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Showing posts from 2009
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So, the local magistrate reminded me today about a case where the Alaska Supreme Court got it wrong. In Alaska Board of Nursing v. Platt 169 P3d 595 (Alaska 2007), the Supreme Court gutted the idea of a suspended imposition of sentence. Alaska Statute 12.55.085 authorizes the superior court to suspend the imposition of a sentence and thereafter set aside a conviction if the defendant successfully completes a probationary period. It is not truly expunged but it was the best we had. The Court allowed the Board of Nursing to use the prior set aside convictions against her and refused to allow her to become a nurse. The question of whether or not she should have been a nurse is not the question. The question is 'what is the value of an SIS in Alaska'? The answer is 'not much'. It may take a defendant out of the presumptive sentencing scheme (which I can explain if people want) but Platt allows the collateral consequences of the conviction to remain. So, now…
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So, Alaska can be a hard place to be when you don't have many friends with common interests. In winter it is even more so. Now that the rental is almost done I feel I need to get out. Ride the snowmachine. Ice fish. Use the Rhino. The girls are not old enough yet to really get out. These things are hard to do by yourself. It is odd. I find myself in Alaska. A place that I love. But my closest friends all live within a hundred miles of each in other in Northern California. I know J would like to leave. But I can't see raising my girls anywhere else but Alaska. But I know that Alaska can be hard place to be. The winter is almost half over. The winter is almost half over. The winter is almost half over.
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So, Merry Christmas. As usual the girls were spoiled by their family. Thank you to everyone who sent presents. The girls got more than they need but it is still nice to see once a year. It is my hope that everyone, everywhere, is able to put aside all the troubles of their life for this one day. Be happy. Eat well. If you can, enjoy those around you. Let life resume tomorrow. For me, this is last bit of down time for a few months. My murder trial starts soon and the amount of 'overtime' I am about to put in will be staggering. I am looking forward to the work and I am looking forward to getting the family out of here for a few days afterwards. Have a good day everyone. P.S. AJ fell over and get a hell of a shiner. She looks like a 'bruiser' as her English family would say. Or a 'part time scrapper'....whatever the hell that is.
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So, my buddy Jesse hit a moose yesterday. He is ok but his truck? Well. It won't start. It is pretty mangled. And this was only a yearling. A small moose. It might only be my eyes but moose get darker in the winter. And when one of these big black bastards steps out in front of you....well. Our office manager hit one. A local judge hit one. Judge Huguelet was hurt because the hoof came in the window and broke his face and his arm. Totalled his car I understand. Ouch. About 600 moose a year are hit by cars in Alaska. I have got 9. So about 1/2 of 1% of all roadkill moose in Alaska go to the Adams family. I think poor old Gromit would have liked it that way. God I miss that dog. But it is part of the charm, and risk, of living in Alaska. I like to imagine one of my girls somewhere one day. Somewhere warmer and greener. Driving her car. "Hey slow down...there are deer on these roads". She will just say "boy, where I come from, the red calves dropped in the sp…
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So. Tilt, bitch, tilt. Now we start gaining day light. And, in a total coincidence, today was above freezing. All day. Light and warmth? Life is good in Alaska today.
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So, some people believe in fancy store bought Christmas trees. You know one with lots of pretty even branches and all that. Not me. I think part of Christmas in Alaska is hauling one of these ugly little scrub spruce in and seeing what can be done to pretty it up. I had planned a big family expedition but it has just been too darned cold. So we cut one off the property. And it looks pretty good all decorated too. I was supposed to go snowmachining in the Caribou Hills today but, and those of you who know me won't blink at this, I got my snowmachine started and then it died and it won't start again. I damaged my bumper on the trailer. You know, the standard stuff for me. So I am going to cut my losses. Make food for the office Solstice lunch tomorrow..Mulligatawny soup and Naan bread is my part. After tomorrow the days start getting longer!! After 6 weeks of nights and weekends the house is just about done. One more night of work and then cleaning. The crack den is no more and …
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So, there is one thing I have to bitch about. In Alaska, the Public Defender Agency makes us pay our own bar dues. I believe the Department of Law had the same policy for DA's. I have never heard of this anywhere else. It certainly was not true even in (my hated) California. It is especially bad because State law says that Public Defender cannot have a practice on the side. I hear the Alaska State Bar just raised its dues to $500. So now I have to come up with $500. Total bullshit. One of the supposed benefits of being a government worker is not being out of pocket just to work. I wonder how much it would cost the Agency to pay the dues? Maybe $50,000. Out of budget of millions. It is hard to come up with $500. Especially as J now wants a third kid. My old roommate Matt Finnegan in Ukiah CA is running for District Attorney. Maybe I should go work for him. Bah. $500 my ass. I am pissed!!!!
