THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEDGE........MY END OF IT 
Monday, November 10, 2008, 10:43 PM
Posted by Administrator
The couple of times, so far, I have written about actual clients, I have changed names, dates, and places so that while I am able to illustrate my point there is no real chance that anybody would know who I am using to illustrate it. I don't think the client him or herself would know. If you think a client or a situation involving a client is recognizable in any way, let me know and I will delete the entry.

What I know from my clients, I am obigated to take to the grave, telling nobody (see entry below regarding lawyer/client priviledge for details). Mostly, this blog has nothing to do with clients, past or present. For example, in the following entry, I mention someone named Joe Trivisone. Joe never has been my client. I knew him 30 years ago. I always liked and respected Joe so I don't see why I should make up a name. I Emailed him before writing the entry and he did not object to my using his name.

So, to my clients, be assured that neither your name, your identity or your story will appear in this blog...unless you give me a good idea and I put it in and, with your permission, attribute the idea to you.
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WHAT'S THE BENEFIT? 
Monday, November 10, 2008, 03:40 PM
Posted by Administrator
Lately, not surprisingly, I am seeing a lot of people about bankruptcy.

So, let me review the benefits of bankruptcy. Listing the benefits does not mean there isn't a downside....there is. Listing the benefits does not mean that everyone can file and enjoy the benefits....not everyone can. Still, here are some (possible/probable) benefits: (DISCLAIMER: THE BAR MAKES US TELL YOU THAT THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES, NO PROMISES, RESULTS DEPEND ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS AND WILL DIFFER FROM PERSON TO PERSON. The only way I know of to determine what you can expect is to see a lawyer and lay it all out.)

Bankruptcy:
-Gets rid of credit card debt.
-Gets rid of medical and hospital bill debt.
-Gets rid of debt arising from deficiencies remaining after foreclosures and repossessions.
-Stops lawsuits, including foreclosures.
-Results in an immediate and continuing order that creditors not contact you, bother you or harass you in attempting to collect a debt.
-Eliminates the tax liability that arises, sometimes, from having creditors forgive debt...short sales of other than primary residence, write downs, etc.
-Is (relatively and most of the time) painless.
-Will help you sleep at night, relieve some anxiety and make life better.
-You can keep you house (if you are on time with payments and continue to pay).*
-Same with your car (if you have little or no equity).


*As I have written in previous entries, the issue of keeping your "underwater", in arrears primary residence by having your mortgage re-written on more favorable terms is evolving day to day. If you have recently been served with a foreclosure lawsuit, hire a lawyer to defend it for you and be optimistic that a solution is around the corner.

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MORE BANKRUPTCY-NO CROOKS, PLEASE 
Saturday, November 8, 2008, 09:20 PM
Posted by Administrator
OK, so you've saved six months of paystubs (the lawyer needs to review all of your "payment advices" which, for self employed people means evidency of everything you've been paid....pay for food at Publix with a debit card linked to your bank account, if that is where your business money goes, then that portion of your bank statement is probably a payment advice) and from the paystubs (and payment advices) your household income gets computed and that determines whether you can file a Chapter 7. Bored yet?

Oh, and pay stubs (payment advices) for the sixty days before you file bankruptcy have to be filed with the bankruptcy petition.

And, before you file, you've got to get a certificate evidencing completion of a pre-filing session in finance (my clients do this in 40 minutes over the phone with a company I hire for them and the certificate is Emailed to me). The certificate and a statement signed by you get filed with the Petition. Bored yet?

The Petition itself...about 30 pages...gets printed out and reviewed by you and signed but it never makes it out of the lawyer's file. Instead, the Petition, along with scanned in pay stubs, scanned in certificate, scanned in statement that you took the course, and scanned in certification that you know the Petition is being electronically filed is sent electronically to Bankruptcy Court. After it is sent over, the filing fee is paid by (the lawyer's) credit card. The paperwork is retained in the lawyer's file in case he or she is audited to make sure that you really did sign off on everything. Bored yet?

