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Clayton Seaman Jr. loves sharing the peace and quiet of his home in the high desert of Arizona with his wife � and two mutts “who have barely graduated from obedience school.” Glen Niemy praises the quality treatment his two adopted children are getting for psychological disorders in laid-back, and downright friendly, Maine. And Susan Marr adores riding her horses on the green fields of Tennessee, surrounded by delightful reminders she and her 8-year-old twin daughters are no longer part of the Southern California rat race. “A deer walked into the yard the other night,” Marr says, “and I was just hysterical.” While it might not seem Seaman, Niemy and Marr have much in common, in fact they do. All three are California-licensed lawyers representing � from a distance � condemned inmates on San Quentin State Prison’s death row. And quite a distance in Niemy’s case. About 3,200 miles by road, in fact, and three time zones. “It’s a one-day flight [to California],” Niemy says. “But it’s not that expensive.” Niemy, Marr and Seaman are part of a rare breed � lawyers who, by and large, were appointed to death penalty cases by the state Supreme Court, then kept the cases when they moved out of California for economic or lifestyle reasons. Mary Jameson, supervisor of the California Supreme Court’s automatic appeals unit, estimates that fewer than 20 attorneys, including Niemy, Marr and Seaman, handle some of California’s death cases while residing out of state. But they’re pretty spread out. Besides Tennessee, Maine and Arizona, Jameson says she knows of California-licensed lawyers handling San Quentin cases while living in Oregon, Idaho, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Montana and Washington. Seaman, who lives with his wife, Nancy, in Prescott, Ariz., predicts the numbers will grow as experienced criminal defense lawyers get older and move away to less expensive and family-friendlier places. “There’s going to be more people moving from the high-cost areas, particularly the metropolitan areas of California,” the 57-year-old contends. “As more people start to move, the court’s going to have to look at that and make accommodations if they want to keep us old folks around.” Robert Reichman, a staff attorney and automatic appeals monitor for the Supreme Court, says location presents few problems. “All attorneys who are qualified and demonstrate their ability to do appointed-counsel work to this court are important regardless of their residence,” he says. “But the court more thoroughly considers the out-of-state attorneys, and they must be licensed in California.” The State Bar also requires them to keep up with the required 25 hours of continuing legal education every three years. Forty states, including Arizona, Maine and Tennessee, meet California standards. Attorneys can take classes locally or come back to California for some programs. Although the Supreme Court prefers to appoint homegrown lawyers to death cases, additional appointments to lawyers such as Seaman � whom Reichman calls a “topnotch criminal law attorney” � can be granted. It helps, though, if there’s not too much distance in the way. The more miles and time zones between attorney and clients, Reichman says, the fewer new cases are approved. Especially the more time-consuming habeas corpus matters. “We no longer appoint Glen Niemy to habeas” cases, says Reichman. “ But that’s not as much a Glen Niemy issue as it is an attorney in Maine issue. It’s just impractical for habeas cases.” Niemy, 54, moved to Bridgton, Maine, which is about an hour’s drive northwest of Portland, in 2002. He and his wife, Lesley, decided to leave San Diego after 13 years to seek better treatment for an adopted Russian son who suffers from reactive attachment disorder resulting from abuse by his birth mother, as well as an adopted Russian daughter who had fetal alcohol syndrome. Niemy says the San Diego school system and California agencies weren’t helping, so they moved back to New England, where they’d lived in the 1970s. They put the kids in treatment homes. “We felt the kids would be better off here, and they were,” he says. The Niemys now live in a four-bedroom log cabin on seven acres. Niemy does a little pro bono work for neighbors, but doesn’t have a Maine bar license and is content to focus on his death cases while enjoying the remoteness of his new home. “We finally got a supermarket last year,” he says, “and that’s been nice.” Niemy, who was chief criminal counsel to the San Diego County Superior Court, says he’s currently handling two direct death penalty appeals, one habeas corpus case and one federal death case in a California federal court. Just last year, the state Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for one of his clients, Maurice Lydell Harris, for the shooting deaths of a Gardena woman and her 17-week-old fetus. Working on the other side of the continent from his clients, Niemy says, isn’t much different than working with them from San Diego. He subscribes to Westlaw for research and gets broad support from the California Appellate Project, the San Francisco-based nonprofit