Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog
     


Los Angeles Fashion Designer Gets 59 Years in Prison

Posted on: September 8, 2009 at 9:56 a.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys work hard to keep their clients out of prison and free from fines. While people may think they understand how important it is to have a quality Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, it isn't until a high profile individual gets major jail time that the message hits home.

A Los Angeles fashion designer was sentenced to 59 years in prison for various sex crimes, having been accused of sexually assaulting various models over the years. Fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander was sentenced in a Los Angeles Superior Court room after being convicted of14 counts including forcible rape. He was found not guilty of four felonies, and jurors could not reach a verdict on three counts.

The Anand Jon story was a very high profile story as he was a celebrity designer, working with many Los Angeles celebrities. The defendant claimed that law enforcement was conspiring against him, making the trial all the more volatile in nature. During the sex crime trial, a stream of beautiful women went into the jury box and told stories of how the famous designer sexually assaulted them in different ways, often using his stature in the fashion world against his alleged victims. some of the girls who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Anand Jon were only teenagers, one as young as 14.

A highly skilled Los Angeles sex crime defense attorney is often the difference between decades in prison and freedom. Los Angeles courts can be seriously biased against any sex crimes defendant, which means that an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is all the more necessary. An attorney must be experienced with Los Angeles courts, Los Angeles sex crime law, Los Angeles law enforcement and more in order to get the best results possible for their client. Such complex cases can be very high profile, and dealing with a jury or a judge requires a special legal skill which only a few Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys possess.

At Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, our sex crime defense attorneys have decades of experience with Los Angeles sex crime laws; they can offer top notch legal representation as well as unparalleled legal counsel.

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Drug & Weapon Possession in Los Angeles

Posted on: May 12, 2009 at 12:14 p.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys represent many individuals who are facing drug possession charges as well as weapons possession charges. This delicate area of the law requires a competent Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who knows and understands the laws involved. High-profile cases involving drug possession in Los Angeles may get a great deal of interest, but for the people involved the consequences are very real.
Tina Fortenberry, receptionist to singer and actress Barbara Streisand, was recently arrested on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu for drug possession of both cocaine and methamphetamines, as well as possession of a weapon. Malibu police initially pulled Fortenberry over for expired license plate tags, then found the weapon and drugs when they approached her car. The weapon reportedly found in Fortenberrys car was a sap, which is similar to nunchakus. Fortenberry was reportedly on her way to the post office with some mail for Streisand when she was stopped. No date for Fortenberrys arraignment has been given.
Drug possession and weapons possession charges may sound relatively harmless, but Los Angeles law enforcement takes them very seriously and a conviction on either charge can land you in jail. Possession of drugs and weapons can, under Los Angeles law, be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of each case. In general, people tend to think of weapons possession charges as involving an actual firearm, but in reality there are many, many types of weapons where possession would constitute a criminal offense. Illegal weapons in Los Angeles include knives, daggers, brass knuckles, nunchakus and many other martial arts weapons. Technically, even everyday items such as a box cutter or car keys can become deadly weapons if you use them to harm someone. As is the case with actual firearms, possession in the proper context and with the proper documentation is legal and allowable.
Depending on Fortenberrys criminal record, her weapons possession charge will most likely be considered a misdemeanor offense. If she is convicted, she will most likely face a fine and potentially up to one year in a county jail. In this case, the drug possession charges are more likely to land her in jail if she is convicted. In Los Angeles, drug possession of most illegal drugs is considered a felony, with the exception of smaller amounts of marijuana, which is often a misdemeanor criminal offense. Assuming Fortenberry was driving in her own car and not one provided by her employers, the prosecution will have to prove that she knew the drugs were in the car, which is not always as easy as it may seem. If convicted of drug possession, Fortenberry may be able to take advantage of Los Angeles Proposition 36, which allows first or second time non-violent drug offenders to complete a specified drug treatment program instead of serving time in a county jail.
Dealing with drug and weapons possession charges can be complex and stressful, given the potential consequences.

If you have been charged with either drug or weapons possession, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to begin preparing your defense.

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Sex Crimes and Politics in Los Angeles

Posted on: April 13, 2009 at 1:05 p.m.

