Ethics seems to be the topic of the day. At least we hear it was the topic yesterday as the powerful and the elite gathered in the Public Defender’s Office to hear legendary criminal defense attorney Albert Krieger and soon to be legendary criminal defense attorney (and our very favourite federal blogger) David Markus with a K speak on the topic “Ethics, who needs it?”
Then we received a crudely worded comment about attorneys who file notice of expirations at this time of year, when the Christmas and New Year holidays leave precious few days to try the case within the 15 day speedy trial recapture window under Rule 3.191 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Perhaps as we approach the time when New Year’s resolutions are often contemplated, it might be a good time to decide if we need to add ethics to our annual attempt to better ourselves.
Lets start with the speedy trial question. Is it ethical to request a trial or dismissal during the holiday period when many Judges are on vacation and there are few if any jurors in the building?
Absolutely. We don’t read any holiday exception into the speedy rule. If the attorney is ready for trial, the client is available, then either find a judge and a jury or discharge the defendant. We don’t see Judges automatically continuing cases for the Christmas holiday. There are a plethora of Federal trials going on right now and at least one major murder case being tried in the REGJB. Using the calendar to assist a client is nothing but good lawyering. It’s called strategy.
A more difficult question is when zealous representation pushes an attorney to their ethical boundaries.
Just how far is too far?
The simple answer is that anything up to the line but not beyond it is acceptable behavior for a criminal defense attorney. But the more sophisticated answer is that there may be more than one way to skin a cat or prosecution witness.
We’d like to hear your stories from the ethical wilderness. How close have you ever pushed the edge of the envelope, to quote Tom Wolfe quoting those who had the “right stuff”.
And since this is the REGJB blog and not a criminal defense blog, “what say you state?”
In the final analysis; at the end of the day when all is said and done, whom do you (the prosecutor) respect more: The criminal defense attorney who takes the case to edge and secures a victory for his/her client, or the one who plays it safe to protect their reputation? Who would you want defending you or a family member?
See you in court, where thankfully these matters do not arise often in disorderly intoxication cases.
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