One thing I did get to do recently was take my two girls to the Alaska Zoo. Now, you might be thinking 'Whoop-de-doo!", but they went as part of a school group on Alaska Day (this is the last Monday in March, representing the time the US bought Alaska from the Russians. It's a state holiday.) and it was a great time. Now I've taken the kids to the zoo before (no Dead Milkmen jokes - these are, after all, my kids), but it's been in the summer. This was the first time in winter and it was really different.
Most of the animals in the Alaska Zoo are injured or orphaned Alaska animals and they were substantially more active than I'd ever seen them. The wolverines and the lynx were out running around while the Dall Sheep were leaping about their enclosures. The brown bears were still hibernating, though. Plus, we got to go in the back of several exhibits, including the polar bear exhibit, and see some of them really, really close. Those polar bears are much bigger than they appear in the Discovery Channel specials. This zoo also has a pair of snow leopards, which were very active in the cooler weather. The one exhibit my daughter Olivia did not like was the caribou exhibit, but she hasn't really liked caribou since one kicked her when she went to the reindeer farm. (We now sing "Olivia got kicked by a reindeer" much to her annoyance.)
So if you are ever up here in the winter, for the Alaska Shootout, some really good skiing or snowboarding, good snowmachine riding, the Iditarod, or maybe the Arctic Man, spend a few hours at the Alaska Zoo. (If you're from Outside and need good winter gear to keep out the cold, check out this site.) You'll do much better than if you see it in the summer.
As you may know, if you have checked out the websites listed below, the case has gone to the jury. We did closing arguments on Tuesday and the jury began deliberating on Wednesday. They have not reached a verdict yet and have indicated that they may keep deliberating through Tuesday of next week.
I stayed in Juneau this weekend even though the jury is not deliberating. Why? Because during this trial, I picked up an armed robbery case out of Juneau. So, I spent a good part of the day at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center introducing myself to my new client. I figure that since I'm already here, it makes more sense to do that than to go home this weekend and then have a day when I have to fly back and meet my client. Besides, I've been gone so long that it is in some sense easier to stay than to go home and then come back. I've already missed 2 of my kids' birthdays during this trial.
Other stuff today: getting my laundry done (it really needed to be done), starting out the day at Heritage Coffee, drinking what I consider the best breve in the state with an iced berry scone, and finding a new TexMex restaurant out in the Valley.
In other work related news, the DA also indicted three people on a new murder 1 charge out of Petersburg yesterday and odds are excellent I will wind up representing someone in that group. No official word yet, but I might have the appointment before a verdict in this case.
So, what to do while waiting. I went out with a good friend last night in the Juneau Public Defender office. He and I attended NCDC this last summer and we went to a couple of Juneau bars, saw some friends of his and relaxed.
Tonight, I am joining this same friend and two private lawyers at the restaurant in our hotel, a very nice restaurant. One of the private lawyers is a real wine connossieur (sp?) and he is donating several nice bottles to our meal. The rest of us will pick up the corkage fees, but hey, we get to enjoy the following wines:
2002 Argyle Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)
1997 Corison Cabernet (Napa)
1996 Chateau Gruaud Larose (Bordeaux)
1997 Dolce (Napa)
I am sure that everyone reading this sympathizes with the hardships I have to endure. Tomorrow, I am going to go hiking by the Mendenhall Glacier and clear my thoughts. Trials are usually intense and there are several factors that really increase the intensity of this one: it is a murder case, my client is 17 years old facing a lot of time, and this case has generated intense publicity, at least for this state.
There are no courses in law school to teach you how to deal with this type of case. What I have done is to conduct the trial as I would any other trial and deal with the attention outside of the courtroom. The CourtTV website has a discussion board section where people can comment about this case. I have not read those discussion boards, primarily because I am not going to let myself be distracted by what others think.
In the meantime, we wait for a verdict. As a lawyer, this is the scariest part of the trial. I have found that lawyers, particularly trial lawyers, are control freaks. And now, my job is over (in one sense). For good or for bad, there is nothing more that I can do and my client's fate is beyond my control at this point. That makes this the hardest part (to quote Tom Petty).
Bill Bryson, a long time Anchorage defense attorney, died yesterday. He was on the board of NACDL and an instructor at NCDC. I enjoyed talking to and learning from Bill at local bar meetings. The quality of the Alaska bar has diminished with his passing. Rest in peace, my friend, rest in peace.
Anchorage Daily News has an interesting story today about urban bears (registration required). Last year, Alaska Fish and Game collared several bears near Anchorage to try to find out how many live in and around Anchorage. Now, Anchorage is Alaska's largest town by far, although its population is relatively small, about 250,000 people. Still, it is rather interesting to realize that there are brown bears 500 - 1000 lbs wandering through this urban area. The story has a map of the Anchorage area where one can see where the bears' locations were recorded. These locations were found throughout urban areas, not just the perimeters or parks next to the town.
Where we used to live, in rural Alaska, the bears would come through our yard in the evenings. Sometimes I would find paw prints on the side of my truck from where they had been sniffing the truck after I had run garbage to the dump. I remember September 10, 2001, I came home late because I was set to start a trial the next morning (you can guess why I remember this date). I pulled into the driveway and there was a decent sized bear in the driveway. It was hanging around and not leaving for reasons I never understood. We were always careful with our garbage and fish odors. Anyway, I went inside, grabbed a flashlight and a rifle (don't worry - the bear survives) and went back out to see if I could persuade the bear to leave. It saw the flashlight and so it left the driveway, running toward the shore of the lake we lived on. It went out on the dock where my boat was kept. So, I had to head down to the beach.
