Catching Up

I’m back.  Reading through the 597 posts written by blawgers in my brief absence makes me wonder if there is already far too much being written, and that my efforts are at best redundant and superfluous, and at worst a total waste of your time.  Still, I appreciate the efforts of my fellow blawgers, since I now feel confident that I haven’t missed a thing.  They do a great job, with a particular shout out to Gideon, who appears to be back on that stallion at A Public Defender riding at full gallop.

Even my psycho stalker has been busy in my absence, creating a website [sorry if you missed it, but it’s gone now] dedicated to claiming I’m a pedophile who went on a sex vacation to chase young boys by piecing together sound bites from my podcast with CharonQC.  Sick minds work in sick ways.

There were, of course, far too many spam comments to be cleaned up, but that’s just the normal housekeeping demanded of any blawger.  Fortunately, most of you ignored that nasty Orin Kerr’s call to action, and left no beer bottles on the coffee table.  Those rings are almost impossible to get out.

I see some fun comments which, under other circumstances, I would have had some fun playing with. Too bad this one, from Law is 4 Losers, came at such an inopportune time.  He has elevated whining to an art form. 

Much of the day will be spent getting through the emails and phone messages that can’t, in good conscience, be deleted. Many posts that might otherwise have been written will never see the light of day. One that won’t be put to words, but I just can’t ignore, is the New York Times article about the NYSACDL’s choice of honoring Robert Morgenthau at the annual dinner, for which (I’m told) the association is in the hole for about 100 attendees.

Craig Schlanger, the departing president of the association, said that Mr. Morgenthau was selected by a committee of about six people and that he was the first prosecutor the organization has ever honored.

“It’s a very close call,” Mr. Schlanger said. “I can understand why it’s controversial.”
If only that were true, then Craig might understand why the association will end with his tenure.  Can there be a committee of “about six?”  Few people get to preside over the death of an association, and never before has it been done so well.  There will be a new and viable association of criminal defense lawyers once the members of this one decide what its mission should be.  But the NYSACDL has been dead for years, its officers doing nothing more than playing Norman Bates and collecting dues from the foolish laggards to pay the AmEx bill.

There is only one question about an occurrence while I was away that remains unanswered.  Why, if the Supremes were going to issue a one sentence per curiam opinion in Briscoe v. Virginia, adhering to Melendez-Diaz, did they put it through a full briefing and oral argument rather than issue a summary reversal?  Who needs that much drama?

30 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. Jeff Gamso

    In your absence, I answered the Briscoe question you asked. I’d link to the answer, but not allowed. You’ll just have to read all the entries.

  2. Lee

    Scott, I’ve been away from the blogs for awhile, bogged down or swept up (depending on your perspective) in the Twitter mania I railed so loudly against at its inception. I’ve returned to my original position, that it is a pretty worthless medium for information (though for casual communication it is ok). So, I’m back, learning for the first time how to use Google Reader so that I don’t have to manually check every blog I’d like to follow and I want to make sure you know that your blog is very valuable. Whether the things you write about are written elsewhere or not, I have yet to find such a prolific blog that almost uniformly writes about things of interest to me with wit and insight (though you lose me when you begin yelling about the marketing, another reason I’m moving away from Twitter). So, fight on.

    (Paranthetically) yours,

  3. SHG

    Thanks Lee.  And I forgive you about the marketing thing.  Nobody’s perfect.  You may feel differently if you ever get a real job. 

  4. SHG
    Would that be this post, where you write:

    Still, once in a while, on rare occasions, something just offends, and they can’t get past it. So here’s my theory.

    The Solicitor General shared argument time with Virginia. In response to a string of questions, the Assistant SG, albeit grudgingly, acknowledged that while there might be some undefined due process problem with it, the Confrontation Clause did not actually require the state to present witnesses at trial in order to obtain a conviction. Affidavits would do. If the defendant wanted to cross-examine the authors of the affidavits, the defendant could call them as witnesses.

    JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Could you — are you suggesting — or are you saying even a trial by affidavit is okay under the Confrontation Clause? Is that your position?

    MS. KRUGER: Our principal submission is that the Confrontation Clause allows the government to rely on affidavits, so long as it bring the affiants into court, so that the defendant can ask whatever —

    (Transcript here.)

    At which point, to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, they all moved away from her from behind the bench.

    I didn’t read it first time around because, well, I don’t really care all that much about dogs and didn’t see the Arlo Guthrie reference until now.

  5. John S. Wallenstein

    Scott: I must take issue with your post about the NYSACDL honoring Morgenthau tonight. Disclaimer: I am a member of the Board. First of all, not only are we NOT down 100 memebrs, as you state, but our registration for the dinner will likely exceed our expectations. We expect close to 200 people, if not more. Second, teh Association is far from dead and will exist succesfully for a long time to come…you have clearly been drinking Tom liotti’s Kool-Aid.

  6. SHG

    Forget Tommy Liotti.  He’s insane, though not entirely wrong.  You may be singing the company song, John, but don’t forget that I was on that same board, both as member and VP, long before.  The association has had no purpose for years except to raise enough money to pay the executive director.  I left the board when my fellow members and officers were so enamoured of their important positions that they were unable to see that the Association did absolutely nothing for the defense bar.

    And now it gives an award to Morgenthau.  Tonight will tell how many people will show. You need 200 just to break even, no less raise enough money to pay the executive director for the coming year.

  7. John S. Wallenstein

    I know you were on the Board and VP, Scott, but you might be surprised to learn of the accomplishments recently. CLE (I’m running one next week), amicus briefs, etc.,….nonetheless, as someone once said “everyone’s entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong they might be”. have a good weekend.

  8. SHG

    Running a CLE isn’t exactly an accomplishment, but I guess when that’s all there is, that’s all there is.  We’ll find out tonight how many good paying members have chosen to come to the dinner, so there won’t be any need to speculate.

    Enjoy the dinner and give Morgy my best.

  9. SHG

    Cognitive dissonance has stretched the definition of success more than it can possibly take when it comes to the NYSACDL.  They wouldn’t know what a successful criminal defense bar association did if it bit them in the ass.

    But in fairness to John, he’s a relatively new board member and has no idea what a real association is supposed to do, or what a successful dinner is supposed to be like. Like most happy newcomers, he’s a cheerleader for now.  He’s just so happy to be an important board member that he’ll squint his eyes until everything looks happy and wonderful.  None of the very important board members think there’s a problem, as they pat themselves on the back and give themselves “presidential” awards. 

  10. John S. Wallenstein

    Scott, your insults and smugness are uncalled for and inappropriate. Unsubscribe me from your blog and please, go fuck yourself.

  11. SHG

    Nice language John.  A word of advice: When you make ridiculous pompous assertion based upon your personal say-so to people who know far more about the subject than you do, expect to be called on it.  Frankly, I’ve been more than kind to you. Sorry that the truth hurt your feelings, but if you’re too soft to take the hit, than go back to the playground with the other children.

    You’ll have to unsubscribe yourself.

  12. Steve

    You are a total douche. You want to “disagree” and attack Scott for drinking Liotti’s Kool-Aid, and spew total crap because you’re a “member of the board.” Big deal. And when you get called on your stupidity (and only a complete moron wouldn’t know that you’re totally full of shit), you cry like baby.

    Man-up, you weenie. No wonder the NYSACDL is worthless with assholes like you on the board. I bet you run away and cry whenever a DA looks at you funny. What a pussy.

  13. SHG

    Don’t be so harsh on John.  He suffers from a disease that often afflicts the pompous, that he can say what he pleases and, because he holds such a very important position, remain above criticism and demand unearned respect.  But you’re unfortunately correct that this disease is in large part responsible for why the Association has become an abysmal failure, as its sycophants are so taken with themselves that they have forgotten the membership and the mission.

