Saturday, November 21, 2009
A secondary reason in passing on law school is that the great majority of clients in criminal prosecutions succumb to the plea bargain, and many become informants for the state or federal government; for me that would be a nightmare. An attorney cannot really advise a client not to be an informant or to accept a plea bargain. The attorney is more often limited by prosecutor and bar association restrictions to state the offer that is on the table and list available options. The innocence or guilt of the defendant is usually immaterial. Law is all about weighing the options.
I have known several attorneys that have had their license to practice suspended for no real reason. In each case the only crime committed by the attorney was fervent representation of the client. Do we really need to wonder why many attorneys just push paper and arrange deals with little emotion? Perhaps the need to earn a living enters into the picture, or to prevent their own prison sentence.
As I imagined myself surrounded by clients turned informant, I opted for graduate studies in history. I have been told that I made a wrong choice, though to this day I must still disagree. These days attorneys have little choice except to promote the plea deals offered, and I could never see myself as such a coordinator.
You may be curious as to what this has to do with any aspect of adult business, but the answer is simple: Close to all adult business prosecutions, and any other prosecutions, result in plea deals and there never is a trial. The feds boast that 95% of criminal defendants in federal court plead guilty. The percentage of guilty pleas in state courts varies by state and is slightly less than the federal rate, but it doesn't trail far behind.
Does this mean that close to all arrests are valid and righteous? Not by a long-shot. It means that attorneys state the options and defendants weigh them and make a decision. The U.S. has one of the most fundamentally flawed criminal justice systems in the world. Justice is indeed blind in these United States.
The Lynne Stewart Saga
Disbarred attorney Lynne Stewart's bail was revoked this past week as Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors demanded that she begin serving her 28-month sentence after the ruling was made on her appeal. What was her crime? She zealously defended a very unpopular client during the Bush/Ashcroft era of terror. Lynne Stewart was convicted by a jury in a show trial that rivaled those held by Stalin in the former Soviet Union. Lynne Stewart was betrayed by the system that she dedicated 30 years of her life to and mistakenly held in high esteem. To add insult to injury, the federal appeals court ordered the district court judge to re-sentence her, and the DOJ wants 30 years.
Just never ask me why I didn't go to law school.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The first step is to have the arrest or indictment information assessed by any good criminal attorney, so do not empty your bank account to pay the first attorney that you speak with, or even your longtime attorney. Once you have an idea of the evidence the case is based on, you can make the initial decision as to how you intend to approach it.
If the attorney that reviews the evidence that is presented by prosecutors in early discovery informs you that they've got you cold and the evidence is beyond reproach, then you know that you must choose an attorney that is able to make the best deal for you. On the other hand, if the evidence presented early-on is questionable, you can assume that prosecutors are not holding back the best evidence and what you see is most likely the best hand they've got. As you can see, the second step is entirely dependent on the initial assessment.
Most people have a general idea of how they intend to proceed by the time the first discovery is handed over by prosecutors. To take this a step further, I will go out on a limb here and assume that you know what you've done or haven't done and how you have operated your adult business. You should know if you are guilty as charged, or not.
If you are seeking the best deal possible:
Look for the most known and popular attorney as it is unlikely that this attorney will accept the negative publicity of getting a lousy deal for you, the client. This attorney will argue for you over lunch at the golf club or on just about any other forum. Watch out for attorneys with political aspirations though, or you could end-up on the bad end of a trade – the I'll give you this one if you give me that one type of trade.
If you intend to fight till the end:
If it is a racketeering/organized crime case, the attorney that you choose does not necessarily need to have experience in this area. Sometimes you are better off finding a strong attorney, perhaps a recent law school graduate, that prosecutors will never see coming. Have you ever seen The Devil's Advocate? It is an Al Pacino movie – rent it and watch it for a better understanding. You do want an attorney with some trial experience though, as some people just freeze when talking in a courtroom; this would result in a serious problem for you.
The attorney that you choose must have the time to deal with your case. Most often an organized crime case requires extensive attention. The attorney must also actually listen to you – this is your life and you cannot hand it over to any attorney and just hope for the best. You must play a serious part in the fight for your life, and if you don't, then you'll understand when you lose. Don't dare blame it all on the attorney.
I will always recommend my attorney, and his law offices, from my own criminal case first in any possible list of recommendations; however, I am not so sure that Steve is interested in taking on such a case (organized crime) ever again. I believe that his specialty at this point in life is all other areas of criminal law and DUI trials. Steve has won over 95% of his DUI jury trials over the last five years. Harley has special expertise in the area of police misconduct.
The law office of Stephen Wolverton and Harley Gutin is in Brevard County, Florida, although I will imagine that representation outside of Brevard County is certainly possible. If you are in Florida and need an attorney, this office truly offers aggressive representation; trust me on that. Steve saved my life – and he has no clue that I'm writing this.
Here is a list of attorneys that specialize in the representation of adult business defendants and the contact information for each. I am listing these particular attorneys as I am aware of the record of each in the area of adult business. If an attorney is not listed it is only because I am not aware of them, and not because they are less qualified in any way. I also may be forgetting someone and will add their name later:
Stephen Wolverton, Harley Gutin, Gutin & Wolverton – Cocoa, Florida – (321)633-7337
Steven G. Mason – Orlando, Florida – (407)895-6767
Lawrence G. Walters, Weston, Garrou, Walters & Mooney – Altamonte Springs, Florida – (407)975-9150
J.D. Obenberger & Associates – Chicago, Illinois – (312)558-6420
Stephen L. Laiche, Griff, Larson, Laiche, Brennan & Wright – Grand Junction, Colorado – (970)245-8021
Jeremy Saland, Crotty & Saland – New York, New York – (212)312-7129
Mark Nejame, Nejame, LaFay, Jancha, Ahmed, Barker & Joshi – Orlando, Florida – (407)245-1232
Greg Eisenmenger, Eisenmenger, Berry & Peters – Rockledge, Florida – (321)504-0321