PAY BY THE WORD

Some private attorneys have a tendency to put on a show. They seem to feel like their clients want to see movie lawyers who are brash and confrontative with the judges.  Some of them remind me of bantam roosters or fighting cocks in their posturing.

The other day, a private attorney representing a young man whose parents sat behind them demanded of the judge:

“Am I to understand that Your Honor is ruling that simply because my client exercised his constitutional right to not testify against himself by refusing to submit to the breathalyzer test, that he is more likely to commit a violent offense, and therefore deserves to have bail set rather than be released on his personal recognizance?!”

Judges are used to these lawyers, and never take the bait, in my experience. They don’t descend into argument with them, or fall into the temptation of scolding them. They seem to simply wave them aside like so many fruit flies and make their record for any potential future appeals.

“No, counsel, I am basing my ruling on the fact that your client has a prior history. That your client’s history extends back to before he was old enough to legally drink.  That he was at a frat party – where he lived – and chose to leave his home, in order to drive drunk. That he appears to have a serious problem with alcohol already, at his young age. That he hit a police patrol car in attempting to elude the police once they put their lights and sirens on. That with someone like him who has less self-control we need to take extra precautions to safeguard the community. That is why I am ordering bail in the amount of $25,000.  And I hope that you will take the time, counsel, to fully discuss with your client the consequences of not following the conditions of his release.”