there are also many good ones. The same can be said about lawyers. Should people be skeptical of jailhouse lawyers? Yes. Should people be skeptical about lawyers and their claims? Yes. Should people be skeptical of your claims about jailhouse lawyers, given your viewpoint on this issue is limited? Yes. Should people be skeptical of my claims? Yes.

          But to claim I’m entitled (because I think lawyers should do a better job of remedying the mass incarceration problem that has occurred on their watch, by say, providing more pro bono services), when every lawyer in America is entitled, seemed patently unfair. I don’t know why you saw the need to talk down to me. I disagree with some of your points. So what. I thought you wanted me to comment.

          I don’t need 10 years to regret my comment. I regret it now. I regret that I commented at all.

          1. SHG Post author

            No, Shon. It’s not possible for me to be condescending to you. You’ve gained ten years of experience in prison, and just graduated law school. I’ve gained more than 30 years of experience practicing law. I’ve defended thousands of people, like you and not like you, and I’ve come to appreciate some and despise others, but I have always done the best for them possible, and always done so with integrity. You have not. We are not peers. To call it “talking down” is what a child says. A grown-up understands the difference that experience can make.

            To say that lawyers have failed because they don’t do enough for you for free, and that they’re entitled because they work for a living, is entitlement. Whether you grasp what entitlement means seems unclear. It is not “entitlement” to do work and get paid for that work. It is entitlement to expect others to serve you for free because you want them to.

            I wanted you to comment, rather than twit, because that’s the way to address a post, by saying whatever you have to say in the forum to which it relates, so that it adds to the conversation. I did not expect your comments to be quite so shallow and self-serving.

            Like you, I regret that you commented. I would prefer to admire your accomplishments. And I still expect that you will come to appreciate why your comments here are foolish in time. You will find many hard-working, dedicated lawyers out there, fighting for defendants, sometimes pro bono and sometimes for a fee. I hope you put your efforts into urging competence and ethics, rather than burning your credibility this way. Unlike SS, I do not discount you, but believe you still have a great deal to learn and, in time, will be a credit to the profession. This, however, was not your best moment.

          2. Anon PD

            So I’m a worthless greedy lawyer? I bleed for my clients, though they call me public pretender and ask why they can’t get a “real lawyer” instead of me. I have 387 files sitting on my desk, and I know the names of every one of them. I answer their questions, talk to their mothers, wipe the snot off their children’s nose, and fight like hell to give them a chance.

            In return, the lie to me, treat me like I’m an idiot, blame me for not being able to make the video of their robbing the bodego go away because “they’re innocent” and the only reason their copping a plea is because I suck. When I need information, they fail to show for appointments, because my time is worthless, then blame me again for not doing something when they failed to show.

            And for all this, I get to survive on bare subsistence. I own a ten year old car because I can’t buy a new one. I get no resources to defend, but am expected to send out investigators to interview the 32 witnesses who will prove their innocence. Of course, they only know their street names, and then, 31 of them don’t exist and the last one says they’re guilty as sin.

            Get real, kid. You have no clue what reality is. Scott has tried to give you a small dose, and you whined like a little bitch and blamed the only people who have actually dedicated their lives to helping defendants. Here’s a newsflash, punk. Most of the world hates your guts and would be quite happy to see all felons die in prison.

            It’s because of people like Scott and me, and others here, that you are out of prison, able to go to law school and can write angry screeds about how greedy lawyers are scumbags.

            And believe it or not, we applaud successes for the defense. Even yours, because we care a whole hell of a lot. And you regret that someone isn’t telling you how wonderful and right you are? Too bad, little boy.

            1. SHG Post author

              I don’t think Shon has any particular anger toward PDs, though I could be wrong. The lack of nuance leaves us hanging on that question. It could be that you do God’s work, or it could be that PDs suck, and that’s why so many innocent people are in prison. It’s unclear.

            2. Shon Hopwood

              You all are throwing darts at a dart board that’s not even there. I never said lawyers didn’t do enough for me. I NEVER ONCE WROTE THAT. And I didn’t even say lawyers aren’t entitled to make a living. Or that criminal defense lawyers don’t work hard.

              Please read what I wrote: “Until the courts provide representation or until the bar steps up and provides more pro bono services, jailhouse lawyers will, unfortunately, be a necessary option for indigent prisoners.”

              I made the modest claim that the bar could do more about providing pro bono services to indigent prisoners. THE BAR, not just criminal defense lawyers.

              That is not my entitlement. And I’m not the only one to write that. The ABA, several state bar associations, and a whole bunch of scholars have made the same claims. So I was hardly outside the norm in restating it.

              You are reading things into my comment that I never said.

              I certainly did not say anything bad about public defenders, a group of people I adore and GREATLY admire. I was talking about the bar generally and private criminal defense lawyers specifically.

              As for Scott, you’re right, you have 30 years of experience and I couldn’t possibly add anything to a discussion about jailhouse lawyers. Talk about ego. You asked me to respond and when I criticized some of your points you called me childish, immature, and wrote an incredibly condescending comment (that again butchered what I actually claimed).

              I get it. I’ve run across people like you before. For some reason you are threatened by someone who won cases in federal courts across the country from a prison and without a legal education or Westlaw. I don’t understand this reaction (maybe because I’m not petty), but you are not an anomaly in that regard. I’d expect it from someone with a prosecutorial bent but it is rare to receive it from a criminal defense lawyer.

              Thank you for showing your true colors, Scott. Good day.

