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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #93)

Tue Aug 13, 2019, 06:02 PM

94. It's not an easy question

 

I believe that any attorney will tell you that they have had difficult times with clients who may, or may not, have a mental illness of some kind.

An attorney is not competent to diagnose whether their client is mentally ill. I presume, absent a medical opinion to the contrary, that my clients are not mentally ill or otherwise impaired in their judgment.

I had a case in which I represented a client who would change his settlement position every couple of hours. We would have long discussions about the case and what our next settlement position should be, I would send him a draft proposal to send to the other side, and he would change his mind again and throw in requests for absolutely ridiculous things that made no sense at all.

Absent the ability to settle his case, which was in arbitration, I went ahead and won it.

After that, the other side still wanted to negotiate a settlement with him, and he continued to be absolutely batshit about it. Fortunately, at that point, I could point to the original engagement terms under which I agreed to represent him in the dispute. The dispute had ended in his favor and I had no further obligation to him.

But, once again, we are faced with the obvious fact that him being under suicide watch undercut the argument - on appeal by these lawyers - that he should be released to home confinement of some kind.

If, for example, they had the most recent psych eval (which we certainly won't see for a while) that gave him a favorable prospect of return to normal conditions, then sure, why not.

But I would not for a moment conclude on my own initiative that my client was crazy without a medical professional saying so.

If my client died under these conditions, I would probably hire another criminal lawyer to independently review my work for two reasons: 1. To address any potential malpractice claims from the estate, and 2. To justify my position in any potential billing dispute with the estate.

But I cannot imagine any scenario in which it is to his criminal defense lawyers' advantage to have him killed. He was worth more to them alive than any possible inducement that could be offered to them. Aside from which, they were actively working to have him released from jail. I mean, that's kind of the point.

Can you imagine your defense attorney saying, "You know, Bobo, I could try to get you released, but I think you ought to stay in jail for your own good."

That would get you disbarred pretty quick.

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