Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mental Illness that is the criminal justice system.

The rhythmic metrical beat of the music synchronizes itself to the white lines of the freeway. I am once again headed to the Mental Health Court, that aging beat up space once known as a pickle factory. An old red brick building, dressed up in parts in hastily drawn gang graffiti and naked in parts as the paint has slowly been peeled off by the patient hands of time. Her dark stories are many… her tragic comedies of human error and fallibility even greater. Her secrets and her pains, etched in the hallways, in the courtrooms, on the walls, and in the holding cells much like her muted cries are only visible and audible to those who share the hallucinations of the patients who breathe life into her.

Life here is the theater of the absurd. A poorly painted tableau of incomprehensible and hard-to-decipher images of mental illness, family shame, disappointment and human tragedies intertwined with murder, rape, violence etc…. This is a rabbit hole, and I never know what to expect.. The mental health patients from various hospitals loiter around in the sitting area waiting for their cases to be heard… Some are catatonic. Others clearly responding to internal stimuli. Some are ragged looking. Others disheveled. A few well groomed. The army of nurses, forensic doctors, clerks and attendants glide invisibly much like the agony and torment of these patients.

As I walk down the hallway, my heels syncopate on the bare floors. I feel the breath of the building, rasping under the weight of the cases… or at least, the weight of my cases, in this building, is too much …. A son charged with attempted murder of his mom by driving a knife into her face to rid her of the perceived evil that had engulfed her, another man charged with murdering his best friend while in Meth induced psychosis, and yet another 21 old beautiful girl with a schizophrenic breakdown charged with attempting to blow up an imaginary bomb and yet another 50 year old charged with hate crimes and terror threats against those he believes have planted monitors in his head and have raped him electronically….

I walk to the security area to gain access to the holding cells where the incarcerated ones are held. The long walkway smell acrid. The putrid smell of a meat packing house sauced up with putrescent air fresheners attack the senses. I look at my wrists. Unshackled, unbound, and free… I am walking to the holding area. I lift my arm and bring my wrist closer to my nose. I remembered to wear my perfume today. It lifts me to a happy place, to a place of love, comfort and sweet tenderness… of music, joy and euphoria. It’s my defensive wall in this harrowing place.

Dressed in Yellow connoting “mental health” jail classification, my client stares at me with vacant eyes. He has not shaved, bathed or brushed his teeth or hair in days… Dogs on the streets are better managed, I remark to myself. Our conversation is stunted, the content void of any significance, legal or otherwise… I slowly trudge back to Court and wait for my case to be called.

I think it is Victor Hugo that said that "society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

We have failed… we as a society have failed to provide basic necessities, such as education, health care, mental health care and jobs… and if these souls are left in the darkness to commit sins and crimes against the society, it is US that is guilty… for we have turned away from the light… We are the cause of the darkness.

Signing off.
Alaleh Kamran

Uncollected Writings, 2015

Lecturer, Radio Host, Citizen Journalist, Blogger

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Was It Good For you?

November 7, 2014.

I walk into court today. It's a couple of days after prop 47 has passed which means many low level felonies will now be reduced to misdemeanors by operation of law.
My client is facing multiple cases all around the county. Prior to Prop 47, including his probation violations and his 4 open cases, he would be facing several years in State Prison. Most of his charges are drug related from use, to sales...Now, because of prop 47, i can finally get him into long term rehabilitation as opposed to warehousing him in state prison.
Today, he is being arraigned on several charges which were felonies when he was arrested. As I approached the prosecutors desk, I realize the deputy sitting at the desk today is an old old colleague of mine. I met him 24 years ago when I was a law clerk at the District Attorney's Office.
Over the years, being on the same side, or being on opposite sides of cases, we have formed a professional relationship which allows us to frankly and openly discuss the facts of our case and reach socially just and acceptable results.
I slowly go up to him. Judge is off the bench. The Courtroom is quietly bustling with the business of the day...
Me: Hey love... How you been.
DA: Hey girl, what brings you to my courtroom?
Me: [with an exuberant and effervescent tone] you gonna give me my first prop 47 reduction today...
DA: I am gonna be your first
ME: You gonna be my first. Talk dirty to me ...
DA: ok. you ready?
Me: ready ready... talk to me talk to me...

The Judge takes the bench, and the case is called. DA goes on the Record and says: Count I is reduced to a misdemeanor. Count II is reduced to a misdemeanor. Count III is also reduced to misdemeanor.

We take care of the rest of the issues... Defendant is given the opportunity to enroll in an In Patient Rehabilitation Program...
Judge goes off the Bench..

I walk to the DA. He looks at me and says:
DA: was it good for you...?
ME: it was good for me... was it good for you??

and we both laugh until tears roll down our cheeks.
Some days, i just love the practice of criminal defense.
Have an Awesome week-end, everyone.

