Sunday, July 29, 2012
Limited Registry Act II
What were you doing when the great and unexpected Saturday-FACDL Listserv-Limited Registry kerfuffle erupted? Were you watching the olympics, grilling some ribs, or emerging from the shadows of some cheap yet thrilling Saturday afternoon assignation?
For those of you who wear robes (and are thus not allowed to receive Listserv emails) prosecute (ditto) or were just blissfully enjoying a Saturday afternoon, the email from David S. Markus (NOT DOM- David O Markus, the fine federal attorney and proprietor of the Southern District Of Florida Blog) where he “named names” and listed the phone numbers of five defense attorneys who had signed up for the category of the limited registry that enables them to receive murder case appointments for a cap of $2,500.00 in fees burst across the legal landscape of Miami like an unexpected appearance of Halley’s comet, or a judge picking up the check at lunch.
Mr. Markus’ email was lengthy, explaining his position and his conversations with two of the attorneys who signed up and deigned to speak with him. One lawyer basically told him “FU. I can do this and make it work for me” while the other not only gave an impassioned plea on the need for quality defense for the indigent, but ended up agreeing to serve as a co-petitioner on Mr. Markus and the FACDL’s quixotic quest to sink the limited registry.
Know this: Mr. Markus is correct in all respects. With regards to the lawyer who thinks he can make this work for him economically with an economies of scales approach in which, by taking a lot of cases, the volume of work and fees makes up for the few cases he ends up trying for $2,500.00, the lawyer will fail because the committee overseeing the appointments to attorneys on the limited registry is going to impose a small cap on the number of open cases an attorney can have. Thus when the litigation of these cases bog down with intransigent prosecutors (“I know your client probably didn’t do it but the victim wants the max and their feelings and knowledge of the legal system supersedes mine”) and difficult clients (“Man, you just work for the state. That video ain’t me and that DNA ain’t mine”) the financial realities of working for years to earn $2,500 will trump visions of grandeur: “Let’s see. If I take a thousand cases at $2,500 that is...umm...two and half million dollars! So I have to try ten of them. I can still afford that vacation condo in the Keys....”
With regard to the lawyer out to save the world, Mr. Markus’ rejoinder to him was spot on: the way to ensure that indigent clients get good legal representation is not to give into the Legislature but to defeat the limited registry, because if nobody signs up, then the appointments automatically go to the general registry wheel where attorneys are not reduced to hourly fees less than than those who clean the REGJB bathrooms (who also deserve a big raise by the way.)
We struggled with publishing Mr. Markus’ email because he included the names and phone numbers of those misguided lawyers who got down on their bellies and prostrated themselves before the Florida Legislature who has blatantly sought to treat criminal defense attorneys in this state like “dogs needin a whuppin”. We won’t lick their shoes and our colleagues who have ought to be ashamed of themselves. That being said, we were cautious about using the blog as a public vehicle to upbraid our colleagues, however in need of upbraiding they may have been. Events however, have overtaken our caution.
So here is the email which most of you have probably read. Have at it.lrdsmpdf
Sleepy summer weekend? HA!