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» Ethics

A Disgrace

It appears that at some point the fame finally got to L. Kirk Nurmi, former lawyer for celebrity capital defendant Jodi Arias. After he came out with a tell-all book about representing his famous client called “Trapped with Ms. Arias,” the equivalent of wiping his ass with ER 1.6, Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice got right to the root of the problem: Did Arias consent to Nurmi’s disclosure? Did Nurmi obtain consent after disclosing to Arias what he would be revealing? Given what Nurmi has to say about Arias, it seems inconceivable, and even if it was conceivable, there remains the problem of Arias being disturbed, as Nurmi claims, such that she would be incapable of consenting as lacking the capacity. Because she’s friggin’ disturbed. And yet, there it is, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Death Penalty, Ethics

Who Needs Lawyers Anyway?

I came across a fascinating post about the unauthorized practice of law after Mauricio Hernandez at the Irreverent Lawyer wrote a post of his own discussing it. It was the sort of thing that took a little time for me to digest before writing about it. For those too lazy to click through, the original article is about a woman with a very strong background in criminal law who moved here then took and passed the Arizona bar before becoming a capital staff attorney in Maricopa County. Ignoring some off-putting personal attacks that may or may not be deserved and a bizarre part in the closing paragraph that tries to make it a red-state-blue-state political problem, it’s a thought-provoking piece about the flagrant unauthorized practice of law by a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Ethics, lawyers, Practice in General, Professionalism

Picking the Wrong Lawyer

Yesterday wasn’t such a great day for me. After losing a bench trial I doubt I would’ve lost had it been in front of a jury, the judge informed my client the she had a bench warrant for failing to appear in another pending case in the same jurisdiction. There was a police officer waiting in the gallery to take her into custody. My client had hired one of those firms with billboards and posters everywhere to handle her first case. Dissatisfied with the representation, she hired me to handle the second. She complained about how hard it was to reach her other lawyer and how she felt he kept her in the dark about everything. My experience trying to stay in the loop with the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, Ethics, Judges

Chris McCann Is So Gonna Sue Me

Chris McCann is a California lawyer who really doesn’t think very highly of my blog. He only recently found out about it, I think, as he just started bombarding me with emails and waited until yesterday to leave a bizarre comment. Chris’s problem is that he’s upset about a post where I mentioned his name in passing over thirteen months ago. He may be a little slow working the interwebs, as he also just stumbled across one of Brian Tannebaum’s old blog posts too, the one I had cited as the basis for my thoughts. Chris left a bizarre comment there yesterday as well. No one can accuse Chris McCann of not being proactive. Getting back to the real issue here, why he’s upset, I think it’s probably … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, lawyers

Andrew Thomas’s Disbarment

I watched former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his hench-person Lisa Aubuchon get disbarred yesterday. Underling Rachel Alexander received a suspension of six months and one day. You can watch Arizona’s Presiding Disciplinary Judge William O’Neil read the panel’s findings here. The ruling is extensive, but these concluding words seemed particularly important to me: We, like the public, began uninformed. We are now fully informed. We are fully decided in our opinion. The evidence is overwhelming against Respondents. We hope the openness in which these proceedings were held will help restore the public’s faith in our legal institutions and deter attorneys from similar misbehavior. The purpose of attorney discipline is to maintain the integrity of the profession in the eyes of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics

Unauthorized Practice

So there’s this lawyer named Rachel Rodgers. In June, Scott Greenfield called her out on a few things here. Earlier this week, she wrote something entitled “Ethics Should Not Be Used as a Weapon Against Young Lawyers.” Brian Tannebaum quickly took her to task. I normally stay out of these things, but this is close to home. You see, Ms. Rodgers lists a Phoenix, Arizona address on her website. She offers services that look like legal services. Ms. Rodgers is not a licensed Arizona attorney. I checked. She never explicitly claims to be licensed in Arizona, but she also never offers any kind of disclaimer clearly explaining that she isn’t licensed here. That wouldn’t matter anyway, as I’ll explain in a second. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics

Shameful

Texas likely executed an innocent man. That man, Cameron Todd Willingham, was represented at trial by David Martin, a man I now believe to be the most disloyal and generally shameful defense lawyer I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing speak. If you want to hear what he had to say about his former client on CNN, watch the video below. I wouldn’t recommend viewing it if you think you might have problems stomaching a faux cowboy in a deep state of denial proclaiming the guilt of a dead man whose life was once placed in his undeserving and likely incapable hands. The video mostly speaks for itself, but you can read some great blog posts about it here, here, here, and here. Willingham’s appellate lawyer even wrote about … Read entire article »

Filed under: Death Penalty, Ethics

A Tricky Situation

Article 2, Section 22 of the Arizona Constitution says that “[a]ll persons charged with crime shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except . . . [f]or felony offenses committed when the person charged is already admitted to bail on a separate felony charge and where the proof is evident or the presumption great as to the present charge.” Knowing that, what do you say when you know your client’s new offense was allegedly committed while he was out on bond for another felony offense and the judge asks, “counsel, do you have any recommendations regarding bond?” Does it matter if the same judge is assigned to the client’s other case and presumably knows that the client was out on bail when he or she supposedly committed the new offense? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Constitution, Clients, Courts, Ethics, Practice in General, Professionalism, Prosecutors

Promises, Promises

One of the most common things I hear in initial consultations is that “attorney so-and-so said he could definitely get me X deal.” It can be a frustrating situation when the client was promised something that no defense attorney in their right mind would promise. Sometimes, it ends up being an amusing situation when the “deal” prospective clients claim they were promised really can be guaranteed. Multiple clients have said to me that local high-volume DUI firms told them, “if you hire us for your first time regular DUI, we can get the judge to suspend all but one of the ten mandatory days of jail.” That’s true. It’s a reasonable guarantee because it’s a virtual certainty, but it’s misleading for that same reason. That result has … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Ethics, Practice in General

Zealous Representation

In this post, Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice talks about how zealous advocacy will no longer be necessary in New York starting on April 1, 2009. Arizona attorneys haven’t had to zealously advocate for their clients for years. However, most criminal defense attorneys still promise in their fee agreements that they will zealously represent their clients, and there are still quite a few zealous advocates out there. I doubt that changing the language of our ethics rules had much of an effect. Interestingly, at least one Justice on the Supreme Court of Arizona disagrees. Every Arizona attorney is required to take a professionalism course. When I took the course, we watched a video of Chief Justice Ruth McGregor talking about the need to increase civility in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, Professionalism

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