Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's Official- the SAPD doesn't have to care

In a ruling that was surprising to only a handful of law students, the Court of Appeals today made into controlling precedent its holding that the SAPD doesn't have to file all nonfrivolous claims.  The case is here.  I had previously blogged that they had said this in a non-precedential opinion, which is of course an oxymoron that means the opinion can't be cited to and thus isn't "precedent" even though its published and we all know damn well it means what it says.

The Court used what you might call a test case to do it, except of course the plaintiff bringing the action and appeal was the criminal defendant.  The convict argued the SAPD should have pursued his motion to suppress evidence found in his car based on a search incident to arrest in a DUI case which, of course, the Court had already said was fine in its Cantrell opinion.  Essentially, the Court is saying you're never going to convince us your lawyer wasn't effective because he didn't challenge existing law.

But that is, I'm sure, only part of the story.  Likely, the convict's original attorney filed the motion because Cantrell is bad law.  They also may have filed it because his case differed in ways that may have been important.  Who the fuck knows, because his appellate attorney from the SAPD said, "nah, I'm too lazy and busy losing these other cases I evidently think are worth bringing before the Court."  What's the worst that could have happened, you SAPD hack?  The Court denies it?  You somehow make bad law worse?  Fuck, that's YOUR FUCKING JOB.

The real fuck of it is, the Court probably would have simply denied oral argument.  Oh no, I had to write a brief!  Damn it all!

Considering how fucking terrible the attorneys at the SAPD are at oral argument, that ought to have been an incentive.

I say, if the ACLU is paying any attention, now is the time for a massive lawsuit against this fucked up appellate system.


  1. Do you think they're lazy or do you suspect they, like a lot of PD offices, are understaffed?

    1. I think they are lazy. First, because if they were understaffed then their obligation would be to say so and refuse to take on more cases than they can adequately handle. Second, because they have always maintained their position is that some issues raised on appeal are not worth pursuing, and that based on their knowledge of the appellate courts of our state, the SAPD knows better than the trial counsel that raised the issue in the first place. The case here is a bad example, since the opinion makes it sound like the issue probably wouldn't have had much of a shot, but we in the trenches can tell you that far worse cases of them doing this have occurred.

      Since I believe they are ethically obligated to at least brief the issues so long as the argument can be made in good faith, I can only assume they are too lazy to do their job, but view their laziness as some sort of prescient quality they have attained by spending more time than anyone else doing appeals. Meanwhile, as I have argued and won supreme court cases myself, and have heard them argue and found them lacking, I tend to think their "special knowledge" is actually "fear of losing what little reputation they have" and that they are blind to the fact that they have become the pet of the higher courts, controlling for them the flood of appeals from the poor of this state who have been battered down by our out of control laws and law enforcement.

  2. Interesting. Has your local PD office refused to take on cases because my understanding is that all the Idaho PD offices are considered to be understaffed, and I'm not aware of any refusals among them...that's tangential though.

    Im inclined to think there's a disconnect between the SAPD and the local PD offices. SAPD have very little, if no, actual client contact and I think they tend to view their appeals more globally, i.e., is this case going to make bad law..or can this case be used along with others to steer the Court of Appeals towards overturning "State v. Shit Case"....I think the individual can get lost in that.

    Whereas the trial level practitioner focuses on that client and their issue..

    1. It's pretty rare for a PD office to take that stance anywhere, and I'm not aware of any in Idaho that have, though I know some PDs that quit for that reason + fear they were going to destroy their careers with all the bar complaints they were guaranteed to get.

      As for your other point, I'm going to do a post on that since I think it's important.