            3. SHG Post author

              First rule of holes, Shon, is that when you find yourself in one, stop digging. You also wrote this:

              The law is not the noble profession we make it out to be, and lawyers don’t have any obligation to provide pro bono services. In fact, we should quit romanticizing lawyers. We should quit treating the practice of law as a privilege. And we should quit pretending that things like a character and fitness test, a J.D., and a bar exam equal competence and ethics. They don’t. I completely agree that most people become lawyers to make money, not to make a difference. So let’s stop pretending. Let’s end the entitlement that comes from being a licensed attorney. I’m completely with you on this one.

              Sorry, but nobody forced you go there. That was your choice.

              As for Scott, you’re right, you have 30 years of experience and I couldn’t possibly add anything to a discussion about jailhouse lawyers. Talk about ego.

              That was with regard to your calling me “condescending” when I responded to your smear of lawyers for charging a fee. About jailhouse lawyers? Sure. About smearing lawyers for earning a living, no. Trying to move the goal posts after you’ve kicked the ball isn’t a good strategy, especially when it’s there for everyone to see.

            4. Shon Hopwood

              Scott,

              You just did it again. You misstate what I said by omission. I was never smearing lawyers for making a living. I simply responded to your claims that I was somehow entitled because I thought lawyers could do a little more for indigent prisoners (again, something that has been universally discussed by the ABA, state bar associations, judges, and scholars).

              It seemed strange that a licensed attorney was claiming someone else was entitled. We are all privileged as lawyers. If we weren’t then anyone could become a lawyer (a result I’d be happy about it if it came to fruition).

              But I’m not surprised you would mischaracterize what I wrote. I’ve had three people in the last hour email me, and all of them said that this is your MO, to troll people. I’m just upset with myself that I fell for it.

            5. SHG Post author

              So the digging continues? I’ve already quoted what you said, which you ignore. Perhaps all the other lawyers who read the same thing and took significant issue with it as well have all misread you? Fair enough.

              Are lawyers’ privileged? For working hard enough to get through college and law school, paying tuition (or accumulating debt), suffering the opportunity costs, and then expecting to come out on the other end making a living? No, I don’t think they are. As for the “ABA, state bar associations, judges, and scholars” supporting pro bono for indigent criminal defendants? Notice anyone missing? That would be criminal defense lawyers. It’s facile for them to give our time away to prove how decent they are, but it’s always the CDLs who are expected to do the work. They all get a paycheck. Not the CDLs. We are very well aware, and do not think well of them for being so generous with our time.

              As for my MO of trolling, that’s bizarre. You chose to comment, and you chose what had to say. So that makes me a troll? There are plenty of people on the internet, some even reading here, who believe they are entitled (see that word again?) to only receive kind and loving responses rather than criticism when they say something that compels a critical response. The whine about it, because they feel entitled (again) to express their opinion without any responding with anything other than hugs.

              If that’s your beef, then they’re right. That’s my MO, to respond honestly. Sorry that I hurt your feelings. And I too have gotten some emails, far more than you, about how sad it is to see someone who was admired bury himself as you’ve done here. I agree. I wish you hadn’t commented. I take no pleasure from this, which is why I tried to give you a gracious exit early on. But your refused to stop digging.

            6. Shon Hopwood

              Scott,

              You write: “I’ve already quoted what you said, which you ignore. Perhaps all the other lawyers who read the same thing and took significant issue with it as well have all misread you? Fair enough.”

              Yes, they started commenting after you had, in several comments, mischaracterized what I wrote. Once you smeared me of course people were going to read into my comment the same mistaken view you took of what I wrote.

              I never smeared people for making a living. I responded to your claims about my entitlement, which included you mischaracterizing my modest claim about the bar (not just criminal defense lawyers) stepping up.

              You next write: Are lawyers’ privileged? For working hard enough to get through college and law school, paying tuition (or accumulating debt), suffering the opportunity costs, and then expecting to come out on the other end making a living? No, I don’t think they are. As for the “ABA, state bar associations, judges, and scholars” supporting pro bono for indigent criminal defendants? Notice anyone missing? That would be criminal defense lawyers. It’s facile for them to give our time away to prove how decent they are, but it’s always the CDLs who are expected to do the work. They all get a paycheck. Not the CDLs. We are very well aware, and do not think well of them for being so generous with our time.”

              Fair enough. I agree with you that the burden shouldn’t fall solely on the criminal defense lawyers. I never said it should and AGAIN that was not my claim. But that doesn’t mean other lawyers (again, the BAR, not just criminal defense lawyers) shouldn’t do something to help. That was my claim. Why can’t lawyers in big corporate firms use some of their time to represent indigent prisoners. What is wrong with that? Why can’t the bar as a whole help rectify the injustice of 2.2 million people in prison? I don’t think that is unreasonable. If the burden falls too much on criminal defense lawyers then that is a different problem, one not related to what I claimed.

              As to privilege, I partly agree with you. But your sentiment is not what I’ve heard for the last ten years from the bar. Everywhere I go (law school, legal conventions, and the like) all I hear is about how privileged we are to practice law, that not everyone gets to do it, and how if we are lawyers we should give back to the community. So someone is lying. Either we aren’t privileged and everyone should be able to become a lawyer (as you know current lawyers place quite a few barriers for new lawyers to enter the marketplace) or we are privileged and lawyers should give back more. That was the sentiment I was responding to earlier. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough.

