THE BENEFIT OF BEING UNKNOWN AND HAVING NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE DOING 
Monday, September 9, 2019, 09:58 AM
Posted by Administrator
It has always caused me anxiety when the lawyer on the other side has no idea what he/she is doing or when the other side has no lawyer. Judges seem to want to help the inept and, though they'll deny it, judges (almost) always) give them hints about what to do next, don't hold them to the rules, give them a break if there is a break to be given, even let them win if things are even.

I have been on both sides of this.

In Florida, if you get arrested for driving under the influence, the police take your driver license on the spot and issue you a slip that tells you that you can apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a hearing to determine whether they should have taken your license. In the past 25 years, I have not done a lot of DUIs so I am guessing about the exact numbers on this but, I have never, ever, ever, ever heard of anyone winning on of these hearings. The hearing officer (the judge) is a uniformed DMV employee---and that is the agency that took the license away. It's sort of like the guy you punched out sitting in judgment of you at your trial for battery.

I have represented clients at two of these hearings. The clients won both.

I don't think it was great lawyering that took the day, I think it was that neither of the hearing officers had any idea who I was. Like so many areas of law, there are lawyers who specialize in DUI. These lawyers are likely to ask for a DMV hearing in every single case they have. Maybe the cop won't show, maybe the hearing officer will wander in drunk------who knows---the lawyers are making money so, who cares?.

When a judge sees the same lawyers all the time doing the same schtick, they find it hard to take it seriously. "This is the same thing this lawyer said the last times with his/her last five clients." But, if an unknown lawyer comes in, the judge may think: "Who is this man/woman? I've never seen them before. They might actually have something worthwhile or else why did they bother to come. This might actually not be the same crap I listen to day in an day out. And, if I grant the request, they probably won't go blabbing it around to all of the other lawyers I see all the time." (Note: This last part is in keeping with the idea if you want a judge to do something out of the ordinary----go last so nobody else is in the courtroom watching you.)

My first time in DMV Administrative Court, I was, of course, surprised to see that the hearing officer wore a DMV uniform. I didn't know until then that there was a DMV uniform. She looked over at me and seemed surprised to see that she had no idea who I was. I asked what the procedure was (to make it clear that I hadn't been to one of their hearings before and that I was clueless about what was going to go on).

Anyway, my client was from Tennessee. The back woods of Tennessee. Really, to get to where he lived, you first went to the back woods and then you went back into the woods and, when you got there, you headed back further into.....you get the idea. He lived in a place that was so far removed from civilization that he did not speak English. At least, not as we know it. Have you ever heard a Scottish accent? Add that to a Southern Drawl and imagine the person you are trying to understand has a mouth full of mush. I couldn't understand him. During the hearing, when I asked the cop who arrested him if he could understand him, he looked over to the hearing officer, she sort-of shrugged and he said "no".

Since the cop couldn't understand my client, my client couldn't have been determined to have refused performed to perform the "road side sobriety" tests the cop used to determine that he probably was over the limit for DUI....so, the cop had no right to demand he take a breathalyzer. And, no right to take my client's license.

The other case I won in DMV court had to do with a car stopped at a Turnpike rest area that my client said (like so many defendants do) that he had not been driving. It is a boring story compared to the back woods Tennessean so I will move on.

A then-friend of mine from South America was trying to get asylum in the US and had, as this story begins, exhausted every opportunity, missed every deadline, and (many would say) should have been deported. Her solution? Hire an immigration lawyer who had never done an asylum case, had no idea how to handle himself in U.S. Immigration Court........and, as if that wasn't enough.......was a Canadian. (Note: Sam Levine is now deceased. He was a great guy who tried very hard. He did not like me.)

To be continued.........


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