Patterico's Pontifications


Drunk Lawyer Causes Mistrial

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:29 am

I’m not sure if I posted this before or not, but I watched it again last night and laughed and laughed. Thanks to Jeffrey Lewis.

45 Responses to “Drunk Lawyer Causes Mistrial”

  1. This guy’s a lot more coherent than many I’ve witnessed. Perhaps the alcohol should be mandatory.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  2. If you watch them all, he doesn’t seem too coherent at all — given the numerous lies he tells the judge, together with his extremely bizarre behavior.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  3. that’s very sad to where it’s hard to laugh and laugh … the judge seems to have an admirable temperament and I hope that guy has monies to where he can afford some time off

    happyfeet (e8d590)

  4. The poor prosecutor looks decidedly uncomfortable. I think he can see it all slipping away and a do-over on the horizon.

    As a lay person though, I’m surprised the judge allowed him to incriminate himself repeatedly without explicit advice (I didn’t watch it all though, so maybe she did). Maybe officers of the court are held to a higher standard.

    Tom (6ad945)

  5. As I said, lawyers are, by and large,

    oh screw it.

    Juan (ba249c)

  6. that’s very sad to where it’s hard to laugh and laugh

    Not for me.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  7. Maybe if you’re the defendant it’s not that funny . . .

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  8. I saw this a while back. You never lie to a judge. Never, never, never.

    nk (218382)

  9. Is this the kind of thing that can lead to disbarment?

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  10. Judge people are scary because they are very powerful and can take away your freedoms and your livelihood. This one was more docile than most I think but it was still scary to see what was going to happen. Point is, from a dramatic narrative framework point of view, anyone in a situation involving a judge person what is not the judge person is something of a sympathetic underdog. The attorney that was sort of drunk, he was irresponsible, but growing up leads to growing old and then to dying, and dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun.

    happyfeet (e8d590)

  11. and dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun.

    Comment by happyfeet — 7/3/2009 @ 12:10 pm

    Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

    nk (218382)

  12. The guy is looking and sounding worse than the blood alcohol level. What an idiot ! He does sound better in the last video than the first.

    The confabulations are far worse than the alcohol would produce. He sounds like a defendant, not an attorney.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  13. “I’m surprised the judge allowed him to incriminate himself repeatedly without explicit advice….” –Tom

    Interesting observation. But the judge was merely investigating whether he could proceed with the trial. The judge cannot let him represent someone based on what was coming to light.

    He wasn’t under arrest so no Miranda rule applies. And the judge is NOT a police officer so Miranda really does not apply. But as an officer of the court, he could not refuse to answer the judge’s questions.

    To those of you who feel sorry for this idiot, there needs to be a witness to his driving in order to charge him with DUI. Otherwise, under the corpus cop out rule none of his statements can be used. Does that make you feel better?

    I bet we can check the Nevada State Bar records to see if he was disciplined, which would be appropriate.

    Given that burnoff is slow, he was over .10 at the time of driving.

    Alta Bob (5c3fe7)

  14. Steven, i’ll be honest, I seriously doubt it. I imagine he’ll go into the bar’s rehab program and be fine.

    And that’s a shame.

    happyfeet, I don’t understand where you’re coming from. Almost all the judges I run into are like this lady. The super nice and casual tone is slightly annoying to me… except when you make a mistake and need her a super nice and casual tone.

    You know, everyone can go sit in on court, and it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Especially if you don’t go downtown much. Family courts are a little different, but you will walk away realizing that your problems probably aren’t that bad.

    this judge’s patience level was really quite high, and I suspect there was a lot of work that went into a case that was about to be thrown away. Jurors and experts and staff all wasted their time because the defense attorney was not taking his job seriously… or had given up hope that his client had a chance.

    Or maybe he’s that dedicated to his client that he will get drunk and cause a mistrial.

    Juan (ba249c)

  15. Who was the judge? She has the patience of a saint. Some other judge might have had this guy up on capital contempt charges…

    great unknown (b751d2)

  16. Alta Bob, the guy is on tape admitting he was driving a car, and he was clearly drunk at the time. It’s a pretty solid case.

    And I do think he should have been mirandized. It appeared to me that he was not free to leave.

    Shame is that you may very well be right that he won’t face the charge.