              If people think I’m wrong because you mischaracterized what I said and what I was responding to, then I can live with that. You seemed to be antagonistic towards me from the very beginning with your two-paragraph long “entitlement” comment, which I found strange considering I made a rather modest claim about the entire bar doing more, and considering you encouraged me to comment. After the first comment, mostly what you’ve done is to label and insult me. Neither of which was deserved. That seems like trolling, not helpful discussion of the actual issues I raised.

            7. SHG Post author

              Yes, Shon. It’s probably my Svengali-like magical powers that caused everyone to mischaracterize you. It couldn’t be because they read what you wrote. I was (yet again) trying to give you a gracious exit. You refused to take it. Again.

              But this last comment offers an insight that I anticipated, but wasn’t absolutely clear earlier. The things you’re talking about have actual, real-world meaning to practicing lawyers. It appears that you didn’t appreciate the implications or nuance. That’s okay, as you lack the experience to do so, but then, you would have done better to either think “why are they reacting so poorly to me” or “what am I missing here.” I’ll explain.

              Everywhere I go (law school, legal conventions, and the like) all I hear is about how privileged we are to practice law, that not everyone gets to do it, and how if we are lawyers we should give back to the community.

              Yes, many enjoy that facile soundbite to make lawyers appear more noble, but as I’ve already explained, that’s because they all get paychecks and aren’t the ones expected to actually do anything about it. It’s easy to sound noble when you don’t carry the load.

              Why can’t lawyers in big corporate firms use some of their time to represent indigent prisoners. What is wrong with that?

              Because M&A lawyers know nothing about criminal law. Because biglaw uses CJA for their associates to practice trial advocacy on criminal defendants like guinea pigs, then walk away when the shit hits the fan because criminal defendants are for practice. And, it’s worthy of note that they still get their biglaw paychecks.

              Why can’t the bar as a whole help rectify the injustice of 2.2 million people in prison? I don’t think that is unreasonable.

              In NJ, there’s mandatory pro bono, and trusts and estates lawyers call me, tell me they’re assigned to a criminal case, and what should they do. They have no clue. That’s why. Lawyers aren’t fungible. Lawyers know that. You raise these arguments without knowing any of this, but that doesn’t stop you from coming here and pointing at the failing of lawyers to do their part.

              You think it’s reasonable? I think it’s reasonable that society pays for indigent counsel for every defendant. Society doesn’t give a shit what I think. They’re not paying. That you think it’s reasonable changes nothing either.

              That readers here tend to agree with me isn’t because I’m so damn good looking, but because we share the experience of being practicing lawyers. The arguments you grasp only superficially are very real to us. This is why I called them naïve and simplistic. You don’t understand enough to appreciate the implications of your assertions. And that’s why I tried to give you an exit in the beginning, which you took instead as a challenge.

              Please stop digging, Shon. Chalk this up to learning more about your new profession. Try not to alienate those you are joining based on improvident ideas you have when you were on the outside. Give yourself a chance to learn more, experience more, and then you can offer nuanced criticism. Being new to the law isn’t a bad thing. Refusing to appreciate that you still have much to learn is.

              Edit: By the way, I have given you an enormous amount of my time and space on my blawg. I don’t do that for everyone. I do that as a courtesy to you, and in appreciation of what you’ve done. Very rarely would I spend this much time addressing someone.

  3. Shon Hopwood

    Scott makes a number of valid observations. Yes, jailhouse lawyers can be bad. Yes, they can prey upon people. But I’ve seen just as much of that from licensed attorneys as I have from jailhouse lawyers. Actually more so. (I could tell many stories of lawyers sending literature into prisons promising to send people home if only the prisoner’s family could come up with $10,000. In fact, it happens every July, right after the end of the Supreme Court term, where lawyers send mailings into prison saying the newest decision will set everyone free.)

    Jailhouse lawyers have to live with their clients so that reduces the amount of gamesmanship. I, for example, never preyed upon anyone because I didn’t want to wake up to some guy beating me with a padlock for screwing his case up. Lawyers simply don’t have that deterrence.

    Mostly, it is jailhouse lawyers not knowing what they are doing. But I could say the same thing for lawyers, especially when it comes to habeas law. At least jailhouse lawyers have an excuse!

    If we are talking about the greater good, then I think jailhouse lawyers are better than the alternative, which is nothing. No one in prison wants to rely on a jailhouse lawyer. They do so because they can’t afford to hire an attorney. Many prisoners are illiterate or mentally ill, and there is no way they could file a habeas petition on their own. And the statute of limitations for habeas petitions is unrelenting. No court will wait for a prisoner and his family to save up enough money to hire a lawyer to file a brief. So, for better or worse, prisoners must rely on jailhouse lawyers.

    Until the courts provide representation or until the bar steps up and provides more pro bono services, jailhouse lawyers will, unfortunately, be a necessary option for indigent prisoners.

    1. SHG Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Shon. First, bear in mind that this post isn’t an attack on all jailhouse lawyers, but an attack on the Marshall Project’s romanticizing them, dismissing the potentially disastrous problems with them, and creating a wholly false sense of security in a deeply problematic course of action.

      That said, let’s deal with your points. Your first, that there are scumbag lawyers who prey on inmates is true, but an unrelated problem. As responded above, the fact that there are bad lawyers doesn’t make jailhouse lawyers unbad. It’s a logical fallacy.

