Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

I hate it when people who only dabble in my area of law (fill in the blank)

Just thought it would be interesting to see what you guys ha youngbuck04/06/17
OP what was the obscure court rule? Was it relevant to his clocker104/08/17
I'd say that I hate attorneys who dabble in immigration, but dieter04/06/17
I saw an old boomer PI/Traffic attorney try to get bond for superttthero04/06/17
There are enough really poor civil litigators who aren't dab jorgedeclaro04/06/17
wrong reply, moved to reply to dieter superttthero04/06/17
I used to defend med mal cases. Had one fairly complex one tdkerabatsos04/06/17
I know better than to dabble in med mal. Plus, I represent t jorgedeclaro04/06/17
My firm represented one of several defendants in a multi par flharfh04/06/17
Don't leave me in suspense! How did this case turn out?! shikes04/06/17
As ridiculously as you'd expect. We had a piece of eviden tdkerabatsos04/06/17
Did you just Opal/SoConfused yourself? Also, that is not jorgedeclaro04/06/17
I have no idea what that even means. My case didn't involve tdkerabatsos04/06/17
Based on context, I think jorgedeclaro intended his reply to inho2solo04/08/17
..............get hired to represent a former client who for anothernjlawyer04/06/17
Haha, proper response is "no habla ingles". inho2solo04/08/17
I hate it when people who only dabble are not welcomed. We w onehell04/06/17
While I think there are pricks who see anyone not a friend o superttthero04/06/17
Aside from the extreme situation that I described below, I a adamb04/07/17
I'm busy cleaning up a trust after the grantor died. well dingbat04/06/17
I love dealing with attorneys that dabble. They huff and shikes04/06/17
I hate local rules and I'm glad my judges aren't pricks abou jorgedeclaro04/06/17
Shikes - fair warning. Every attorney or ADA who ever condes adamb04/07/17
I don't care about font or cover letters, thats petty stuff. shikes04/08/17
Yesterday, in the part I covered, I saw an obviously new gra adamb04/07/17
As to your aside, I honestly have no idea how PDs manage to wolfman04/07/17
As someone who did 18-b and now prosecutes many of the poor, adamb04/07/17
By the way, when I was starting, I was retained often for th adamb04/07/17
Maybe I haven't been in /law enough, but congratulations on jorgedeclaro04/07/17
When I was a prosecutor, "zealous" defense counsel would alw shikes04/08/17
What you just described is making me feel anxious. That kid isthisit04/08/17
I don't mind dabblers so much as long as they are willing to elle30104/08/17
I was in a "sexy" speciality. Consequently, bored real estat passportfan304/08/17
When non- transactional attorneys try to dabble in negotiati riskmanager04/08/17
In my area of law, I have seen many dabblers commit what I w orange904/09/17

youngbuck (Apr 6, 2017 - 10:26 am)

Just thought it would be interesting to see what you guys have to say about attorneys who don't normally practice in your area do. I do workers comp, which in my jurisdiction is very relaxed. Occasionally we'll get someone who normally does superior court work, and they can be such hard @sses. One guy refused to answer basic interrogatories pertaining to prior injuries because we served them "out of time" (we served them as soon as we realized there were prior injuries) - made me file a motion over it, and when he came to court and pulled out some obscure court rule no one pays attention to, the judge (and everyone present) almost laughed him out of the room.

So what's something that attorneys who don't normally practice in your area do that really grinds your gears?

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clocker1 (Apr 8, 2017 - 7:50 pm)

OP what was the obscure court rule? Was it relevant to his argument or motion?

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dieter (Apr 6, 2017 - 10:32 am)

I'd say that I hate attorneys who dabble in immigration, but I've gotten a lot of paying clients who need their messes cleaned up.

It's typically an immigrant or second-generation attorney with clients primarily in his or her ethnic community. Picks up some immigration work, because immigrant communities need it and view attorneys as wizards. Immigration is too complex for dabbling, cases invariably get stuffed up, I clean up the mess. Oftentimes this requires an allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel.