About 30 to 40 days after you file, you've got to go to a "Meeting of Creditors". As I have written previously, with few exceptions, creditors don't come. So, you and the lawyer and the court appointed Trustee sit in a room and the Trustee asks questions:

"Did you read the Petition your lawyer prepared before you signed it?"
"Did you list all of your creditors and all of your assets?"

And, then some questions specific to you:

"When did you buy your house?"
"How did you come up with the value for your boat?"
"What did you do with the money from the house you sold last year?"
"Why did you pay your mother back $750 last March?"

This is when the Trustee has a look at you and your Petition and decides whether you are being honest and forthcoming or whether you are hiding something. If you have a $100 haircut, you will get asked more questions. If you look like you had a $100 haircut but that you are trying to look like someone who spends $10 at Supercuts, you will get asked even more questions. If you live on a street with huge houses, the Trustee will want to send someone to visit your house if you claim to have just a couch and two TVs.

The Trustee does not want your furniture. The Trustee does not want your junk car from your backyard. But, if you have more assets than you are allowed to keep, the Meeting Of Creditors is a good time to start making arrangments to pay the Trustee some money in exchange for keeping what you've got.

The Trustees job is to gather up non-exempt assets, take them, pay what they can to your creditors on a pro-rata basis. As part of this, the Trustee can make some money. If there are no assets, the Truste is paid a minimal flat fee for each case.

Most people don't have more than Florida law allows them to keep. If you do, don't hide it and it will all work out.

Back when Bankruptcy Court was in the Federal Courthouse between Banyon and Clematis, I got on an elevator with Bob Adler, a Federal Public Defender who I knew from years before at the 15th Judicial Circuit (state) Public Defender's Office where we both used to work. He asked what I was doing there and I told him "Some bankruptcy thing." He told me that he had a lot of bankruptcy cases. Since he was in the criminal defense end of things, this meant that the FBI was arresting bankruptcy debtors and that he was landing up defending them. I told him that I was surprised there were a lot of cases. None of my clients have ever had a problem.

Then, we talked about this case that I had heard something about. Here goes: A man files bankruptcy (the "debtor") and neglects (I use the word "neglect" but I am confident it was more than that...that it was an intentional omission) to list his Rolex watch as an asset. Somehow, the Trustee found out about the watch (someone called and told him? I don't really know how....) and the debtor finds out that the Trustee knows and goes to his office and hands him the Rolex. They agree that there are no hard feelings and that is that. Except that when the Trustee initially found out about the Rolex, he called the U.S. Trustee's Office and the U.S. Trustee's Office notified the FBI. So, even though there were no hard feelings between the debtor and the Trustee, the debtor got arrested and prosecuted for bankruptcy fraud.

And I don't mention this story or make a big deal out of being honest because there is a great risk that nice people filing for bankruptcy are going to land up being investigated by the FBI...they won't be. But, don't come in and ask the lawyer how to hide your jewelry...don't think the lawyer isn't smart enough to know when you are trying to mislead him or her about your assets or your income...don't think that you and the lawyer are going to enter into some kind of conspiracy to cheat your creditors and fool the court. There are plenty of honest people out there who can file an honest bankruptcy petition and have no problems at all going through the process. We can make a living from them.

So, if you are a crook...and you know who you are...go away.
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BANKRUPTCY-SAVE YOUR PAYSTUBS 
Thursday, November 6, 2008, 08:27 PM
Posted by Administrator
The problem with an blog entry about bankruptcy is there is a lot of misinformation on the internet and I don't want to be part of the misinformation. I frequently see people who have visited the internet and research bankruptcy and seen a lot of untrue and misleading things.

Anyone considering filing bankruptcy should see a lawyer because....no kidding...everybody's situation is different and just having general information won't do you much good unless you know who the Trustees are and what they are looking for and unless you have filed at least a few dozen petitions and seen what has happened from beginning to end (from filing to discharge).

