Goodbye to Judges David Nelson and Richard Henderson, who are both retiring.
Goodbye to prosecutor and memoirist Timothy Stoen, who is retiring for health reasons, or would otherwise stay on at the Ten Mile courthouse merely to prosecute Republicans and Libertarians.
Goodbye to Deputy Jason Cox, who went to the Lake County District Attorney as an investigator. He’ll be remembered as a big, easy-going deputy who worked the rough and ready North Sector for many years and for blowing the whistle on the sad sex scandal in Covelo involving two deputies who killed themselves, two who didn’t.
Goodbye to Special Agent Peter Hoyle, who went back to the Ukiah Police Department as a sergeant, after busting more dope dealers than any other officer on the major crimes task force.
Goodbye to Deputy Orell Massey, who retired from patrol duty only to take up duty as a transportation officer for prisoners coming and going from court.
Goodbye to attorney Andrew Higgins of the Office of the Public Defender, who crept off last summer, shortly after a scolding from Judge Ann Moorman for rolling his eyes while before her court.
Goodbye to Assistant DA Paul Sequiera, who left during the spring of the year over a pay dispute.
Goodbye to the meth dealer, who was finally evicted from the trailer park where the AVA Ukiah bureau is located, and took his obnoxious clientele elsewhere.
Goodbye to the stray cats, who used the nearby planters for a cat box until the landlord caught them in a Have-A-Heart trap and relocated them to a rural barnyard.
Goodbye to Captain Fathom who disappeared after being released from jail recently (although some locals insist he’s still in there).
Goodbye to Probation Officer Monica Vargas and Ukiah Police Detective Isabel Maldonado, who both went on maternity leave.
Goodbye to a vast backlog of marijuana cases stalled and otherwise postponed until the passage of Prop. 64 when they all (mostly) became misdemeanors.
* * *
Lots of new additions at the courthouse should make it a very happy new year!
Hello to a new judge, The Honorable Keith Faulder will be sworn in Friday, January 6th, 5:30 pm at the Saturday Afternoon Club on School Street.
Hello to a new Assistant DA Richard “Rick” Welsh (note the spelling correction!).
Hello to a new lawyer at the Office of the Public Defender, Mary LeClaire.
Hello to new defense attorney Macci Baldock who has been filling in for Jan Cole-Wilson who has been out ill for the past two months.
* * *
Forensic Oratory is the formal term for what lawyers do, and it means speaking in a courtroom generally. It doesn’t mean using a lot of legalese, necessarily, but it does include the classical rhetorical devices, and some lawyers are better at the use of these devices than others; whereas others, still, get stuck on one device and it comes to be the only tool in their kit, as it were.
The Latin words and phrases lawyers use to hide the plain facts of what they do are only spoken to the judge or between themselves, to shroud their workings in mystery, and the same can be said for the numbers they deploy, as well, for it’s really just as easy to say somebody is charged with transportation of marijuana as it is to say “eleven-three-sixty of the Health and Safety Code,” but which is better to confuse and impress the peanut gallery? And why do they persist in saying “in limine motions” when all they mean is pre-trial motions?
Thankfully, they drop this pretense when they address a jury, but still they use the rhetorical devices from classical antiquity, specifically those developed by Aristotle and Cicero. And it was Cicero who narrowed this art down to the three basic goals: First, to prove your point (docere); second, to delight your audience (delectare); and third, to move them emotionally (et movere). Of the three goals, it is the second one that is the most widely neglected – I would even say abused – and the lawyers more often bore their audience, the jury, than delight them.
And so, in light of making light of these lawyerly pretensions, and at the same instant, providing some insight into certain courtroom personalities, we present the readers with this little mock awards ceremony which, using some of their own pretentious Latinate terminology, should delight even those stodgy curmudgeons and, if well received, could become an annual undertaking.
BRACHYLOGIA BREVATIS AWARD (Brevity of diction; Concise expression.) — This highly coveted award goes to Deputy DA Scott McMenomey for the most straightforward style of prosecution — never a wasted word let alone that tedious litter of hums and haws, so common with other lawyers, the all too familiar weed-patch of well-thens or other such pleonasms ad nauseam. Mr. McMenomey has prosecuted a lot of serious crimes over the years, and his brevity of diction and concise expression is generally in diametrical and glaring contrast to defense lawyers with fine-tooth combs who spend hours picking the most microscopic nits, pettifog, quibble and niggle. One of his more famous cases was the rape and murder of the popular Willits dance instructor Kayla Chesser by Terrell James Marshall, Jr. on Halloween in 2014, and took until July of this year to end in a prison sentence of 50 years to life.