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superttthero (Apr 6, 2017 - 11:59 am)

I saw an old boomer PI/Traffic attorney try to get bond for someone that was statutorily ineligible in the Chicago Detained docket... it was like watching a slow motion video of a train derailment.

The dude just would not get it, kept going on about the the traditional reasons for bond and why it should be granted in this case.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 6, 2017 - 11:00 am)

There are enough really poor civil litigators who aren't dabblers, they fit right in.

I have on occasion dabbled in other fields and just curb stomped on regulars. I remember where I appeared on family law case to respond to a motion for contempt. I'm up there explaining why even if the court disagrees that an agreement was made on this particular weekend, we presented the evidence to show how my client came to his position and therefore the violation of the parenting plan wasn't "willful" as required. The regular attorney says "your honor, that is not the standard for contempt." And the judge looks up at counsel and in his slow curmudgeonly way says "no counsel. That is the standard. It's right out of the statute."

I've dabbled in bankruptcy a touch, but that is one where I know my limits.

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superttthero (Apr 6, 2017 - 11:59 am)

wrong reply, moved to reply to dieter

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tdkerabatsos (Apr 6, 2017 - 11:17 am)

I used to defend med mal cases. Had one fairly complex one where the plaintiff was represented by a 50-something solo whose typical work consisted of minor car wrecks, slip and fall, and criminal defense. The guy had absolutely no clue what he was doing. He didn't START trying to conduct ANY discovery until 3 months before the trial, in violation of a discovery scheduling order. Of course, we fought and pushed back on every request. There was a motion to compel/motion for protective order every Monday for the month preceding trial. The guy scheduled multiple depositions on dates where he knew we were unavailable. He arrived at mediation and then walked out because he wasn't prepared. It got extremely ugly.

It was definitely annoying as hell to go against a "dabbler" in med mal like this. Far, far more frustrating was the fact that despite the facts that all of the law and all of the facts were on our side, and that the deadlines in the DSO had passed, he won all of the aforementioned discovery motions and was allowed to conduct all of the discovery, due in large part to "home cooking" in the rural county where the case occurred.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 6, 2017 - 12:05 pm)

I know better than to dabble in med mal. Plus, I represent too many doctors in real estate or business transactions/litigation. I don't crap where I eat.

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flharfh (Apr 6, 2017 - 12:38 pm)

My firm represented one of several defendants in a multi party medical negligence case where the Plaintiff was represented by a solo dabbler who agreed to a voluntary dismissal (so Plaintiff could retain different counsel) after the statute of limitations had expired.

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shikes (Apr 6, 2017 - 8:58 pm)

Don't leave me in suspense!

How did this case turn out?!

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tdkerabatsos (Apr 6, 2017 - 9:29 pm)

As ridiculously as you'd expect.

We had a piece of evidence that was very unfavorable to the plaintiff, where one of the decendent's children commented to the defendant's staff that they were grateful for all that we did for the decedent, but to watch out because other family members were on drugs and possibly wanting to sue. Of course, they all ended up suing as a United front. This evidence was duly disclosed in discovery and was part of the trial notebook. On day 2 of jury selection, plaintiff's counsel made a motion to strike the defendant's answer, based on the "fact" that we failed to disclose this critical piece of evidence. We showed the judge that it had been disclosed and the dude had just missed it. He took a Rule 41 VD. He later re-filed the case but by that point I'd left the firm. Have no idea how Round 2 went. Don't even really want to know.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 6, 2017 - 9:33 pm)

Did you just Opal/SoConfused yourself?

Also, that is not a dabbling mistake. If you do any PI or civil litigation, statute of limitations is a statute of limitations. Only sex offense discovery rule nonsense is a different.

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tdkerabatsos (Apr 6, 2017 - 9:41 pm)

I have no idea what that even means. My case didn't involve the SOL.