Vernon is an unincorporated area east of downtown Los Angeles. A recent high-profile case of sex offenses has put the area in the news since it involves the son of a mayor. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys know that defending sex offenses and sex crimes is a major challenge in Los Angeles, and being a high-profile individual can further complicate matters.

John Malburg, the 40-year-old scion of the family that founded the tiny, cloistered industrial city of Vernon, was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually molesting one boy and videotaping another one for commercial purposes.

The case against Malburg, who was the dean of students at now-closed Daniel Murphy Catholic High School in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, arose out of a public corruption investigation that involved him; his mother, Dominica, 83; and his father, Vernon Mayor Leonis Malburg, 80.

Three years ago, investigators serving search warrants in the voter fraud probe stumbled onto evidence that the younger Malburg was sexually abusing children. Authorities said one 17-year-old student appeared in a sexually explicit tape in exchange for a higher grade and money. The boy Malburg was convicted of molesting was between the ages of 10 and 15 when the abuse occurred, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Taklender of the sex crimes division. Malburg had been a therapist for the boy when the abuse began, Taklender said.

A sex crime is an illegal sex act, or illegal form of human sexual behavior, as defined by the state and federal government. People who are convicted of sex crimes are called sex offenders. In the state of California, all sex offenders must list them selves on the Sex Offender Registry for an indefinite amount of time. This Registry is accessible to the public, which means that future employers, landlords, educational facilities, and neighbors will be able to obtain this information.

If you have been charged with a serious criminal offense, do not hesitate to call Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP at (877) 781-1570. Our knowledgeable legal team can evaluate your case and advise you of your legal options.

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Accessory to Crime in Los Angeles

Posted on: April 6, 2009 at 8:50 a.m.

One are of the law that Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers find difficult to educate people about is accessory. Being an accessory to a crime, whether a violent crime, a theft crime or other type, in Los Angeles can happen without much effort. If the police want to charge you, they may not have too difficult of a time doing so, and without a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer by your side, you may be left at the mercy of the Los Angeles Police Department.


You do not have to actually commit a crime in order to be implicated in it. New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is finding this out the hard way as a New York-area condominium he owns has recently become the epicenter of a double murder investigation. Police investigating the murders believe two Liberian immigrants, Ansu Keita and Sekou Sakor, were shot in the head while at Vilmas condominium in late March for their connection with a "black paper" scheme. Police have stated that Vilma is not in any way considered a suspect in the murders and is giving investigators information as to who may have had access to his property. Vilma himself had not been in the condominium since January of 2008 and had been trying to sell the property. Only Vilmas real estate agent and a few members of the football players family are believed to have had access to the property.


Neighbors reported hearing gunshots late one night, but by the time they arrived at 10 oclock the next morning, New York City police had already found the bodies at separate sites in Queens and Brooklyn.



For a person to be charged as an accessory to any crime, investigators must prove that a suspect knew that a crime had been, or would be, committed. Most jurisdictions distinguish this from an accomplice, who is generally present at the time the crime is committed and participates in some capacity.

In Los Angeles, an accessory to a crime may help or encourage the actual criminal in some way, fail to report the crime to law enforcement, or attempt to help the criminal conceal the crime. In Vilmas case, for example, if he had known a crime was going to be committed and did nothing to stop it (or report it to the police after the fact), he could be considered an accessory to the murders.

Since Vilma had not been to the condominium in over a year and was trying to sell it, this is most likely not the case. Being charged as an accessory to a crime is still a serious offense and punishments will vary depending on the crime committed and the severity of the damage. People can be accessories to murder, robberies, arson, blackmail or any number of criminal offenses. In most cases, someone charged as an accessory to a crime can be given the same punishment as the person who actually committed the crime. For some people, getting caught up in bad situations is an all-too ugly reality. Do not think that just because you didnt actually commit a criminal offense that you are safe.

If you were in any way involved in a crime, you need a strong Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to fight for you. If you or someone you know has been accused of being an accessory to a crime, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience could help you avoid a criminal conviction.

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Drug Arrests in Los Angeles International Airport

Posted on: March 11, 2009 at 10:50 a.m.

In Los Angeles, drug penalties can be a serious challenge; however, when drug offenses occur at Los Angeles International Airport, any Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will tell you that the problems are compounded. Los Angeles drug offense attorneys know that the drug laws involving airport infractions are more complicated than at other locations.

