by Tina Seymour Demoran, Esquire
Recently, I read about a person who had been arrested for resisting arrest when the police arrived at his home to serve him with an arrest warrant.
More specifically, he was charged with biting not one, but two, police officers.
The first question that hit my brain was, “who would bite another person, unless there was some motive for doing so?”
A few hours later, as I was taking Chrissy, my lab/hound mix pup out for her afternoon walk, I again asked myself, “To bite, or not to bite? What is the motivation?”
I know, it was a rather unprofessional way to look at it…but it started me thinking…which, I admit, can be a very dangerous thing.
I realized that if I had been presented with this case and bit, in other words, took this case, or gave it to one of the attorneys in the firm, that I would at least need to know WHY?
Why is he being charged with said crime, and if he actually did bite the police officers, why would he feel the need to bite them?
My fellow attorneys would agree, WHY is one of the main reasons we take cases.
Why did this person state that the contractor did not finish the job in the agreed-upon manner?
Why is this couple getting divorced?
Why did this person decide to back out on a deal?
Why does this person feel wronged?
Why am I the best attorney for this case?
Then, we have to dig into the actual facts of the case and look to see if it’s a case we feel competent to handle…and if it is a case we can defend.
An old saying I learned in law school went a bit like this: “If the facts are against you, argue the law that supports your case. If the law is against you, argue the facts that support your case. If both are against you, call the other lawyer names.”
Yes, a humorous saying, but part of it is very true. (no, not the name-calling part)
Your entire case hinges on the laws and the facts of the case.
But if the facts and the law are both against you, then as a responsible attorney, you will usually turn the case down.
I’m not going to take a client’s money, just to go in and watch them lose a case that I know they are going to lose.
I turn down several cases a week, and tell potential clients that I do not see how we can sue and win or counter and defend their case.
Occasionally, I will still take the case, if I think I can negotiate out a settlement that will at least lessen the damage that my client faces.
Most of the time, I have to be brutally honest with them, and decline the case.
Sometimes, I don’t take a case, due to the fact that it is not an area of law that I practice.
In other words, I don’t bite.
In each circumstance, I tell them WHY I won’t take the case, and even give them the names of other local attorneys, if they feel they need a second opinion or to talk to an attorney who actually practices in that area.
I’m okay with that.
It takes an arrogant attorney to assume we know everything and we are right in every circumstance.
So, going back to that original question….”To bite or not to bite?”…I guess this week’s legal perusing is that I wanted to give you a little insight into what we, as lawyers, see when we look at your case.
We are the emotionally uninvolved parties…and this is a good thing.
You want us to defend you with our brains…and not our dramatics.
Trust me, passion and dramatic displays are two very different things when it comes to the courtroom.
Passion shows in how effectively you want to ensure your client has a fighting chance in the courtroom…overly dramatic displays are merely a show…usually put on to overcome serious weaknesses in a case.
I call that an “Over Bite.” (Yes, I crack myself up sometimes. ha)
One of my favorite sayings is also this, “When they get personal, I know I’ve won. That means they have nothing left to put on the table.”
Sometimes we will take a case…sometimes we don’t.
It has nothing to do with you as a person or a potential client.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t like you.
It merely means that we either feel like another attorney is a better fit for the case, or that taking your money for a case that is unwinnable is not ethical on our part.