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inho2solo (Apr 8, 2017 - 2:08 pm)

Based on context, I think jorgedeclaro intended his reply to be under flharfh's comment about the dabbler who dismissed the complaint subsequent the SOL expiry.

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anothernjlawyer (Apr 6, 2017 - 1:00 pm)

..............get hired to represent a former client who for whatever reason didn't like what I told them, and then call me and need me to explain how the entire process works.

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inho2solo (Apr 8, 2017 - 2:10 pm)

Haha, proper response is "no habla ingles".

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onehell (Apr 6, 2017 - 1:27 pm)

I hate it when people who only dabble are not welcomed. We were all newbies once, and we seem to forget that fact the second we aren't newbies anymore.

If the profession wants to be as specialized as it has become, it should have board specialization/certification like docs do, and organized training program by which that certification can be obtained. The current situation is that the profession essentially faults people for not having training that is impossible for them to get, because it is only offered by firms who would not touch most lawyers with a ten foot pole.

So when you see a dabbler, feel sympathy instead of scorn. Try to hook them up with a mentor or something. Sure, there are times when you'll have no choice but to use the noobs noob-ness to get an advantage for your client, but overall, this is a profession in dire need of more camaraderie.

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superttthero (Apr 6, 2017 - 8:39 pm)

While I think there are pricks who see anyone not a friend of theirs as an enemy/competition and treat them terribly, I think the majority just role their eyes at "dabblers," but not newbie.

The difference is a newbie tries to be prepared, tries to talk, learn, has put thought into it. It's likely a scared young kid trying out anything, or a responsible solo/attorney looking into a new area.

What I consider a dabbler is a loser that takes anything that walks in (forever) and doesn't put forth the effort to learn much since it won't be an area he's picking up.

I despised these established attorneys that just took any client and went on to eff up the case before they didn't take it seriously, relying just on general experience.

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adamb (Apr 7, 2017 - 6:29 pm)

Aside from the extreme situation that I described below, I agree with the distinction between newbie and loser dabbler.

Newbies usually research a lot and have decent arguments, even if they make mistakes on the law and don't know local customs or procedures. While it still can be annoying, it is not usually scorn-worthy.

Loser dabblers do nothing and try to BS their way. Oddly, I have seen loser dabblers get more respect from judges just because they are old or perhaps even known by the judge (usually suburbs with small circles and closed cliques, in my experience). Many condescending judges will toy with a newbie who actually is lawyering pretty well and holding her own (always boomer judges, always). Yet, those same judges will bend the rules or give a fellow boomer dabbler respect and the benefit of the doubt. I cannot wait until that generation of judges all hit mandatory retirement.

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dingbat (Apr 6, 2017 - 1:39 pm)

I'm busy cleaning up a trust after the grantor died.

well, a trust should never have multiple amendments - especially if they're substantial. Get a restatement, it's cleaner. It certainly would negate the incorrect references, such as the amendment that wants to change article A, but means article B. Or the amendment that refers to article W, but actually should amend, well, I don't know if it's article X, article Y, or article Z, or if it's supposed to replace all three articles.
Then I don't know if the amendments delete or maintain the distinction between payment of income versus payment of principal, and when these should take place. Or whether a young beneficiary is entitled to their share right away, or only at a certain age, which is written on some of the amendments but not on others.
And these are only the clauses that I can vent about. The list goes on, but, you get my point.

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shikes (Apr 6, 2017 - 9:11 pm)

I love dealing with attorneys that dabble.

They huff and puff, file motions to compel on stuff they aren't entitled to, send improper requests, generally do stuff that doesn't conform to local rules, and in Court the judge and I just exchange grins and she rules for me every single time. I also get to write snarky letter that start with "As you know, under the local rules, your request is improper under (insert rule number here)."