      The solution to lawyers preying on inmates is to deal with these scum. I, too, am aware of lawyers who lie to inmates that for a huge sum of money, they can guarantee a win. The should, and must be stopped, and lawyers need to clean up our own mess. Still, that doesn’t make jailhouse lawyers viable.

      Second, most are similarly adept at explaining away their failure as they are at selling their “services.” It’s not very hard.

      Third, it’s not shocking that jailhouse lawyers don’t know what they’re doing. This is hard stuff. If it’s too hard for lawyers who went to law school, why should it be easier for guys with a GED?

      Fourth, are jailhouse lawyers better than the alternative, nothing? Perhaps, but only with caution. Tell that to the guy in the hole, or getting another 3 on top of his 9 for perjury. Tell that to the guy who has a real issue that gets buried in the tall stack of pro se paper handled by some kid clerk whose job it is to get rid of the garbage petitions.

      This isn’t a binary option; jailhouse lawyers are, and should be, suspect. Inmates should not be blinded to the potential problems by idealized stories of fabulous glory and success. Posts like the Marshall Projects are very simplistic, very wrong and very dangerous.

      Finally, the courts should give indigent inmates access to legal representation. They should give it to lots of people. The argument for it would be far stronger if 99.9% weren’t frivolous petitions. This goes back to your “better than nothing” point. You lose the moral high ground for competent representation that way. But as to the “bar step[ing] up and provid[ing] more pro bono services,” I’m going to point out some very painful reality.

      Your sense of entitlement is showing. We’re not priests who’ve dedicated our lives to poverty for your sake. We practice law to serve our clients, but we go to work in the morning to earn a living and feed our families. Criminals don’t send us love packages because we’re such swell pro bono guys. Nobody in the world except a few professionals are expect to give away what they sell for the sake of others. And we do.

      That we don’t do it enough to satisfy the people who only paid us when they had to, or stiffed us if they thought they could get away with it, is too damn bad. Go out to dinner tonight and tell the waiter when he brings the check about how he ought to give you the meal pro bono. See how that works out. And guess what? He won’t give a free meal to a lawyer who does tons of pro bono either. The lawyer still needs to pay too.

    2. Bryan Gates

      To some degree jailhouse lawyers exist because a lot of people in prison refuse to accept the fact that the legal arguments they want to raise are crap. I’ve been approached a few times about being hired for post-conviction work, but I’ve always passed after looking into the cases. I don’t want to work on a case that has zero merit and zero chance of success just to earn a fee.

      Too many convicted people in prison believe, “if I could just get a lawyer to represent me, I’d get out.” They are wrong.

      1. SHG Post author

        I wonder whether the potential client reports back to others that his lawyer was truthful with him and refused to take money for representation that had no merit, or that you were a greedy lawyer who left him imprisoned despite this great legal argument. Or that you’re too stupid and lazy to realize how brilliant his argument was. Who knows?

        1. Jonathan Edelstein

          It goes both ways. I do appeals and post-conviction work for a living, and I turn down at least three quarters of the people that ask me to represent them. Sometimes, later on, I get a letter saying that someone recommended me because I didn’t bullshit them. Other times I get responses that are full of cusswords or that try to school me on the law.

          Jailhouse lawyers network, BTW. I can always tell what argument they’re all making this year, because I start getting multiple letters about it from current clients or from people who’ve written to me in the past. One time it was that the prison didn’t have a certificate of conviction on file; another time it was that the defendant’s name was only mentioned in the caption of the indictment and not the body (an argument that relied on a 19th-century case decided at a time when “caption” basically meant “court jacket”); yet another time it was that defense counsel was given an unsigned copy of the indictment. They love indictment and grand jury issues, and most of them don’t understand how the procedural bars that apply to post-conviction proceedings might affect those issues. I’ve spent many hours debunking these arguments that could have been spent much more profitably.

    3. David

      Scott’s post was highly complementary to you, Shon. The first sentence of your first comment (the others are disjointed because you failed to use reply and kept starting new threads) was “Scott makes a number of valid observations.”

      And then, you (and you alone), decided that the way to defend jailhouse lawyers was by shifting blame to lawyers. And then, to add to the mess, you decided to blame lawyers for not doing enough pro bono. This wasn’t Scott’s doing. This was yours.

      He called out the naivete of your assertions, and he was being kind to characterize them that way. You didn’t appreciate it, and then called Scott condescending for trying to nicely tell you that your ideas were terribly lacking in nuance. You didn’t appreciate that either, and down into the hole you went.

      And finally, you now tell Scott he’s a troll, at his blog, on a post that was entirely complementary to you, and where every problem that followed was entirely of your own making.

      I sent Scott an email about how sad it was to watch you implode. I now say it in a comment. I agree with Scott that in a few years, you may begin to understand where you went wrong, but for now, you are so bent at vindicating your “honor” that you are incapable of seeing what is painfully clear to the rest of us. This is very sad, Shon.

  4. Shon Hopwood

    Scott, I don’t think the Marshall Project article was making any great claim about jailhouse lawyers or their effectiveness. I think you’ve read that into it. It was a descriptive piece.

    I also think you’re right that just because lawyers are bad, doesn’t make jailhouse lawyers not bad. That was never my claim. I used that as an example because it seems unfair for you to make the claim that the “vast majority” of jailhouse lawyers are dangerous, given that the licensed bar can’t even clean up their own and many criminal defense lawyers are just as dangerous. (I have great fondness and love for criminal defense lawyers, but I’d also tell you that I’ve seen far too many unethical criminal defense lawyers in my over ten years working with them.)