Some commonly asked questions and (my) answers (all based on Florida and, particularly, Palm Beach County):

Will the Trustee (a woman or man...maybe a lawyer, maybe not... appointed by the Court by way of the US Trustee's Office which is part of the Department Of Justice) come to my house to see what I've got? Probably not. Still, you need to be careful in listing all of your furniture and other property and you've got to be honest when you are valuing it. The Trustees have been doing this for a while and they can all size people up pretty quickly and, if they are suspicious that you are hiding assets, they will send someone to your house.

Can I keep my house? ......Probably, as long as you are up to date in your mortgage payments. If you aren't up to date there are options ranging from a Chapter 13 payment plan type bankruptcy to holding on to see what the government and mortgage companies are now going to do. Whether or not to deal with a house mortgage issue in a bankruptcy is something you should talk to a lawyer about...the situation with mortgages is changing from moment to moment.

Can I keep my car? ...... It depends on what it is worth. If you owe more than it is worth and are current in payments, you can keep it. If you own a paid for Rolls Royce, you probably can't. There is no rule that says everyone gets to keep one car...even if they need it to get to work. If your car isn't worth much, you can keep it even if it is paid for.

Do I qualify? ..........Have you filed for bankruptcy before? You may be able to file again but, it depends on when your last filing was and how it turned out. How much is your yearly gross income? There are income limits now for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Have you consistently filed tax returns? Are they honest and accurate? How much do you owe and to what kinds of creditors?

Can I get tax debt discharged? ....Maybe.

Can I get student loans discharged? ....No.

What is the worst thing that is going to happen if I file bankruptcy? ....For many people, the worst thing is a bad credit rating. A lot of people have bad credit already so for them there may not be a big downside to a bankruptcy.

When will I be able to get credit again? ....With what is going on with credit now, who knows? But, if things go back to more or less the way they were (and lenders need to lend to make money, so probably credit availability will normalize soon), then I will be ready to give the answer I gave until a year or so ago. Here it is: "Lenders and mortgage people I have spoken with have told me that two years or so after bankruptcy they will be willing to lend provided you have decent income. You probably will need a 20% downpayment if you want to buy a house and get a reasonable interest rate, so save the money that (before your bankruptcy) you were spending to pay your debt. The bankruptcy is going to be reported by credit companies for ten years but, on the other hand, companies that loan you money after the bankruptcy know that they will be first in line to collect what you owe. Anyone who loans you money now would be last in line. So, after you file bankruptcy, your credit worthiness will likely immediately and drastically improve."

When will I be able to get credit again if I am living on Social Security or have minimal or no income? ....Never.

I will do an entry on the process.........from electronic filing to "Meeting Of Creditors" (creditors rarely come and credit card companies never send anyone)...soon.

AND SAVE YOUR PAYSTUBS!
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FRIENDS IN THE MAFIA 
Friday, October 31, 2008, 05:15 PM
Posted by Administrator
(Note: This morning, I did this entry. It disappeared. If it disappears this time, I will figure it is related to the subject...and not just coincidence).

In the late sixties and on into the 70's, my father owned a discount clothing store on Long Island. His idea was a factory outlet store before there were big strip shopping centers and malls like the Sawgrass Mall in Sunrise (South Florida's #1 tourist destination) centered around the factory outlet store. He had bought boy's clothes for years, first for a clothing only department store called Orbachs and later for an Eastern seaboard chain of clothing stores (I remember he once even went to one of their stores in Delaware...I had never known anyone before this who had gone to Delaware.).

Friends of his in the clothes manufacturing business were going to consign clothing to him and he would sell the clothing at discounted prices and this is how he would make our family's fortune. But, it didn't work. Around 1975, sadly, he closed up shop....and he died a few days later.