However, dealing with these attorneys also seems to involve a lot more aggressive litigating as nasty email exchanges. In some ways I prefer the old ham''eggers who know how the game is played, get through discovery and deps and then just agree to some number in the middle and move on to the next case. Those dudes know how the game is played.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 6, 2017 - 9:50 pm)

I hate local rules and I'm glad my judges aren't pricks about them. One of the problems is half the local rules are unwritten. For example, I noted a motion without oral argument in a jurisdiction that I don't regularly practice in. Opposing counsel sends me a moderately nasty email demanding to know under what authority I noted the motion without oral argument. I point her to the local rule that says I don't get oral argument on non-dispositive motions except in x, y, or z and those don't apply. Opposing counsel says "oh, that rule doesn't apply in this type of case". In other words, the exact opposite of what the local rule says. What's your authority that it doesn't apply, the magical rules of civil procedure?

Also, super rural areas with local rules that haven't been revised or used since the early 1990s. Clerk literally rejected my binder of bench copies that I had to hire a process server to deliver in compliance with local rules. But apparently was about five judges old.

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adamb (Apr 7, 2017 - 6:40 pm)

Shikes - fair warning. Every attorney or ADA who ever condescended to me with those sorts of letters or in-court comments with winks and nods to the judge got destroyed in trial or before, for example, our state supreme court. Underestimating a person because their cover-page was the wrong format or they don't regularly appear in your court or something may end in your own loss.

Frankly, you may be conflating newbs or dabblers with just flat out bad lawyers. Don't fall victim to feeling like the "insider" - even if your local judge always rules for you, a jury or appellate court may not.

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shikes (Apr 8, 2017 - 12:00 pm)

I don't care about font or cover letters, thats petty stuff. Its more like improper discovery requests, motions filed without required notice/good faith resolution/etc..

Also, I'm no longer a prosecutor. I didn't pull this stuff when I did criminal. In the civil world there are a LOT more headaches like this than I ever encountered in the criminal world.

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adamb (Apr 7, 2017 - 6:19 pm)

Yesterday, in the part I covered, I saw an obviously new grad who probably is taking his first case pro bono submit a notice of appearance on a three year old murder case with remanded co-Ds. He had absolutely no idea what was happening. He replaced an experienced 18-b attorney who is on the homicide panel. It was painful. On the one hand, I sympathize so much with what he is trying to do - get experience and make a name. On the other hand, he is so far out of his depth. The judge kept trying to send the case out because the P is ready with all witnesses. This guy kept cycling through dumb excuses, obviously thinking that the judge would adjourn as if this were a DWI in early plea negotiations. He did not even realize what part he was in - the old case part where all cases get sent out if the P is ready and a trial part is available (which were the circumstances yesterday). Even the other D attorneys were ready. This guy kept saying he needed more time even though he admitted to being retained over two months ago.

I definitely took the trial by fire route in an attempt to survive, but at least I started with misdemeanors. I have been seeing more of this kind of thing - desperate young attorneys trying to fake it until they make it with inappropriately difficult cases.

This guy kept using a lot of big words, often incorrectly, to try to cover for the fact that he did not understand the basic procedure of what was happening.

As an aside: this really highlights the problem of some Ds thinking that any "retained" attorney - even if super-cheap or even free - is automatically better than an experienced public "pretender" - even one who has worked out a reasonably favorable manslaughter plea deal.

Or maybe the D is smarter than we think and is trying to set up an IAOC appeal with the hopes that the witnesses will disappear before a retrial years down the line?

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wolfman (Apr 7, 2017 - 6:33 pm)

As to your aside, I honestly have no idea how PDs manage to interact with/represent criminals who have essentially failed in life and yet somehow think they are being hard done by being provided with a FREE attorney who (at least in NY and places like it) had to jump through tons of hoops to even get the PD job.

