Around the Blawgosphere

Don't talk to police without an attorney? For some, that's hard advice to take, blogger writes

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Popehat blogger Ken White thinks that it is always too risky to talk to police before seeking a lawyer’s counsel. “If you talk to them, it is somewhere between possible and likely that you will incriminate yourself, whether or not you have done anything.”

And this week, White was praising pop star Justin Bieber for doing just that after Bieber’s home was searched following an accusation that he had thrown eggs at a neighbors’ property and caused thousands of dollars in damage. White wrote that he “joked that criminal defense attorneys could shame clients into better practices by asking why they aren’t smarter than Justin Bieber.”

But upon reflection, White realized how much easier it is for someone like himself or Justin Bieber to follow that advice. “We’re affluent and fortunate. This privilege makes us better able to endure the potential downside risks of shutting up. If we get arrested on a petty or bogus charge by a pissed-off cop, we can make bail. … That’s a privilege. Poor people don’t have it. Poor people live on the razor’s edge, and a bogus retaliatory arrest can destroy them. … I maintain my advice to shut up. But I acknowledge it’s easier and safer for me—and for most of the people reading this blog—than it is for the people who most frequently encounter the police.”

Felony filming?

At the Volokh Conspiracy, University of California-Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh noted a proposed South Carolina law that would make it a felony to film a crime in progress.

“The law is supposedly aimed at people who ‘go out there with the people committing the violent crime for the purpose of videotaping it and then putting it up on the Internet,’ ” Volokh wrote, quoting bill sponsor state Sen. Sen. Vincent Sheheen from a WSPA story. “But it’s not written that way—there’s no requirement, for instance, that the person doing the videorecording be complicit with the criminal.” He links to a draft of the proposed law.

There are stated exceptions for security cameras, private investigators conducting their work, those who accidentally capture a crime on film and those taking part in “bona fide news gathering.” But someone who filmed a crime in progress with the intention of later turning it over to the police or the media would not be covered by the law as it is now written. And camera operators assisting criminals can likely already be charged with aiding and abetting without this law being enacted, Volokh writes.

FaceTime faking

Will the latest advance in live video transmissions have a harmful effect on video depositions? At New York Personal Injury Law Blog noted the an Apple Insider report about the issuance of a patent regarding video transmissions in low-bandwith areas, where “video communication over cellular data is spotty,” with dropped frames, low-resolution images and dropped audio. The technology “replaces frames dropped during a low-bandwidth FaceTime call with pre-recorded or doctored images, thereby creating the illusion of a seamless feed,” according to Apple Insider.

Turkewitz notes that in a video deposition, “you can see facial expressions, assess the tone of voice, and evaluate delays in answering.” But this Apple technology would tamper with that. “In other words—and this is the part that would interest lawyers and judges—the visual cues from the speakers’ faces’ may not match with the words that are actually being used.”

From virtual to brick-and-mortar office

In October, Phoenix solo Ruth Carter, who’d had virtual office for years, wrote that she was considering renting office space, and that one of her primary requirements was that her dog be allowed on-premises.

This week at Attorney at Work, she notes that the took the plunge. And her new shared office space—“seven attorney offices that share a receptionist and a conference room”—does allow dogs. And it’s worked out well so far.

“I do have to remember to ask potential clients if they’re OK with having a dog in the room … even though once she says hello, she just curls up and goes back to sleep,” Carter wrote. “I leave her at home when I haven’t asked someone about being OK with a dog—and every time they’ve been bummed to see the dog stuff in my office but no dog.”

She also feels she’s more productive now that she has the office space. “When I’m at work, I’m working. I can’t procrastinate by doing the dishes—or watch TV over lunch and find myself still sitting there two hours later,” Carter wrote. “When I go to the office, I’m usually in by 9 a.m., and most days I’ve cranked through my to-do list by mid-afternoon, if not sooner.”

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