THE BUMBLING LAWYER 
Sunday, March 1, 2015, 11:10 AM
Posted by Administrator
A bumbler is someone who speaks in a halting manner or who moves and proceeds clumsily. (From the internet: THE FREE DICTIONARY.) Sometimes, someone in need of a lawyer needs the man or woman who is smooth as silk, who has all the facts and law at their fingertips, and who is masterful in the courtroom.

Sometimes, you need the bumbler. (The bumbler is not necessarily clueless, nor does he/she lack knowledge or skill......they just are not pretty to watch.)

A friend of mine, years ago, needed to prove to an Immigration Judge that...despite his failure to follow the actual rules and timetables for being granted asylum in the U.S....he should be granted asylum, anyway, because he really WOULD be killed if he returned to his home (South American) country. This was a few years ago and the media frequently ran stories about fake asylum claims, lawyers who promoted false claims, and, generally abuse of claims for asylum by prospective immigrants who really wanted to be here to make money and not because...

...they had a reasonable fear of or had actually suffered persecution due to race, religion, politics, nationality or association with a social group which their home government was unable to stop or which was actually at the instance of their home government. You don't get asylum because you are worried about street crime in the suburbs of Tegucigalpa, Honduras....you do if you were in the Columbian military working on a US funded project and narcos shot you full of holes and left you dying in the street because you dropped defoliant on coca fields.

Anyway, knowing nothing about Immigration, my only job was to help my friend find a lawyer. We settled on a (now deceased) Canadian (you don't have to be a member of the Florida Bar to practice in Immigration Court...he was a member of the NY Bar) with an office in Palm Beach Gardens who had limited (read as "no") experience in asylum claims. He, eventually, filed the papers.

My theory was that every Miami Immigration lawyer (that's where the local Immigration Court is located) who regularly did asylum cases would be viewed by the Immigration Judge (yes, there are Immigration Judges...who are most certainly NOT regular Federal Judges) as very possibly pushing a trumped up/made up case. And, on the other hand, a lawyer from 60 miles North who the Judge had never seen before in court was probably pursuing the case because he thought there was something to it. So, the mere fact that the lawyer was clueless would make the case more believable.

For some reason I never understood, it was my job to drive the family (kids were part of this, too, and the estranged spouse who flew in each time from LA) to Miami and sit quietly in the visitor's section behind counsel table where my friend sat with the lawyer. And, the first three times we went, the lawyer had failed to file a paper or failed to have the family go to the INS with some application or was otherwise desperately unprepared. The Judge would lecture the lawyer, briefly, express disappointment that he was clueless and reset the case.

Finally, the fourth time was the charm. I wasn't in the courtroom but, after half an hour, everyone came out smiling. "The Judge said to (the Homeland Security---government lawyer), "You're not going to like the smell of this, but I'm going to grant the application.""

And, that was that (at least for me.......my friend now needed more fingerprints and investigations and paperwork before the papers arrived 8 mos. later).

Today, a client of mine called me asking about a tax lawyer for an IRS audit. I said, more or less, this: 'I don't know much about the IRS but I think if you walk in there with a tax lawyer they will think it's a big case and you've got stuff to hide. You should hire an Enrolled Agent (an accountant who is qualified to practice before the IRS). The IRS people would probably be more likely to think that you just can't get all your receipts together........and not that you are a big-time tax cheat.' (I also reminded the caller that there is no Federal account/client privilege so....if she was worried that she had committed a crime, she should hire a lawyer. The lawyer could hire an accountant to work for the lawyer and the Federal attorney-client priviledge would (likely) apply to the accountant.)

I didn't tell her that it might be best if the Enrolled Agent she hired seemed like a bumbler.

But, that would probably be good.
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