I wouldn't just not be able to represent them zealously, I would probably get disbarred for doing the exact opposite. To each his own, I guess.

in an aside of my own, I review quite a few records as part of my work, and just came across a lovely gentleman who has been arrested ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE TIMES, and who is now bringing a claim against somebody for something or other. I'm afraid I find that I really don't care whether his rights were violated - any minimally rational society would have settled his hash years, if not decades ago, and after calculating how much he has cost the taxpayers (meaning me and other people who work for a living) I feel like I'd happily volunteer to do the settling if the law allowed me to do so.

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adamb (Apr 7, 2017 - 6:48 pm)

As someone who did 18-b and now prosecutes many of the poor, I have gained sympathy for these lifer recidivists because most are mentally ill or mentally disabled. It is the rarer lifer defendant who is truly evil - often the interpersonal premeditated VFOs motivated by pure hate or revenge.

The 135 arrests I bet are all petty drugs and harassments by a totally insane homeless guy.

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adamb (Apr 7, 2017 - 6:55 pm)

By the way, when I was starting, I was retained often for the sole reason that the experienced PDs were too busy to speak to Ds families, answer calls regularly, explain things in great detail, and maintain a sympathetic demeanor. Also, young PDs and ADAs are afraid of trial and thus push hard for guilty pleas just to avoid it even if the case is winnable with some extra time, effort, research, and prep.

By the way, now that I am on the other side, it verifies what I already knew. We have more power and resources to deal with heavy case loads. And in our jx we DP the tons of crap.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 7, 2017 - 7:41 pm)

Maybe I haven't been in /law enough, but congratulations on move. I know that you were conflicted on moving to the other side but that stability was better for your family and psyche. The common sense and experience of a prosecutor who was a former defense attorney is valuable to society and sorely lacking.

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shikes (Apr 8, 2017 - 4:14 pm)

When I was a prosecutor, "zealous" defense counsel would always have an excuse for their client. Its also one of: He has a drug problem, mental health problem, rough upbringing, a really good guy who just slipped up, just a kid at heart, surrounded by bad influences, etc etc etc.. It got so tiring. Not all of these people are angels who just happen to fall into the above categories. The vast vast vast majority of them are either down right criminals or at least people who don't much care about the consequences of their actions. This isn't a dude stealing bread to feed his family.

I will say that the prosecutor position really gives you tremendous power to deal with these cases as you see fit based on what your version of what "justice" is. 5 prosecutors may offer vastly different deals under identical circumstances due to their own personal beliefs of how a situation is dealt with properly.

As adamb pointed out, most PDs and ADAs are scared of trial when they start out and thus work deals that are pathetic and laughable just to get the case over with once they get close to trial. I was the opposite. I worked on a "trial by fire" office, where I tried my first case (misdemeanor) in my 4th week on the job. I tripped through the testimony, was approximately three words from causing a mistrial and was entirely unprepared when defense said the defendant wanted to take the stand for the cross. I got a guilty verdict off that, though had to draft the appellate brief after to make it stick (appeal denied). After that, I loved trial. I wanted each file to go to trial. I had a overzealous senior PD tell me "If you don't start bringing that offer down you're gonna have to deal with trial". I smirked and responded with "I don't think you've dealt with me before. I WANT cases to go to trial. Its a game for me." She gave me a very strange look like I told her I wanted to off her kid.

With that said, I've dropped charges down to peanuts on slam dunk cases in situations where "justice", as I saw it, made sense. I had a crazy man, who was very clearly completely insane want to go to a jury on a breaking and entering where the police caught him while he was STILL INSIDE THE HOUSE after the owner called the police. He wanted a trial because I wouldn't offer him 10 years in prison, which is what he asked for. By statute the offense maxed out at 2 years and I COULDNT give him that if I wanted to. He was nuts and looking to use the jail as a hotel cause he had no where else to go. He rejected all counsel advise leading up to trial and at trial when he was in jail for 9 months already (I was offering fines and costs the entire time, dude had barely any record) I just dismissed charges with victim and office approval. Dude was nuts, already spent 9 months in jail, there was no need to push further. College kids getting drunk and assaulting a police officer is another classic. I'd always drop that down to misdemeanors. No need to ruin a kid's life who is clearly a normal kid and just being stupid.