Many people assume that celebrities get preferential treatment when it comes to drug issues. However, the recent arrest of rapper Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.) is evidence that even the rich and famous can get caught in the wrong. The 45 year-old rapper, best known for his 1995 hit single, "Gangstas Paradise," was arrested last Friday at Los Angeles International Airport when security screeners found drugs and drug paraphernalia in his luggage.


Ivey is officially charged with one count of felony possession, one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one misdemeanor count of battery as he grabbed a security screeners arm just before his bags were searched. Ivey was released after posting $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned April 3rd and faces up to three years in prison if convicted.


In Los Angeles, possession of any illegal drugs or controlled substances without a prescription is a criminal offense, as is the possession of drug paraphernalia. For most controlled substances, possession for personal use is classified as a felony, with the notable exception of marijuana, which is generally classified as a misdemeanor. Possession of drug-related paraphernalia or being caught under the influence of any illegal drug or controlled substance without a prescription are both generally misdemeanor offenses.


Most drug offense penalties depend on a variety of factors including the quantity and type of drug used (or found, in this case), whether the drugs in question were for personal use or sale, and the prior criminal record of the defendant, especially as it relates to drug offenses. Media outlets have reported that the drug found in Iveys luggage was cocaine, which will obviously carry a greater penalty than would a "lesser" drug such as marijuana. The rappers last criminal offense occurred in June of 2008 when he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license.


Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP is a criminal defense law firm that has been helping clients throughout Southern California contest their criminal charges and obtain superior results for years. Our skilled drug crimes attorneys have over 50 years of collective court room experience and we are fully prepared to undertake our clients cases. When we work with our clients, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve.



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Multiple DUI's, A Bad Situation

Posted on: January 6, 2009 at 12:04 p.m.

Actor Rip Torn has pleaded not guilty to drunken driving charges in Connecticut, nearly two years after being fined and losing his license for similar charges in New York. The 77-year-old Salisbury resident appeared in Bantam Superior Court on Monday. He pleaded not guilty to illegal operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence and failure to drive in the proper lane. He failed part of a field sobriety exam, then gave up after saying the ground wasn't level enough, state police said. He also refused to take a breathalyzer test and used profanity while in the trooper's cruiser, police said.


Despite previous drunken driving arrests in New York, Torn may qualify for Connecticut's alcohol education program. The program is for first-time offenders and could lead to the charges being dropped after a period of probation. Torn's DUI defense attorney was able to assist him in this matter; had he been tried as a multiple offender, his jail time, fines and other penalties would have increased.


In a Manhattan case in 2004, Torn was acquitted of DUI charges after jurors said the prosecution failed to prove he was drinking before a fender-bender with a taxi, although a police videotape showed him cursing and berating officers before turning down a sobriety test.


In California, there are harsh penalties for being convicted multiple times for DUI. The court process for a DUI charge is rather complex, involving a DMV hearing as well as regular court proceedings. With a qualified DUI attorney on your side, you will understand the whole process so you are prepared for what is to come.


California DUI Trial


A California DUI trial usually takes several days. First, your DUI attorney and the prosecuting attorney will select a jury. After the jury is selected, the trial begins. There are several standard steps which will follow:

  • Opening statements
  • Examination and cross-examination of witnesses
  • Closing arguments
  • The judge will then instruct the jury as to how they can apply the facts of the case to the law and their verdict
  • Jury deliberation (deciding upon their verdict)
  • Verdict (guilty or not guilty)
  • Sentencing, decided by the judge

Throughout the entire process, our skilled DUI lawyers will be able to keep you informed and appraised as to what is going on. We believe in working directly with you to get the best outcome for your case.



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Actor Involved in Murder and Burglary

Posted on: November 17, 2008 at 11:11 a.m.

