From the Mailbag

 Posted on January 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

From a Defending People reader's description of his experience with the criminal justice system:

So, I got a good attorney. My bond was $5,000, and I was out for almost a year keeping my nose clean. Then he called me in and announced that he couldn't do anything for me and that I was getting 20 years. I thanked him, asked if we were paid up, he said we were, then I said, Good, I'm going home. What do you plan on doing? I plan on blowing my brains out, what do you think I would do? You are serious, aren't you? You bet, I'm 50, so the likelihood of dying in prison if pretty good and I'd rather die a free man than in prison. WAIT! I'll make some phone calls! You do that, you have my cell number. I left to go home to blow my brains out. I didn't get 3 stop lights away when my cell rang and it was my attorney telling me I could get 5 years. I just had to ask, "I have to threaten to blow my brains out for you to get me this deal, that you couldn't get 10 minutes ago?" Some attorney, huh?

My dad tells the story of a young man who wrote a paper for Henry Kissinger. He delivered it to him, and came the next day to see what Kissinger thought. Kissinger glared at him. "Is this the best you can do?" he asked. Chastised, the young man took the paper back, rewrote it, and returned it to Kissinger. The next day he again went to see what Kissinger thought; again, Kissinger asked him, "Is this the best you can do?" Again, the young man took the paper back. He polished it further and returned it to Kissinger. The next day he visited Kissinger again. "Is this the best you can do?", Kissinger asked. The young man blew up. "Yes, dammit, this is the best I can do," he shouted. "Very well then," said Kissinger, "now I will read it."

Impending death does have a way of motivating one. But it shouldn't be necessary for your client to threaten to off himself to get you to do the best you can for him.

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