Saturday, August 7, 2010

Legal advice

I took a guilty plea on Friday, a fair run-of-the-mill drug case in which the defendant received a short stint in the county jail (I hadn't negotiated the deal, I just happened to be the ADA there to handle the plea itself).

After the papers were signed, the defendant was brought out and the judge made sure all was proper and correct. At the end, as always, the judge wished the defendant good luck at which point the defense lawyer (who shall remain nameless) turned to the client and said:

"Okay then. Next time, don't get caught."

Good advice from lawyer to client? Or just realism?


  1. I know this is the lawyerly approach, but I think it depends on two things.

    The first thing is how he said it. If he said it conspiratorially, then no, I don't think it was appropriate. If he said it in frustration, then, hey, what's the big deal?

    The second thing is the seriousness of the case. Obviously, it would be inappropriate for anything like robbery, rape, or murder But I don't think it was so bad for what you describe as run-of-the-mill drug case and by that I assume you mean some type of possession.

    Sometimes you will look at a client's record and you will think: How come this guy keeps getting arrested? And for such stupid stuff. That leads you to: Come on already! You would think that he might have learned something from his first x number of arrests, if only to cover his tracks a little better.

  2. It's hard to tell - the person who said it isn't known for having great social skills, kind of a blurter. But overall, I think your lawyerly analysis is right. The client was probably there already, thinking, "Dang, you don't have to tell me!"

  3. I don't think it was an appropriate comment period, but especially not in open court.

    That may be something you are thinking, but it doesn't bode well for your reputation when it is overheard by other lawyers, especially ADAs if you are a defense counsel.

    You were there and deal with this person, how did it make you react? Change your view of them?

  4. Jason, I understand what you are saying. However, I'd say the setting was pretty informal and it wasn't a high-stakes case. Jamison makes that point pretty well. And my opinion of the person didn't change, certainly, because I already know what he's like. :)

  5. I wouldn't have said it in court. But I've had clients about whom I have said "you don't have a drug problem, you have a getting arrested problem."

    As I often tell my clients, you can have one helluva good time in this town, if you just don't have dumbass about it.

    Just the slightest amount of restraint and good common sense is enough to keep most people out of the pokey.

    The rest get to meet you and me.


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