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  #61  
Old 11-30-2007, 09:16 PM
El Diablo El Diablo is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

HT,

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/10/H8XP.html

Joe says [censored] YOU FATBOY, I HAVE 1.4 BILLION DOLLARS
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  #62  
Old 11-30-2007, 09:19 PM
Howard Treesong Howard Treesong is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

[ QUOTE ]
HT,

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/10/H8XP.html

Joe says [censored] YOU FATBOY, I HAVE 1.4 BILLION DOLLARS

[/ QUOTE ]

Just so. I didn't say Jamail wasn't rich -- he made, I think, his first 300 million on a contingency fee in Texaco v. Pennzoil. Still, he's an ass. His questioning really is out of line, and his posturing rudeness is just disgusting.
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  #63  
Old 11-30-2007, 10:29 PM
Adebisi Adebisi is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

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I think this has much more to do with the fact that prosecutors are largely overwhelmed and thus only choose to prosecute cases they think they can win, and plea everything else.

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So, if criminal defendants stopped entering into plea bargains with prosecutors, you think the conviction rate would go WAY down? Why don't more people just take their chances at trial? If a defendant has 10% chance of getting 5 years and a 90% of walking, why would he accept any plea that would give him a criminal conviction on his record for the rest of his life?

It just seems like something is really off with the system. The notion that it would be better for 100 guilty men to go free than for 1 innocent man to go to jail seems to have disappeared completely from our court system.
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  #64  
Old 11-30-2007, 11:51 PM
Howard Treesong Howard Treesong is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

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I'm considering hiring a professional malpractice lawyer to recover damages from my CPA. What should I be looking out for in terms of deciding whether to go forward, selecting a lawyer, etc.

I believe my agreement with my CPA states that we must go through arbitration in case of any disagreement. Do you think that I am likely to get a fair shake in arbitration?

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I've had mixed experiences with arbitration but am generally down on it. I tend to take great care in selecting an arbitrator and in your case would want to make sure he's not an industry captive. I thought the quality of arbitration in an NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) I did was very poor; our ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) arbitrator was excellent.

If I were in your shoes, I'd think very seriously before I initiated a claim. Magnitude is obviously important, but causation equally so. Litigation of any type is rarely as clean-cut as it first appears, is full of heartache, stress, and is only occasionally worthwhile. I know these are general observations, perhaps bordering on platitudes.
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  #65  
Old 11-30-2007, 11:58 PM
Howard Treesong Howard Treesong is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
I think this has much more to do with the fact that prosecutors are largely overwhelmed and thus only choose to prosecute cases they think they can win, and plea everything else.

[/ QUOTE ]

So, if criminal defendants stopped entering into plea bargains with prosecutors, you think the conviction rate would go WAY down? Why don't more people just take their chances at trial? If a defendant has 10% chance of getting 5 years and a 90% of walking, why would he accept any plea that would give him a criminal conviction on his record for the rest of his life?

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes, although your premise is unrealistic. As prosecutors got even busier than they already are, they'd offer better-quality deals to defendants, giving defendants more incentive to accept pleas. Prosecutors would probably get a bit sloppier as they had even less time to prosecute cases that they do try. And it's not possible for criminal defendants to organize in the way you suggest for zillions of reasons. But in theory, I think you're right.

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It just seems like something is really off with the system. The notion that it would be better for 100 guilty men to go free than for 1 innocent man to go to jail seems to have disappeared completely from our court system.

[/ QUOTE ]

I don't think there's much of that principle that exists now, if it ever did. And while it's appealing at some level, I'm not sure it's right, given the additional crimes that those 100 free guilty guys are likely to commit.
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  #66  
Old 12-01-2007, 12:12 AM
Howard Treesong Howard Treesong is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

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Howard, how much of current US legal system is unnecessary? For instance, the complexity of the tax code creates the need for complex tax shelter, etc. If they simplified the tax code, they could avoid a lot of the tax legal system probably without giving up too much (at least in some places). So would you agree that our society would not be much worse off if we simplified our legal system in some ways? If so, what ways would that be and how much of it do you think could be simplified?

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Being a libertarian nutter, I'm right with you here. The tax code is horrifically complicated; federal acquisition regulations (called "FAR") are perhaps as bad. They're dense, abstract, onerous and ambiguous. I don't know the overall costs for compliance with these and other regulations except to say that the number is massive -- and much of it the senseless result of partisan politics.