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So, the Governor of Alaska has announced a new campaign to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault. It is shame that he only listened to one side of the story. He is mistaken in his views and his polices will do nothing. Here is why. First, there is a claim that the rate of 'domestic violence' in Alaska is higher than the national average. That is probably true. For two reasons. First, as I have blogged about before, the definition of domestic violence is absurdly broad. Second, when you combine that definition of domestic violence (especially) into Native villages, basically every crime committed is a crime of 'domestic violence'. I have no doubt that in some places, actual domestic violence may be a problem. But, after three years of practice in Alaska, I just don't see it. I wonder if anyone ever said to Governor Parnell "hey Alaska defines crimes of domestic violence really, really, really broadly. Before we freak out, let's look at h…
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So, the Alaska Public Defender Agency is hiring. I do not, of course, speak for the Agency in any way whatsoever but I simply figured I would do some free advertising. Quite frankly our office needs a misdemeanor lawyer. There are spots open throughout the State and I encourage anyone who is interested to call Doug Moody in Anchorage. Tell him I sent you if you wish. My only request is that you come to Alaska with the 'right' attitude. That is, although there are no guarantees in life, it really sucks to have people show up who treat this place as some sort of temporary flop house. Alaska deserves better. Hell, call me first and I will talk to you. There are pro's and con's of any job, and of life in Alaska, but the Agency is a damned good place to work. The pay is good, the lawyers are excellent and the support you need (experts, staff, supplies etc. is there). It is probably one of the few public defender organizations that IS hiring. Besides, it is Alaska. And ye…
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Huh. A man accused of killing 4 cops was gunned down by cops after 'refusing to obey orders'. Who would have guessed? Maybe it was justified. Maybe not. I'm just saying that if you had asked me to bet my left testicle (being sheared off with a rusty hedge clipper by a serial killer who then ate it in front of me) on how this would end, I would have guessed right. GASP!
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So, you know what the worst part of being a public defender is sometimes? Dealing with DA's who have simply lost their way. I recently asked a DA to arrange a meeting with some witnesses and he says 'no'! They are 'too busy'. Like he can tell me no. It is trite law that there is no property in a witness. The Alaska Supreme Court said so most recently in Murtagh v. State 169 P.3d 602 (Alaska 2007). So fine. Too busy? We'll see about it. It is just a typical power play by the DA. That is all I can say. Privilege aside, I know many local DA's and Judges read this blog. Maybe even the DA in question. Hey buddy...you are trying to convict a man of murder....this means he gets the highest level of defense work. Don't tell me that witnesses are 'too busy'. I hope when DA's or judges read this, they get a better sense of some of the crap we have to deal with. Here's a fu&^% clue for some DA's: read the law. Need that cite for Murtagh aga…
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So, let me tell you why I am a public defender. When I first went to law school I wanted to be a cop. Maybe Crown Counsel. Oh, my views were far different back then. That all changed on July 26, 1996. It was on that day that a search warrant was served at my home. It is a deeply personal story that involves betrayal and false allegations. I won't give all the details but my younger brother, for reasons that never became clear to me, made up some allegations. The police arrived in force in my yard. I was cuffed and my property was searched. What struck me at the time was that even as the police began to realize it was all bullshit, they didn't back off. They began to threaten me. Try to intimidate me. Luckily, I had just completed my first year of law school, and it was less than effective. I was hauled down to the police station and thrown into a cell with a bloody mattress. I was booked and released. For months the police threatened to charge with me an indictable offense, kn…
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So, happy Thanksgiving. To celebrate we took the turkey over to Jesse's house. It was nice. He had a friend in from Portland. His mom and her friend came over. Other friends came by. It was a house full of kids and dogs and chaos. We had all the traditional food and spent the afternoon drinking, watching football and playing Modern Warfare 2 on the X-Box. The food was excellent. The turkey, in particular, was a hit. One guest said it was the best turkey he had ever had. After all that food, even AJ looks hammered. It is 8:30 pm. and this guy is going to bed. Alaska must be the only place in the United States where government workers have to work on the friday after Thanksgiving. Sucks ass. Hope everyone everywhere has a full belly and is thankful for what they have tonight.
