The Devil’s Defender: John Henry Browne's Life as a High Profile Lawyer

Seattle criminal defense attorney John Henry Browne has been involved in some of the most well-known criminal cases in modern American history. Browne came into the spotlight as the lawyer for serial killer Ted Bundy. Over the succeeding years, he represented Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in the Kandahar massacre proceedings. He represented Benjamin Ng, who killed fourteen people at Seattle’s Wah Mee gambling club. After years of silence, Browne has told the story of his legal odyssey in his new book, “The Devil’s Defender.” He discusses the book and his reasons for writing it in this report.

John Henry Browne

John Henry Browne

Browne explains that the book grew out his need to have something to do during his time at a home he bought in Mexico. The book began as a journal, one he kept for six years. He ultimately added information about Ted Bundy and the death of his girlfriend to the book. When Browne’s friends in the news media learned about the book, they urged him to polish it and publish it. The book is now a prospect to become a movie or a miniseries.

Browne had a unique relationship with Bundy, having served as Bundy’s lawyer and legal adviser for almost seven years. Among other things, Browne’s book includes letters he received from Bundy. “He would write me these letters that sound quite sane but also clearly very manipulative.” Browne received a waiver of the attorney-client privilege from Bundy years ago, but he didn’t use it until he wrote his book.

Browne relates hearing from Bundy that the reason Browne was his legal adviser for so long is that the two were so much alike. “That was one of the creepiest times of my life,” Browne says. He asked himself why he wanted to represent a clearly evil man. He even questioned whether he wanted to be a defense attorney. Later, Browne learned that Bundy meant that, had he not gone down “the dark side,” he would like to have been a criminal defense lawyer and live a life like the one he imagined Browne was living.

Browne says his book has been very well received and has gotten many favorable comments on the Internet. He feels it would be a good read for just about anyone. And it’s not all about his life as a lawyer. He talks about his time working for the American Broadcasting Co. in Washington, D.C. and having White House press credentials. The year before that, he played the bass in a rock band, the Crystal Palace Guard. “I feel sort of like Forrest Gump sometimes,” Browne says, thinking of the unusual moments of his life.

John Henry Browne is the principal in John Henry Browne, P.S., Seattle, Washington. For almost 40 years, he has successfully represented people charged with serious offenses in state and federal court. Honored in Best Lawyers in America since 1999, he is an attorney with a northwest practice and international reputation. He has tried over 300 criminal cases to verdict and represents a broad range of individuals faced with serious felony charges. The Sequence Media Financial Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group

When Self-Driving Cars Crash, Who's at Fault? Fennemore Craig Lawyer Marc Lamber Explains

Self-driving cars have been making news during 2016. Google has been pursuing this project diligently, as has Uber. Are self-driving cars just around the corner? Marc Lamber of the Fennemore Craig, P.C. law firm discusses the future, including legal issues, in this report.

Lamber says these autonomous cars are on the way. “Anyone who thinks automated vehicles are going away-they’re wrong.” Self-driving cars are not a fad; they are the future.

Marc Lamber

Marc Lamber

Automobile liability insurance may change substantially, or go away entirely, in the new world of driverless cars. If an automated vehicle causes and accident, Lamber explains, the manufacturer may be on the hook for damages. “It may be Google, or Tesla, or Uber.” However, driverless vehicles will also have some input from drivers, so the situation could become very confusing for someone injured in a collision and seeking damages from a negligent party. In a comparative fault state, a key question would be the percentage of fault for each party.

What about a situation, Lamber asks, where a car malfunctions, but the owner failed to upgrade the car’s software, resulting in a computer glitch? Who is at fault in this situation? It could be argued that everyone involved is at fault, including the car manufacturer and the software company. Of course, Lamber points out, that the cost of automobile liability insurance could drop dramatically if driverless cars work as well as their proponents hope.

Liability issues could still be tricky. For example, a driverless car may malfunction in a situation where the driver could have intervened to prevent the accident but failed to do so. There could a software problem, Lambert says. A vehicle component like the brakes or tires might fail. So there might be multiple parties who could all be at fault, bringing us back to the problem of determining percentage of fault. The percentage of fault is important in assessing the damages, and there are many different state laws to contend with. If a company sells a defective car that later causes an accident, the company will be on the hook for the damages from the accident.

Another issue will be whether their computers can be hacked. Lamber points out that today’s cars contain “black box” recorders that track all kinds of things in vehicles, including whether people in the car are wearing their seatbelts. When autonomous cars finally appear, the recorders in them will have more information than anything that has gone before. Lamber says that these new black boxes will also be communicating with other vehicles and traffic control devices. So an enormous amount of information will be available from these devices. Someone who can hack a black box like that could obtain a lot of information that might otherwise be private. “There’ll be less and less privacy associated with driving.”

