Happy Anniversary Friends

 Posted on February 13, 2008 in Uncategorized

Scott Greenfield's Simple Justice blog just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Anne Reed's Deliberations celebrated its anniversary on Saturday.

I had a blog back in 2004-2005, when the blawgosphere was young. I posted 17 times between August 2004 and June 2005. Then I quit, figuring that this "blogging" thing would never catch on.

When I resumed blogging in March of 2007, Anne and Scott both seemed like old-timers. I never would have thought that they had been at it for less than six weeks. (Of course, they're both still blawgosphere virgins, compared to CrimLaw's Ken Lammers, who's been blogging since 1973.)

Simple Justice (an ironic title - we're generally scrambling to avoid someone else's idea of justice) and Deliberations, along with Jamie Spencer's Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer blog, gave Defending People some of its first link love. This wasn't because I asked for it but because I linked to their interesting posts.

I could make a full-time job of riffing off of Scott's posts. In the last week he's had two posts about important stories that I might not have heard about elsewhere.

First, The Hidden Risks, about the money-laundering indictment of a Miami criminal-defense lawyer who was paid some $200,000 by Miami criminal-defense lawyer Roy Black to investigate the source of the $5 million fee in a federal criminal case, and to make sure that it was clean money - not proceeds of illegal activity. The lawyer gave the money a clean bill of health, and was then indicted for laundering it.

This is a cautionary tale for lawyers (the Southern District of Florida is the most common source of such tales); here, Roy Black (the lawyer taking the Really Big Fee) did everything right, which kept the feds (who, in that district, tend to aggressively attack competent defense counsel) from charging him with money laundering, but led them to charge his lawyer with that crime.

The other Simple Justice story that caught my attention this week was today's When the Lawyer Fails, about Alexandria, Louisiana lawyer Glenn G. Cortello, who dropped the ball in his client's federal sentencing. He failed to point out to the judge that his client was eligible for the safety valve, which would have allowed the judge to disregard the statutory minimum sentence. So the judge sentenced the client to five years. Until Matthew Sinor, a law student and army buddy of the defendant's, pointed out to the judge that the defendant could benefit from the safety valve. The judge went back and resentenced the defendant to time served (11 days).

Cortello's response to his client's sentence being gutted: Glee? No. Relief? No. Acceptance? No.

Sergeant Lett's defense lawyer, who had been paid $10,000, did not appreciate Mr. Sinor's intercession, which he called "insulting."

"If you think five years was a bad job on my part, then you wanted a magician and not a lawyer," the lawyer, Glenn G. Cortello, wrote to Mr. Sinor in an e-mail message. "When you get out of law school and have practiced criminal law for over 20 years, I'll discuss it with you."

This is the kind of crap that gives lawyers a bad name. Clearly, the law student had something to teach the guy who had been practicing criminal law for over 20 years. Nobody likes to be shown up, but, dammit, if we screw up and our clients suffer because of us, we should be ecstatic to have someone else correct our errors.

(This might also be a lesson in the internet's power over reputation: for time immemorial, potential clients seeking Glenn Cortello in Google are going to find references to this story.)

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