that recruits and assists private attorneys who do death penalty defense. “It’s a question of discipline,” Niemy says. “I find if you keep up on things and put in a full week all the time, you can stay on top of things.” The state Supreme Court reimburses him for legitimate expenses, but not for the complete cost of flights to and from California, which Niemy says he visits about six times a year to see his clients. “We tell everyone that we will compensate them as if they were in a distant location in California,” Reichman says, “not their actual location in Maine, Minnesota or Florida. And sometimes airfare is no different.” If it is, the out-of-state lawyer makes up the difference himself. Niemy says that means an extra $4,000 to $5,000 in expenses a year he must bear himself. “But it’s the cost of doing business,” he reasons. “I’m not going to ring the state up for money because I chose to live in Maine.” Travel is less of a problem for Seaman. His Arizona home is so close to Southern California that he often drives there if he has to do work on his four death cases. If he has to visit San Quentin, Seaman flies. But the cost, especially flying out of Phoenix on Southwest Airlines, is about the same as a flight from his old home in Ramona, about 35 miles northeast of San Diego. “It’s close enough they pay all my costs,” Seaman says. Seaman and his wife, who’s a paralegal, left Ramona four years ago after having lived there for about 15 years. A better lifestyle was the reason. “Our little town of Ramona, when we moved there, was a rural place with a lot of ranches and poultry operations,” Seaman says. “And we lived on a little lane. And by the time we moved away, all of those ranches had been sold to developers [and] most of the poultry operations were gone. Getting into San Diego from Ramona took about double the time.” Seaman, a past president of California Appellate Defense Counsel, has not joined the Arizona bar, and kept his death cases even though he’s paid a relatively paltry $130 an hour � money that goes further in Prescott, but not much further. “It does pay the bills,” Seaman says, “but it pays the bills because I’m very experienced and relatively efficient. For a new kid coming out of law school with $150,000 in debt, there’s no way he or she can work for the rate of pay by the court.” Seaman prefers to handle direct appeals, which deal mainly with the trial record, rather than habeas corpus cases, which require much more contact with clients and a complete investigation. “The habeas cases require much more frequent travel and on a more random basis,” he says. “If you’re trying to get to know your client’s family or if you discover he was close to cousin Vinnie and cousin Vinnie will be in town tomorrow, you’ve got to get there. “You will take a flight � if you can get one � at the highest cost,” he adds. “And that will come out of my pocket.” Marr, who lives in Brentwood, Tenn., a suburb just south of Nashville, also avoids habeas cases, and is currently handling two direct appeals � one involving a cop killing in Manhattan Beach and a second for a man convicted of murdering two San Fernando Valley teenagers. Direct appeals require only “a lot of research and writing,” Marr says. “Then you show up for oral arguments and then there’s a client visit here and there.” Marr, 46, grew up in the Los Angeles area and says she visits her clients “not more than once a year, unless I happen to be there for other reasons.” She relies on CAP for much of the direct client contact, and to help her with her briefs. “They’re really good editors, good writers, good lawyers and extremely helpful in going out and helping the clients,” Marr says. Marr, who worked for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in L.A. before quitting to do some independent appellate work, and her late husband, Fred, who was also an attorney, moved to Tennessee seven years ago. California was getting “way too expensive,” Marr says, and she and her husband wanted a better life for their daughters. “Good private schools, good public schools, the quality of life,” she says. “You don’t need to be quite as vigilant [about safety] and there’s no state income tax here. And the cost of everything is just about halved.” She says she doesn’t plan to take any more California capital cases and is considering joining the Tennessee bar and going to work for a Nashville law firm this summer, doing civil litigation and bankruptcy. “It’s really going to depend on what goes on,” Marr says. She says she might not have kept her death cases when she moved out of California if it had been early in her career and there was no Internet. “It would be really awkward except for all the computer research now,” she notes. Marr, Niemy and Seaman make it clear they still love California and its residents, but have found lives that work for them and allow contact with their former state. And all’s not rosy all the time, as Niemy testifies about Maine. “In the winter, the sun’s down by four o’clock,” Niemy says. “And it’s dark and it’s cold. And it’s a different lifestyle. It’s not for everybody.”

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