  14. John S. Wallenstein

    Speaking of man-up, at least you know my name…you want to hide nehind your first name and question my comments, do it publicly so the world can know who you are and where you’re coming from.

  15. Past President

    John, I am a past president. I have no intention to give my name, as I will not get into a pissing match with the likes of you. I don’t know who you are or why you deserve to be on the board of directors. I’ve never heard of you before.

    But you have embarrassed yourself and the Association. I do not agree with Scott that the NYSACDL is dead, or should die. However, I fully understand Scott’s complaints and issues. I believe it can emerge from its current state, with a new board and officers as the current ones are responsible for its horrendous condition and have neither the competence nor will to change things. It’s in the toilet now, and we all know it. It doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be, but it is. You are in part responsible for this.

    Do the honorable thing and resign from the board immediately so that someone competent can take your seat. You clearly have nothing useful to offer. And the rest of the new board members and officers should go with you so that we can clean up the mess you’ve made.

  16. John S. Wallenstein

    Well, Mr. past president, as far as I’m concerned you’re just another anonymous critic without the fortitude to identify himself. My email address is on the website, as I’m sure you know. If you want to have a private discussion about any of this, please feel free, but I won’t continue this in this forum..

  17. Rick Horowitz

    Wow. I’ll come out of retirement long enough to say: “Sounds like a fairly typical criminal defense bar.” What is it about us that makes it so hard to work TOGETHER?

  18. Jeff Gamso

    It’s all animal metaphors. Getting us together is like herding cats. We’re basically lone wolves.

    There’s plenty to that.

    It’s pretty much endemic to the species of criminal defense lawyer that we’re anti-authoritarian and uncomfortable with organized anything. We don’t like to be told what to do, and we rather relish thumbing our noses at those who try.

    We can work together, but it’s hard. And sustaining organization is especially tough for us.

  19. Rick Horowitz

    I get the anti-authoritarian bit. It’s why I don’t comment much anymore. But we should at least be better able to work together when doing so clearly could benefit us and our clients.

  20. SHG

    For crying out loud, Gamso, would it kill you to use the “reply” button so that the conversation makes a minimal amount of sense?  Sheesh.

    Cat herding is one problem.  Focus is another.  Institutional memory is yet another.  Over time, people leave and are replaced by new people, often for the wrong reasons.  Purpose is forgotten and being a member of the club is all that remains.  The founding members used to fight like cats and dogs, but always for a higher purpose.  Today, they don’t fight, but they also don’t have the slightest clue why the association was founded or exists. 

    Now, it’s merely self-perpetuation colored by some platitudes that satisfy the simple minded.  The paternalistic culture is patently offensive, as if the members are too stupid or worthless to know what’s actually going on or how their money is spent.  The association remains needed, but I don’t believe that it can ever dig itself out of the hole in which it now exists.  I’m of the view that it must first crash and burn before a group of lawyers, as substantial and high-minded as the founders of the association, reconstitute it with a meaningful vision and a goal to serve its members. 

    I remember when the association served several vital purposes, and served the interests of its members.  But its current board and officers weren’t around then. They don’t know why the association exists, and act as if its only purpose is to raise enough money to perpetuate itself for another year, pretending that a few half-baked, poorly attended CLEs and a dinner (where no member is deemed worthy of getting its traditional awards anymore) fund raiser.  Not that their lack of institutional memory stops them from pontificating about how wonderful they’re doing.  Most of the functions have been dormant for years, and they don’t even realize it.

  21. Mark Bennett

    It may just be cyclical. About a decade ago, I was fed up with HCCLA: standing for nothing while pandering to judges and prosecutors. I thought about starting the BTMFDBA. HCCLA came back, though; it took some new blood and the right sequence of leaders to get the membership fired up and get the old firebrands back on board.

  22. SHG

    Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about the death of the NYSACDL and see a group of firebrands seize control and return it to life.

    But as far as I can recall, there has never been contested seat, whether board or officer, and the nominating committee (controlled by the current president) has always installed whoever it selects without opposition.

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