Finding and Using a Lawyer to Win
Copyright (C) 7 May 2014 by Bob Hurt. All rights reserved. Distribute freely.
Disclaimer for idiots: this is an academic, personal opinion commentary. Do not construe it as legal advice. Consult a competent lawyer (good luck finding the right one) in all questions of law and legality.
In Case You Wondered…
The so-called “patriot” community contains a lot of charlatans and earnest truth seekers. “Patriot Myth Mongers” cause untold damage to others who want to learn how to prevail in a struggle against con artists, thieves, crooks, malfeasors, and abusers. They dream up nonsense about redemption, accepted for value, birth certificate bonds, defeating taxes with a 1099-OID, civil liens against judges, and stupidest of all, attorneys you cannot trust because they swore an oath to the Queen of England.
One thing seems certain to me. Lawyers, as humans, do protect their self interest, do have human vices and addictions, and have no more trustworthiness than a hired gunfighter. They are, in fact, nothing more or less than hired gunfighters. People with no knowledge or skill in legal matters hire lawyers to fight their legal battles for them. Court battles have become the civilized substitute for combat with fists, knives, guns, and drones. Kids don’t learn the law and litigation practice in high school. So, our society needs lawyers.
The Supreme Courts and Bar organizations try to keep lawyers honest and righteous, but lawyers get greedy or desperate, arrogant or angry, stupefied on drugs and drink, and they shipwreck their lives just like other professionals sometimes do. So you cannot trust them to know what they should OR to do a good job. But…
US Lawyers do NOT swear oaths to the Queen or any foreign power. They swear the bar oath (see attestation below), bar regulations bind them somewhat to ethical performance, and you should demand and encourage them to operate accordingly.
Some lawyers operate better or worse than others, but lawyers are not stupid unless they suffer from brain anomalies or abuse substances that make them stupid. Lawyers generally have good educations, good intelligence, and a good work ethic. I believe a lawyer needs at least 115 IQ to make it through college and law school and pass the bar exam. And each has sworn to support the constitutions of the State and the US.
All of that means hiring a lawyer gives most people a better chance of winning legal combat than fighting it on their own.
What Makes You a Good Client
When I help people identify the nature of injuries others have inflicted upon them, they often ask me how to find a lawyer to help them in the case. Generally I know the prospect has no competence in the law, a subject on which all primary educators should focus. And the question brings several problems to mind:
- Finding a lawyer with all of these characteristics
- competence and winning record in the area of concern (the MOST important)
- affordable (or will work on contingency or free)
- good work ethic
- timely (not overloaded with clients or case work)
- honest (will not overbill you, lie to you, mislead you, do slippery deals behind your back, ruin your reputation with the judge, promise services and not deliver)
- Has malpractice insurance
Client having a just cause worth all the effort and cost
Client litigation management competence – having the ability to police the case and make sure the lawyer does the job and does not miss critical events of deadlines
Client able and willing to pay as agreed
Client having the mental and physical stability for the ordeal
Client having the requisite support of family and friends I say if you don’t have all of the above things in order, you thereby beg for trouble in the case and set yourself up to lose. Most people reading this do so too late. Most don’t think to prepare for the litigation challenges they will have in life.
How to Get Prepared
Try to see this in proper perspective. In our civilization we have no guarantee that we won’t become embroiled in a national war that will destroy lives and property in and out of the country. We have no guarantee that a drunk or drugged driver will not run us down, or vice versa, or that a mugger will not knock us out and steal our wealth, or that spouse won’t run off with a stranger and the kids or pillage the bank account and waste it on gambling, or become addicted or disabled and need special care, or that we won’t get sued or get into an unavoidable fistfight or gun battle to defend our families, or that a natural disaster like hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or flood won’t drive us out of hour home.
But we know that these challenges do arise for ourselves and others, and we become fools by not preparing for them, for we know that “good luck” happens when opportunity meets preparation.
How shall we prepare? We can
- work hard and smart,
- save 20% in a cash reserve,
- have a safe house,
- have a passport and prepaid tickets abroad,
- have several sources of income,
- have a sensible escape and survival plan and resources,
- choose healthy, strong, sane, humane, “ready” mates, friends, and associates,
- stay out of unnecessarily risky situations,
- become proficient in self-defense, hand-to-hand combat, weaponry, and combat strategy and tactics,
- have a couple of go-to attorneys available,
- have a last will and testament in safe hands,
- have assets in one or more impenetrable trusts,
have a reserve of precious minerals in case cash becomes worthless,
- have a working knowledge of emergency medical care and foods/herbs that heal,
- have a stash of non-perishable food,
- have weaponry for protection,
- have an home impenetrable and under personal surveillance, and
- have a round knowledge of litigation practice, evidence code, and rules of civil and criminal procedure.
