Monday, October 21, 2013

Happenings in Court

It's been a while since I have blogged under my "happenings in court" label.  Nothing interesting or exciting has really happened to warrant a post.  Especially considering all of the recent news involving DUI cases in Seattle, and the recent major change in DUI law.  But recently I was in Seattle District Court the other day and something happened that I thought was kind of noteworthy.

So I was appearing in the District Court in Seattle on a DUI case.  This Court is probably one of if not the busiest Court in all of Washington State.  Especially when it comes to DUI cases.  There is always a lot of defendants in the Courtroom and things can happen very quickly when the Prosecutor starts calling the calendar.  Because of this there is always a long line of DUI Attorneys waiting to check in it with the Prosecutor.   

I actually enjoy appearing in this particular District Court, and it's not because it is down the street from my office.  The only downside with this Court is the Prosecutors office can get really busy.  So if you have a case that you want to negotiate it is always best to try and contact the Prosecutor at least 2 weeks in advance of the hearing.  I don't think this is terribly troublesome to do, and I would rather give the Prosecutor plenty of time to review a case and any legal issues I point out, especially with complicated matters like DUI cases.

So on this particular day I was standing in line to meet with the Prosecutor.  I had already spoken with the Prosecutor weeks prior to the hearing about my DUI case so I already knew what I was going to do.  However the DUI Attorney that was in front of me hadn't taken the time to do that.  So when he got to the Prosecutor he tried to speak with him about some complicated issue with the DUI case.  He had some portions of the video he wanted the Prosecutor to review as well as some affidavits from different witnesses.  

Obviously with only one Prosecutor handling the entire calendar there was no way to review all of this information.  The Prosecutor told the DUI Attorney that he couldn't review all of this properly.  Then to my surprise the DUI Attorney started to throw a tantrum and started to raise his voice with the Prosecutor.  Saying he needed to negotiate and this was the only time to do it.  He really embarrassed himself and his client how he was acting.   And I actually felt embarrassed for the scene he was making.  It was completely unprofessional.

Now I get the DUI Attorney's frustration.  But he shouldn't have taken it out on the Prosecutor, especially when the Prosecutor is the one making the decision about whether or not to reduce a Seattle DUI case.  I don't know what this particular DUI Attorney was thinking, but I'm willing to bet he ruined his chances of getting his client a reduced DUI plea deal.  Just because he lost his cool and was unprofessional with the Prosecutor.  

Point of the story is this.  Maintaining relationships with the Prosecutor is probably the most important thing a DUI Attorney can do.  Pissing one off or embarrassing one is not only going to screw your client over, but future clients as well.  Have there been times I have been upset with a Prosecutor.  Of course, but I never let it show and I think that is why I'm respected among them.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Bellevue DUI lawyer in Western Washington.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.  He is rated as one of the Top Seattle DUI Attorneys by and was named a Rising Star in DUI Defense by Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.     

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