Most family members with clients in the criminal system, if they are not already suffering from a mental ailment, will likely soon be. Standing next to a loved one face a traumatic event will almost evitably cause the family member trauma. Plus, many people who end up in the criminal system come from families with "issues." Thus, I wasn't surprised to read this (almost certainly false) attack on a lawyer:
In August of 2003 I hired an attorney along with his partner as co-counsel for my son who was facing a three strikes count. For the next two years the case was continually postponed, and the lead counsel refused calls from myself and my son. The co-counsel disappeared after payment and have not heard from him to this day. Of course my son was found quilty, the lead counsel was not prepared, and said so. If any one has had this same problem, please advise, I have been to the State Bar, and they say this is a case of payment dispute? What dispute, they took my money and did nothing! Remember this name, [redacted]. Learn from my mistake.
Okay. Let's look at this rationally. "For the next two years the case was continually postponed ." This was a very good thing, for at least two reasons. First, delays always benefit the defense. Witnesses die. Memories worsen. It's a very rare case when a long continuance is a bad thing for the defendant. Second, if the client was out on bail, then a long delay is even better. After all, if the evidence against the client was great, then those two years were the last he'd ever have as a free man.
Next: "The lead counsel refused calls from myself and my son." I suspect that the client and his father made several calls a week. If there is nothing new to report (and in a simple case, there are rarely major developments), then what is the lawyer supposed to do when the client won't, after several assurances that there are no new case developments, stop calling?
As for the rest of the e-mail: How can they know whether the lawyer was prepared? What we can know is this, no lawyer is going to tell a rabid father that he was unprepared. All in all, the e-mail was from someone very disturbed.
Yet the lawyer in the case made a huge mistake. He replied to the forum, writing:
Your son was convicted of Child Molestation
Your son was convicted after a jury trial. You cannot possibly believe that we took your money and never showed up to court. That is a flat out lie. Furthermore the State Bar has already ruled in my favor and you should move on with your life. Stop this nonsense or I will sue you for making these defamatory remarks. Your son has already caused you and society enough grief. Move on.
Personally, I think that response in hilarious, and if said in person, totally appropriate. Nowhere in the rules of professional conduct does it say that lawyers must stand by while clients and their familes defame them.
But imagine you're a potential client who reads that post after Googling the firm. Would you be more or less likely to hire that firm?
(Hat tip: Aaron)