Man, just typing this out made me really miss that job. Alas, I need the $$$ to be able to enjoy any sense of lifestyle with the student loans I face.

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isthisit (Apr 8, 2017 - 11:17 am)

What you just described is making me feel anxious. That kid has a lot of balls but is being incredibly stupid.

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elle301 (Apr 8, 2017 - 8:21 am)

I don't mind dabblers so much as long as they are willing to learn. I work for a taxing authority, and the vast majority of people I deal with are pro se. When they do have attorneys, they are generally competent and experienced tax attorneys. Once in a blue moon, you'll have someone call and threaten discovery for documents that are easy to obtain online or they'd only need to request, demand relief that is not statutorily available, or act like a jerk to cover up a mistake they made.

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passportfan3 (Apr 8, 2017 - 3:26 pm)

I was in a "sexy" speciality. Consequently, bored real estate or PI attorneys would jump on such a case if it walked through their door.

Problem: Almost all of the good cases in my speciality were monopolized by a cartel. And almost all of the lawyers who knew what they were doing were part of that cartel (or, in my case, used to work for a cartel member).

So the dabbling lawyers ended up with dogs, and they were too inexperienced to know how to make something of them. They would make ludicrous settlement demands, ask the wrong questions, and let their clients admit damaging facts (which the lawyers did not know were damaging.)

I would win on summary judgment and then remind the other side that they had rejected a pleasant 998 offer made months earlier when they thought they would retire off the case.

Mostly, I found these cases annoying because they consumed so much time. An experienced opposing counsel would have valued the case correctly and settled it in a month or two.

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riskmanager (Apr 8, 2017 - 3:26 pm)

When non- transactional attorneys try to dabble in negotiating deals just bc they have negotiated settlements or think deal making comes down to just being smart.

I'm cleaning up several messes where business people internally think I'm being slow when I'm really cleaning up the mess of prior counsel. I'm in tech so it's even more likely that a newbie will mess up.

Here is the not-so secret reality: negotiating a good tech deal requires good business judgment, legal skills, knowledge of tech and a talent for convincing both internal business people and the oposing party while weighing risk.

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orange9 (Apr 9, 2017 - 11:32 am)

In my area of law, I have seen many dabblers commit what I would consider malpractice, usually not to the level required by Strickland to really make a difference, but nevertheless, malpractice. Last month I had a case where my client was the driver of a car and drugs were found. The passenger's attoreny walked into Court on the first appearance and entered his client into a diversionary program, months before we would have gotten the lab reports back. The guy never thought to pull me aside and speak to me regarding my thoughts, let alone introduce himself to me.
In these cases, the driver almost always takes the hit on the drugs and they dismiss against the passengers. I just went back on this case last week and due to the other attorney's stupidity, they dismissed everything against my client. Worked out well for my client.

Quite honestly though, and I am sure the adamb will agree, that those who only dabble in criminal law can really make things difficult. I recently subbed into a multi-defendant drug manufacturing case right now which was messed up by the prosecutor's office early on. My client is also the least culpable and the prosecutor is willing to let her off once someone is convicted. Her prior lawyer really messed up this case though. Two of the other defendants are father and son with the same name, and they were mixed up during the investigation, and there was a search warrant. No one ever filed for a Franks hearing. Also, there was a condidential informantion, and no one ever filed a motion to reveal the informant, and based on the mixed up in identity, this actually may be a viable motion. Now that the case had been severed and trial was set for the heavy, the prosecutor just realized his mistake and it going back to grand jury. I have the least culpable defendant as a client and I am the one about to file a boat load of motions, while everyone elses stands on the sidelines and watched.

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