Providence Journal: Defense lawyer found guilty in bribery scheme by Katie Mulvaney:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- In a case that upended the justice system in Rhode Island, a jury on Thursday found criminal defense lawyer Gerard Donley guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice by bribing a witness not to testify against the man who allegedly stabbed him.
The jury deliberated about 13 hours before concluding around 1 p.m. that Donley had colluded with defense lawyer Donna Uhlmann and his client, Jamaal Dublin, to bribe convicted felon Michael Drepaul not to testify. Donley was found guilty of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, bribery and conspiracy.
Based on a lawyer’s advice, plaintiff, a police officer, opened a business that later resulted in him and his wife getting charged with running a gambling operation. His plea to the charge and his wife’s diversion did not nullify the claim. The lawyer had a duty to give correct legal advice, and that was a question for the jury. Winstock v. Galasso, 430 N.J. Super. 391, 64 A.3d 1012 (2013):
It is undisputed that all of this activity Richard Winstock admitted he engaged in occurred after he had retained defendant as his legal advisor. Accepting plaintiffs' version of events in the light most favorable to them, as required under Rule 4:46-2(c), defendant reviewed and approved plaintiffs' business model in his November 23, 2004 legal memorandum. Although defendant's legal opinion may not have absolved Richard Winstock of criminal responsibility for his actions, Mr. Winstock's admission of criminal culpability did not relieve defendant of his duty to provide plaintiffs with legally correct advice.
Even if Richard Winstock's statements before the criminal court were construed as an unequivocal admission that, at the time of his arrest, he was operating a "gambling resort" in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:37-2a(2), such an admission is not dispositive of defendant's potential civil liability to plaintiffs for his alleged incorrect legal advice. See State Farm Fire & Cas. v. Connolly, 371 N.J. Super. 119, 122 (App. Div. 2004). In Connolly, the plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action to determine whether it had a duty to defend and indemnify its insured under a home owner's policy. Ibid. The insured had originally been charged with second degree aggravated assault, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b, which at the time exposed him to a presumptive term of imprisonment of seven years. Ibid. The insured decided to enter into a plea agreement with the State through which he pleaded guilty to third degree aggravated assault, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(7). Ibid. He was sentenced to a five year term of probation. Id. at 123.
NYT: Criminal Defense Lawyer Closes Office to Join a Big Firm by Peter Lattman:
In his celebrated career as a criminal defense lawyer, Gerald Shargel has represented Mafia bosses, corrupt politicians and celebrities in hot water, while trying more than 125 jury trials along the way.
Now, four decades after hanging out his own shingle, Mr. Shargel has closed the law offices of Gerald L. Shargel L.L.P. and on Monday will announce that he is joining the corporate law firm Winston & Strawn as a partner in its New York office.
“I’ve always practiced law on a narrow platform of a sole practitioner,” said Mr. Shargel, 68. “It’s time to try something different and expand my horizons.”
Plain Dealer: Cuyahoga County prosecutor fired after posing as an accused killer's girlfriend on Facebook to try to get alibi witnesses to change their testimony by James F. McCarty, The Plain Dealer:
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cuyahoga County prosecutor was fired this week after he admitted posing as a woman in a Facebook chat with an accused killer’s alibi witnesses in an attempt to persuade them to change their testimony.
Former Assistant County Prosecutor Aaron Brockler insisted in an interview at his Lakewood home Thursday that he had done nothing wrong and shouldn’t have been fired.
"Law enforcement, including prosecutors, have long engaged in the practice of using a ruse to obtain the truth," said Brockler, 35, a county prosecutor since 2006. "I think the public is better off for what I did."
Law.com: Courtroom Audio Raising Concerns in Washington Co. by Ben Present, The Legal Intelligencer:
Lawyers in Washington County have expressed concerns that the installation of a courthouse microphone system aimed at cutting court reporting costs may have compromised attorney-client privilege.
OC Weekly: Federal Prosecutors Win DEA Bribery Case Involving Orange County Defense Lawyer by R. Scott Moxley:
Veteran Orange County criminal defense lawyer Lawrence Anthony Witsoe closed his eyes and remained motionless late this afternoon as a court clerk read a series of guilty verdicts against him in what could go down as one of the dumbest bribery convictions in California history.
FBI bribery probes usually capture greedy, selfish characters and yet more than a week of evidence and testimony inside Santa Ana's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse repeatedly underscored that the low-key Witsoe doesn't fit the mold.
Witsoe had no idea that his bribery option prompted an offended, suspicious Gillis to hire a second attorney before contacting the FBI and then recording damning conversations that proved to be the meat of today's convictions won by federal prosecutors Rob Keenan and Jennifer Waier.
