RAISING THE BAR

As I watched Judge perry scold Atty Jose Baez yet again, I kept thinking of the looming probability of a mistrial due to ineffective council becoming increasingly likely as the mistakes he is making are piling up. I kept wondering how someone managed to get their law degree and pass the bar that clearly does not know what the hell he is doing.

There is more to learning to be a lawyer than learning the rule of law and the ethics of the profession. Much like doctors who do residency, lawyers also go through a sort of internship where they get practical experience in the courtroom.

If you watch the trial closely, you will see well dressed ladies and gentlemen sitting in the courtroom just behind the attorneys tables. These are law students that are not only using the courtroom as a classroom but also assisting the defense or prosecuting attorneys as paralegals or interns in return for class credits.

In some cases Law college seniors are picked by law firms to become in house apprentices and be offered a junior partnership within the firm. This is the same path that Jose Baez should have followed during his time in college. It is sort of like driver training for future attorneys.

If Jose Baez took this path, he should have had the foundational experience plus some trial experience that should have prevented the kinds of mistakes he has been making since he was engaged to represent Casey Anthony.

This forces me to wonder if he is, in fact, making these mistakes on purpose. Either he thinks Casey is guilty and is sabotaging his own case in a misguided effort to get  A GUILTY VERDICT. Or, is he forcing a mistrial declared by “falling on the sword?” Is there a book or movie deal in the wings that would pay him to commit such a wanton breech of ethics?  Or is the true answer is that he is the worst lawyer in the Florida Ninth Circuit Court.

Whatever the reason, his actions may give Casey the grounds to go beyond just a mistrial and file a civil lawsuit for legal malpractice.

Although this sort of lawsuit is not common, they are out there.

Legal malpractice is defined under the law as any situation where a lawyer breaches a legal duty he owes you, and where that breach led to damages. This means you will need to prove:

  • Your attorney intentionally or negligently did something no reasonably competent attorney would have done. If your lawyer’s actions were a violation of the Professional Rules of Conduct that govern attorneys, or if they were simply shoddy and careless legal work, then your lawyer can be considered in the eyes of the law to have been negligent.

  • Your attorney’s negligence directly led to some kind of actual damages. This is often the tricky part of a legal malpractice case, since you will need to show that the outcome would have been different had your lawyer been more careful. This is hard to prove because it can be difficult to predict what would have happened in the future. For example, if your lawyer was careless, missed evidence and didn’t prepare properly for trial, you may have lost your case. However, can you prove you would have won your case if your lawyer had been better?

The answer to these questions would depend on how people perceive the actions of Jose Baez to date. At the vary least Judge Perry AND the prosecution are likely to file complaints to the Florida Bar Association. At the least Jose Baez faces sanctions by the bar and could also wind up being fined or go to jail.

It is looking like the epilogue of the trial is going to be more interesting than the trial itself.

Stay Tuned

MURT

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