17 August 2005

Moments in a Defense Lawyer's Life

a) Sitting around waiting for my client's plea agreement case to be called and getting bored enough to debate the lawyer sitting next over whether a female magistrate is a magistratrix or a magistrette.

b) Judge: "Mr. Lammers is absolutely correct. Nothing I do today is going to accomplish too much. The fact that the front two rows are filled with Mr. Defendant's family from as far away as New Hampshire shows he has strong support from a loving family. And putting him in jail is neither going to put him in a better position nor is it really going to help society. However, the one thing Mr. Lammers has not mentioned is that the reason we're here today is to punish . . .

c) Watching a trial wherein an attorney asks the witness about her conversation with her attorney and seeing the judge intervene to stop the question because it would violate attorney client privilige.

d) Watching a pre-trial murder hearing and seeing the following:
Prosecutor: Before we go forward Judge, I'd ask you to ask the accused his name. He told the officer his name was Mike Smith but when we ran his fingerprints they came back as belonging to David Charles Smythe.

Judge: Please tell us your real name.

Accused: David, Mike, Robert, charles, they're all in here . . .

Deputy: Uh, Your Honor, I don't want to speak out of turn but we think there might be some, uh . . . mental issues here.
The judge, sua sponte ordered a mental evaluation.

e) Someone else's reckless driving and eluding case:
Trooper: I had my car up to 135 mph and his motorcycle walked away from me like I was standing still.
The guy on the motorcycle went from south of Richmond to Fredericksburg and back at 185 mph, on a motrcycle, with police chasing him. Needless to say, he will be spending a little time in jail.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm being obtuse, but what's wrong with the judge warning a witness about waiving privilege (especially if the witness isn't represented)?

Mister DA said...

Donald: Just guessing what sruck Ken about this, but the A-C privilege is the client's, against the attorney revealing what she said. In lawyer-speak, the client holds the privilege. Attorney-Client is not a general privilege against a witness who is not the attorney involved being required to reveal what went on if it's relevant and there's an applicable hearsay exception. Same with the various Doctor-Patient privilegs. As far as I know, the only privilege that a judge is required to, sua sponte, advise a witness of is the privilege against self-incrimination.

Ken Lammers said...


Anonymous said...

While it's not required, in my experience (at least in federal court) it's not uncommon for a judge to inform a witness that answering a particular question may work a waiver of a/c privilege when that witness's attorney isn't present at the hearing.

Ken Lammers said...

The judge told the attorney he couldn't ask the question because of attorney-client privilege.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was certainly impressed 185 mph? I'm glad someone heard that case. (It's mine) Actually, I have spoken to some folks off the record who said that there's no way that bike could have gone that fast.

Unfortunately, the client's statement put him at that speed. I hate statements. By the way, the chase ended when he ran out of gas. It was 94 miles and 49 minutes- a record in my practice!