Hello and welcome back to Attorney Paz’s rants of a criminal defense attorney. This week I want to talk about bad lawyers. I did a vlog a few weeks ago just talking about how I empathize with my clients and how I treat those clients’ cases as if they were my own cases. But unfortunately, there are some lawyers who don’t feel that way about their cases and there could be any number of reasons for that. Here, you can learn more about what to look for in a lawyer and how to avoid bad ones.
Good vs. Bad Lawyers
There are many reasons why a lawyer might not be very good – first maybe just be straight laziness, or that person is unable to empathize with their client and it’s probably because they’re just not in the right area of law, they’re not interested in it. And so in the end what happens is it a) gives all lawyers a bad name and b) it really harms the client.
Truly Helping Clients
So for example, I recently spent all morning in court with a habeas client and trying to vacate his scheduling order so that I can file an amended petition. His prior lawyer just read the pro se petition, he alleged one single issue, and then this prior lawyer didn’t do any investigation. That lawyer just filed an amended petition, just alleging the one single issue that this guy alleged in his pro se petition and never even requested the underlying file or hired an investigator, or anything.
So I did all of those things. And do you want to know something? After I did all of those things, I don’t think this guy committed the crime! I think this guy has actual innocence claims, and he definitely has ineffective assistance of counsel claims. But this guy is in a position where his amended petition doesn’t even allege these things and he’s going to trial in November. So I spent all day in court today trying to fix it, trying to get this guy what he deserves.
And then there’s another situation where, we were talking about it in the office a few months ago, another lawyer, who shall remain nameless, just walks into pretrial one day, sits down, and shrugs his shoulders, and says, “I’m just here for an offer.” Doesn’t offer any mitigation evidence in support of his client, doesn’t say anything about the strength of the state’s case, doesn’t say anything that would generally help his client at all. And how would that even then aid the court in giving the client a fair and just resolution to the case?
What You Can Do
So, if you’re reading this, and you think that your lawyer either isn’t caring enough about the issues in the case, or is just doing a bad job, you have control over the situation. You can file something called a pro se motion to dismiss counsel, and if you have appointed counsel, make an argument to the court about why the court should remove your counsel and appoint another one. If you have a private attorney, at any and all times, you can fire said attorney and hire a new attorney. You have a Sixth Amendment right to counsel of your choice, and so the court will generally accept substitute counsel, unless it’s the eve of trial or something. So, do not let your case suffer. Take matters into your own hands and have the court hear the issue and hear your concerns.
So, that’s my rant for the day, if you have any questions about that, call or email me at [email protected] and as always, take care, don’t get arrested, and see you soon.