Do you have all that? How many of us DO have it all? I’d say few. Most of us live risky lives.
So when we have to prepare suddenly, we know it will become a tough, tiring, emotionally draining task, and it will cost us, and if we don’t have the money, we’ll have to do the work ourselves.
How to Find a Competent Attorney
I deal with litigation and wealth strategies more than anything else, and that’s why people come to me with questions and problems. Aside from understanding the situation and developing a game plan, they have one central difficulty: finding a decent attorney to help them get out of trouble and stay out, or to cause legal trouble for someone who caused wrongful injury to them. I suggest this method for finding a good lawyer.
- Realize that many lawyers specialize in areas other than your area of interest. Such lawyers might help you, but most won’t. So don’t ask those lawyers for help. Find out the area of interest of the lawyer before taking the lawyer’s time to discuss your case.
- Go to Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com
- Select Case Law
- Select your state’s appellate courts if a state issue or federal courts and circuit if a federal issue. Note that I suggest searching for cases in your lower state appellate or state supreme court area first.
- Click Done
- Now type in your search term like
- police misconduct
- police abuse
- warrantless search
- dui dwi or drunk driving
- reckless driving
- breach of contract
- mortgage fraud
- appraisal fraud
- loan application fraud
- medical malpractice
- legal malpractice
- tortious conduct
- fraudulent inducement
Note that you might not know the best term for a search, and in that case you might need to use general Google searching in an effort to find the most popular terminology for an issue. You could call a local law college law library and ask the librarian for suggestions.
The search engine will display an array of cases for the search term and courts you entered. Select these one at a time and look for the ones that most closely match the issue of your concern. Notice the outcome and who won. Notice the names of the attorneys involved.
You might also look in the most recent issue of the Florida Litigation Guide (or Florida Causes of Action) for the area that fits your situation, take note of the associated case law, look up the cases and attorneys involved, and take note of the winners.
Call the winning attorney and ask for help in your case.
If you cannot find one, contact the local (county) bar and ask for some referrals.
When interviewing the lawyer, ask the questions in the below Attestation to Client, and don’t hire the lawyer who fails to give you satisfactory answers.
Make sure the lawyer shows you convincing evidence of having won cases like yours in the past – ask for the lawyer’s pleadings and court opinions, and read them carefully. Don’t hire a lawyer who stonewalls you or tries to pull the wool over your eyes.
How to Keep Yourself and Your Lawyer Out of Trouble
Once you have a lawyer, you can follow some rules to keep yourself out of trouble with the lawyer or because of the lawyer.
- Never assume the lawyer knows or believes something or understands or knows what you need and want you unless you have verified that he knows it. Never assume YOU know what the lawyer needs or wants from you until you have asked and the lawyer has told you orally or in writing. Tell the lawyer what you need and want, and make sure he knows it and agrees with it.
- Never give the lawyer or the court original documents unless needed as proofs and the lawyer promises in writing to return it, or unless you accompany it. Give COPIES ONLY.
- Create a written record (log) of every related document you send or receive, every phone call, every visit, and every conversation. You might consider wearing an audio/video recorder in eyeglasses or pocket pen/brooch for to record your interactions with the lawyer and anyone else connected to your case.
- Make a weekly copy of the clerk’s docket and any new documents filed in your case, and photograph or get a copy of everything in your evidence file. Important things can go missing, so check periodically to see that nothing has gone missing, and complain to the clerk and judge if it does, and demand that the court sanction file criminal charges against whoever alters documents or evidence items or removes them without returning them.
- Make certain that you have a copy in your files of everything in the lawyer’s files, and that the lawyer knows everything he did not develop belongs to you and will give it up to you when you demand it. Clarify this in writing before hiring the lawyer.
- Take time to study and learn the rules of evidence and procedure and judicial administration, and keep track of the timing of past, present, and future events in your case. Always be ready for events and an hour EARLY for court.
- Don’t do anything on your own that has a remote chance of adversely affecting your case UNLESS you inform your lawyer and get his rationale and approval. Otherwise you could jeopardize your chance of winning.
- Consider hiring a litigation consultant to coach your lawyer, make sure the lawyer does the right things, help the lawyer win for you, and inform you if the case starts going wrong. Look at http://lawpartneroncall.com, for example.
- Remember that one and only one person bears ultimate responsibility for the progress of your case and the performance of your team: YOU.
Tools You Should Have Anyway
Your lawyer, a human, might die in a car crash, become really sick, or run off to Tahiti with the legal assistant to learn French. If that happens, you will need to pick up where the lawyer left off. To that end, you should start learning the following, RIGHT NOW.
