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A question of fitness

As a criminal defense lawyer in my 35th year of practice, I have represented thousands of people charged with criminal offenses, most of whom were ultimately convicted of some criminal act.

I have listened to hundreds of audio-taped interrogations and viewed dozens of videotaped ones. Most people are frightened and subdued when interrogated by the police. Very few appear to be, or to act in a sub-human fashion during this process, despite the assertions of San Diego Deputy District Attorney Robert C. Phillips in your September issue.

Mr. Phillips posits that audio, and preferably video taping of police interrogations is a good idea because that process “[gives] the eventual jury the opportunity to hear, if not see,the defendant before he has thought to temper his attitude, clean up his language, wipe the drool off his chin, and otherwise soften his otherwise commonly offensive physical appearance . . .”

Mr. Phillips’ portrayal of arrestees as profane, drooling and offensive to look at says more about his humanity than it does about theirs. I question the author’s fitness for continued employment in a position which provides him the opportunity to act on his views.

Michael W. Roman
Berkeley

Another answer to Trevor

The recent article by Robert C. Wright (September) on abuse of the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. C. §§17200 et seq.) rejects two legislative proposals but offers nothing to fix the problem. I agree with Mr. Wright that the two proposals are inappropriate, but for different reasons.

Small business owners who have been the targets of UCL abuse need recourse against such tactics immediately, at the beginning of the lawsuit, so court review of settlements and judgments under SB 122 would not help. And the lengthy warning required to be served by AB 95 would be just one more piece of paper in the ever-increasing stack of documents comprising service of process.

There is a simple solution to UCL abuse, and the model already exists and has been proven to work. I am referring to the special motion to strike SLAPP suits (Code Civ. Proc. §§425.16).

The legislature should enact a new special motion to strike UCL lawsuits so that small business owners targeted by such “shakedown operations” can seek immediate court review of UCL allegations and dismissal of sham claims. Such special motion to strike should also include provisions awarding attorney fees and costs against not only the nominal plaintiff but also the attorneys bringing the UCL claims.

Our elected representatives seem intent on enacting a “solution” which will likely compound the problem. Instead, they should look at the matter from the perspective of the small business owner and, using that perspective, a new special motion to strike is exactly what is needed.

Terence Kilpatrick
Gold River

A nod to the military

The letter from Dave Linn of Berkeley (September) in which he expressed “dismay” at the decision to waive dues for those called to active military duty will no doubt raise the ire of many. But it should be noted that his rather disjointed attempt to question the morality of war misses a few salient points.

First, many lawyers called to active duty are reservists in private practice that suffer financially while they are deployed. Second, they are not “volunteers” for “highly paid employment” as Mr. Linn assumes, but are individuals who have chosen to serve their country as patriots.

I practice law for the military in a civilian capacity and I am not highly paid, especially in comparison to those working in private law firms; I also do not have the luxury of having my bar dues paid for by a high-priced law firm. So, rather than myopically seeing this as an issue of “war and peace,” it is more reasonably characterized as one of duty, honor and integrity.

Lauryne Wright
Arlington, Va.

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