    I also don’t think that learning the law is beyond people who haven’t gone to law school. Of course, not everyone can do it. But I don’t see myself as particularly smart and I was able to learn it. I know many others in prison who’ve learned habeas law and are far better than most licensed attorneys at it.

    And while I appreciate the compliment, I’d also tell you that I’m not the only “freak of nature.” Four jailhouse lawyers won cases at the prison where I was incarcerated. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence by any means, but it happened more than people would think.

    As to my entitlement showing, I completely agree. The law is not the noble profession we make it out to be, and lawyers don’t have any obligation to provide pro bono services. In fact, we should quit romanticizing lawyers. We should quit treating the practice of law as a privilege. And we should quit pretending that things like a character and fitness test, a J.D., and a bar exam equal competence and ethics. They don’t. I completely agree that most people become lawyers to make money, not to make a difference. So let’s stop pretending. Let’s end the entitlement that comes from being a licensed attorney. I’m completely with you on this one.

    1. SHG Post author

      Sigh. I wrote nice things about you, but this comment is horribly naïve and immature. Now that you’ve graduated law school, it’s time to start seeing things in far greater depth than this comment reflects. Even though you’ve chosen to go a route that will lead you to be discounted by people who are hugely more knowledgeable than you are, I prefer to let it slide because I really have no purpose in taking you to task and it will be obvious to anyone knowledgeable without my having to explain it.

      But put this comment away and look at it in 10 years. It will remind you how much you’ve learned. I hope.

    2. Sgt. Schultz

      While SHG may be feeling particularly gracious today, I’m not. See the comment above yours by Piedmont, where he writes of how hard it is to make a living as a criminal defense lawyer? That’s real, not your infantile fantasy that lawyers who don’t serve you for free aren’t noble and just greedy fucking assholes.

      You were given some damn fine props for your achievements, and squandered them on this childish stupdity. Had you kept your mouth shut, no one would know that your reach far, far exceeds your grasp. So you hate lawyers who didn’t sacrifice their lives for you?

      You’re right. You’re no freak of nature, just a selfish, ignorant, simplistic entitled dumbass who got lucky. It’s surely not because you’re so smart, as you’ve now conclusively proven not to be the case.

      1. Shon Hopwood

        Sgt. Schultz,

        You misread (and greatly so) what I wrote and claimed. Please see the above reply to Scott’s comment.

        I don’t think all lawyers are greedy or that anyone should give me anything. I never made that claim.

        All I said is that lawyers, ALL lawyers, could do more than they are currently doing about indigent representation and that court should appoint more lawyers to help indigent prisoners. That is something the ABA, judges, state bar associations, and a number of legal scholars have also called for. So I’m not alone in making that comment.

        I sympathize with anyone having a hard time making a living. I’ve been there.

        But I don’t feel the need to be Scott’s sycophant. I disagree with his views about jailhouse lawyers.

        1. Mort

          So how much of your time will you spend on such cases for the indigent? 10%? 20%? Half?

          Why not more? Don’t you care? Don’t they deserve it? Why won’t you do ONLY pro bono work?

          1. SHG Post author

            Maybe he will dedicate his services to the indigent. There’s no reason to suggest he’s hypocritical about it. He just doesn’t understand the societal and professional implications, but that doesn’t mean he won’t do what he thinks is right.

  5. Myles

    And I post about jailhouse lawyers becomes a post about Hopwood’s butthurt. Thrilling, because I don’t hear my own kids whining enough.

  6. Amateur Bono

    (this was a long comment section and I apologize if this point has been made)

    To the extent that criminal defense lawyers are not allowed to work on contingency of victory, these restrictions should be relaxed or abolished. There are some valid, and some less valid, arguments for having them. But I believe that these would be outweighed by cutting out a lot of B.S. and better aligning the incentive structures of the lawyer and client on the defense side.

    A lawyer paid on contingency of victory would be very unlikely to take a case he wasn’t likely to win (thereby sending very valuable information down the line as to what arguments lawyers really know to be losers). This can work out better for some broke clients as well, because a lawyer might be willing to take an easy slam dunk case knowing that his client will be out and thus able to work off the payment.

    I think this goes a long way towards working on what both you and Shon seem to see as problems.

    I’m less enthused about pro bono work and PD offices picking up the slack. A lot of “free” work gives you what you pay for (the attorney is just doing his time until he gets back to his paying clients) and PD’s have some decent incentives to develop good relationships with the DA and judges (by this I mean, to butter each others’ bread and not make trouble for the judges’ reputations); but since they only see you once… “Hey, take this plea!”

    Now of course the usual caveats that not all so-and-so’s are like that. But institutional incentives drive results, and from an economic perspective you’re likely only to get high quality unremunerated help from that rare breed who just get off on helping others. There is no “solution” to the problems of justice and incentives, but there are impediments. 1.5d is, I believe, an impediment.

    1. SHG Post author

      No, don’t go there. Much as I’m a big fan of incentives, this idea is nuts for a million reasons. But since this is so monumentally off topic, I’m not going there and won’t let anyone else. So no, no, no. No.

  7. Daniel

    I think you figured out correctly that you (and I) gave Shon credit for understanding what he was talking about, and he really lacked the level of sophistication to engage in a discussion with you. He really didn’t mean what he was saying, and really didn’t understand that to lawyers, they have a far more developed meaning than what he understood.