To supplement the revenue from clothing, he had begun to sell candy and cigarettes. He bought the candy and cigarettes from a
wholesaler not too far from our house. After he died, everything he had went automatically to my mother. The business was only in his name so the business debts died with him and all of the creditors went away....except for the cigarette wholesaler.

Every couple of weeks after my father's death, a big man with a deep voice, nicely dressed, would come and knock on my mother's door. She would open the door and the man knocking would say, more or less "I'm from the wholesaler and your husband owes us money." "But", she would say, "he is dead and there is no money." "Okay," the man would say "but whether or not he is dead he still owes us money and I will be back to collect it." And, after a while, he would come back.

I don't think my mother, all 4'11" of her, was particularly scared of this guy but she did find it annoying. So, she hatched a plan to get rid of him.

For years, she taught 4th grade down the block from where we lived...at my elementary school...and her kids really liked her. Once a year was parent/teacher conference day.

She knew that one of the girls in her class lived in an unusually large Tudor type house, newly built, that stood on a street dotted with much smaller houses. The girl's father was a garbage man. My mother put 2 and 2 together.

When, the girl's parents came to school for parent/teacher conference day (and, after assuring the parents that their daughter was doing great in school) my mother turned to the father and told him the story about the cigarette wholesaler. "What should I do?", she asked. He said he would take care of it.

Now, when I tell this story I often get the impression that the person I am telling it to believes that the garbage man with the big house sent his thugs down to the cigarette wholesaler and beat him up. Of course not. The garbage man with the big house got on the phone and called up the cigarette wholesale...they probably knew each other or, if not, they knew someone in common...and, he said, more or less "My daughter really likes her 4th grade teacher and could you do me a favor and not send your guy over to her house about the money?" And, the cigarette wholesaler no doubt said "Sure." Because he would rather have the garbage man's friendship or have the garbage man owe him a favor than make a big stink about a few dollars.

Of course, the man never came back.

My family has had other run ins with the mafia over the years. When I worked selling cars (of course not at the Bayside Volkswagen dealer, it was that other place), the sales manager's brother, Carmine, would come in every Saturday with a giant tureen of lasagna or stuffed shells...lunch for everyone. Carmine brought his friend Joe and, though I knew both of them for quite a while, it was pretty clear that...at least in the conventional sense...they did not work for a living. They were both free all week and stopped by the dealership from time to time...never in any rush at all; they drove very big (American) cars; they never said a word about work; and Frank, the sales manager, never did mention what either one of them did for a living.

Frank, sold Chevrolets for years and years before he moved to Volkwagen (car salesmen and managers, then and now, move from job to job all of the time). He had never sold a foreign car before the stint at Volkswagen and he made it clear that he really didn't like the whole idea. He was a Chevy guy.

Frank had people who had bought Chevys from him for years. But, when he started selling Volkswagens, they started buying Volkswagens. Now, Frank was a very nice buy but, nice as he was, there had to be some other reason the former Chevy buyers bought whatever Frank was selling. And now only did they buy Volkswagens from Frank, they bought fully loaded cars with every option at the highest price Frank could say with a straight face and they didn't bargain. Frank was a good salesman but he wasn't that good.

Did all of these buyers owe Frank's brother Carmine a favor? And Carmine was just looking out for Frank? Yes, I think.
(Though I don't know whether the cigarette wholesaler, the garbage man with a big house, or the man who came and knocked on my mother's door drove Chevys...or Volkswagens. Okay, all of these guys drove Linconln Continentals or Cadillac Sedan Devilles.)




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TRAFFIC TICKETS 
Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 07:05 PM
Posted by Administrator
I just read a piece on MSN (a crappy search engine that refuses to acknowledge my existence but a good place for news and current events) about traffic tickets. As it says in the piece, here in Florida there are some law firms that only do tickets so they charge very reasonable rates because they are in traffic court with stacks of tickets every day. I don't go to traffic court much but if you need a traffic lawyer, call me or shoot me an email and I'll give you the names of who I like (here in Palm Beach County...I know someone in Hendry...I think Doug Leifert has people in Broward).

