On this blog I sometimes have written harsh words about my profession. Sometimes I suspect I have been too harsh. Then a story like this appears and I realize yet again that I have not been harsh enough:
A $100 million claim on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor is the first legal action to come out of the Connecticut school shooting that left 26 children and adults dead two weeks ago.
The unidentified client, referred to as Jill Doe, heard “cursing, screaming, and shooting” over the school intercom when the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, opened fire, according to the claim filed by New Haven-based attorney Irv Pinsky.
“As a consequence, the … child has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined,” the claim said.
Pinsky said he filed a claim on Thursday with state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr., whose office must give permission before a lawsuit can be filed against the state.
“We all know its going to happen again,” Pinsky said on Friday. “Society has to take action.”
Twenty children and six adults were shot dead on December 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The children were all 6 and 7 years old.
Pinsky’s claim said that the state Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from “foreseeable harm.” Continue reading
As long time readers of this blog know I am an attorney, for my sins no doubt. Although the bulk of my practice is civil, over the years I have defended hundreds of defendants accused of crimes, mostly felonies. This is part of my ongoing series about the life of a lawyer. For people who have not heeded my warnings about the profession and want to become attorneys, here are some tips regarding criminal defense work:
10. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!- Contrary to what you may have gleaned from television, movies and novels, almost all of your clients will be as guilty as mortal sin. However, there is a difference between actual guilt and what the State has the burden of proving at trial.
9. Clients lie- People accused of crimes will sometimes be forthright with their defense counsel, but frequently they will lie. This can be a dangerous handicap at trial, especially since an attorney has an ethical duty not to knowingly have his client commit perjury. Sometimes the best thing any defense attorney can do is to rip to shreds a client’s lies in an interview prior to trial and advise them that what you have just done is merely a foretaste of what they will receive in cross-examination from the prosecutor.
8. Cops lie- Not all cops by any means, but enough so that a defense attorney will treat police reports with the scepticism of a priest listening to a politician’s confession and not hearing the sin of lying brought up. An example of this is the videotaping of field sobriety tests. It was assumed in Illinois that this technological development would lead to more DUI convictions. After all, cops arresting people for DUI would routinely report that the person arrested had badly failed the field sobriety test. Instead, it has been a boon for defense attorneys, since the videotape evidence is often at variance with what the police initially report after the arrest.
7. Witnesses can surprise you-Last year I was defending an individual where a witness identification of my client was a significant factor. At the bench trial the State produced a witness to identify my client. The witness took a look at my client from the stand and said he could not be sure as to his identification. That took both the State and my client by surprise. Never assume that either your witnesses or the State’s will not give you both good and bad surprises.
6. Motion to suppress-Remember your constitutional law course? It wasn’t a complete waste of time after all! I enjoyed constitutional law in law school, and it is extremely useful on motions to suppress, as Supreme Court cases on fairly fine distinctions of constitutional law come in very handy in determining whether evidence is admissible or not. It is often advisable to do a motion to suppress even if you think you will lose. It gives you more insight into the State’s case as the prosecutor defends against the motion to suppress, since the investigating officers are subject to cross-examination, and often-times aspects of the case can be made to appear weak in the eyes of the judge, even if he allows the evidence in. That can be a useful factor at both the trial and, if your client is convicted, at sentencing. Most judges will be more inclined to leniency in sentencing in my experience if the conviction was based on some weak or questionable evidence. Continue reading
Hattip to Instapundit. To all would be attorneys who read TAC, I have warned you about the law as a profession on several occasions, here, here, and here. You have been adequately warned! For those of you who ignore my advice and are jobless on graduation, you can always sue your law school. (Of course my first born is planning on following me in the law, so my warnings must be inadequate!) Now this post will have to be brief, because I have 10 calls to return, three bankruptcies to prepare, 2 trials to get ready for, and all the other charming events that the day will bring me in the law mines!
The American Bar Association will be considering supporting same-sex marriage at their next meeting in San Francisco.
It urges state, territorial and tribal governments to eliminate laws restricting marriage between same-sex partners.
Supporters say the adoption of the measure would build on past ABA policies supporting protections for gay couples and their families. The House of Delegates in 2004 approved a recommendation opposing efforts to enact federal legislation preventing states from allowing same-sex marriage. “Everyone who worked on it is hopeful,” said Michele Kahn, a partner at Kahn & Goldberg who chairs a New York State Bar committee on gay rights. The State Bar in June 2009 came out in support of same-sex marriage, dropping its support of civil unions or domestic partnerships as alternative measures.
Kahn said so far no formal opposition has come forward against the measure.
What I find amazing is that there is no formal opposition.
I know a lot of pro-life and practicing Christian lawyers, how can this be?
From the Journal of Psychology, Public Policy and Law:
Lawyers’ litigation forecasts play an integral role in the justice system. In the course of litigation, lawyers constantly make strategic decisions and/or advise their clients on the basis of their perceptions and predictions of case outcomes. The study investigated the realism in predictions by a sample of attorneys (n = 481) across the United States who specified a minimum goal to achieve in a case set for trial. They estimated their chances of meeting this goal by providing a confidence estimate. After the cases were resolved, case outcomes were compared with the predictions. Overall, lawyers were overconfident in their predictions, and calibration did not increase with years of legal experience. Female lawyers were slightly better calibrated than their male counterparts and showed evidence of less overconfidence. In an attempt to reduce overconfidence, some lawyers were asked to generate reasons why they might not achieve their stated goals. This manipulation did not improve calibration.