An accused low-level mob associate who was convicted earlier this year of killing an off-duty police officer during a botched burglary was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The co-defendant, a former "Sopranos" actor, goes on trial this week.
The murder was committed two years ago, but the lead defendant wasn't convicted of the violent crime until October. The two men were accused of braking into a Bronx apartment to steal prescription drugs after a night of drinking at a strip club. The off-duty officer cam to investigate and was shot in the heart. The off-duty officer fired back and wounded both men.
The actor, Lillo Brancato, was the star of Robert DeNiro's "A Bronx Tale" and has had many parts in movies since then. Over the years, many celebrities have faced various criminal charges and needed experienced violent crime defense attorneys. Criminal defense attorneys who work on high-profile violent crime trials, such as the OJ Simpson trial and the Scott Peterson murder, know the challenges of defending someone whose name is widely known.
In Los Angeles, violent crime defense attorneys regularly defend celebrities and well-known personalities in all manner of offenses, including DUI, theft, violent crime, domestic violence and drugs.
As Former Los Angeles Prosecutors, our firm specializes in aggressive Criminal Defense work in Southern California Courts - in the area of Violent Crimes. We promise that only the three firm partners work on your case, rather than young attorneys, contract lawyers, or case managers. Our law firm has been recognized as a Top 5% U.S. Law Firm based on peer reviews from other attorneys, judges, and prosecutors, in the area of legal ethics, professionalism, and judgment. We have more than 50 years experience in defending all criminal matters.

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DUI and Probation

Posted on: July 22, 2008 at 1:52 p.m.

A Driving Under the Influence conviction most likely bring with it some form of probation, whether or not jail time is involved. Probation usually gives a certain length of time in which the convicted must stay clear of similar convictions. For example, Khloe Kardashian, featured on E! Entertainment Television's "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" reality show and daughter of Los Angeles attorney Robert Kardashian, had to report to jail for violating her probation in relation to a prior DUI conviction.

A judge earlier this month sentenced the 24-year-old to up to 30 days in jail after she admitted violating her probation by failing to enroll in an alcohol education class and clean up roadside trash.

Jail overcrowding forced officials to release her early, just as they have with inmates, including other well-known personalities such as Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan.

For those individuals not blessed with celebrity, the laws can be fierce for those with multiple DUI offenses. A second offense will lead to a license suspension of up to 2 years, 96 hours to 1 year in county jail, a third offense can equal license suspension of up to 3 years, 4 months to 1 year in county jail, a fourth offense is license suspension of up to 4 years, 6 months to 3 years in county jail or state prison. All offenses may also include probation, alcohol classes or counseling, and fines of up to $1,000.

The Los Angeles DUI attorneys at Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin LLP are experienced with DUI charges, the science behind blood alcohol content and the complex legal system surrounding DUI charges.

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Weapons Charges and Dennis Farina

Posted on: June 12, 2008 at 10:09 a.m.

Dennis Farina, star of the television show "Law & Order" and the movie "Get Shorty," was arrested on weapons charges for bringing a gun to an airport.

Back in May, the 64-year-old actor was booked in the felony case for possessing a case with a semiautomatic .22 gun. The actor spent a day in the Van Nuys jail and posted $35,000 bail. Farina claimed to have forgotten he had the gun with him. Farina isn't the only high-profile individual to have had this happen to him; Snoop-Dog was arrested at an airport for similar charges, as was the son of former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Both were carrying weapons into the airport, which is illegal.

In California, especially in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, weapons and firearms laws are particularly stringent, and the general public must be aware of this.

Below are some tips on how to handle firearms and weapons related charges:

1. Contact an attorney - Law enforcement may not notify you of your rights entirely, and security at the location where you've been arrested may not act according to the law. An experienced attorney will be able to help you with this.
2. Cooperate with police - While you do have the right to remain silent, you don't have the right to resist arrest, fight with the police or obstruct justice. This may help with sentencing.
3. Be aware of your surroundings - Places like airports, schools and other public places will be particularly sensitive to someone bringing firearms or weapons with them. Be aware of this when you're traveling to a school, a park, any major city or the airport.
4. A serious enough weapons charge could count against you as a felony or under California's Three Strikes laws.
5. Any weapon can and will be checked for recent crimes, and even if you aren't the person who committed the crime, it could lead to jail time.

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Car Stop by a Police Officer: Unlawful if License Tag is Valid, which Officer states he did not see

Posted on: January 16, 2008 at 11:09 p.m.

Car stops are a frequent means of police investigation, which lead to arrests for the possession of narcotics, firearms, and other contraband. If the traffic stop is unlawful, the Constitution states that what the police found in the car is not admissible in court, and thus typically the criminal charges of possession are dismissed. A recent California decision further defines the extent of justification officers need for a lawful car stop, and provides an argument for Southern California Criminal Attorneys to suppress improperly obtained evidece.