When I do go to traffic court...because a family member or close friend who I owe a favor got a ticket...after I get the file from the clerk, I walk over to whatever traffic ticket lawyer is staking out the counsel table and ask them to have a look. The traffic tickets lawyers know the statutes and know what to look for much better than I do.

If there is a mistake with the state statute the officer wrote down (the speeding statute for a state road when it happened on a
county road or a ticket written for turning onto a state road from a highway as opposed to turning from a county road from a state road, for example, and, yes, there are different statutes when you wouldn't think there would be) or some other obvious deficiency with the ticket, the Traffic Magistrate (lawyers who are trained, sworn in and paid a few dollars to judge non-accident, non-criminal tickets) will usually dismiss the ticket. The ticket will also get dismissed if the police officer doesn't show up (unless the court is made aware that the officer has a medical or personal problem and that he or she really wants the case continued). Dismissals for both of the above reasons are very common. Police officers can also dismiss tickets on their own. Here in Florida the police prosecuted the tickets and if the officer doesn't want to prosecute the ticket, it gets dismissed.

When you are stopped, here (in my opinion) is what to do and not to do.

1) Open the driver's window. Turn to your left and grab the top of the car door and wait for the officer to come over. I think that putting your hands in view relaxes the officer and makes it easier for him or her to be nice to you. Cops are afraid of getting shot. There could be a gun in your car and you could be reaching for it. A lot of cops are killed in traffic stops. You don't want to put your hands in the air but, if you make it obvious to the cop walking up to your car that your hands are empty and that you mean him or her no harm, it is bound to help. Don't look for your license until the cop gets to the car, otherwise, what he or she will see is you rooting around looking for something...a gun...or are you just hiding drugs? (I recently ran a stop sign and cut off a Deputy Sheriff at a 2 way stop sign. I stopped when he turned around. I had my hands on the window and when he walked up and I shrugged my shoulders (trying to say with my body language "that was stupid of me"). "Sorry about that Deputy", I said. He laughed, shook his head, walked back to his car and drove away.

2) Call the cop who stops you what he or she is. Call the police "officer"; the Highway Patrol "trooper"; and a deputy sheriff "deputy". They are what they are. A deputy is not an officer (and a trooper certainly isn't) and doesn't appreciate it if you don't know that. Look at their name tag (reading the name tag pretty much assures that the cop who stopped you won't think you are drunk). "Could I just get a warning, Trooper Smith?"

3) Ask for a warning. You are more likely to get it if you ask for it.

4) Be old. Okay, you have no control over this but I have noticed that the older I get, the fewer tickets I get. I still get stopped but when the cops see how old I am they figure I'm just not a threat to anyone, so, why bother writing me a ticket.

5) If you are going to drop names, drop them. I don't do this but, if you are going to, do it RIGHT FROM THE START AND BEFORE the ticket starts getting written. I think the way to go is this:
a) As the cop approaches the car start thinking who you know from his or her department.
b) Say the following (substituting the name(s) you are going to use): "Sgt. Dalingberg would be real happy if you just gave me a warning." Better than this: "My uncle, Capt. Warner, just mentioned you at the BBQ the other day...could you maybe give me a warning, please." Or, "Angela Black, Al Smith, Charlie Davie, and Dick Reeves are all good friends of mine. Could you do me a favor on this one?"
You should, of course, actually know the people whose name you are using. The cop will probably check you out with the people whose names you are dropping. A few years ago, I asked for and got a warning from a local Deputy Sheriff. As he was leaving, I said "do you know if Gary Smith is working today?" I knew Gary was on his unit. I really did want to know if he was working. Even though he didn't know that I knew Gary until after he decided to only give me a warning, he still called Gary to check me out. Gary called me later that day "Yeah" Gary said "I told him you were my lawyer." (Which, I am.)

