Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Why I Hate Appellate Work

You haven't seen much of me lately. The reason before Thursday is that I was working on campaigns. Nothing abnormal there. The reason since last Thursday is a mixture of being ill and working on an appellate brief that is due in 13 days.

I usually don't write much about my job on here, but since it's after 10:00 P.M. and I'm eating take-out at the office - AGAIN - I have an itch that needs scratching. Besides, I can tie this into politics on two different fronts.

You see, I don't practice before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals on a regular basis. And, by not on a regular basis, I mean that I've had one case before them before. Ever. In that case, it was on interlocutory appeal due to the State filing a motion for an evidentiary ruling on some photographs that had been ruled inadmissible prior to trial. On that case, a plea bargain was struck many months before the Court of Criminal Appeals came back with a ruling. Heck, I elected to not even file a brief in that case, as our case was over before the brief was due.

That should have been my last appearance before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. However, that is not the case.

I was appointed on a post-conviction relief (think of it as a second round of appeals based solely on constitutional issues) last year in Blount County. After the hearing, I dropped off a motion and order allowing for my withdrawal as I left the courthouse that day. Customarily, this isn't a big deal. I didn't hear anything about the case for several months.

Then, out of the blue, I receive a call from the clerk of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. I'm still on the case, which is now under appeal. Judge Michael Meares, who heard the case in Blount County, had not signed my order allowing for my withdrawal a half a year previous. I don't know why or how this occurred. All that I know is that I didn't receive any notice from Judge Meares as to why he was tying me to this case for an appeal (which my client had filed pro se). I asked the Court of Criminal Appeals - twice - to release me from the case, but they wouldn't have anything of it. So, now, I am having to draft a brief.

I have learned that I am not the only attorney who has experienced this exact situation when it comes to Judge Meares and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. I'm sure to take some heat for this, but it is entirely unfair to an attorney to hold him or her hostage on an appointed case. It makes that attorney want to quit taking appointments, and, as someone who only on the rarest of occasions turns down court appointments, I can testify that there simply are too many appointments and not enough attorneys willing to take them. Why? On appointments, I make less than 1/6 of the money per hour as my colleagues. Plus, I have a cap set by the Administrative Office of the Courts that only allows for me to receive so much per case - no matter how complicated it becomes. That cap often doesn't even register as a percentage of the retainers my privately-retained colleagues charge.

I didn't talk much about my support for Judge David Duggan, the Circuit Court Judge-elect for Blount County who beat Judge Meares by 20-points last Thursday. There are several reasons for that, one being that I still was practicing before both men and to speak out on the race at the time would have been troublesome. I just campaigned for Judge Duggan at every opportunity and otherwise kept my mouth shut.

One thing I will say - Judge Duggan was one of the first judges to accept me into his court and assist me in beginning my foray into private practice. I probably would have supported him against anybody. However, Judge Meares' actions in the courtroom - and there were others than the one mentioned above - certainly would have made my decision for me in the event that I wouldn't have known the Republican nominee.

The stories that the liberal blogs have been spinning for the past several months were misinformed and downright incorrect in places. (Randy Neal and I may disagree on every issue, but I have respected him since he came out of the shadows and started blogging under his own name. However, I certainly hope that he provides a bit more truth and fact-checking to his efforts at the Democratic National Convention that what went on in the Meares-Duggan race.)

Which brings me to my final point - thank God for the right to vote. And, like the Tennessee Constitution states, we should be voting on every position in the judiciary. What is good for the goose in our trial courts should be good for the gander of our appellate courts. Most liberal lawyers would rather trade the potential improprieties that occur in judicial elections for the almost certain improprieties that occur in politically appointed judges. Not me. Not now. Not ever.

Now that the venting is complete, I need to bring some good kharma into the blog - through music video:

Labels: , ,

Since when is a Judicial race about being Democratic or Republican? I wonder if you have ever read the Rules of Civil or Criminal Procedure? I do because it is clear that you have no concept of being an Advocate and you can save the BS about how you are a lawyer and know everything too. This post of yours shows exactly why half of all lawyers are not to fit to walk much less practice law and why that so much of the Bench is, in fact, corrupt as hell. This State of Tennessee needs a revolution in its judiciary and does because the singular distinction of such corruption is going to destroy it one day.
Joey -

1) Where did I introduce political party into any judicial race? Please show me that. Perhaps reading isn't one of your strong suits, so I'll help you.

A judicial contest in one area where party isn't of much concern to me. There aren't Republican judges and Democratic judges; there are good judges and bad judges.

2) If you have proof that any sitting judge is corrupt, then please present this smoking gun. Otherwise, you're just talking the talk.

3) Just because you've read the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure does not mean that you understand them.


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?