Good lawyer or Good Luck?

So, I am going to start copying TMZ’s recurring posts where you look at an old and current photo of a celeb and vote whether you think that celeb looks the way she does today because of “good genes or good docs?”

I shall call this copycat recurring post “good lawyer or good luck?”  This refers to cases where someone (read: either named OJ Simpson or else is a white rich person, usually a former judge, cop, or da) gets a ridiculously lenient sentence or is acquitted.  I’ll spare you a good lawyer or good luck? on Zimmerman.

Today’s good lawyer or good luck? (vote at the end) comes from alameda county.  A few days ago it was CoCo with all the judges gone wild, today it’s AlCo!

Anyway,  I mentioned Judge Seeman previously. [insert joke about his name here.]  Here is his booking photo which makes me very sad:

Rumor has it that Judge Seemy walked off the bench where he was arraigning people on criminal charges to surrender himself to the DA and law enforcement in his chambers.  The government’s  2 year investigation [unheard of in a nonhomicide state case] culminated in felony charges against Seemy for elder abuse, perjury, 28 other felonies, and 2 misdemeanors (32 total charges).  All the charges related to financial transactions where he allegedly took, by one means or another, millions from his poor (well not literally poor) old lady neighbor.  She’s dunzo (read: dead) now.

Today, Judge Seeman pled no contest to felony perjury and felony elder abuse.  The remaining 28 felonies and 2 misdemeanors were dismissed.  His expected sentence in a case where he allegedly unlawfully put assets in his name or physically removed from this person’s home property and assets worth MILLIONS of dollars: just a lil probation. I use the term allegedly here because I do not know which transactions he admitted to.

Now, the DA, Nancy O’Malley, wants everyone to be clear that this is THE HARSHEST form of probation anyone has ever had! News sources quoted her as assuring the public that he is “not a free man” and is subject to the “extensive terms and conditions” of said 5 year felony probation. Newsflash, if I had a client facing 32 felonies for stealing millions of dollars, I’d pull a Mr. Strong and shit my pants in court if they offered him probation.  So I’m sorry dear DA, I ain’t pickin up what you’re puttin down.

I’d love to see these “extensive terms and conditions” and how they compare to the terms that EVERYONE on felony probation must consent to. But, I do not have the time to stop by alco and look at the court file. WINK WINK JJC reader in alameda county, check dat court file, scan that shit, and send to me!!! I suspect the terms are like dont commit a new offense, dont be a judge, dont be a lawyer, pay restitution, 4 way search clause. Sign here.

So, there is this question which is, if you are a defense attorney should you always be happy when someone gets no jail time? When someone gets acquitted? And if not, how do you justify that?

Ill tell you why I am moderately annoyed by this result.  We fight oh so hard to get judges, das and cops to understand that our clients made a mistake, that despite their worst acts, they have beating hearts, they have families, they have redeemable qualities, that they are human.  We beg for mercy. We beg for a second chance.  And, many times, often when we are representing a client we feel a lot of empathy for and almost never when we are representing a client that we personally dislike (the murphy’s law of criminal defense), these judges, das, and cops, think that justice requires just a lil bit of time in the joint (often times, a lot of bit of time in the joint). #bringingbacktheterm”thejoint”.

So, when a rich white judge rejects our begs for leniency, breaks the law and no one thinks his ass needs to spend just a lil bit of time in the pokey, it is, well, kind of annoying.  Insult to injury is that this person is not just any person. This person was entrusted in a position of power, a major position of power.  His job was to send other people to prison for the very law he was simultaneously breaking.  I’d love to see statistics on the average sentence he gave to people with 32 felonies or people convicted of felony perjury e.g. welfare fraud involving millions or people convicted of elder abuse fraud.  Alas, this isn’t federal so we can’t do that research very easily.  Judge Seeman breaking the law, especially by using his power and knowledge of the legal system to perpetrate the offense, is all that more egregious than our clients who never promised anyone they’d be choir boys.  Except our priest clients.  But that’s neither here nor there.  Of course, the flip side is he can argue it is unlikely he will reoffend.  We argue that too, often, and it falls on deaf ears.

One more thing that pisses me off. This mother fucker mfer (better mom?) got PAID over $100K from our lovely little taxes AFTER his ass was arrested.  I’m all for the presumption of innocence.  I am not pissed that he got paid. I’m pissed that Nancy O’Malley said this:Seeman has paid for his breach of trust as a judicial officer and, he has paid for his financial abuse of the elderly victim who has since passed away.”

Um, unless I’m  misreading the news stories or these reporters suck, no where have I read that part of the “extensive terms and conditions of probation” included repaying the taxpayers for the $130k that went straight to Seedy’s Seemy’s pocket.  Alls I seen was shit about paying the dead lady’s estate significantly less restitution than the prosecutor alleged was the loss figure (approximately $300k versus mcmillions).

At the risk of overusing this phrase, Dear Nancy O’Malley, we, as taxpayers, are still alive. How about you restitute (real word?) our wallets? Or how about you make him pay that money with one of those giant checks made out to you then use it for a training on “why we should show the accused mercy.”

JJC Verdict:  Dear Judge Seeman, Good luck.
Do you agree?

  • Good Lawyer
  • Good Luck
More polls: Free poll

Published by Jenny Brandt

About Me: sociology, african american studies, chicano/a studies, critical race studies, and criminal law scholar. public school kid from kindergarten-J.D. Former public defender. I am a post-conviction guru. Appeals. Sentencing. Withdraw Pleas. Habeas. Published author in the Criminal Law Bulletin and California Defender. "I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world." Why I started JJC: My PD buddy suggested it. What and who JJC is inspired by: public defenders I have worked for, with, and next to. my clients who have battled things no one should and are still here. innocence and guilt and everything in between. My coworkers, who fight just as hard as the PDs I love, for many of the same reasons. My husband who was once voted "most Christ like" (every Jewish girl's dream). My Corgi who loves everyone. The constitution. Tabloids. My mom, for giving me a voice. My dad, for teaching me what to say. My brother, for teaching me how to say it.

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