Providence Journal: Defense lawyer accused of bribery opts for a jury trial by Katie Mulvaney:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A defense lawyer accused of bribing a witness has decided to let a jury decide his fate.
Gerard Donley withdrew his bid for a bench trial before Superior Court Judge Robert Krause. Donley initially questioned a jury's ability to understand the intricacies of the law and a criminal defense lawyer's role within that process.
"The right to jury trial is a fundamental right given to citizens under both the U.S. and R.I. Constitutions to determine the facts in a criminal trial," his lawyer Ed Roy said. "Mr. Donley trusts that a jury of citizens will see the truth."
ABAJ: Judge is suspended for jailing lawyer who advised his client to plead the 5th by Debra Cassens Weiss:
A Michigan judge will be suspended for 30 days for jailing a lawyer who asserted his client's Fifth Amendment rights when the judge asked questions about past drug use.
Judge Kenneth Post of Hudsonville will begin the unpaid suspension on May 22, report the Grand Rapids Press, the Associated Press and WoodTV.com. The Michigan Supreme Court said in a ruling on Wednesday that Post had a "failure to be aware that the judicial system is for the benefit of the litigant and the public, not the judiciary." Post also had a "failure to avoid a controversial manner or tone in addressing counsel,” according to the opinion.
Texas Tribune: Texas Prosecutors No Longer Unassailable by Ross Ramsey:
An elected prosecutor used to have one of the most respected jobs at any level of Texas government.
District attorneys were often big personalities — the courtroom muscle of the criminal justice system, the people showing up on TV to play out the real-life version of “truth, justice and the American way.”
. . .
But a strange thing is happening in the impervious ranks of high-profile Texas prosecutors. That cachet is taking a beating.
One prosecutor is in jail. A former district attorney is facing charges related to sending an innocent man to jail. One county spent nearly $400,000 settling a sexual harassment charge against its DA. Another prosecutor is fighting contempt of court charges after refusing to testify in a prosecutorial misconduct inquiry.
Law.com: Client Identities, Legal Bills Can Be Disclosed, High Court Says by Gina Passarella:
Client identities do not enjoy blanket attorney-client privilege protection under Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law, the state Supreme Court has ruled. The case stems from a request by an Associated Press reporter for legal bills related to the Pennsylvania Senate's hiring of attorneys to represent former state Senator Robert J. Mellow and other Democratic caucus employees.
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"A lawyer shall represent a client zealously within the bounds of
—§ 1:1, Rule 3(a) (not "should" from CPR Canon 7)
"I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were
born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father is one of them."
—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, ch. 22, p. 197 (1960)
"The very premise of our adversary system of criminal justice is that partisan
advocacy on both sides of a case will best promote the ultimate objective that
the guilty be convicted and the innocent go free."
—Herring v. New York, 422 U.S. 853, 862 (1975)
"The right to the effective assistance of counsel is thus the right of the
accused to require the prosecution's case to survive the crucible of meaningful
adversarial testing. When a true adversarial criminal trial has been conducted
... the kind of testing envisioned by the Sixth Amendment has occurred. But
if the process loses its character as a confrontation between adversaries, the
constitutional guarantee is violated."
—United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 655-56 (1984)
"The only real lawyers are trial lawyers, and trial lawyers try cases to juries."
"The right to offer the testimony of witnesses, and to compel their attendance,
if necessary, is in plain terms the right to present a defense, the right to
present the defendant's version of the facts as well as the prosecution's to
the jury so it may decide where the truth lies. Just as an accused has the right
to confront the prosecution's witnesses for the purpose of challenging their
testimony, he has the right to present his own witnesses to establish a defense.
This right is a fundamental element of due process of law."
—Washington v. Texas, 388 U.S. 14, 19 (1967)
"[T]he Constitution guarantees criminal defendants 'a meaningful opportunity
to present a complete defense.'"
—Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 690 (1986) (quoting California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 485 (1984)).
"[O]ur so-called adversary system is not adversary at all; nor should it be.
But defense counsel has no comparable obligation to ascertain or present the
truth. Our system assigns him a different mission. He must be and is interested
in preventing the conviction of the innocent, but, absent a voluntary plea of
guilty, we also insist that he defend his client whether he is innocent or guilty.
... [A]s part of our modified adversary system and as part of the duty imposed
on the most honorable defense counsel, we countenance or require conduct which
in many instances has little, if any, relation to the search for truth."
—Justice White concurring and dissenting in U.S. v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 256-58 (1967)
We, as criminal defense lawyers, are forced to deal with some of the lowest
people on earth, people who have no sense of right and wrong, people who will
lie in court to get what they want, people who do not care who gets hurt in
the process. It is our job–our sworn duty–as criminal defense lawyers,
to protect our clients from those people.