In a recent case, the trial judge asked the parties for post-trial briefing on whether Second-Degree Theft is a lesser-included offense of Second-Degree Fraud in DC. A straight-forward question, I thought, and one I believed that the prosecution basically conceded by answering that in its view attempted second-degree theft is a lesser-included offense of second-degree fraud.
Attempt is the prosecution’s catch-all for failure to prove necessary elements (other than intent), and in DC, prosecutors often charge attempt instead of certain felonies to deprive defendants of their rights to a jury trial. The only problem is that the attempt statute, D.C. Code § 22-1803, limits its application to crimes that don’t already have a provision in the Code punishing the attempt. In other words, the attempt statute is not meant to replace more specific attempt offenses, and you can’t attempt to attempt to commit a crime. Continue reading
I don’t know how things are in other areas of the country, but here in DC we have a rash of police officers and security guards issuing barring notices to people, ostensibly on behalf of the property owners. The DC Police Department describes the barring notice fairly innocuously: Continue reading
So over the last few weeks, I have seen more and more Occupy DC protesters being brought in to DC Superior Court, arrested for this and that. DC has a system where most people charged with misdemeanors will be released on personal recognizance – allowed to go home as long as they check in with pretrial services, and follow any other orders the judge feels necessary. These orders are put in place at the time of arraignment.
All of the Occupy DC folks I saw come in have been ordered to stay away from the place where they were arrested, either McPherson Square or Freedom Plaza. I had not seen any of the defense attorneys object to this “stay away” order. It occurred to me that the stay away is an underhanded attempt by police and prosecution to stifle the protest – to deprive the movement of its leaders (if you accept that’s who the police target), or even of followers. If everyone has to stay away from the site of the protest, there is no protest.
I was talking with a very experienced local medical malpractice attorney not too long ago about the mediation requirement for MedMal cases in DC - DC Code § 16-2821. In her experience, most mediation for MedMal cases is worthless – counsel for the parties simply call in and say that there hasn’t been discovery yet, so no way to settle. But clients who feel that they have been wronged often want some sort of acknowledgment that they have been hurt, especially medical malpractice clients. My own view is that both plaintiffs and defendants can benefit if these non-monetary goals can be met in mediation.