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So, I know what we are eating for Thanksgiving dinner. Do you? Or more importantly do you know how your meal lived? Died? What it ate? Thank you turkey. Even though, in your death throes, you did shatter the glass door to the chicken house. I respect you even more. Never go quietly into the night. 28 lbs dressed. You were right G....this is a big bird. I spent the rest of the day, unsucessfully, fixing the plumbing at the rental house. Good Lord. You know, despite it all (i.e the 'crack den' rental, the usual worries....) somehow I just feel 'better' this winter. In less than 30 days the days will begin getting longer. For some reason, I just feel 'ok'. What the hell?
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So, despite a busy Saturday, I still got to see my kids play in the snow. That's it. I won't talk about pipes (purposefully?) filled with broken glass and now frozen. I won't talk about moldy sub-floors or painting. Or not having enough money. Or an upcoming murder trial. I will try and forget all the other frustration in my life. I will instead, remember my little girls in front of an Alaskan sunset. On a sled. Tomorrow we kill our Thanksgiving bird and I will document that. I have never killed a bird in this kind of weather...it will be interesting.
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So, in a twist of irony, I called the police today. Made a report. Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up. I had no choice. The deal with the renters has gotten out of control. I won't go into details, but it really sucks. Last night I went over the house and discovered even more damage. The room that they had been growing pot in suffered water damage to the sub-floor. The entire sub floor had to be ripped out. I discovered mold growing underneath. The whole thing is turning out to be a big, and expensive, job. Then I discovered that neither the bathtub nor kitchen sink are working. I'm not sure what they did there yet....but it is bad. I think what really got me was this. I am doing a murder trial in February. A trial where I genuinely believe my client is innocent. The stress will be enormous. Immediately thereafter I want to take the 4 of us to Miami to see Josh. I would have been in a financial position to do it, but for these little shitrats. I looked at Melissa Gentry's myspace pag…
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So, it has gotten cold. It went from t-shirt weather a few days ago to -14 this morning when I went to work. It is about -10 outside right now. Even the animals feel it. We found this little owl right outside our back door perched on bottle of the finest whiskey. In other news, the administrative law judge denied Kadee's formal PFD appeal today. The division argued two things: first, that there was no guarantee that her sponsor (a local attorney) could be trusted with the money. I pointed out Alaska Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 and the ALJ agreed. That ridiculous point is gone. However, the division also argued that our 'temporary intent' to stay in the United States could be imputed onto Kadee. The ALJ agreed. I am disappointed but not surprised. Zobel had to go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States for justice. I may have to do the same. I am going to ask the ALJ to correct a few factual errors and then appeal to the Superior Court. Rack 'em. I j…
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So, my week of vacation is at an end. I didn't do much. The weather finally turned cold and on November 11, 2009, Soldotna got the first snow of the year. I worked on the rental a little. I didn't do as much as I might have as G was here. We played a lot of video games. Modern Warfare 2 is simply amazing. We drank a lot. Ate a lot of good food. Had a few adventures. Celebrated five years of marriage on November 13. Got some work done on the rental, although there is a lot to do. God, the damage is outstanding (thanks to Danny and Melissa Gentry of Alaska). The security guard from the courthouse (who is in his 70's) took pity on me and help lay the new laminate flooring. Thank God! I would have been there a month. I did mean to post more pictures but someone went into the rental in between jobs. Stole my camera and radio. Smoked oxycontin on tin foil. Left. I can't believe it! My FU&^ing camera! I just got it fixed too. This rental house causes me more stress than a…
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So, I'm at the rental fixing holes in drywall (thanks to Danny and Melissa Gentry of Soldotna or Kenai Alaska) when I get a call for road kill moose. Hell yeah, I'm going. Trashed rental or not. Great news, I thought. It was a giant old cow. I'm thinking, this is a lot of meat. I have been lucky with road kill moose so I thought my luck would hold. But this one was hit so hard it was just mush. Almost all of it. We got no backstraps and had to discard the ribs entirely. The front quarters were shattered bone and goo. It looked more or less fine until we started to get the hide off. When I hit guts in an area they shouldn't have been, I went 'oh-oh'. Out of an animal that was probably 600 lbs or more on the hoof, we might get 100 lbs of meat. Maybe. If we are lucky. So who helped me? A State Trooper buddy. Shocking! A public defender with a Trooper! Um, no. You see, not all cops wish they had a skin lamp in their living room. Just a few. I know who they are. The…