One anecdote, however, illustrates the idiocy of government regulation. In its wisdom, the FDA implemented a regulation saying that juice manufacturers could claim "no sugar added" on their products so long as the added sugar wasn't cane sugar. My client promptly started buying grapes and stripping them down to raw sugar and adding that. Voila! From a health perspective, my understanding was that grape juice concentrate is no different than cane sugar, and it was certainly no different from a taste perspective. But the stuff could then be marketed entirely differently. Taste and health profile was the same, but the cost was quite a bit higher.

I got involved because the client needed a southern-hemisphere source of grapes to ensure a year-round supply, and entered into a contract with an Argentinian company. The Argentine guys then promptly defrauded my client out of many millions of dollars and shipped product that was fermented. Litigation and many amusing war stories ensued.

I have no idea how to quantify the problem, however -- and this is just a tiny, tiny example.
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  #67  
Old 12-01-2007, 12:15 AM
Howard Treesong Howard Treesong is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

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LOL. I just realized you weren't Howard Beale. I though a lawyer would know how to handle a thieving kid a little better.

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Very nice. Beale is an old RGPer and I certainly know of him from there, but I wasn't aware of the his problems with a thieving kid. I'm surprised he hasn't asked for advice from his local Asian massage parlor.

I think this may be the first time I've ever been confused for Howard Beale.
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  #68  
Old 12-01-2007, 12:21 AM
Howard Treesong Howard Treesong is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

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My opinion: Dickie Scruggs is a massive scumbag. Your thoughts?

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Let's just say that I thought his position on the Katrina cases was horrible for our society in the long run. Contracts and the certainty of obligations really do matter. Insurance companies are no shining lights -- and I dislike many of the players in that industry -- but I thought Scruggs' position simply ignored critical limations in insurance contracts and was tantamount to theft. I don't know him personally nor do I know anyone that does. If he's guilty of the conduct charged in the indictment then he is absolutely a scumbag.

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Hypothetical: Let's say I get pulled over by the cops and they want me to do the DUI dance. I had two beers but I know I am under the .08 BAC limit. Do I dance or do I demand to be taken down to the station for a blood test?

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I'm a total layman on this issue. I think my own inclination would be to go for the blood test, on the theory that it's most likely to be accurate (as compared to breathalyzer or the dance). But this precise issue is why I call a car service when I'm drunk.
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  #69  
Old 12-01-2007, 12:26 AM
Adebisi Adebisi is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

[ QUOTE ]
Yes, although your premise is unrealistic. As prosecutors got even busier than they already are, they'd offer better-quality deals to defendants, giving defendants more incentive to accept pleas.

[/ QUOTE ]

I was thinking more about the individual level than the systemic level here. You seemed to be saying before that prosecutors tend to enter into plea agreements in the cases that they are most unlikely to win at trial. Even if the plea deal encompasses very little jail time (or even none), the lifelong stigma of having a criminal conviction on one's record should push toward more defendants "gambling" on a trial. Obviously this doesn't apply to people that already have criminal records (maybe these people constitute a huge portion of criminal defendants?), but it just seems that from a game theory/economic perspective, something is WAY off in the criminal justice system. Somehow, the game is rigged.
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  #70  
Old 12-01-2007, 12:30 AM
Howard Treesong Howard Treesong is offline
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Default Re: Ask Howard Treesong About Law or Lawyering

[ QUOTE ]
From what I've seen, lawyering seems to be nothing more than oration, trying to make the worse argument the better, to flatter the jury, to win an argument with little regard for truth. Why should anyone respect lawyers?

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Oration is the visible tip of a much deeper and more complicated iceberg. Good lawyering involves finding out and understanding facts, doing accurate risk assessment, and organizing highly complex processes. Truth matters quite a bit, although the adversarial process isn't necessarily the best way to root it out. In my case, I'm not a high-charisma guy, and typically rely on more thorough and careful analysis to carry the day. That's also why I was mostly a defense lawyer. If I had to characterize in very very broad strokes, I'd say the plaintiffs' bar rates higher in charisma, while the defense bar rates higher on the analysis scale. That's certainly not a universal truth, of course.

At the edges, your criticisms have merit. At root, I don't think they accurately reflect what most litigators do, setting aside all the other types of lawyers out there.
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