    It is sad. I would have expected far greater sophistication out of him. And, frankly, far less defensiveness. It was embarrassing to read.

    1. SHG Post author

      I think that’s right. I’m surprised at this, particularly under the circumstance. I would have expected him to be substantially more aware. It was pretty much the level of a non-lawyer, and not a particularly astute non-lawyer at that.

    2. Shon Hopwood

      Daniel,

      Yes, it is hard to be sophisticated when the goalposts are constantly moving. The thread started out as a criticism of the Marshal Project and then as a criticism of jailhouse lawyers. But after I made the commonsense comment that jailhouse lawyers are better than nothing and they will continue to be a necessity until either courts appoint more lawyers for indigent prisoners or the bar steps up, that spiraled into me criticizing all lawyers for making a living, something I never said. I then made a sarcastic comment in response to Scott and then everyone started taking pot shots and making insults. Even after I said repeatedly that my comment was not directed to criminal defense or public defenders.

      I think almost anyone would become defensive in that setting.

      I won’t be responding anymore so you all can keep piling on. Some of your comments are strikingly similar to, well, to others I’ve read after someone has written an article about me.

      As for Scott, sorry I cannot live up to your ideal. But I’d rather be completely unsophisticated, than act like you. I, for instance, am not so quick to infer bad intent. But to each their own.

      1. Daniel

        Shon,

        I deliberately wrote my comment in a new threat, rather than as a reply to you. Your behavior was atrocious, your excuses misguided. You are angry and defensive, but stamping your feet does not make you come off any better.

        If I had something to say that I thought would get through to you, I would try, but I don’t. You won’t listen, and it has tainted you in my eyes. And, knowing the popularity of SJ, likely in the eyes of many thousands of lawyers. You could have stopped being angry and tried to understand what Scott was trying to tell you, but instead you just persisted in your defensiveness. I don’t know whether you’re sincere in not commenting any more, but I feel confident that your only reaction would be to continue to defend yourself.

        No, you are not a victim here. No, Scott did not infer bad intent. He inferred the level of understand one would reasonably expect of a law school graduate, and you failed miserably.

        I don’t wish to discuss, argue or have anything further to do with you. I’m not here for you. I’m here for Scott, who has gone far beyond anything I’ve ever seen in trying to be kind to you given your atrocious conduct. And nothing I’ve said here will make any difference to you.

          1. Daniel

            Yes, he did. But I suspect he wouldn’t show anyone else the same courtesy you’ve shown him, and he certainly hasn’t earned it from you.

          2. Sgt. Schultz

            I just re-read all his comments, and you’re wrong. I get why you are being so nice to him, but he sounds like every whiny, entitled, narcissistic baby lawyer. Without a good kick in the pants to make him grow up, he’s going to squander whatever talent he has. And like the rest, he’s going to hide in his happy circle where no one will ever tell him what a piece of shit he is. Not good for anyone.

          3. Mort

            Yeah, he came here, and was… Well… Dumb. Or at least clueless. That would cause anyone to have a bad day.

            The difference is, most of the rest of us shut the hell up after you (rightly) thrash us when we’re dumb.

  8. William Doriss

    This is a torrable thread, one of the worst. It’s upsetting, really.

    Hey look, I know a man, a friend of mine, who was serving a life sentence in Florida for a “crime” he did not commit. He did his own petitions for relief. He was unable to get legal representation. I was privy to those petitions. They were excellent. He was unbelievably self-taught in the law from prison. He addressed the principle issues, which were the junk science upon which his false conviction was was based (a topic addressed on this blawg site recently). He was repeatedly shot down. He is now deceased. This is unforgivable and unforgettable abuse by the so-called criminal justice system in the State of Florida.
    These abuses are legion and repeated regularly throughout the land on a daily basis. They are just now starting to get press on a regular basis: NPR, for example has a new(s) story every day, if you are paying attention. Even the N.Y. Times is catching on. Can Gov. Jerry Brown be far behind?

    At this point, while I see both sides of the debate, my sympathies lie with Shon above,… for the very simple reason that IAMNAL,… AND have sat at the defense table facing serious charges (w/out having to suffer lengthy incarceration when all was said and done [to me, the defendant]). Private legal counsel at a reasonable cost was out of reach and entirely competent PD counsel was simpley not provided–as previously posted. These types of situations open the door for “jailhouse lawyers”, or whatever you want to call them. This is the market place at work in the legal arena, Arthur Laffer-breath: Supply-side legal counsel, from wherever!?! Ronald RayGun is turning over in his grave.

    It is not the argument that lawyers are not entitled to make a decent living. We’ve discussed this as well, at length, in recent weeks under another posting here and elsewhere. It is simpley that with all the lawyers out there, the void is not being, and has most likely, never been filled for the average defendant–especially the innocent and/or the indigent ones. Just ask the Innocence Project. It’s a serious problem, one that needs to be addressed immediately if not sooner. I believe that is what Shon Hopwood is driving at. If you don’t like his language or his nuance, well, that’s too bad for you. Get a life. He’s doing the best he can under the circumstances. His efforts deserved to be recognized, IMO, even if imperfect.

    There is no substitute for sitting at the defense table facing serious charges by the State and being sentenced to incarceration, for even one day,… for sharpening the mind. You sober up pretty quickly. Some of us even get smarter than we were before. Ha. It’s too bad the State actors keep getting dumber and are never held accountable for errors and willful malfeasances. This is not how it was supposed to be.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s perfectly understandable, Bill. Remember last time you made this point, and I asked you when you were having a free day at the antique shop? If I recall correctly, you never gave me the date. But others should be free for you because you needed it. Yes, I understand.

