Thursday, April 12, 2007

So It Goes

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut dies at age 84

It's hard to overstate the effect that Kurt Vonnegut's work had on my psyche. I first read him as a teenager, and works of dark humor and mind-blowing originality like CAT'S CRADLE, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, and SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE rearranged my head. I remianed a fan all the way through his most recent work, the rather pessimistic A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.

It saddens me to hear he's gone, but he's left an indelible mark on our culture that will live on.

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
-Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thank You, Rich White Kids!

Prosecutors Drop Charges in Duke Case - North Carolina authorities today dropped all remaining charges against three former Duke University lacrosse players who had been accused of sexually assaulting a stripper at a team party, ending a racially tinged criminal case that had gripped the nation and tarnished the reputations of the athletes and their local prosecutor."

Well, good. I'm glad to hear this. It's clear to me that this was, in the words of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, "the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations." But I had to laugh at this:

Later, the three exonerated players and their lawyers told a separate news conference that the charges never should have been filed, and they called for reforms in the legal system to preserve the presumption of innocence.

Am I the only one who finds it bitterly ironic that it takes a false accusation against wealthy white kids to make the idea of "presumption of innocence" palatable again? Those of us in the law biz know this well: tell the average person that your indigent criminal client who's Black, or Hispanic, or what's still called "White Trash" enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the best you can usually hope for is a patronizing sneer. More likely you'll be blasted for "only caring about the rights of criminals." People get falsely accused, often of serious crimes, every fucking day, and up till now, nobody's been all heated up about it.

But I suppose I should be more grateful. So thanks, rich white kids. Thanks for making the presumption of innocence fashionable. Not that I have any faith that it'll last.

Oh, and the next time you feel the urge to put down criminal defense lawyers, keep this in mind: without defense counsel, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans would be pulling a train in Central Prison at this very moment.

Good Luck to Elaine Viets

Please send good thoughts, prayers, incantations and whatnot for the swift recovery of our friend and colleague Elaine Viets, who suffered a stroke last night. Last word from her co-bloggers over at The Lipstick Chronicles is "The doctors expect her to recover, and she will be able to write again." Good news, that. In the meantime, please hike on over there and leave some love for Elaine and her husband Don. I had the privilege of doing a panel with Elaine a couple of weeks ago, and she's a class act: warm-hearted, fun, and funny.

Hang in there, Elaine and Don!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


My buddy Tasha Alexander's second novel A POISONED SEASON hits the streets today. Her debut, AND ONLY TO DECEIVE, was a knockout, and I expect great things from this one, too. Knock 'em dead, kiddo.