- Florida Evidence Code
- Florida Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure
- Florida Rules of Judicial Administration
- Florida Practice and Procedure by Henry Trawick
- Florida Causes of Action by Marc A. Wites
- Other rules of court
- Local court rules
Attorney Attestation to Client
Ask your attorney to answer these questions, and note the answers.
- I (am / am not) currently licensed by the Florida Supreme Court as an attorney and counselor at law in Florida courts.
- I (am / am not) a member in good standing of the Florida Bar.
- I (do / do not) acknowledge my status as officer of the court and, in accordance with Article VI of the U.S. Constitution and Article II Section 5(b) of the Florida Constitution affirm my oath of admission to the Florida Bar, to wit: “I do solemnly swear: I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida; I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers; I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land; I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law; I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my clients, and will accept no compensation in connection with their business except from them or with their knowledge and approval; I will abstain from all offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged; I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice. So help me God.”
- I (am / am not) protected by surety bond / malpractice insurance $____________. (Carrier info attached)
- I (shall / shall not) accept ______________________________ (“Client”) as my law client in exchange for fee, in accordance with separate agreement which shall not supersede any provisions of this Attestation.
- I (shall / shall not) in my relationships with Client, the Courts and its officers, abide by my oath above by giving my first loyalties, without compromise, to the Constitutions of the US and Florida and law pursuant thereto, to securing Client’s constitutionally guaranteed rights, and to abiding by the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar .
- (shall / shall not) in the tasks for which Client has retained me fulfill my promises to Client, be punctual, answer Client’s questions truthfully, aggressively advocate Client’s cause, defend Client’s rights guaranteed by the relevant Constitutions and laws pursuant thereto, bill fairly and only for actual services rendered, treat retainers as advance pay for services, and ensure that my employees and subcontractors fully support me in that effort.
- I (shall / shall not) refund Client’s fees for any portion of work for which Client hired me that I fail to perform substantially with high quality, diligence, and integrity.
- I (shall / shall not) hand over to Client upon Client’s request, and retain none of: all originals, copies, and derivatives of information provided to me by Client, other than items of public record, and all unused retainer money.
- This attestation (does / does not) supersede all contrary assertions except by specific written reference to one or more provisions herein, acknowledged in writing by Client.
- I have worked _____________ cases like Client’s case and won ___________ (__________%) of them.
Regarding Lawyer Loyalties
Lawyers should remain loyal first and foremost to the court. The reasoning behind this boils down to a solemn belief that the court’s primary interest is justice and equity in comportment with the constitutions and the laws, regulations, and rules that descended from them. UNFORTUNATELY, the human officers of the court, and their seniors, often have masters OTHER than the Constitution, the laws pursuant thereto, equity, and the common good. That means you, the litigant, cannot trust them any more than you can trust your attorney. Higher courts can cheat you out of justice too, so appeals won’t necessarily avail you of any benefit.
Thus, you cannot believe the substance of the loyalty oaths all of them have sworn. In the end, if they contrive or conspire to deprive you of equity and justice in favor of some other loyalty or to threats and bribes, YOU will still have lost in spite of their high-sounding rhetoric. So when the going gets bad, you want your lawyer to remain loyal to you, not to them. If you ever doubt this, you need to clear it up in a come-to-Jesus meeting with the lawyer, and dump the lawyer who gives loyalty to you short shrift.
You must remain aware that the law means only what the highest court of competent jurisdiction says it means in its opinions. ANYTHING you do that causes the court rule in your favor puts the LAW ON YOUR SIDE. So, assuming you have the most just cause, you must do whatever becomes necessary to get the court to rule in your favor. That includes behaving with the highest integrity and sense of fairness, and then, figuratively speaking, hitting your adversary in a crippling blow below the belt with all your might.
You can expect your adversary to use every available artifice, ruse, rule violation, outright lie, and dirty trick to beat you. You must insist that your counsel hammer the court for sanctions and contempt citations to punish an unruly adversary.
In a legal battle your first loyalty goes to your OWN cause, and you must marshal all your resources, legal advocates, witnesses, and champions in that effort to win for your cause.
I generally want people to know that a lot of pieces must fall into place in order to prevail in a battle against smart, tough, organized opponents. It simply won’t suffice to have a meritorious case. You need good timing, and legal skills, even with a lawyer doing the work for you. Otherwise you cannot monitor the lawyer and pick up where he left off if he abandons you. And you need a competent lawyer, or you need to develop the competence yourself. You must possess the financial resources to hire and the time to manage the lawyer. And you must keep records expressly for the purpose of proving what happened if things go wrong, so as to minimize the negative impact.
Human life and related struggles in our society on our world do not come easy for the stupid, the ignorant, the feckless, or the indolent. Otherwise, the Creator would have put puppies here to live it for us.
The law of survival of the fittest still applies. Become and remain “fittest” if you want to survive well.