    Juan (ba249c)

  17. As a lay person though, I’m surprised the judge allowed him to incriminate himself repeatedly without explicit advice (I didn’t watch it all though, so maybe she did). Maybe officers of the court are held to a higher standard.

    The judge was, IMO, deliberately setting him up to repeatedly perjure himself. Some people have to hit rock bottom before they will get help.

    Police and other law enforcement officers have to give Miranda warnings before they goad someone they suspect of a crime into incriminating themselves. However, judges are not law enforcement officers. I’m pretty sure judges don’t have to warn people.

    People are supposed to have an inherent fear of judges, and realize that anything they say to a judge could be used against them in a court of law, because they are already in a court of law. Lawyers, especially, should already know this.

    Finally, the standard of proof for imposing professional discipline on an attorney depends on Nevada’s state law, and in most states it is much less than the standard of proof for convicting someone of a crime (guilt beyond a reasonable doubt). Miranda exists to protect criminal defendants. State bar disciplinary proceedings exist to protect the public from bad lawyers.

    Daryl Herbert (a32d30)

  18. I think I’m coming more from a sort of playful reality tv critic kind of place. It is light and airy here. Jeez ok I mock unmercifully the hubristic drunken defense attorney and I herald the equanimity of the good judge and I applaud these tubes of you as holding forth a cautionary tale.

    happyfeet (e8d590)

  19. A little trivia for you, unless I’m in error: I believe that the female Deputy DA is Cheryl Kosewicz. She left the Clark Co. DA’s Office and moved to Reno, joining the Washoe County DA’s Office, then became one of the cast in a short-lived TV show called Pirate Master. Tragically, she committed suicide in 2007. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in these videos.

    grs (b9e726)

  20. This took over 2-1/2 hours?

    oldirishpig (3bb2ac)

  21. I wonder whether Cyrus has ever tried this ploy as a delaying tactic for one of his clients or when representing himself pro se when things aren’t looking good.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  22. bar’s rehab program


    Dana (8d88ef)

  23. I thought CS was drunk whenever he was posting here?

    AD - RtR/OS! (008156)

  24. This discussion of the judge goading the lawyer into incriminating himself is silly. He gave nothing but denials. It was only incriminating because he was such an idiot.

    Miranda is required when (1) police question someone and (2) they are not free to go. Secondly, it is only utilized in a criminal case. This was a situation where a judge had to determine whether it was appropriate for this drunk to go forward representing someone charged with a life-in-prison crime.

    Now lets pretend that the police investigate his probable drunk driving or even his hit-and-run. The prosecution needs to show a corpus of a crime before the defendant’s statements can be used. Have they found anyone who said they saw him driving?

    Why is there so much sympathy for this loser?

    Alta Bob (5c3fe7)

  25. It looked to me like the judge was initially concerned about the defendant’s right to counsel but at some point — perhaps when someone tipped her off that counsel smelled of alcohol or that his story wasn’t consistent with things he said to other people — her focus switched to what was behind defense counsel’s behavior.

    When I was admitted to the bar 30 years ago, substance or alcohol abuse that affected your behavior in court would probably have led to suspension or disbarment. But that changed 15-20 years ago with the advent of no-fault rehabilitation programs. I’m not a fan of these programs for lawyers or any professional because I think they are bad for the integrity of the profession and especially bad for the public.

    IMO the idea behind preferring rehab to disbarment is that professionals have so much invested in their careers that we are reluctant to throw them out over an/a few incidents. Plus, it makes people feel better to be sympathetic instead of trying to be enforcers.

    There’s also an economic argument for the profession, because you don’t want to lose the services of trained professionals. The argument makes more sense from an economic standpoint for doctors than for lawyers, since medical school admissions are far more limited than law school admissions. Losing a doctor’s services after so many years of training is a significant loss. But the economic arguments leave me cold compared to the risks to the public from letting impaired professionals continue to practice with mentors or minimal oversight.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  26. DRJ – I know some folks here involved in those bar programs but don’t know the details of them. My impression of the goals of the programs are twofold, protect the clients and treat the attorney. From the incidents I have heard described, a team of attorneys gets sent in to assess the practice and transition cases, to protect the clients, and others to transition the attorney with the substance abuse problem into some kind of treatment program. The attorneys themselves are oftentimes recovering drunks.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  27. DRJ–I think the idea behind preferring rehab to disbarment is to encourage attorneys with alcohol or drug problems to identify themselves and receive treatment rather than to hide their addictions to the detriment of a larger number of victims.

    grs (b9e726)

  28. grs,

    I understand, but substance abuse has been around for a long time in society and every profession. The system can encourage professionals to self-report but they typically don’t until they get in trouble and get caught (or are about to get caught), so I’m not convinced self-reporting actually protects the public.