A recent California Court Of Appeal decision dealt with the issue of a police officer who testified that he stopped a vehicle because it had an expired license tag, and that he didn

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Grand Jury Investigation of High-Profile Individuals: Indictments of Barry Bonds in California, and Bernard Kerik in New York

Posted on: November 16, 2007 at 6:24 a.m.

What is a Grand Jury? A grand jury investigates civil and criminal matters in proceedings closed to the public. A civil grand jury investigates the operation, management, and fiscal affairs of the county and the cities in the county. A criminal grand jury has constitutional authority to indict a suspect after finding probable cause that he or she committed an offense. The prosecutor presents the case to the grand jury in the form of testimony and other evidence and may answer questions that members of the grand jury have concerning the law. A grand jury is not supposed to receive evidence that would be inadmissible over objection at trial. However, even if the grand jury hears evidence that would be inadmissible at trial, the indictment is not void if there is sufficient competent evidence to support the indictment. Once the presentation of evidence is completed, the grand jury deliberates in secret. A 19-member grand jury may bring an indictment when 12 or more jurors conclude that the evidence presented establishes probable cause to believe that the accused committed the offense. Probable cause is the same standard used by the magistrate at a preliminary hearing: whether the evidence would lead a person to believe and conscientiously entertain a strong suspicion of the guilt of the accused.

Why are celebrities and public officials often investigated through Grand Juries? The proceedings are secret investigations, witnesses are ordered not to reveal what they testified to in front of the Grand Jury, and thus the media is often unaware that an investigation is even happening, or the details surrounding it. The grand jury process often precludes the glare of media attention on witnesses, as well as the subjects of the investigation. The process is fair, in part, because an ongoing grand jury investigation does not mean someone will necessary be indicted for a crime. Thus, if there is insufficient evidence for an indictment, a person's name and reputation may be preserved without the taint of a public criminal investigation picked apart by the media. On the other hand, the prosecutors can coax reluctant witnesses to testify, and can take years to gather evidence and testimony they need to a build a case against a target. Also, the "secret" aspect of the process harkens back to the inquisitorial processes in criminal courts centuries ago.

Keep in mind that an indictment is just a criminal accusation made by a grand jury. The defendant still has the right to a jury trial to defend himself. Recent examples of grand juries investigations of high-profile figures include baseball player Barry Bonds and Former NYC Police Commissioner Bernand Kerik.

Barry Bonds was indicted today. The slugger became baseball's all-time home run king in August, and was charged by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on perjury and obstruction of justice charges after a four-year investigation into whether he lied under oath about his use of steroids. Bonds, 43, faces four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco announced. (The Indictment Reads: "Bonds is charged with knowingly and willfully making false material statements regarding his use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances while under oath during his testimony before the federal grand jury that was conducting the investigation into [BALCO], and with obstructing justice in the same investigation," the office said in a news release.) BALCO founder Victor Conte pleaded guilty to distributing steroids after a 2003 raid of his company by the Internal Revenue Service, and Bonds would later tell a grand jury investigating BALCO that he may have unknowingly received designer steroid products known as "the cream" and "the clear." In testimony leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds said he believed one of the products was flaxseed oil, a claim met by doubts from those who watched him increase his previous season-high home run total of 46 to a record-breaking 73 in 2001. Bonds' insistence of unknowing steroid use launched a subsequent grand jury that investigated whether he had committed perjury.

Bernard Keric, the former New York City police commissioner and protege of presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani, appears to be drawing to a close with a possible indictment. A grand jury that has been hearing evidence for several months on whether Keric committed tax evasion and other charges, The investigation stemmed from a $240,000 renovation of Kerik's apartment in 1999. Authorities alleged that most of the work was paid for by mob-connected builders who sought his help winning city contracts -- a charge he denied until a misdemeanor guilty plea in state court last year. Before the scandal broke, Giuliani endorsed Kerik's nomination in 2004 to head the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik then announced he was withdrawing as President Bush's nominee because of tax issues involving a former nanny.

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What happens when government gets involved in financing an indigent defendant's defense costs?

Posted on: October 28, 2007 at 11:10 a.m.