6) I don't know if it matters that much if you admit that you know why the cop stopped you. Yes, it is an admission that can be used against you in court but if you are doing 90MPH in a 60MPH zone, you are going to look like a shmuck if you claim you have no idea whey you are parked on the side of the highway with red and blue lights flashing in your rear view mirror. How about anwering "Do you know why I stopped you?" with "Sorry about that Deputy." It's not really an admission and the cop won't hate you for being a liar. And, you are sorry. You would have hoped that the cop had better things to do than stop you. I guess you don't have to speak at all but you are almost certain to get a ticket if you give the cop the silent treatment (unless he or she sees your license and you are, for instance, Tom Cruise or Jennifer Aniston).

7) I have seen my wife get out of a ticket for 90MPH in a 70MPH zone. "I'm sorry", she said. (My wife has corrected me, she says that what she told the Trooper was: "I am very sorry."

8) Do hot women get stopped because they are hot? Yes. And while you shouldn't make a date with the cop who stopped you, you should at least be polite and avoid the ticket rather than act nasty (though you do have a right to be nasty, he has abused his power)and land up with a ticket. Life is unfair...don't make it worse.

Have you been to traffic school?
Do you have a bad driving record that is going to be held against you if you hire a ticket lawyer to take care of things for you?

You will pay higher insurance rates if you get points on your license....avoid points if there is any way you can.



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The Lawyer/Client Priviledge---Hunter Mountain, NY 1983? 
Sunday, October 26, 2008, 04:29 PM
Posted by Administrator
Hunter Mountain is about 100 miles north of New York City...the closest there is. It is an unusual ski area in that there are chair lifts everwhere. Most ski areas...looking up from the bottom...have narrow slopes with a lift here and there. Hunter Mountain is laid bare, top to bottom, except for the occaisional stand of trees. There are chair lifts everywhere you look...from top to bottom...from middle to top...from bottom to middle...sideways from right to left...from left to right...anywhere they could fit one. All of this to maximize the number of skiers from Manhattan able to buy a lift ticket and have a reasonable chance of making a few runs (after standing on a lift line for half an hour) on a below zero, windy Sunday in January.

One of the great things about Hunter though is the ice. Go to Vail, for instance, and all you get is mile after mile of thick snow cover. It is almost blissful to ski in the Rockies...back and forth and back and forth...about as much challenge (unless you head for the bumps) as sitting in a Jacuzzi. But Hunter's got patches of ice all over...lose your concentration for a few seconds and you are down hard on your ass.

But, I digress...the subject is the lawyer/client priviledge and one day, about 20 years ago, I was visiting New York and riding up on a chairlift at Hunter with my friend Bob Jones. Bob had graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (down the valley and to the left), the best cooking school in America, a few years before. He had been working in Manhattan cooking for executives. He had found some people with money who wanted to buy a restaurant with him.

So, we rode up on the chairlift and Bob started talking about the deal and he told me "Steve, they even showed me both sets of book." So, okay, I was admitted to the Bar (but it was the Florida Bar and we were in New York) and everything you tell a lawyer is a secret, so, it was okay to tell me that he was buying a business from tax cheats. Was it?

Prospective clients frequently come to see me about a bankruptcy or a divorce and I need to find out about their assets. "Do you own jewelry?", I frequently ask...(really, I'll ask "What kind of jewelry have you got?"...yes/no answers usually don't reveal much and I can usually tell who has jewelry or valuable assets, generally, by looking at their haircut and their clothing and shoes). "Well", the answer goes "nobody knows about it." Okay, but now I know about it.

Here is the priviledge.......
1) Everything you tell me is a secret. If you committed murder last week, that is a secret. I will take it with me to my grave. I will not tell my wife. I will not tell your wife. I will not tell my mother. I will not tell the cops.

