Perk Up Your Pens! Podcasts about Legal Writing

I stumbled upon the Perk Up Your Pens series on legal writing earlier in the year and wish I had found it so much earlier.  Perk Up Your Pens is a fantastic series of legal writing podcasts by Rachel H. Smith and Shaina Feinberg and funded by an ALWD Teaching Grant.

These podcasts are entertaining and informative. While more geared for students in law school, these podcasts would be great tools for practicing attorneys to brush up on legal writing skills.  Each podcast focuses on a specific legal writing skill – writing like a lawyer, thesis and topic sentences, analogizing & distinguishing, proofreading, etc.  As Perks Up Your Pens tells you, “Happy IRACing!”

Legal Writing According to SCOTUS: Keep It Short & Simple and Skip the Legalese

A recent story on NPR features insights on writing from the experts – the Justices of the United States Supreme Court.  In 2007, Bryan Garner interviewed each Justice about legal writing and advocacy.  Videos of the interviews can be seen here. Bryan Garner is a prominent legal writing scholar and author of The Redbook, A Dictionary of Legal Usage, and The Elements of Legal Style, as well as many others.

A link to a New York Times article based on the same series of interviews can be found here.

Washington state says 60 day supply of medical marijuana is 24 ounces of usable marijuana and 15 plants

According to The Seattle Times, as of November 2, 2008, a 60 day supply of medical marijuana will be considered 24 ounces of usable marijuana plus 15 plants. In 1998, Washington voters approved Initiative 692 legalizing a 60 day supply of marijuana for medicinal purposes. According to RCW 69.51A.010, qualifying patients for medical marijuana use must be at least 18 years of age, a Washington resident, have been diagnosed by a physician as having a terminal or debilitating medical condition, advised by that physician regarding the risks and benefits of using medical marijuana, and advised by that physician that he or she may benefit from the use of medical marijuana.  However, the 60 day supply authorized by Initiative 692 was not made clear and has been a source of confusion for law enforcement and patients ever since.

[Read more…]

Felony level drug, property, and ID theft charges to be diverted to district and municipal court

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg announced on September 25, 2008 that some felony level drug, property, and ID theft charges will be diverted from Superior Court to district and municipal courts due to budget cuts. Defendants will be charged with misdemeanors, with sentences up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $5000 instead of felonies with the possibility of years in prison and higher fines.

[Read more…]

Pat-down frisks must be supported by objectively reasonable facts that suspect is armed and presently dangerous

State v. Bee Xiong, Washington Supreme Court, filed September 11, 2008.

Police went to Kheng Xiong’s residence with a warrant for his arrest and a black & white picture of Kheng Xiong to assist in identifying him. Officers observed a minivan pull up to the residence and believed the passenger was Kheng Xiong, although he was actually Bee Xiong, Kheng’s brother.

Police immediately handcuffed Bee and performed a pat-down frisk. Bee told officers his name was Bee Xiong and that he was Kheng’s brother. He did not have identification, but he showed officers a tattoo on his arm of the letter “B”. The officers were unable to determine from the photograph if the man was Kheng Xiong.

One of the officers had previously noticed a bulge in Bee’s front pocket. He asked if there was something in his pocket that could hurt the officers and Bee responded, “No.” Bee told the officers that he did not want to be searched. The officer squeezed the bulge in Bee’s pocket and conferred with the officers, telling them he thought there was a “potential weapon” in Bee’s pocket. An officer reached into Bee’s pocket and pulled out a glass pipe that appeared to contain residue that the officers believed was a controlled substance.

[Read more…]