April 20, 2019

Archives for April 29, 2015

The Future of Law (Part 16): The New Law Masters

[I wrote last week about open source law. Check out this article on that topic from The Lawyerist that was posted the same day. Yes, the future of law is already here.]

rhodesI Googled “definition of expert” and got this: “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.”

As we saw earlier in this series, the legal experts of the future will be systems thinkers who can fashion comprehensive, multidisciplinary, mass-appeal, consumer-oriented IT products with legal solutions embedded within them. And, as we saw last time, Law by Algorithm will increasingly provide the “think like a lawyer” artificial intelligence needed to create those products.

On the other hand, in his book Tomorrow’s Lawyers, law futurist Richard Susskind anticipates the ongoing need for lawyers (using human brains, not artificial intelligence) who can fashion legal solutions beyond the “think like a lawyer” work product.

  • Those lawyers will emerge as a new class of law masters.

Consider this quote from Ken Coleman. host of The Ken Coleman Show and author of One Question, in which Coleman captures the essence of the commoditization we’ve been talking about.

Society seems to favor mass production from its citizens. We dress alike, behave similarly, and speak with a common vernacular. Thanks to the gifts of the digital age, anyone today can become an “expert.”

In this blog interview with author Daniel Pink — bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind — Coleman and Pink agree that what’s really needed is not expertise but mastery, and share some thoughts about how you get it. Further, check out this blog post on that topic from The Lean Thinker, which ends this way:

Put another way, the “expert” knows. The “master” knows that there is much to learn.

Here are this week’s predictions about the new law masters:

  • The law masters of the future will be valued not as repositories of knowledge, but for their inquiring minds, and especially for the ability to ask important, relevant questions whose answers aren’t already embedded in commoditized legal products.
  • The new law masters’ key proficiency will lie not in knowing the law (the job of experts), but in knowing how to develop it.
  • The new law masters will shape the law using innovative new methods not currently part of the law landscape. (What these might be is anybody’s guess.)
  • And the law itself will reward them for this expertise, by continuing to provide plenty of gray areas and unanswered questions, commoditization notwithstanding.

In his book The End of Lawyers?, Richard Susskind notes that disruptive innovation is disruptive to lawyers, not clients. This comment suggests another role for the new law masters:

  • They will profoundly and skillfully shape the assimilation of disruptive innovation into the law and law practice.
  • For example, they will have the sage ability to understand and guide the law and law practice when the law goes multimedia, as it inevitably will (another topic Richard Susskind takes up in The End of Lawyers?).

As for the latter, just try to imagine what the law will be like when it is detached from its Gutenberg printing press moorings in language and logic.

I can’t either.

Which is precisely why we’ll need the new law masters to help us out.

A collection of Kevin Rhodes’ Legal Connection blog posts for the past three years is now available in print from Amazon. Also available from Amazon as a Kindle, and as an ebook from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Scribd.

Colorado Supreme Court: Assault Sentence to be Consecutive with Any Other Sentence Being Served

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Diaz on Monday, April 27, 2015.

Sentencing—Statutory Interpretation—CRS § 18-3-203(1)(f).

Defendant was convicted of second-degree assault of a detention center employee in two separate cases. Trial for the second assault preceded trial for the first assault. Defendant finished serving his original sentence before trial in either case. The trial court held that CRS § 18-3-203(1)(f) requires that the sentence for the first assault be served consecutively to the sentence for the second assault. The court of appeals reversed on the ground that mandatory consecutive sentencing applies only to the sentence a defendant is serving at the time of the assault. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment, holding that CRS § 18-3-203(1)(f) requires a consecutive sentence if, at the time of sentencing, the defendant is serving any other sentence.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: No Sixth Amendment Violation for Long Delay but Defendant’s Speedy Trial Act Rights were Violated

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Hicks on Friday, March 6, 2015.

Brian Hicks was arrested following a shooting in 2005, and at the time of arrest he was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a loaded .40 caliber Glock magazine. Because of his previous felony convictions, he was not allowed to possess these items, and was charged with one count each of possession of firearms and body armor by a convicted felon. More than a year later, Denver’s Metro Gang Task Force intercepted a call suggesting that Hicks was going to meet a drug dealer to purchase cocaine. After the meeting, police attempted a traffic stop, which turned into a chase. During the chase, Hicks threw a black bag from his car. Police later apprehended Hicks and recovered the bag, which contained several kilograms of cocaine. Hicks was indicted on multiple charges related to conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 2007. The government and Hicks engaged in a years-long period of motions and continuances, and finally on August 1, 2012, the district court ruled that all remaining issues had been resolved and the matter could be set for trial. On August 2, 2012, the government moved for the court to set a trial date. The district court ruled on this motion on September 27, 2012, when it scheduled a status conference and hearing on all pending motions for November 28, 2012. However, on November 15, Hicks filed two motions to dismiss on speedy trial grounds, one based on violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial and one based on violations of the Speedy Trial Act. The district court denied both motions. Hicks eventually pleaded guilty in February 2014, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his speedy trial motions.

The Tenth Circuit first reviewed the denial of Hicks’ Sixth Amendment violation claims. The Tenth Circuit found the length of the delay, five and a half years, was presumptively prejudicial, and turned to the reason for the delay. Most of the delay was attributable to Hicks—he filed over forty unique motions, including several requesting deadline extensions or continuances; he changed counsel several times during the proceedings; and he requested that his federal prosecution be delayed until the conclusion of his state court proceedings. Although some of the delay was attributable to the prosecution, the majority of it was because of Hicks, and this factor weighed against him. Next, the Tenth Circuit evaluated whether Hicks asserted his right to a speedy trial, and found that although he first asserted his right in January 2008, he did not renew his assertion until August 2011. This weighed against Hicks also. Finally, the Tenth Circuit evaluated whether the delay prejudiced Hicks. Because he was already serving a life sentence on different charges, the delay did not cause pre-trial confinement concerns. Hicks also failed to make a particularized showing of increased anxiety from the delay, leaving Hicks to show that the delay “fundamentally hampered his ability to assist in his defense.” Hicks did not make this showing; although he was housed in the administrative segregation unit of the prison, he was generally able to meet with his legal counsel at any time during business hours, and he made numerous motions for continuances and extensions of time. The Tenth Circuit found no Sixth Amendment violation and affirmed the district court’s denial of Hicks’ motion.

Turning next to the Speedy Trial Act claims, the Tenth Circuit evaluated whether the delay in setting Hicks’ hearing exceeded the Speedy Trial Act’s 70-day limit, and found that it did. The district court issued its order resolving all remaining issues on August 1, 2012, and the Speedy Trial clock started ticking then. It was tolled for thirty days by the prosecution’s motion to set the trial, but the 70 days expired on November 10, 2012, and Hicks’ Speedy Trial Act rights were therefore violated. The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of Hicks’ Speedy Trial motion and remanded with orders to vacate his convictions and determine if they should be vacated with or without prejudice.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/29/2015

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and two unpublished opinions.

In re Anderson: Anderson v. West

Craft v. Global Expertise in Outsourcing

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.