Who Drives The Bus, Part 2 – A Guide to Decision Making for Young Lawyers

On Monday we talked about the Supreme Court case of McCoy v. Louisiana, wherein an attorney decided that a perfectly reasonable trial strategy was to tell the jury that his client had definitely committed murder in an attempt to avoid the death penalty.  The lawyer did this without the permission of his client, and in fact did it explicitly against his client’s wishes.  The client wanted the attorney to present a defense that he didn’t kill anyone, despite the state’s overwhelming evidence, and it brought to the highest court in the land the question of “Who really controls the representation.”

So we’re back today with Part 2, talking about who really gets to careen the bus of bad decisions off the freeway in glorious slow motion: the lawyer or the layperson who hires them. So, because I’m not gonna waste a lot of time or space today on building shit up, let’s just jump straight into this discussion.

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Who Drives the Bus, Part 1: McCoy v. Louisiana

Let’s start with the commonly accepted preposition that our clients are, by and large, incapable of finding their backsides with both hands, a map, and a native guide. Whether the client be the sweet little old lady from down the street or the meth dealer who’s been the scourge of the Shady Acres Mobile Home Community for the last three weeks before he fell behind on his rent, clients are collectively idiots without a single clue as to what’s in their best interests. It isn’t even their fault, really. As a society they’re trained to second guess people by television shows that teach them nice, and ultimately meaningless, phrases like “post hoc ergo propter hoc” that they can parrot back at the nice man or woman in the suit in front of them and make demands.

We live, ladies and gentlemen, in the Golden Age of Dipshittery, where any asshole with access to Google and a cable subscription can fancy themselves a lawyer. All hail King Dipshit, as he wanders into the office and proceeds to immediately second-guess the attorney. And, of course, because we learn the law from folks whose names are preceded by words like “Professor,” we of course have the vitriolic reaction of any learned professional when T-Bone tells us he  totally thinks we should argue he was driving that ATV through the nunnery because aliens told him to: Sit down, shut up, I’m the goddamn lawyer.

And so, today and Wednesday, we’ll talk about the division of decision-making between an attorney and their client, i.e., who has control over what and when in an attorney-client relationship.

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“The Sky Is Falling” – The Difference Between Clients and Lawyers

Let’s go back to talking about something I absolutely love discussing today: Clients. Clients, in case you’ve managed to somehow forget, are the literal bane of my existence. They’re also the reason that I can afford to do things like eat food and sleep indoors. As such, clients and I have a love-hate relationship, in that I love taking their money but hate having to deal with the minutia of human existence.

However, today I’m not going to rip clients a new asshole. I want to, oh lord do I want to, but at some point I’ll have to acknowledge that clients are people too. Frustrating, infuriating people who you wish would just send in their goddamn invoice payments and leave you the hell alone to work through some shit in lawyer land, but people nonetheless. Until my proposed legislation reclassifying clients as big game, and therefore open for hunting once or twice a year, passes, we’re just going to have to accept that your clients, and likely most of my clients (the jury’s still out on this) are human beings.

As clients are, debatably, humans, they are also deserving of a bare minimum of understanding. Maybe, some schools of thought that I believe are absolutely incorrect would say, clients aren’t bad people. Maybe they’re good people having a bad time, and I should mention that. In the interests of fairness, though not agreement, today I’ll take about a few things every attorney, be they a bright-eyed asshole or a salty old veteran, likely needs to understand when dealing with their clients in any litigation matter:

How clients and lawyers view a legal matter vis a vis the importance of it is drastically fucking different.

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Representing the Reprehensible: Part 2 – Tips for Representing Nazis

So on Monday I spoke a little bit about why it’s important for lawyers to provide representation to people we may find completely devoid of morals.  The take away from that is even if the person is someone you’d be happy to see locked away in a basement subsisting on bread, water, and the occasional print-out from the Stormfront website, everyone deserves to have good legal representation and we don’t get to draw the line at only the people we like or those whose views we always agree with.  When we became lawyers, we became servants of justice, and sometimes justice, like your brother who lives in a basement subsisting on bread, water, and occasional printouts from the Stormfront website, has some really weird and detestable buddies you’d rather not associate with. Them’s the breaks, though, and we have to really accept it. While we have our personal morals and ethics, the idealized lawyer is professionally a true neutral.

I say “the idealized lawyer,” because at the end of the day we’re actually humans, not machines that just appear in court and “Beep Boop” our way through arguments, and we all have our limits. However, as I’ve talked about a couple times in the past, the limit is the lawyer’s issue, not the client’s issue, because it’s the point where our client is so amazingly, beyond the pale fucked up that we cannot represent them because we may subconsciously sabotage their otherwise meritorious claim.  But if we can swallow our bile just long enough to make the argument, there are some steps a decent lawyer needs to take in handling the Reprehensible client.

So…you know, let’s talk about that and lose me some readers.

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Representing the Reprehensible: Part 1 – Boozy Rambles

Good  morning, or afternoon, or whatever time of day it is! Look guys, I’m not only writing a blog, I’m a practicing attorney, and that means from time to time shit runs late, like it did today and last week and…shit, I mean…every week since I took that ill-advised trip to the mountains to remember what it felt like to unclench my asshole for a few days. But that’s well in the past now, and it’s time for me to start doing shit that I’m supposed to be doing again, like updating this thing and passing on profane wisdom to those who need a swift kick in their perpetually idealistic asses. Which…you know…include letting people know that sometimes you’re going to represent people you abso-fucking-lutely despise.

I’m not just talking about your run of the mill “Oh, clients just flat out suck” type of person you despise either. Nope, not today my merry little shitstains. Today I’m talking about the client who causes your skin to crawl and your brain to say “Nope, fuck you man, you want to take this case you can talk to your ass cause that’s the one making the arguments.” I’m talking about the representation of the world’s reprehensible folks. You know the type I’m taking about, the one’s who go on and on about the purity and strength of the “White Race” while looking like Skeletor and having someone they can call “Sister Momma” with a straight face.

“Fuck them, Boozy,” people who definitely are Muggles will say as they read that paragraph, “Tell us why they don’t deserve a lawyer!”

I’m about to piss a lot of those fucking Muggles off though, guys, because here’s the simple truth: Lawyers aren’t supposed to make moral or judgment calls about their clients (even though we totally do), and that doesn’t just apply to the fluffy, furry, fuzzy fun fuckers…it applies to the hardcore Neo-Nazi assholes as well.  Because that’s our goddamn job.

I can hear the sounds of the non-lawyers blocking me on Twitter and removing the site from their news streams even as I type that. Well, good fucking riddance.

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