In Georgia, a defendant is charged with committing a heinous crime, first rape, then escaping from the courthouse killing a judge and three others. He is facing the death penaly. But because he is indigent, the state is paying for his defense lawyers fees, as is the case in all other parts of the country. Lawmakers are calling for impeachment of the judge who has approved the indigent defendant's lawyers fees.

The trial judge on the death penalty matter is subject to the ire of state lawmakers because he has approved over $1.2 in legal fees to the defense lawyers preparing for trial. No one has claimed that the lawyers have padded their bills, or been unreasonable in trial preparation work in any way. Rather, the lawmakers feel that the judge should rein in the criminal defense lawyers. Critics say DeKalb County Senior Judge Hilton Fuller has mismanaged the high-profile death penalty case. In the middle of jury selection, the case has come to a halt because of disputes about those payments.

The lawmakers have said: "How many more millions will be spent giving Brian Nichols a defense that no one, including the taxpayers, could afford for themselves?" said Republican House Speaker Glenn Richardson in a statement. "There are serious questions about the poor handling of public funds that need to be addressed. The law provides the House that authority, and we intend to investigate the matter." Richardson said he planned to appoint a special committee, headed by attorney and Republican state House Majority Whip Barry A. Fleming, to investigate Fuller's handling of the trial and whether there was an "abuse of the system."

This simply never happens. And it shows the power a government can have over a judge, if it does not like the judge's conduct. The judge appears to have done what any judge would have done in his situation -- approved reasonable legal fees for the defense. The fees are high, but should not an indigent defendant have a thorough defense, especially if he is facing the possibility of losing his life.

After Nichols arrest following the escape and homicides, the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council assigned a team of salaried defense lawyers to the case, but prosecutors raised issues about the standing of one of the attorneys with the State Bar of Georgia, and moved to disqualify the entire public defender's program from the case. The council withdrew the original lawyers, and in an abundance of caution, assembled a new team that included three outside lawyers who billed by the hour. Fuller approved those rates, which are as high as $175 per hour, in July 2005. By last August, according to court documents, they had billed for more than $700,000 in attorneys fees and $200,000 in expert fees.

Importantly, the prosecutors office also has a number of lawyers handling the case. Fulton County Dist. Atty. Paul Howard's office has assigned five assistant prosecutors to the Nichols case. They filed a 54-count indictment and submitted the names of 300 potential witnesses. Defense attorneys argue that they need a budget that allows them to mount a sufficiently vigorous defense.

The case is taking a toll on Georgia's public defender system. The Legislature cut the system's budget for the public defender's council about 20% this year. It owes the three outside attorneys more than $160,000, and has declined to pay, despite an order from Judge Fuller. On Oct. 17, Fuller halted the case after two days of jury selection after the defense attorneys asked that the funding issues be resolved. In other words, the defense lawyers want to make sure that they will paid for their months of work, just as the prosecutors.

Importantly, the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to effective counsel. So despite the pain of taxpayers having to pay for an attorney, we are ensuring that everyone who stands accused exercises to right to an attorney in court.

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Criminal Defense: High-Profile Cases, Celebrity Defendants: Lohan, Hilton, and Gibson receive special treatment?

Posted on: July 29, 2007 at 7:12 p.m.

Criminal Lawyers do a disservice to their clients if they seek publicity.

The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog believes it is better to keep clients out of the news. Criminal Attorneys at Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin have represented professional athletes, television personalities, and actors. The best defense practice in smaller celebrity cases is to avoid the media, to not do interviews, or speak to the press. Even if there were no celebrities involved, but the crime received local media attention, it is still better to avoid publicity (unless of course the prosecutors or the police have sought unfair pretrial publicity causing strong public sentiment against our client!)

It is foolhardy to think that major international celebrities can be kept out of the news. The media has a field day at the arrests of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie. These cases become fodder for papparazzi, and tabloid media outlets.

How does a L.A. criminal defense lawyer defend major-celebrity cases, beside having a P.R. firm, and publicists to assist with media inquiries. Typically it is better to dispose of these cases through an immediate settlement, known as plea bargaining, with the prosecutor's office. In this way, the client's name disappears from the front page, and any damage to reputation can be limited to a short period of time.