CDAK, Alaleh Kamran.
Alaleh Kamran, Attorney at Law
A Professional Corporation
15760 Ventura Blvd, Suite 1010
Encino, Ca 91436
ph: 818-986-6222
Lecturer, Radio Host, Citizen Journalist, Blogger
Los Angeles, Las Vegas

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Sun Shines at UCLA Career Center

Alaleh?  are you available to sit on a panel at UCLA about careers in law? said the message in my Facebook inbox? Sanaz Nabati Career counselor at UCLA was contacting me to invite me to sit on a Panel at UCLA Career Center to discuss Law with prospective law students....

I was sitting in Court waiting for the Judge on a really messed up Murder case. And this message was like a piece of candy after a hard night of drinking... soothing for the soul and invigorating for the body.. I chuckled to myself. Have i ever met a microphone that i didn't like, i asked myself?? Of course i will talk to these students...

So, i show up, to look at a room full of UCLA students, shy, excited, ambitious, apprehensive and thirsty.... thirsty for knowledge, thirsty for answers. And i think to myself, OH MY GOD. they are so young!!!! Was i this young when i was in College? did i look this innocent? did i have this look of awe and thirst on my face when i was their age???

And as i canvass this room, i see this beautiful face sitting in the front row. She smiled like she had swallowed the sun. And, i know. i just know that i have seen this smile somewhere before.

We do what we are supposed to do... As a panel we discuss, we present and and we impart our vast knowledge of the law with these bright-eyed bushy-tailed young students. Sunshine sits in front of me, and every time i glance at her, she is looking at me, with her gorgeous smile... and drinking up the information, as if drinking from the fountain of youth.

The night winds itself down...and I'm surrounded by a half dozens students. They're asking questions.. they are each patiently waiting their turn, to tell their story, to ask their questions and ask if the law is for them.... And i look up and see Sunshine waiting patiently.

Finally, I make my way to Sunshine. And i say: "I know you. Where do i know you from?" And she responds: I saw you several years ago, at Nessah Temple. You were speaking about Juvenile crimes at Nessah Israel with Dr. Orly Saghian, Ph.D. And I didn't know if I wanted to go to Medical School or Law school. And that day, after you spoke to us, i made up my mind that i wanted to become an attorney. You inspired me to become an Attorney"


Do you know what it feels like to be washed over with emotions so strong that you feel like your knees are about to buckle? Do you know what it feels like when you are hit inside the pit of your stomach with the realization that you can make a difference in other people's lives without ever knowing or having intended to??


I well up in tears. And all I can think is Oh, My, God! ... I am the luckiest woman on earth. I do what I love, I get paid for I love, and I inspire young women to follow my path. ... Can I get any luckier than this? can I be blessed any more?

I hug her. i am at a loss of words. Sunshine is truly sunshine. She radiates warmth and along with her warmth, she brings happiness.

You know who you are. Thank you for being you, for being there at Nessah, for being here tonight and for talking to me tonight. Wherever you go, may the road rise to greet you. May the Sun be behind you shining on you. And may you navigate life's vicissitudes with ease and wisdom.

Thank you for the gift you gave me tonight. I love you.

Alaleh Kamran
November 5, 2015

Law Offices of Alaleh Kamran
 15760 Ventura Blvd, Suite 1010
 Encino, Ca 91436

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Crack Baby

She gurgles with the cutest sounds…  plum and pink, and rosy cheeks, she sticks her fist into her tiny little mouth, and drools all over herself.  A tiny little pink tutu covers her booty, and her tiny little sleeveless Tshirt is bedazzled with little rhinestones that read:  Daddy’s princess.

She is climbing up and down her mommy, pulling her hair, mouthing her cheeks, and restlessly creating a playground to keep herself amused while contrained between the armrests of the uncomfortable seats of the courtroom.  

She is a crack baby.  Or maybe a Meth baby.  But really is there a difference?  I know ‘cause I represented mom when she was pregnant and using.  Dad is now in custody.  And what should have been a day at the park, or at “Mommy & Me" class, or at the Baby-Gym, is now a routine “let’s watch daddy in court” day… 

What chances does this child have of succeeding in life?  Everything is stacked against her.  Her learning ability compromised in Utero, and further stunted by environmental conditions, such as horrible parenting; what realistic opportunities will she have to become a successful member of the community?  

Will she be that hyperactive restless child who will have to have special education classes?  Will she become the disruptive kid in school who will be constantly marching in and out of the principal’s office?  Is she going to be seeking comfort from the madness of her life by dumbing herself down with drugs and alcohol? And will she replace dad’s missing presence by searching love from one opportunistic asshole to the next?  