I'm sure there are more nerve-racking experiences than chasing a bear away in the dark, but none come to mind right away. I was not looking to kill the bear per se. Rather, I wanted the bear to know that it was unwelcome. Bears become problems when they are habituated to humans and I did not want this bear, or any others for that matter, to get used to coming around my home, particularly since my kids at that time were very young, 4 and 2. Anyway, it was a pretty dark night and I'm shining the flashlight around and, I kid you not, I see this bear in my boat. It looks at me for a bit and I yell at it. At that point, it jumps out of my boat, into the water, and runs away. I followed to make sure it had truly left and it did not come back.
Where I live now there are very few bears. That's too bad. I kind of miss having to chase them out of my back yard. And for further info, the trial did not go the next day because when Bush grounded the airplanes, jurors from surrounding areas could not make it in for jury duty. So the trial got postponed a couple of weeks.
I talk in the post below about some changes I was considering. In case you haven't seen it, I've added a photo album to the site. It is listed as "Namagiqua" on the left. Namagiqua is Yu'pik for "I don't know". I picked that name because when Typepad wanted to know the name of my photo album, I thought, "I don't know." Anyway, I've posted some photos I've taken throughout the state. I am going to focus the pictures on Alaska life and scenes.
I know that some of them have been posted here before, but I've posted some new photos and added commentary/descriptions for them. I'll try to update as I'm able, but if a picture is worth 1000 words, and if an attorney bills at $250 an hour, then these photos are a bargain no matter how rarely updated!
Alaska Airlines has not been doing too well lately, generally running late and seeing consumer satisfaction ratings drop. Incidents like this one don't help. Sounds like the captain and crew did a good job in a difficult situation.
Unfortunately, it does not sound like other Alaska Airlines employees have handled the situation with as much grace.
I work for an alternate defender Agency, the Office of Pubic Advocacy, but we maintain a good relationship with the PDA. There is a new PD, a recent law school grad, who had a rather interesting client meeting somewhat recently (He told about this story at the PD conference so it is public knowledge at this point).
He has a misdemeanor slot, handling 10 - 25 misdemeanor cases per week, roughly. And sometimes, clients can be hard to reach. Generally in the local court, trial calls are held on Friday. So every Friday, he goes to court and goes over the cases that are ready for trial to figure out which ones will go to trial on Monday.
So one Thursday, he stops in a neighborhood bar to grab a brew and sees a very attractive young woman. He sits next to her and they start up a conversation and he buys her a drink. She seems to be an interesting person and interested in him and he is thinking that the evening is going well when she announces she has to leave because she has to get up early the next morning. She says she has to go to court in local court.
Our intrepid PD hero wonders a bit about this and asks her who her attorney is, and she mentions his name! He asks her name and sure enough, her name is on his court list. His stomach sinks rather rapidly when he realizes that she is facing trial for minor consuming alcohol charges. He also realizes that if she checks her voice mail on her cell phone, there is a message to call him about the impending court case. There is another message saying she hasn't called him and that she needs to be in court early Friday morning. He quietly agrees that she should go to court and he leaves quite quickly. The next day he checks his file and is relieved to learn that she is in fact over 21 at the time this happened. To be on the safe side, he asked that the case be transferred to another attorney. That request was granted. To my knowledge, they did not start dating.
I have not posted in a really long time (see comments in the 'Ecto' post below) for a couple of reasons. First, I've got a huge case coming up in just under 2 weeks. It's a very high profile murder case. Given how small this state is, I'm not going to give any details, but I have been just crazy busy having to deal with that on top of preparing for this trial. I also spent several days fishing. Now, you might wonder why I would go fishing with such an important trial pending.
I have been planning this trip for some time, since January, to be precise. I got this case in March after this trip was already set. I had asked to set the case in January, 2006, given my absence in September. The court denied that motion, saying that it did not want to try the case in January next year because it had been tried in January this year. Well, I was still going on my fishing trip. With that in mind, let me share a few photos and some commenary.
I will starte this picture of my fishing partner (my dad) and the guide, fishing in the river set against some of the foothills in the Becharoff National Wildlife Refuge:
But you are probably wondering why I would entitle this posting 'Fish Porn'. Well, I figure that the following pictures will, if you fish, particularly if you fly fish, only make you lust. Consider this nice Arctic Char caught at the Ugashik Narrows:
Or how about this nice rainbow trout (Yes, that is a rainbow trout):
Or maybe this particular trout (different than the one above):
Anyway, I spent several days fishing. All fish (except one Dolly Varden char, not pictured here) were released. The two rainbows pictured above were over 30". In a surprising way, it did help me prepare for trial because I was able to relax and do something I've wanted to do for a long time: go fly fishing on the Naknek in September. Next year at this time I hope to have good pictures of a giant brown bear for the wall and a moose for the freezer (although I wouldn't mind a nice rack on the moose).
I was not fishing the whole time, but that explains a few days. Otherwise, I have been preparing for trial or attending the public defender agency annual conference. I think that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to discussing PD conferences so I will just let that one go. But I did go to 2 days of really good lectures on DNA evidence and forensic pathology.