From his perspective as a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer, Lamber believes we are headed in the right direction, and that is to produce cars that will reduce injuries and save lives. “Every year,” Lamber notes, “there’s 1.2 million people that die associated with car accidents.” Eliminating these deaths would save about 3,000 lives every day.

Marc H. Lamber, a Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent rated trial attorney (highest peer-review rating), specializes in plaintiffs’ catastrophic injury and wrongful death litigation. He formed the Plaintiff Personal Injury (PI) Practice at Fennemore Craig, P.C., and has spent the past 20 years developing it. He is the Chairperson of the PI Practice. The Sequence Media Financial Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.

Estate Planning & GRATs, with Darra Rayndon of Clark Hill PLC

Estate taxes are an important item to consider for people with sizable estates. There are several tools available to minimize the estate tax burden. In this report, Darra Rayndon, a member of Clark Hill PLC, Scottsdale, Arizona, explains how GRATs can help reduce estate tax liability.

Darra Rayndon

Darra Rayndon

Rayndon explains that a GRAT is a tool used for estates that have rapidly appreciating assets. A GRAT is a grantor retained annuity trust. This is a trust to which the grantor contributes assets that will be appreciating rapidly in the future. The trust is set up to pay an annuity to the beneficiary for a term of years, perhaps five years, perhaps more. The gift tax liability of the transfer is measured by the term of the trust and the value of what the beneficiary would receive measured at today’s values. In other words, there is a discount for the contribution, and that is its appeal in estate planning.

In addition, the grantor will receive a stream of income from the GRAT. However, all income earned by the trust property and all appreciation of the assets will be outside the estate of the grantor.

The beneficiary of GRAT may be any of several possibilities. It can be one or more family members. Other individuals may be beneficiaries, and other trusts may also be named as beneficiaries. A limited liability company can even be a beneficiary.

Rayndon points out that the gift tax and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions don’t apply to GRATs. However, the grantor can take advantage of the gift tax exemption, which is currently $5,450,000 per person, assuming that there is a taxable gift involved.

Rayndon also notes that a GRAT is an irrevocable trust. This means that it should be done carefully when it is done so that everything goes as anticipated and that the assets pass to the named beneficiaries at the end of the trust term. Another advantage is that creditors cannot get at the assets in the GRAT.

The people who will be interested in GRATs are those with taxable estates. The current amounts are $5,450.000 for an individual or 10,900,000 for a married couple. Using current figures, property that will appreciate more than 1.4% would be good property to put into a GRAT.

Darra L. Rayndon, a Member in Clark Hill’s Estate Planning & Probate Practice Group, has over thirty years of practice experience and is certified as a tax specialist by the Arizona Bar. Darra’s work includes tax planning, business entity formation and representation including corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and other businesses, estate and wealth succession planning, asset protection, exempt private offerings, and real estate matters. She is also a Certified Fiduciary through the Arizona Supreme Court, and as such, serves as trustee and in other fiduciary capacities when called upon. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.

Pennsylvania's AG Resigns After Perjury Conviction

Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor announced today that she will resign from her office. Attorney General Kathleen Kane made the announcement one day after a jury found her guilty of nine criminal charges, including two counts of counts of perjury, a felony. Her resignation will be effective at the close of the business day on Wednesday.

Kathleen Kane (NBC News photo)

Kathleen Kane (NBC News photo)

Kane, a Democrat, was elected to the statewide post in 2012. She was accused of leaking confidential information about grand jury proceedings to the news media. It was alleged that Kane leaked the information in an attempt to harm Frank Fina, her predecessor. Prosecutors said that Kane later attempted to cover up the leak, then lied to a grand jury about what she had done. According to CNN, Kane claimed that the entire episode began with a series of offensive emails from the office of former attorney general Tom Corbett, who was elected governor in 2010.

A jury found Kane guilty of two counts of felony perjury as well as obstruction of justice, false swearing, and other misdemeanor charges. The next step in the trial will be a sentencing hearing. Kane is facing as many as seven years in prison on each of the perjury charges.

The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.


Kim Kardashian And Kanye West Face Potential Legal Action Over Taylor Swift Video

People magazine is reporting potential legal action by Taylor Swift against Kanye West. The feud is over a phone call between the two musicians in January of this year that was recorded without Swift’s knowledge, a clip of the video was released recently by Kim Kardashian. In the video, posted to Kardashian’s Snapchat, Kanye is allegedly getting permission for mentioning her in his song “Famous.”

Considering the two-part consent law in California, it is illegal for someone to record a conversation without the other party knowing and Swift reportedly threatened West with criminal prosecution in February unless the video was destroyed.

Swift has taken to social media, rallying against never approving the line where she was referred to as a “bitch” and calling it character assassination.

West’s camp claims that he films his entire process but the legal issue will most likely lie in the video’s recent release after Swift’s previous legal threats.