      1. William Doriss

        The answer is, we’re always either free or accommodating for the needy, irregardless of date and time. We have a long and proven track record in that regard, whether the State has a record of it or not. Hopefully, we’ve cleared that up. For you, any day is a freebie: All you can carry in one trip only! Many have helped us and many have refused help. The most intransigent were in the legal arena, FYI. No luv lost between me and your enterprising peers. We need not pursue the topic. IANA = I am not alone. But you’re dooing a heck of a job there, Brownie.

        1. SHG Post author

          Next time I’m up there, you’re gonna regret this day. And you know, I believe you are accommodating of the needy. That’s the kinda guy you are.

          I was in an antique store the other day to buy a platter that my wife liked. The price was $350, but I got her down to $325. It was worth @ $150, but I bought it anyway. It will make my wife happy.

          1. William Doriss

            What kinda platter?? I woulda sold it to ya for 35, + tax. Ha.
            Making the wife happy is v. important!

  9. Shon Hopwood

    Scott,

    I should probably end the experiment now that most people are done commenting. Let me start by apologizing, I don’t normally employ this sort of ruse. By that I mean I don’t usually post claims on blogs that I, myself, find demonstrably false.

    I’m not quite the naïve and, as some on here have called me, “dumb” recent law school graduate I seem. When Scott asked me to comment, I thought he really wanted to hear my thoughts, even if they were critical. After I made the first comment, a good friend of mine, who has Simple Justice on his RSS feed, quickly phoned me and said what would happen if I challenged Scott. Or if I wasn’t deferential to established lawyers. I didn’t realize that a large segment of the audience follows solely to see Scott tear up those he feels are less experienced. Or, in the parlance of Simple Justice, people watch to see Scott give “butthurt” to “baby lawyers.”

    Had I known that was the shtick, I would never have commented. That’s on me. I normally avoid comments on the Internet for the obvious reason that they are generally short on both substance and decorum.

    I also made a small mistake in my first comment. I wrote, “Until the courts provide representation or until the bar steps up and provides more pro bono services, jailhouse lawyers will, unfortunately, be a necessary option for indigent prisoners.” The “and” after “steps up” should have been an “or.” I should’ve slowed down and reread my comment before posting it. Again, that mistake is on me, and I can see why Scott took offense. It will become clear what I meant by the bar stepping up in the following paragraphs.

    I was not prepared for your comment that followed. After the “entitlement” comment (which I found condescending and demeaning), I decided to take a different path. As I said, I generally loathe Internet commentary spaces. But I do use them. I like to start Reddit threads about ideas I’m considering for scholarship and to explain those ideas to non-lawyers. One, to see if they make sense to lay people; and two, to see how people respond. This is what I did yesterday.

    It wasn’t hard. I trumpeted a few worn law school tropes, and once Scott framed the debate as me tearing down lawyers trying to earn a living, most commenters were quick to jump on the bandwagon. (This is a particularly acute problem on solo legal blogs because the audience is there to follow the host not to have a substantive commentary or a free flow of ideas. Plus, the host can squelch contrary views, although I’m not claiming Scott did that. Somehow I don’t think Scott would shy away from criticism. Because of this phenomenon, when I do read commentary on the legal blogosphere, I find multi-person blogs, like The Volokh Conspiracy or Balkinazation, to be of much higher quality in terms of comments).

    The reason my posts were so disjointed is because my friend wrote one or two of them, and he and I didn’t always reply to the correct thread. It was his idea to use ALL CAPS because he assumed the minions would quickly pounce and all sense of civility would end. To Scott’s credit, he didn’t take the bait.

    I think Scott had an inkling that I wasn’t being truthful. You can tell by his responses that he cannot square my successes with my naïveté. He was right to question my faulty assumptions.

    But Scott also never questioned his own assumption. He assumed I was badmouthing lawyers when I wasn’t. (I wrote many partial truths in my posts including that I generally don’t infer bad intent until proven.) I take it that Scott has a particular hatred for the notion that lawyers should be required to provide pro bono hours. I agree. Those who know me were quick to notice that I was, what the English call “taking the piss,” in my comments. My friends know I have very strong Libertarian views on the law and I’d never seriously advocate that government, or an association of one’s peers, should be able to force lawyers into providing free services. I view that as akin to theft.

    In fact, this is the subject of some scholarship I’ve been working on. That was largely why I kept “digging” myself a hole. To see what the response would be.

    There is considerable tension (well, no “tension” is a Wiesel word). There is a fundamental disconnect between what law students and new lawyers are taught about our profession (and how law professors, the judiciary, and bar associations sell the profession to the public) and how real practicing attorneys think about the profession. My scholarship is on that conflict and how it applies to indigent representation and the American experiment of mass incarceration.