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So, I have this little rental. It is not much. It is the house we started in. I thought I would keep it as an 'investment'. I had a young couple move in. They were just starting out with a small child. So I agreed to keep the power in my name. I filled the oil tank so they could get through the winter and they agreed to fill it up when they left. I let them be late on rent and trade work for rent. I let things slide when things were tough, even though it was hard on me. Then, in October, they didn't pay rent at all, despite promise after promise after promise. So, I had to boot them. I even agreed to give them a few extra days because they told the judge that they would fill the oil tank. Pay the power bill. Clean the place. So Saturday came and went. They didn't move. I had to threaten to call the cops and exercise my writ of assistance. Finally, they "moved". The left behind two junked cars (one of which I don't how to move it is so 'set' in). A…
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So, happy Halloween. The orange stuff to the right of the moose was a pumpkin. The moose ate it and then promptly took a little nap. I think it is funny that in Alaska you have concerns that just don't exist anywhere else. Like moose eating your Jack o' lantern. Last night I had a run in with Sgt. Erickson. I got to call him a 'jackass' to his face. God I had forgotten how much I really dislike the cops. What a dick. I was wearing my 'Alaska Public Defender' sweatshirt and he decided to give me a hard time. I had to remind him about the 4th Amendment. I am about to take the kids out trick or treating...they are fairies (or something) this year. Hope everyone is safe out there.
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So, if people aren't looking information on life in Alaska or the Public Defender Agency, they want to know what the salary is for a Public Defender in Alaska. To be honest I'm not really sure. I think most people start somewhere above $50,000. If you are in the Bush it would be more. But the cost of living is a lot more there too. Salaries here are fairly good, as I hear stories of Public Defenders in other states starting at $32,000 or something absurd. When I started in Mendocino County, it was at $38,000. That was just dumb. I think most people in my office are making something in the range of $70,000 to $90,000 a year. People who work for the State in Alaska do not contribute to social security and it takes 5 years to fully vest in the retirement plan. Anyone who starts these days would be in Tier 4. The running joke among those of us in this tier, is that it is called "Tier Fucked". If I stay with the Agency I have to hope and pray that the market d…
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So, Snug Harbor road near Cooper Landing. I have tried twice before to get up it and have been turned around twice by the snow. Today I made it. Um, the end was only a few hundred yards past where I made it before. I did find a kick ass camping spot right on Kenai Lake though. It is just amazing up there. G and Ken will remember going up there to 4 wheel and shoot last November. The little clearing where we made a fire? It is now a parking lot! Up in the middle of nowhere there is now a parking lot in the place we camped and played around. What the hell? G is going to be here from November 7 to 15, so I am trying to plan a bunch of adventures. It just depends on the weather. We have had no snow yet this year and the weather is very, very mild. It is in the 40's during the day and we have only had a frost or two at night. If it stays that way maybe we will even go boat camping! G has never had a successful trip on the boat and it is time to break that curse. One la…
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So, I am absolutely fascinated lately by how people are finding this blog. Granted, searches for "Alaska Public Defender Agency" seem to be at the top. But nearly as many people want to know what life is like in Alaska. Do we get sick of the dark? The cold? What are the disadvantages to life in Alaska? The pros and cons to life in Alaska. I wish I had all the answers. This blog is about me. My friends and family. And I am an 'unusual' guy (waiting for the comments here). Not every one who lives here gets a kick out of road kill moose. Heating exclusively with wood (in my third winter in this house I am trying to figure out how to work a furnace...I have never used one in my life). Having a garden. Raising chickens, turkeys, hogs and rabbits. Hunting. Dipnetting. Fishing and exploring. Snowmachining and off-roading. Not everyone likes the cold of Kotzebue or the rains of Ketchikan. Not everyone believes that the right to own and possess guns is a right handed to us fr…