OCCUPATIO LITOTES AWARD (Introducing and responding to one’s opponent’s arguments before they bring them up and stating a positive by negating a negative.) Another prestigious recognition, this one goes to Anthony Adams of the Office of the Public Defender for his skill at occupying the moral high ground in court and claiming it for his client before the prosecution can get there; and, once there, taking pity on the prosecutor and his witnesses by saying, “I’m not unaware of the difficulties my opponents are faced with in this case.”
EPANAPHORA PRIZE (Repeating the same word or phrase in successive instances for emphasis.) This prize goes to Deputy DA Joshua Rosenfeld who based his closing arguments in the trial of wannabe lawyer Ed Straski using the “honorable man” phrase taken from the famous speech by Marc Anthony in Julius Caesar.
PHRONESIC KOLAKEIA (Flattery for practical results.) The prize goes to Bob Boyd a defense lawyer who understands that judges and prosecutors are in a position to injure your client, and therefore hurt your income, so what earthly good is it to annoy and antagonize them?
PERAPHRASIS PRIZE (The art of substituting a whole string of words to avoid the one that would suffice because it would sound too incriminating – like saying “my client may have minimized his own involvement and exaggerated the role of the others involved…” to avoid saying “he lied.” This prize goes to Albert Kubanis, the oldest practicing lawyer in the local defense bar and a guy who knows all the tricks of the trade, as it were, but also has the pragmatic wisdom to tell his clients what they can realistically hope for in any given case. Often as not, when this happens, the client will demand a Marsden motion to fire Mr. Kubanis and have the court assign a “better” lawyer. What happen is the “client” ends up with a worse lawyer and gets a worse deal than the one Kubanis could have negotiated with the DA. The peraphrasis technique comes in usually at the time of sentencing, and all lawyers use it to a greater or lesser effect: but Mr. Kubanis is probably the best, merely by virtue of the fact that he has had more practice than the others.
PARONOMASIA PRIZE (A play on words for humorous effect, a fancy word for a pun.) The prize goes to the new judge, The Honorable Keith Faulder, no contest! He leaves the competition in the dust. (PS. “Faulds” are defined as “pieces of plate armor worn below a breastplate to protect the waist and hips” — i.e., bulletproof vests. Need we even comment?)
ERISTIC PLEONASM PRIZE (Use of more words than necessary — the trick here is to win by overwhelming the facts with persuasion; the idea is not to lie, but to present the argument so cleverly as to sway the jury by the power of the presentation. This award goes to Deputy DA Timothy Stoen who will seek a conviction of a conservative regardless of the truth, and has used this same rhetorical technique to cover his guilt in the criminal escapades of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, resulting his laughably titled memoir, “Marked For Death.”
ETHOPOEIA PRIZE (Putting oneself in the character of another to convey that person’s feelings more vividly. The prize goes to Jan Cole-Wilson for her defense of the drunk driver, Jared Soinila, who killed Juan Juan of Potter Valley and also wrecked the physical and mental well-being of his widow Juana Juan.
HYPOPHORA PRIZE (Asking aloud what the lawyer’s adversary has to say for herself — then answers for him or her.) The prize goes to District Attorney David Eyster for his use of the device with especially devastating results in the jury trial of Laytonville embezzler Christine Kelsay, and the probation revocation hearing of Boonville embezzler Bronwen Hanes. “Did you at any time take responsibility for your actions? No, you continued to blame others, even the victims of your crime.”
NOEMA PLEONASM PRIZE (Speech that is deliberately subtle or obscure by the confusion of wordiness instead of clarity and brevity.) This prize goes to Lewis Finch of the Office of the Alternate Public Defender, a lawyer of so meager abilities that it is a wonder the County has wasted so much money on him for so long; in essence, he’s the epitome of the Mendoland Incompetent sustained in position and at a high salary merely through the inertia inherent in ignorance; and, it goes without saying, his devotion to Mendolib lip service, always a mouthful of the tritest clichés.
ANACOLUTHON AWARD (Abrupt change of syntax in the middle of a sentence.) The prize goes to Public Defender Linda Thompson who begins every question to a witness with something like "What time did you — well, let me just ask you this: Was it day or night?" Annoying, disconcerting, but apparently it is the only tool in her kit — actually more like a tic than a tool — and she uses it so much it is worn completely out.