Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Scenes From Court Today - "No. You Can't Be A Little Bit Attorney"

So I'm in court to represent my client on a traffic ticket. While waiting first to discuss the matter with the prosecutor at the pretrial conference and then to put the arrangement on the record I get to observe some cases.

First, a lady is arguing with the prosecutor over her ticket. Since she was caught on LIDAR, her claim that she wasn't speeding probably won't go very well and there's some related issues as well. He offers her a reduction from 4 points to one point and getting rid of the other charge. She wants to see the dash-cam footage of her being pulled over. He notes she should have asked for that before, as today is the day of the hearing if it is not resolved. He nicely explains how the hearing will likely go not in her favor and she can take the deal as offered or have the hearing. She keeps arguing and he says fine, we'll go ahead with a hearing on it. Not exactly smart on her part.

Then, after I acept a rather nice deal on behalf of my client, I get to wait in the courtroom.

First up, a case is being adjourned as the court-appointed lawyer is withdrawing due to "communication breakdown wit the client". I.E. in this case the client isn't listening to the attorney at all. But it gets better.

The lady indicates she dosn't want another court appointed attorney, she wants her father to represent her.

"Is her father an attorney?", the judge asks.

"He's an attorney but not on paper" she replies.

The judge asks if he is or isn't, for just like being pregnant, you can't be a little bit attorney.

She finally admits the father is not an attorney. Not that anyone really thought otherwise.

The Father then asks to talk and he then tries to start arguing the case. The judge kindly explains that he can’t be her attorney as he isn't actually an attorney, and now is not the time to discuss case as it is a motion hearing. He states the case will be a jury trial if she doesn't resolve it so he can't hear factual arguments right now. Father doesn't get it and he wants to keep arguing. Judge kindly tells him no, grants the appointed attorney's motion to withdraw and says the lady really needs an actual attorney, either at her own cost, or a court-appointed defense attorney. Fun to watch.

Next up is yet another winner. Charged with with driving while on a suspended license and possessing drug paraphanelia. Fellow had been charged with driving while suspended by the same judge in 2008, and here he is in front of him again for the same thing. In the meantime, he's had a multitude of tickets and his driving record is littered with unpaid fines and offenses. tickets. But he keeps driving anyways. The judge carefully explains using very small words that a suspended license means you cannot drive. I don't think the lesson sunk in.

Next up is yet another driver, a lady, who has been zipping along on a suspended license with over $1,000 in unpaid tickets. She similarly gets the "What part of suspended license and you may not drive do you not understand?" lecture.

Yet another driver caught driving on a suspended license is next. Again it's not his first rodeo, and again the judge has to explain that a suspended license means you cannot drive.

Some people don’t learn. And they’re still out there driving, badly.


ProudHillbilly said...

Somewhere in my scooting around on YouTube I watched a video of a very nice judge who kept demonstrating in a very pleasant way what happens when you come before him repeatedly as a STUPID.

B said...

Just as a question:

Why can't she have counsel of her choice? Why does it HAVE to be an attorney? (Not that that is a wise choice, but why does it have to be an attorney?)

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

If only you can be in there when they make another appearance before the same judge...again and sees what happens.

Aaron said...

PH: Yes, they have a special place in their hearts for repeat customers.

B: Cynical answer: Because lawyers are a guild and we'd hate to have the competition.

More serious answer: First, it's the unauthorized practice of law and illegal, see cynical answer above. Second, it causes a waste of time and court resources because the idiot is representing someone and not having a clue what they're doing or trying to do things a lawyer is not allowed to do. Not only does that cause procedural problems but it could arguably give the defendant an argument that they had the ineffective assistance of counsel and be able to waste more time getting a new trial due tot he shenanigans that would ensue.

Sort of like suicide - you can do it to yourself (going pro per) you just can't have other people do it to you.

It's a bit like the wave a while back of unlicensed practitioners doing plastic surgery and injecting people's butts with silicone which injured or killed them, this was not good. While you could go to an unlicensed plastic surgeon or inject yourself with it, they still can't go around practicing medicine without a license. Sort of the protect the public from charlatans from which there would otherwise be no recourse.

MrGarabaldi: I'm sure they'll be back there yet again. Too bad there's not an internet based scheduling app to track various offenders and get alerts when they are due in court, it would be entertaining.