Thursday, January 21, 2016

Aesops Fables for Lawyers: The Crafty Old Politician

             Once upon a time there was a crafty old politician. Unfortunately, he decided not to change the letter behind his name from D to R so the sheeple voted for someone with an R behind his name and he had to go back to work being a lawyer.

               One day a nice looking woman came to his office with a tale of woe. He let her hire him for a very low flat fee because it sounded like a very easy case. Once he accepted her money, and looked at what the other lawyers in the case were filing, he realized that it was not going to be an easy case. He tried to talk to his client but she didn't want to listen to him at all and she said none of it was true. Unfortunately he was also kind of lazy, and he still had lots of political connections and big time deals, so he didn't have time to do lots of research. He just relied on his experience to throw out some pleadings and he showed up for hearings. His pleadings weren't very well written and had lots of mistakes.

                 Well, the day of the big hearing came. All of the other lawyers had given copies of all their information to the other lawyers just like the Judge asked them to do. But the crafty old politician hadn't read much on the information he had been given because he had too much else to do and after all, she hadn't paid him very much. Now, normally lawyers kind of bend the rules when there are lots of exhibits to save time so the Judge can get to the real issue and they just allow in all the exhibits except the ones they really have a problem with. But the crafty old politician knew his client was impressed when he made objections and he wanted to impress her so he made lots of objections.

              First, he tried to make the nurse who said she didn't write a letter for the mother look like a liar and the Judge had to tell him twice to speak to her more politely. Unfortunately it was pretty clear she hadn't written the letter so it just made it very obvious that the mother had written the letter and forged the nurse's
             The crafty old politician didn't stop, he threw his hands around and objected to every question he possibly could to try to throw the witnesses and the two fathers off when they were trying to tell their stories. When it was finally his turn to ask questions he would end his questions with the phrase like, "Didn't you?" or "Weren't you?" delivered in a very accusing voice like he was on TV.

             Now, one of the issues in the case was whether one of the fathers had been close to his son. The other lawyer had shown the crafty old politician all the pictures she had of the man and his son. She asked to admit the pictures into evidence all in one big lump, but he objected. Well, because he objected, the other lawyer had to authenticate each and every one of those pictures. So she did. There were 130 pictures, but she asked her client the right questions and authenticated each and every one of those pictures. It took over three hours. The judge was very, very annoyed with the crafty old politician.

                 In this case the real issue was that two men thought they were the daddy of the little boy, and they both said that the mom had told them both they were the dad and that for over ten years they both gave her money to take care of him. So, next the lawyer had to authenticate all the checks her client had written the mom, month after month for almost 10 years. The checks took another hour. Now, the Judge was even more annoyed. He glared at the crafty old politician who didn't seem to notice. 

               The crafty old politician tried to make a big deal out of the woman's name on the checks being different sometimes, but all that brought out was that his client had been married to four different men over the last ten years and had decided to spell her first name different ways at different times. After all the pictures and all the checks were finally entered, it was time for the other lawyer for the other dad to ask that dad questions, but the crafty old politician still hadn't learned his lesson so he made her authenticate all the emails from her client to the mom.

                  Thus, the other lawyer for the other dad was having him read lots of emails from the woman out loud to the Judge. In one email, the mom was saying ugly things to the other dad about the child not having a birthday because he sent her money a week late that month. The Judge stopped the hearing and shuffled through all the pictures the first father had given to him and found a picture of the little boy's birthday that the first father had given him for that year. Then he looked at the payments that had been entered and saw that both dads had given her money the month before and had bought extra things for the child's birthday. The judge was very angry with the woman already and this just gave him one more thing to be angry about.

                 All that happened with all that information was that it became really, really clear that the two dads were telling the truth and that she had taken money from both of them and that each dad loved "his" son very, very much.

                  In the end, the woman lost custody of her son and criminal charges were filed against her. She sued the crafty old politician for being a bad lawyer and he had to spend a lot of time and energy trying to prove he did a good enough job on her case which was hard because he was lazy and hadn't really done a good job.

Morals for Lawyers: 1. If a case sounds really easy, it probably isn't so be careful. 2. Don't be lazy; do your homework, and give your client good advice. 3. If your client won't listen to good advice, write a letter with the good advice, and if they *still* won't listen maybe you shouldn't be their lawyer. 4. Most of the time, the Judge is the person you need to impress NOT your client; you'll see the judge again a lot more times than your client. 5. Don't make bad information worse by trying to keep it out when you know it is going to come in, and don't let it be made more obvious than it needs to be by insisting on the rules. 6. Don't make objections unnecessarily; save them for when they matter. 7. You should almost never end a question with "didn't you?" or "Weren't you?"

Morals for clients: 1. You don't want a "show off" for a lawyer. 2. Be honest with your lawyer. 3. Just because a lawyer has a reputation for being important doesn't mean he/she will do a good job for you.

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