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Lawsuit of the Day: Know when to shut your mouth

December 15, 2011

2. Law, 8. Lawsuits

Lawsuit of the Day:  Know when to shut your mouth

There’s a lesson in this story:  Shut your mouth.  Lying in legal matters never works out.

So a 29-year old attorney gets caught speeding.  There’s no indication that he was doing 20 or 30 over the limit – which can toss a person into the aggravated range resulting in license suspension.  No indication that he was nursing a lead foot such that any ticket would suspend him.  There’s no indication of anything beyond merely a speeding ticket.  Pay the fine and move on, son.

But, no …

The clown sends a letter with his plea of not guilty:

Ladies and Gentlemen:
This ticket shall be dismissed immediately since –
a. there was no speeding and the officer refused to show me evidence that there was: (i.e. – “not guilty”)
b. even if there was speeding (which there wasn’t) – I was in a 65-mph zone NOT a 55 mph zone; and
c. The officer called me a “jew kike” – and this prejudice obviously was the cause for the ticket.
I am a licensed attorney in NY State and will be representing myself in this matter (contact details enclosed).
Eliot Dear
[signed] Eliot Dear Esq.
[business card attached]

Yeah, an attorney.  What an idiot.  First, his crack that the ticket will be “dismissed immediately” smacks of a demand (or grandstanding) in contradiction of criminal procedure.  Childish.  Second, his claim that he was in a 65 zone is pathetic:  It’s a matter of fact rather than opinion, and if that was a valid defense then it’s better to reserve that morsel for the hearing.  Third, the “jew kike” crack had better be supported (ignoring for the moment the lack of proper noun writing for “Jew”).  The alleged slur got the letter forwarded to Internal Affairs for investigation of the cop.  There was a phone interview as a part of the investigation, and our lad stuck to his story.

Then the anchor dropped:  There was audio and video of the traffic stop.  Bad for him.  Nothing he claimed was true.

Undefeated, he proffers a defense:  Yeah, I lied, but I have mental issues.  A psych testified that he has “borderline personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, major depression, and narcissistic personality.”  Too funny.  That describes 99% of attorneys (the remaining 1% are dead).  Where’s he going with this?  Trying to mitigate his professional sanctions.

And, unfortunately, it worked.  Instead of getting what he deserved – two years without a license – he got six months.  That’s truly pathetic.  Step back from this for a moment:  An attorney lied about the actions of a cop.  An attorney falsely claimed a racial slur was used.  An attorney fabricated a story with no regard to the professionalism of police.  As an aside, I was in court one day when a traffic-ticket self-representing defendant claimed that the trooper that gave him a ticket smelled of alcohol.  The judge dissembled.  The defendant cowered.  I snickered quietly.

Here’s the problem with lying.  You are assuming that you know everything.  That fight with your spouse that you claim you acted in self defense?  Too bad there was a neighbor listening or walking past the window.  There’s more cell phones than people in this country – that’s a lot of video cameras wandering the streets.  You have to presume that whatever the truth may be, there’s a witness out there to testify to it.

Tell the truth or keep your mouth shut.  Attorneys can lose their license – other folks can get nailed for perjury.  None of it is worth it.

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About Clyde

Clyde is the lead attorney in the firm. Licensed to practice in 1993, he's also taught Constitutional and Criminal Law for several years at a private university, primarily at the Master's level.

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