Are we going to recognize that troubled teenager as one who started life with everything stacked against her? Or are we going to look at her with judgmental eyes, shooing her away from our kids, and shaking our kids with scorn at her unacceptable ways?  

I don’t have the answers… I am trying to concentrate on the officer’s testimony so that I can cross-examine.  Maybe my job is not to save the Dad because the dad is innocent or not… but maybe my job is to find a way to send Dad home, so that the kid can at least have some semblance of a normal life….

Yet another day, and another tragedy unfolding in the Courtrooms…

Alaleh Kamran
Uncollected Writings.  2015
Lecturer, Radio Host, Citizen Journalist, Blogger

Monday, May 25, 2015


Open Letter to Senator Graham

I am a Patriotic Iranian-American, a wife, a mother, a constitutional defender, a community leader and a tax-payer.    
And you Sir, are misinformed. 

Your comment about Iranians being liars is vitriolic and offensive and bespeaks mountains about how little you know Iranians and/or the Iranian history and culture.
You Sir, are ill-informed

We the Iranians, through Cyrus the Great brought religious freedom and tolerance to the world 2500 years ago.  We illuminated the hallways of superstition with Avecinna’s science and medicine while the rest of Europe was drowning in the dark ages.   We introduced spirituality and love of mankind through Rumi when the rest of the world was preoccupied with conquest and war.
And you Sir, are un-enlightened. 

It is Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari, First Female Private Space Explorer who opened the frontiers of space to Private citizens.  It is Iranian-American Pierre Omidvar, CEO of Ebay who recalibrated the boundaries of Internet trade.  It is Iranian-American Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO, Expedia, Inc who has redefined travel for the world.  It is Iranian-American Atossa Soltani, founder and President of Amazon Watch who has brought protection to the Amazon against Corporate plunder. It is Iranian-American Parisa Khosravi Senior Vice President for CNN Worldwide, who has brought balanced and fair reporting to the world. 
And you Sir, are un-educated. 

It is the likes of Iranian Shirin Ebadi, Human Rights activist and Nobel Laureate;  Iranian-American Goli Ameri, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs; Iranian-American Jimmy Delshad, former Mayor of Beverly Hills; Honorable Judge Shahla Sabet, that have brought diversity and tolerance to the fields of Law, Human rights and politics.
And you Sir, are bigoted and divisive.

Your poor attempt at climbing the political ladder by demonizing a rich, vast and convoluted nation of People is deceptive, dishonest and disingenuous. 
And you Sir, are the liar.

We demand a retraction AND an apology…

Alaleh Kamran
Attorney At Law
Iranian-American, wife, mother,
constitutional defender, community leader
Memorial Day, 2015:

A Professional Corporation
15760 Ventura Blvd, Suite 1010
Encino, Ca  91436
Lecturer, Radio Host, Citizen Journalist, Blogger
Los Angeles

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Juvenile Justice

The sound of laughter of my nephews and their cousins fills the backyard. The kids are clambering on top of the balls, the dogs running after the balls, the mothers after the toddlers, and my own boys engaged in a fierce battle of kick dodgeball. The men hover around the grill. One is doing the Kabob, the other the lobster tails. Another is in charge of pouring the drinks. The women, today, are seated. Mothers, mother in laws, sister in laws, all around. Edith Piaf is singing Padam Padam Padam on top of her lungs.

Pandora keeps getting interrupted. I walk over to the sound system thinking something is wrong with my phone, and i see that i have received a text from a client that i represented years ago. He wrote: "Ms. Kamran, on this mother's day, i wanted to let you know that i am thinking of you. You were like my 2nd mom. Here is a picture of my wife and newborn child. Thank you for not giving up on me when they wanted to throw me away in Juvenile hall."

I stood there for a minute, staring at the picture, and for the life of me, i could not remember the teen ager that he was, nor his case. All i was looking at was the picture of a handsome man in his late 20's. Was it that kid who was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, a gun? or was it the kid who tried to smuggle 35 kilos of pot across the Mexican border? Was it the other kid who tried to beat up his dad with a tire iron when he learned that his dad wouldn't buy him new tires? or the one who got so drunk, drove a car and almost killed a pedestrian? Was it the tagger? the computer hack? the scoundrel who threatened to blow up his high school? or the kid who was selling oregano as weed? or maybe it was the one that used a stolen credit card for an all expense paid vacation in a Malibu hotel & Bar.

Padam Padam Padam....

i quickly catalog 23 years of criminal defense in my head, trying to identify this man... and the rolodex of pictures that flips in my head at a lightening speed, forces me to sit down. For 23 years, i have had the privilege of representing teen agers who, for one reason or another found themselves caught up in the teeth of the Juvenile Justice System for charges ranging from murder to bicycle theft. For 23 years i have spoken at temples and churches and high schools, giving seminars on Teenage Sex, Drugs and Alcohol.

