Friday, June 18, 2010

Next Witness, Counselor . . . What, Your Lawyer's Been What . . .?

That's right the final witness was on the stand in a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (Ohio) trial on Attempted rape charges when the Ohio Supreme Court suspended the defense attorney Gerald T. Noel for two years according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch.  There's no indication on how the case was going, but while I'm sure this was an incredible inconvenience for the court, the jury, and participants, it may turn out to have been a lucky break for the defendant since the suspension was essentially for incompetence in prior legal matters handled by attorney Noel.  This is from John Futty and James Nash's story:

The final witness was on the stand yesterday when a judge halted the trial of a Columbus man accused of attempted rape because his attorney wasn't supposed to be practicing law. Judge Kimberly Cocroft of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court called a recess after the prosecutor's office told her that the Ohio Supreme Court had suspended the law license of Gerald T. Noel Jr. that morning.  Cocroft scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. Monday to determine the next step, which could be a mistrial. She sent jurors home without telling them the reason for the recess. It might have been the first time a trial in Ohio was disrupted by a lawyer's suspension, said Bruce Campbell, who has been counsel for the certified grievance committee of the Columbus Bar Association since 1988.

Noel was defending Vincent R. Griffin, 51, who is charged with attempted rape, felonious assault, kidnapping and abduction. The jury was seated Monday and began hearing testimony Tuesday.  The Supreme Court suspended Noel's license after two other clients complained that he had botched their cases. The court also said he ignored requests for information from the Bar Association and the court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel about his dealings with the two clients.
______________________
The visual I have here, is of the Rapture--and I'm not trying to be cute.  It's like you're going along in life and you're bodily lifted from the world.  It's a little bit like how I felt, yesterday as I was leaving my job.  I rode the elevator down with an older lawyer, Bobby Bottomfeeder with whom I had had a difficult matter a number of years ago.  Bottomfeeder eyed me warily while chatting with his associate and a secretary.  When we reached the lobby, I let the three of them exit the elevator and I followed behind.  The senior lawyer, now with his back to me, launched into telling the associate, "did you see that guy [me] on the elevator . . .?"  It was if I were dead. 

It is an interesting sensation to be removed bodily from your profession, it must be incredibly bizarre to be mid-trial when it happens. 

Near the end of my active law practice and as I related, here, on Bad Lawyer, I was involved in a workers' compensation defense for a food manufacturing corporation located near the town of WhiteBean, OurState. My defense resulted in a judgment for my client against the claims of "Big Dennis."  It's actually a pretty funny story if you go back and look at the narrative.

Just before my license was suspended I completed the briefing on the appeal pursued by Big Dennis' lawyer.  I learned a couple of weeks ago that my client won the appellate case, and the opinion upheld all of the legal and factual assertions made by me in my role as the defense attorney in that case.  But reading the opinion, it's as if I had been bodily removed from the world. The appellate court's opinion reflected a year-and-a half of effort mentions me not.  I am not listed in anyway as the attorney for the corporation that prevailed, none of the defenses documented in the opinion that I advanced or transcribed and cited questions I asked in the underlying proceeding are attributed to me, and I am not mentioned as author of the brief. I evaporated. Like Elijah, I disappear in a chariot.

Kabbalists talk about the concept of the klippot, which are the shell-like manifestations of ego: anger, selfishness, control, judgment, and pride that build up around us sometimes so dysfunctional as to actually create crippling phobias preventing all loss of light.  When I first returned to work in this building I worked in for a quarter century, as a lawyer, I was so filled with anxiety I could barely leave my office during the work day to get coffee for fear of running into former colleagues I was sure would look at me with contempt.  The challenge is to shatter these shells, these klippots. We do this through opportunities to crush our ego, I alluded to this in the post about "pie-in-face" and I noticed that one of the anonymous commentators there really addressed the challenge before me.  Now I walk freely from this office--yeah, I screwed up;  yeah, I deserve the consequences; yeah, there are people who judge me harshly, but I've been cheered by the love and empathy I receive from many former peers. 

Life is only going to get more difficult in the coming weeks.  I promise to keep my eyes open and tell you about it.

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