2) But, if you tell me (for example) that you have jewelry and you are about to sign a sworn statement in which you say you don't have jewelry (or you don't list the jewelry that you told me you have) there is no priviledge. By lying under oath...and not disclosing the jewelry...you are committing perjury. And I know you are committing perjury so, if I let you sign the sworn statement...or testify in court that you don't own jewelry...or make any sworn statement at all that I know isn't true then there is no priviledge at all. I've got to try to get you to tell the truth..I can't represent you if I know you are lying...and I may have to tell the court that you are lying if you do it in front of me. (Note that the rule for criminal cases is a little different.) BUT, FOR CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASES THERE IS NO PRIVILEDGE FOR FUTURE CRIMES. You tell me you are going to go kill someone tomorrow and I am calling the cops.

Here is an example... I had an injury client a few years ago who owned a Greek restaurant. He had a helper working for him who was an illegal alien. The Defendant's lawyer took his deposition. One of his claims was that he couldn't work at the restaurant like he used to because of his injuries.

At the deposition, the Defendant's lawyer asked: "Do you have anyone helping you at the restaurant." "No", he said.

I told the other lawyer I needed to take my client outside the deposition room and talk to him. Now, this is a very tacky thing to do in my opinion. I have seen lawyers advise their clients at the beginning of their deposition that if they have questions about how to answer a question that I ask they should just tell their lawyer and we will all just stop the deposition and so they can go outside and talk about it. Why? So the lawyer can make up the answer?

I wouldn't do this with my clients. We'll take a break if you need to use the bathroom but you need to answer the questions you are asked truthfully and I'll be paying attention ready to object if the other lawyer asked something that is out of line. On the extremely rare occaision I have had a witness who I am deposing wanting to go outside and talk to their lawyer before answering my question (I really can't stop them from leaving) first, I ask the witness on the record ("on the record" means a court reporter...sometimes just a tape recorder... is taking down what is said) "So, just to make it perfectly clear on the record, you are unable to answer my last question without going outside and talking to your lawyer about it, right?" I think this gets the point across.

Anyway, the other lawyer had no idea why I wanted to take my client outside and figured it was so that I could coach him. And it was to coach him.... to coach him to tell the truth because the ethical rules say that I can't sit there and let a client lie. So, I took him into the hall and told him that he had to tell the other lawyer about his illegal alien employee. I told him to answer the question and not add anything to his answer unless he was asked. Yes, he had an employee...this is what the employee did. I told him nobody cared if the employee was illegal, nobody would call the INS.

We went back inside. The deposition continued. "Do you have anyone helping you at the restaurant?" "No", my client said. Off we went back into the hallway. The other lawyer was getting angry. "I have to do this", I said.

Now, remember, I told my client to answer the question and leave it at that unless he was asked a follow up question. "Do you have anyone helping you?" "Yes", he said. "What does he do for you?" A few (unrelated) questions later it happened. "My employee, he is illegal...please, please, please do not get him deported." My client started to cry.

After the deposition was over, I asked the other lawyer "Were you going to ask if the guy was here legally?" "No", she said "I really don't care."

Okay, here is the rule for criminal cases: If your client tells you that he or she is going to lie on the witness stand you can't help him lie by asking questions directed to helping your client get the story out ("So, what happened next?" "Did you go to the car or did you stay?" "Where was Johnny while this was going on?"...you can't ask questions like this...your client is own his own). All you are allowed to do is sit your client on the witness stand and say, more or less "So, tell the jury what happened." I have never seen this happen at any criminal trial. I have never heard of a lawyer just sitting his or her client on the stand and having them tell their story. So, I am convinced that either criminals never lie or, at least, they are smart enough not to tell their lawyers they are going to lie.

If you have things to hide, you need to consider whether a lawyer is going to risk his or her license to help you lie. (I have had prospective clients ask me to help them lie...give them advise on hiding assets, for instance... for a $1,000 fee...are these people crazy ? Or, are they just contemptous of lawyers?)

Sometimes it is a good idea to keep your mouth shut.

Lawyers (at least the ones I know) are generally honest.



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