When a celebrity client is charged with very serious crimes that may require substantial jail time, a quick disposition is not possible in the L.A. criminal justice system. Criminal attorneys must aggressively prepare the case for trial, through a thorough defense investigation, to find weaknesses in the case. This defense evidence can be used as leverage in the plea-bargaining process, to preclude jail time, and to substitute in community service work.

Special treatment is usually not received by celebrities (except may be in front of juries in trials). Prosecutors, judges, and court staff do not want to be accused of preferential treatment. If anything, celebrity cases are much more scrutinized, and thus the flexibility that ordinary clients receive in plea-bargaining is typically not available for the celebrity -- as everyone in the criminal justice system knows that his or her decisionmaking will be scrutinized by the entire world.

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An example of Los Angeles Criminal Defense: Lindsay Lohan's Second DUI Arrest and Its Consequences

Posted on: July 25, 2007 at 1:13 a.m.

Lindsay Lohan's first arrest happened in late May 2007 during the Memorial Day weekend. She was charged with Driving Under the Influence, a misdemeanor crime. News media reported her blood alcohol to be twice the legal limit, with traces of cocaine. During the incident, papparazi taped her running from the crashed Mercedez driver's seat, and having her bodyguard then drive the car from where it was wrecked to an underground garage. Thereafter Ms. Lohan was reported to be in staying at a rehab center, and wearing a SCRAM device on her leg to monitor the existence of any measurable blood alcohol. Yesterday Ms. Lohan was arrested for a 2nd-time DUI offense, and after her arrest the police found cocaine in her possession -- which is a felony, that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor.

What does all this mean in terms of her court cases, and criminal defense strategy? The first legal challenge is the cocaine possession because it carries the possibility of being branded a "Felon," and stiff jail or prison sentences. Criminal Defense Lawyers who operate the Law Blog typically secure a live-in drug program for clients in these type of situations for two reasons (1) to avoid any jail time and (2) to have the felony dismissed as part of the Deferred Entry of Judgement program provided for in the California Penal Code.

The other problem for Ms. Lohan is that the second time DUI carries mandatory 96 hours in jail, and a 1-year license suspension. The Law Blog would pick the weakest of the DUI cases, and work with the prosecutor and judge to plea bargain it to a reckless driving charge (to avoid a DUI conviction!). In this way, Lindsay Lohan would have one DUI, not two, on her record and could receive a restricted license after a 30-day suspension without any jail.

This "celebrity" case, however, will have substantial media scrutiny. Most likely no one within the justice system wants to go out on a limb, to give Ms. Lohan a great plea bargain or a better deal than someone else would receive (and in fact someone may want to make an example of her just as with Paris Hilton). Accordingly, the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers representing her definitely have their work cut out, to keep Ms. Lohan out of jail. Prosecutors could argue that Ms. Lohan is a danger, shows a reckless disregard by driving drunk twice in a short period of time, and should spend substantial custody time as just punishment.

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Can a criminal defense attorney be ordered to testify against a former client?

Posted on: July 15, 2007 at 10:55 a.m.

Typically lawyers do not testify against clients. That is based on the attorney-client privilege, which protects all communications between a lawyer and his client. If a lawyer were forced to testify, the level of confidentiality between criminal attorneys and their clients would be violated, so that clients would not feel free to tell their lawyers everything, which could of course affect the lawyer's ability to effectively represent the client. Recently, in the Phil Spector case, a criminal defense lawyer was ordered to testify. Why? The criminal attorney witnessed a defense criminalist remove a piece of evidence from the crime scene, and fail to turn it over to the police.

Spector's former L.A. criminal defense lawyer maintained that ethical obligations prevented her from taking the stand against her former client. The criminal attorney then reversed her position a day after the state Supreme Court rejected her appeal of contempt of court charges and sided with a judge who had promised to put her behind bars if she did not testify. As a result, this L.A. criminal attorney spent 30 minutes on the witness stand, recounting what prosecutors say was the destruction or concealment of crime-scene evidence by Dr. Henry Lee, the famed forensic scientist working for the defense.

The reason the testimony was allowed was that the criminal defense attorney's observations were not communications between her and her client. Further any privilege claims were waived when she had testified to the removal of evidence from the crime scene weeks earlier in a court hearing outside the jury's presence.

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