Monday, January 7, 2008

The Profession’s Finest On Display

The Widget:

Court: U.S. Supreme Court
Judge: Unsigned
Subject: Effective assistance of counsel
Tone: Understated and illogical
Importance: 5.3

The Second Widget:

Court: First Circuit
Judge: Unsigned
Subject: Dismissal for failure to respond to discovery requests
Tone: Unsympathetic
Importance: 3.4

Two unsigned opinions today remind us that there are a lot of lawyers out there who do lousy work. In Wright v. Van Patten, U.S. Supreme Court No. 07-212, the Court reverses the Seventh Circuit and determines that a defendant is not deprived of his right to effective counsel when his lawyer participates by telephone at a plea hearing. He literally phoned it in. The Court helpfully notes that “a lawyer present will perform better than one on the phone . . . .” And yet they find that phoning it in passes constitutional muster.* Thank you, George W. Bush. This is your Court.

In Malloy v. WM Specialty Mortgage LLC, First Cir. No. 07-1026, the court affirms dismissal of a case in which the plaintiffs’ attorney failed to respond to discovery requests. His excuse? “[P]laintiffs' counsel attributed his delay to his inexperience practicing law, the incompetence of his support staff, and his own deliberate decision to direct his attention to cases of paying clients instead of this pro bono matter.” The plaintiffs’ attorney was somebody named Laird J. Heal. Just so you know.

*Does anybody remember the last time the Court found a lawyer’s conduct violated the Sixth Amendment? Shoot us an e-mail.


Anonymous said...

We heard about Laird J Heal, a lawyer operating from a small town in MA he is inexperienced practicing law, lack of organizational skills,we think MBA should revoke licence to practice law in state of MA

Melissa Smith said...

Thats awful,we spend so much money on lawyers i guess