    That may be how it works in some places but what I’ve seen is one formerly impaired professional mentoring one currently impaired professional. I’m not sure how great that is if the formerly impaired professional is just one drink away from rehab himself.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  29. “I’m not sure how great that is if the formerly impaired professional is just one drink away from rehab himself.”

    DRJ – If you talk to anybody in recovery they will tell you they are only one drink away from relapsing. They will also tell you that learning how to cope with everyday life without having to reach for a bottle is best done by watching somebody do it successfully who used to reach for that bottle. They understand each other.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  30. DRJ, one of the reasons for the diversion programs for physicians is that it encourages people who know they have a problem to come forward and get help. We are not standing up in court with witnesses and a video camera. I can remember one older doc when I first began in practice. I was told that it was an unwritten rule the NO ONE ever called him after 6 PM. Everybody knew he was drunk by then although he was fine during the day.

    We had one problem about 20 years ago with a urologist who had AIDS and was getting AIDS dementia. There was a lot of fear about reporting him because of the threat of suits and a real scandal. Eventually, the anesthesiologists got him to stop operating but it was about 6 months too late. I also know of a few cases where surgeons had to be convinced to stop for reasons not related to alcohol.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  31. daley,

    Some of the mentors identify with the problems a little too much.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  32. Mike K,

    Do you believe impaired doctors come forward more now? I submit it still takes prompting by their peers, and perhaps even threats they will be reported, just like in the old days.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  33. Look at the video. Do you think this was defense counsel’s first time? What stopped him from self-reporting?

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  34. “Do you think this was defense counsel’s first time? What stopped him from self-reporting?”

    DRJ – What usually stops any drunk – denial.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  35. “Some of the mentors identify with the problems a little too much.”

    DRJ – If the mentors are still drinking or using that could be a problem. If they are sober or clean I don’t see them putting up with the bullshit.

    You sound like you have had some adverse experience with the problem that sours you on the rehab route.

    We’ve got tons of drunk lawyers here in Chicago.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  36. I hope he gets help. Good things can happen if he wants to get better. But it is all on him.

    JD (e27728)

  37. “DRJ, one of the reasons for the diversion programs for physicians is that it encourages people who know they have a problem to come forward and get help.”

    Mike K. – I know a surgeon who is a recovering drunk and he tells stories about operating drunk. They scare the shit out of me. Somehow he scared himself and sobered up without a diversion program many years back.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  38. JD – At least he remembered his own name.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  39. I don’t think so, JD. A trial lawyer is like a new knife. Depending how he’s forged, he comes out sharp, stays sharp, and can be resharpened for many times after. It’s a question of geometry, though. There’s a point where the knife cannot be resharpened.

    This guy had his 58th jury trial (was it a murder case?) and instead of having a good dinner, going over his notes, and going to be at 10:00 p.m., he stayed up until 4:00 a.m. doing tequilla shots. He should stop doing trials and look to do closings.

    nk (218382)

  40. daley,

    I haven’t had any experience in this area on either side, but when you live in a small town you know where all the skeletons are.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  41. “he stayed up until 4:00 a.m. doing tequilla shots”

    nk – Hey, but it was a simple capital case or some other charge that could put his client away for life. Dude handles those in his sleep. Who are you to judge? Heh!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  42. DRJ – I know what you mean about small towns. Gotta watch those window blinds.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  43. I’ve been up until four in the morning a lot of times. But not doing tequila shots. I really hate to lose.

    nk (218382)

  44. Lionel Hutz-Your Honor, I move for a …a bad court thingy.

    Judge-You mean a mistrial?

    Hutz-Yeah! That’s why you’re the judge, and I’m the law talking guy!

    radar (20a90d)

  45. I saw this when it came out. I found it spectacularly funny.

    The judge is clearly a gentle soul. She gave the guy several easy outs – even after the nonsense story, if he had just said, “I’m not ready today, I don’t have a good excuse, but I need a day,” I think he would have gotten it.


    JRM (355c21)

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