Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happenings in Court

It's been a busy month for me personally.  So I haven't had a chance to write on the blog lately, or update my happenings in court section.  I don't have any funny stories to write, but something interesting happened to me the other day in Seattle Municipal Court.

As many of you know I'm a Seattle DUI lawyer, so that means a bulk of my practice is in King County.  One of the places I have represent clients is in Seattle Municipal Court.  So I was there a few weeks ago, waiting for a client to show up.  Outside of the court rooms is Seattle Municipal Court are benches with great views of the Puget Sound.  In fact if it is every a beautiful sunny day in Seattle, and you have  a few minutes to kill.  Talk a walk over the SMC, and take the elevator the top floor.  There are no better views of the downtown skyline with the Puget Sound in the background.  It is absolutely beautiful.

But I digress.  So I was sitting there, just kind of spacing out while looking at the view.  And this young woman approaches me.  She was probably about 25 or so.  And she had brought her young child to court with her, and she was in the stroller.  So she approaches me and asks if I'm a lawyer.  I say yes I am, and she says, "Can I ask you a question."  I said, "sure if I can answer it I will."

Now I have been in court a lot throughout my career as a DUI Lawyer.  And every now and then a disgruntled client of another attorney approaches me, or I have seen them approach another attorney.  Usually in these situations the disgruntled person asks a legal question about their case, or says their current attorney is not working hard for them.  So that is kind of what I was expecting.  In those situations I usually say that I cannot offer any legal advice because they are currently represented, or I say to call their attorney and continue to work with them.  I know being charged is a stressful situation for many people, and sometimes they are just looking to vent to someone.

But the story this woman told me really surprised me, and kind of upset me not only as an attorney, but a human being.  So this woman was arrested for a DUI in downtown Seattle.  She was very scared about this process, having never been in trouble before.  So she found an attorney to represent her.  She signed a contract with that attorney, and gave him a sizable retainer fee.  Now in Seattle the arraignment is usually a few days after the arrest.  So this woman showed up for her arraignment, and her attorney that she found,  The attorney that she paid to represent her.  This scum bag completely no showed for her arraignment.  He didn't call to let her know something happened.  He didn't make arrangements for another attorney to appear on his behalf.  He just left this woman high and dry.

Now when this woman approached me this was at her pretrial hearing.  In Seattle a DUI pretrial hearing is usually 30 or so days after the arraignment.  She then told me that she hasn't been able to get a hold of her attorney.  That she has left several messages, and sent several emails to this attorney.  But she hasn't heard back.  She started to cry, and tell me how she had to take money out of her savings, and borrow the rest to pay this attorney.  That she was freaking out because she had never been in trouble before, and she was getting screwed by this attorney.

I felt really horrible for her.  I told her that she should continue to try and get in contact with the attorney.  Maybe something happened him, or there was some kind of misunderstanding.  I told her if she felt strongly enough she could call the State Bar Association,  but other than that I really didn't know what to say.  I apologized to her on behalf of my profession.  I told her most attorneys are not like that.  And she shouldn't lose her faith in the legal system.  She left me, thanked me for listening, and walked into the courtroom to face the Judge, presumably alone on her Seattle Municipal Court DUI charge

Although I don't know this attorney personally, I know of him.  I see his name in the google results.  He seems to know a lot about getting his name on the top of search results, but obviously he doesn't know much about being a good attorney, and a good person.  Now I only heard one side of the story, and I don't know the exact situation.  But if what this woman said is true, this is completely unprofessional and quite upsetting to me as a lawyer in this community.

Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI lawyer.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.  If you have been charged with a DUI schedule a free 60 minute consultation where we will discuss all aspects of your case, explain your rights, and offer our opinion on how we can help. 

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