All these years, my passion has been the convoluted and misunderstood lives of teen agers struggling with multi cultural assimilation, divorce and domestic violence. And every time, i have picked up a new juvenile case, i have learned a new lesson in love, in tolerance, in compassion, in understanding, in abundance and in forgiveness.

No child ever grows up with ambitions of becoming locked up in Juvenile hall. No child ever falls asleep at night hugging his Teddy Bear and chasing away the monsters under his bed dreaming of becoming an outlaw. We all want to be good. We all want to be successful. We all want to be happy. But we each make mistakes, and make bad choices, and sometimes, unfortunately go down a one way path. But a bad choice, does not a bad person make. It is however, the inability to learn from that one mistake in one's teenage years that distinguishes between the man who looks at himself in the mirror in his 30's and says: "shit, that was a close call", and the man who has to look up at the sky to find the horizon, because the prison walls block his views.

My attention quickly shifts over to my calendar tomorrow. My client sits in Juvenile hall. He is 16 and has the most gorgeous blue eyes i have seen in years. He is small, frail and this is his first brush with the law, and tomorrow we have a detention hearing on whether or not the Court will release him home pending his trial in Juvenile Court. The charges are serious. i want to believe that i can win the hearing tomorrow and bring him home to his dad. I want to believe that these past few days in Juvenile hall have given him a glimpse of what he NEVER ever wants to experience AGAIN. i am well aware of my limited capabilities, and know that my dreams and wishes do not have magical powers of making reality. But i also believe in the power of love and of compassion.


My inbox and my wall today are full of messages of gratitude and love from many of those Juveniles who are now men and women of valor. I know some of you who are reading this are the parents of those once teen-age clients of mine. And i know some of you ARE those once teenage clients of mine. On this Mother's day, i wish you well and i thank you for having given me the privilege of having represented you. I thank you for allowing me to play an integral role in your life and i hope that all that i have learned over the course of these past 23 years helps me tomorrow, as i take on yet another child as my own.

May 10, 2015
Mothers Day.
Lines, Rhymes and Internal Monologues:  Uncollected Writings.

Alaleh Kamran, Attorney at Law
A Professional Corporation
15760 Ventura Blvd, Suite 1010
Encino, Ca  91436
ph: 818-986-6222

Lecturer, Radio Host, Citizen Journalist, Blogger
Los Angeles

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Closing argument

I have once again danced with a long sleepless night, watching the grey sky outside of my bedroom window... I guess the sun, too, doesn't feel like shining and like a disheveled mental patient needs to wrap itself in the comfort of blankets to find solace in the chaos of the Universe. 

The rhythm of my slightly worn heels, clippitty clop against the sidewalk, as i try to organize my thoughts...  my bland & monochromatic world today is slightly accented by the Purple Jacaranda trees... And like an old picture from the 1920's where everything is black & white, i am the sole moving object in this still picture. 

The criminal justice courtroom is the amphitheater of life complete with tragedies, ironies, failures, success, salvation and redemption... 

And, i ponder once again, my own existence, my own role, and the significance of my own color in this mosaic, on this day, in this courthouse...  

Perhaps it is the sheer magnitude of the responsibility that rests on my shoulders.   The recognition and the knowledge that somebody's freedom rests in my hands.  That it is my job, my responsibility to secure my client's freedom and liberty.   

There exists no greater violence on liberty than the taking of it... and like a soldier i march on to the battlefield, my closing argument in hand, pumped by adrenaline. One thing that i have learned over the course of practicing law in these halls of justice over the course of the last 25 years, is that there is NO Karma.  But there IS balance in the Universe.   The abundance that we share with others is that which nourishes us and the pain we inflict upon others is that which in time comes back to haunt us...  
My legal arguments are ready…. My passion for my work is flowing like the Ganges ….  My need to find absolution and harmony in a world that is sadly lacking in such empowers me more than my legal arguments.  With any luck, I will find strength  from within…with any luck, once again my desire for perfection, for lust of words, and most importantly, my yearning for yet another epiphany will endow me with the power of speech to deliver justice.  

I am for now, a criminal defense attorney, a constitutional defender… that is until such time as I find my true identity.

Alaleh Kamran
Uncollected Writings. 
April 30, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015


I lose myself to find myself.
And I wind and I twist 
and I turn and I bow 
I bend. 
I know not whence I came from, 
nor I know where I will go.  
And yet I know I am no where near home.  

Alaleh Kamran
Uncollected Writings.  
April 17, 2014 
In the skies above San Francisco.