Trust Your Lawyer

Posted on Friday, May 01, 2009 at 12:00PM
Posted by Andy Schlenker

For the benefit of the client, each attorney/client relationship must be built upon trust and confidence. In the absence of such, the attorney’s job becomes much more difficult to carry out.

Imagine that one day you begin your shift by responding to a burglary. Upon arrival, it becomes apparent that the victim knows more about how you should handle the crime than you do.

Of course, other than watching some popular crime-solving television shows, the victim has neither the training nor the experience needed in the circumstances. Nevertheless, the victim provides their conclusion as to how the crime occurred, why the thief took what they did, and directs you on what you need to fingerprint.

Upon your attempts to explain your differing viewpoint (e.g., the inability for you to lift a latent print from a coarse piece of sandpaper), they become irate, mistrusting, and difficult.

This provides the atmosphere in which you must conduct your investigation. Next, you respond to a vehicle accident scene. There, you find the involved parties and the ever-so-helpful citizens who stopped to help.

You know the helpful ones because they are the ones that promptly tell you the medical condition of the parties and the first aid you need to provide (of course they have no medical training), how the accident happened even though they were nowhere around, and demand the driver be arrested (They, too, become incensed when you do not follow their directions.)

Now, imagine you are a lawyer with a public-safety-officer client walking into your office. The client has been notified that they are the subject of an investigation

You, as the lawyer, have years of experience representing peace officers. Likely, the client is perhaps one out of hundreds of cases you have handled.

Not only are you well-trained and well-experienced in the POBOR, and related case-law (including pending case law), but you also possess the necessary experience to know how, when, and whether to employ the various legal remedies available. Nevertheless, the client demands that you immediately acknowledge that a POBOR violation has occurred and questions your competence when you do not agree that the case should immediately be dismissed.

Imagine, further, that your client provides you with certain relevant facts pertaining to the case and perhaps the POBOR violation. Later, when you are at the Skelly hearing, you make the appropriate judgment call to withhold certain pieces of information because, strategically, you sense that you will get more mileage out of using it during a later proceeding, when it might hold more weight.

Your client vehemently disagrees with your decision and argues that you were wrong and accuses you of forgetting the facts and of being “unprepared.” The client then begins to question your competence, and after they talk to their friends and get numerous “second-opinions,” they begin to truly doubt whether you have their best interest at heart. Lawyers, by personality, always want to win. Our panel attorneys are the best in the business. They know the law and have a vast level of experience in strategically applying the law to each and every case.

They have behind-the-scenes knowledge about hearing officers and decisions rendered in other cases. They have every incentive to employ the strategies necessary to do the best for their client.

Often, the victims or the clients are undergoing such stress and excitement, they forget to trust the professionals to do their job effectively. When this happens, it just makes the professional’s job harder.

Your job as the client is to cooperate with your attorney, and remember that they are the professionals who have proven themselves time and time again to have the knowledge and experience to provide our members with the highest level of representation. I request that you allow them to do their job, and trust that they are making the best informed and most intelligent choices to get you the best result.

If you do have questions about what they did, or why they did not do something, ask them. Before obtaining 23 “lay – second opinions,” listen to your lawyer’s answers.

I would presume that most of the time, you will come to understand and appreciate the lawyer for the experience and intelligence they bring to the table. We have carefully chosen our panel attorneys for their knowledge, skills, and experience. We ask that you trust them in handling your case in the best, most effective manner possible.

PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.