    To give an example, I can’t tell you how many times I heard in law school how practicing law is a privilege and with that privilege comes certain responsibilities. You will hear the same trope coming from those wishing to force practicing lawyers to perform more pro bono hours. Like Scott, I find this view simplistic and quite elitist. But this view nevertheless prevails in how the legal profession is ordered. For example, because the legal profession is a privilege (versus a right to make a living), the profession can create huge hurdles as a cost of entry. Six figure law school debt and character & fitness tests result in groups of people most affected by criminal laws and mass incarceration to be shutout of the profession. There are quite a few people who would serve indigent prisoners for smaller salaries, if they didn’t have to run the gauntlet of law school, considerable debt, and bar admission. That is just one of the themes I explore in my paper. My conclusion is that bar associations shouldn’t force lawyers to work for free in order to serve the underserved (in part, because I view such practices as unconstitutional). The better solution is for bar associations to loosen the reins on those who can practice law at least for those areas of the law that are continually underserved (areas like prisoner rights, habeas, housing and tenant law, and the like). That was what I originally meant by the bar “stepping up.” (Again, it I acknowledge my imprecise language caused some of Scott’s initial blowback.) Washington State, where I’m licensed, has recently created a licensed paralegal regime that I note could serve as a model.

    I really wanted to see what practicing lawyers thought about the forced pro bono idea. I got my answer.

    And part of the reason I kept the ruse up so long was my selfishness. I am particularly sensitive to how practicing lawyers view me. There are many who think I shouldn’t be practicing law because I went to prison. And there are many who consider me a “baby” lawyer, even though I’ve been practicing law for 15 years. Yes, what I did in prison was no different than what I do now. Or what I did after prison, when I ghostwrote briefs for lawyers and law firms (under their supervision, of course) around the country. The only difference is that I now have a license. But the license alone didn’t confer any sort of experience I hadn’t gained prior to becoming licensed.

    All this is to say that I was quite interested to see how people would respond to me. I thought Scott was unfair initially, but he grew much kinder as the day went on. I thank him for that. I thought his comment that I was having a “bad day” was particularly kind. Who hasn’t had a bad day? But there were many other comments (the ones like “whiny bitch” and “childish” and “dumb”) that exposed biases about new lawyers and maybe even about how people view former prisoners.

    Anyway, this comment is way too long, and I shouldn’t have used Scott’s board as my own laboratory. For that I apologize. Take care, Simple Justice.

    1. SHG Post author

      Damn. Well played, Mr. Hopwood. And so much for a street-smart old lawyer thinking he’s not easily sucked in.

      I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your scholarship. Your story is inspirational, to lawyers and inmates alike, as we want the innocent to prevail, we want good law, we want constitutional rights honored and violations addressed. We want Shon Hopwood to enjoy continued success.

      If there is anything useful you can take away from this, the problems are real, but the solutions are neither simple nor binary. There are nuances that must considered, realities that defy theory, and unintended consequences and dangers that compel serious consideration before gut reactions kick in.

      I’m a huge fan of Washington State’s 3Lt, and proposed a remarkably similar concept before Washington came up with it.

      Almost all good criminal defense lawyers do substantial amounts of pro bono, just because that’s the way we roll. And I would venture to say that most CDLs are good, caring and zealous lawyers. Yes, there are mutts among us, but most of us are hard-working lawyers trying to save lives one at a time. It’s not sufficient by any stretch, but one of the gravest problems we face is a societal inclination to dump its failure to fund representation for the thousands of crimes it creates and adores on our back, as if it’s our duty to clean up their mess.

      We do it because we choose to do it. We do it to help. We do not do it to take the responsibility off society. And no, the rest of the bar is useless, whether by choice or by skillset. We can’t blame a corporate lawyer for lacking the chops to try a criminal case, and yet, that leaves the gap unfilled.

      Don’t blame others (who, by the way, never hesitate to rip me a new one when they think I’m off base) for being upset with some of your suggestions (you sneaky troll, you), as they attacked what we do at its core, while everyone complains about our “greediness” while most struggle to earn subsistence wages. From the outside, it may well appear that SJ readers are my fanboys, but as they will tell you, it’s not because they love me so dearly, but that they share my experience in the trenches. We agree organically, not because I’m such a swell guy.

      I still hope you realize that your experience, first as jailhouse lawyer, then ghostwriter, now as scholar, isn’t the same as what we experience. We are always learning, always experiencing. You will be too, even if it seems as if you’ve already paid your dues. Try running a law office, dealing with clients, judges, juries, witnesses, cops, prosecutors in the trenches, and you’ll find that brief-writing is about as sanitary as it gets in criminal law. It gets a whole lot worse from there.

      Kick ass, Shon. I look forward to your next Supreme Court win. But next time, just ask. We’re happy to oblige without the unpleasantness. We are your supporters. We hope you will be ours as well.

      1. bmaz

        Yes, most private crim defense attys I know, me included, do quite a bit of pro bono work. Much of it intentionally, some inadvertently. In the end I almost always feel good about both forms.

  10. Shon Hopwood

    Thanks Scott. I appreciate you and all criminal defense lawyers. That was probably the hardest part of keeping up the ruse yesterday. That criminal defense lawyers and public defenders would believe I think they are greedy. And, if you noticed, in one comment I couldn’t keep it up.

    I thought your comments yesterday about the privilege of practicing law were spot on. I only wish you were running bar associations.

    And I am really sorry about the trolling. I felt bad all last night and that is why I wanted to make amends first thing this morning. I actually get where you are coming from. Law students and new lawyers are coddled almost from birth these days, and they need a good slapping down now and then. I will admit that you really got in my feelings with the entitlement comment because I personally don’t feel entitled to anything, and I’m hugely blessed to be in the position I’m in considering all of my horribly poor decision in my early 20s.

    You are quite the adversary. Glad I don’t have to go against you in court.

    I will send you a link when this piece of scholarship is published. I think you will find it particularly interesting.

    Thank you.

    Shon

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