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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The real cost of a 'paid' attorney

I try real hard not to knock private attorney's too badly. I have friends, acquaintances and even mentors who are private attorneys. But every now and again, a "real" attorney in court does something that makes me want to turn to my client and say 'see? THAT's what a "paid" attorney will get you.'

I am sitting in court at a preliminary hearing docket. The judge calls the next case up and it is a case being handled by a private attorney. I sit down to watch because you can almost always learn something from any attorney you get to observe in court.

I hate when I am proven wrong.

The first sign that this hearing was going to go horribly wrong was when the attorney kept referring to his client as 'Defendant' and the COP was calling the defendant by his name.

          RA("real attorney"): So when did you see the Defendant?

          Narc: I didn't see Thomas until I got out of the car and walked closer to the                             group.

         RA: And what did he say to you?

         Narc: Who? Thomas?

         RA: Yes. What did the Defendant say to you?

I wanted to throw a stapler at the back of his head. If someones family takes the time to call you, set an appointment, come into your office, slide into your leather chairs and write you a check with a comma in it, the LEAST you can do, is learn your clients NAME and then use it!

The second sign that this hearing was going to go horribly wrong was when I had to excuse myself before I regurgitated all over the seats. The attorney was setting his client up to get beat to death in the county jail and he either didn't know it. Or he didn't care.

The way that preliminary hearings are set up in our county is meant to help ease the burden of having transport issues all day long due to non-stop drug cases that are pending. One Friday a month everyone hauls on over to the jail and we have hearings in the makeshift courtroom there. Rather than dealing with transport officers who can only transport two people at a time, they can bring up 10 at a time because we never leave the jail. At any given time a person can have their preliminary hearing with at least 9 other people charged with a drug offense sitting there listening to the evidence against them. So why the sick feeling? Well:

          RA: What did you and the Defendant discuss?

          Narc: He said that the drugs weren't his and he didn't know they were there.

          RA: Is that all the two of you discussed?

          Narc (looking nervously at the defense attorney, prosecutor and judge): ummm..

          RA: Didn't the defendant tell you he wanted to talk to you about working off his                   case?

         Narc (still confused as to why the DEFENSE ATTORNEY is asking this                               question) umm...when I initially arrived he said he did not know drugs                           were present.

         RA: Right, but at some point, didn't he tell you that he wanted to help set some                    people up?

         Narc: Do you want me to answer that?

         RA: Yes sir. Didn't the Defendant tell you he wanted--

        DA: OBJECTION judge, relevance?

        Judge (who looks at the RA): Do you want him to answer that question again?

        RA: Yes your Honor.

NO lie, the judge pulled one of these:

I should take this time to point out that EVERY one of the other 9 people sitting on the side wall with orange jumpsuits on are in jail on drug charges because someone working with the narcotics division set them up. And they are paying attention.

I had to get up and walk out. I felt sick, for that attorney, for his client and for the person at the jail that would have to clean up the blood.

And THAT my friends, is the real cost of a 'paid' attorney.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't consent and don't confess.