At the risk of ranting against my own profession, I was in trial today and utterly amazed at defense counsel. Today’s trial should have and could have been completely avoided but for the idiot defense lawyer on the other side – so we won everything we asked for. I know plenty of attorneys who are very admirable and wonderful people. Yet, every once in a while you come across that one guy who absolutely reinforces the negative attitude most normal people have against attorneys. Today was no exception. We walked into the court room confident in a win for my client and yet confused as to why we even needed a trial on the particular issues the other side so adamantly defended. And in the end, it was as predicted… we won everything we asked for. Why? It’s simple, every winning strategy will have these basic principles regardless of the nature of the individual case.
The general rule of thumb and premise of this article is very simple, if you want the judge to give you what you want then: Don’t hire an idiot lawyer. Hire a smart lawyer. Judges don’t rule in favor of idiots, or least not very often. Here’s a brief list of what idiot lawyers do or don’t do, and that is exactly why they always lose.
- Know the law. An idiot lawyer won’t be well versed in the law surrounding his arguments. A smart lawyer will have studied the law, the local rules, and the court’s specific rules/instructions for every single aspect of his/her argument. The smart lawyer will have thought ahead and anticipated potential legal issues which need to be made and then find the law to support the arguments. The idiot lawyer will show up relying on his or her own puffery, or personal interpretation of the law instead of the actual statutes, laws, rules, regulations, and policies. Often the idiot lawyer will not have even been aware of a specific and controlling rule of law which is material to his or her case. This is exactly what happened to me today; and was absolutely one of the reasons the judge gave me everything I asked for. The defense lawyer had no idea what the rule of law was on a very key issue to the case. At one point the judge looked at the defense lawyer with a confused look and interrupted the line of questioning citing that none of it was even relevant to the law or the case. Sadly, the lawyer still didn’t understand and restated questions but continued down the same illogical and incorrect path. At which point the judge looked at me with a confused look, shook his head, and smiled at me. That was a confirming point in the trial wherein I knew once again we had won this case before we even started. The first time I knew we had one was before the trial even started and the judge asked for us to join him in his chambers… more on that priceless moment in a bit.
- Know the facts. An idiot lawyer will lose a case because he/she doesn’t actually know all of the facts. You wouldn’t think this happens, but unfortunately this is an absolutely common occurrence. A smart lawyer will know every detail of his/her case and how those details affect the case (i.e. the interplay between the facts of the case and the law). Today the judge gave me everything I asked for and did so in part, because the defense lawyer didn’t even know all of the facts of the case. The biggest embarrassment was the defense attorney couldn’t even pronounce her own client’s name correctly. She repeatedly mispronounced her client’s name over and over again during her direct examination. It was so awkward that even the judge looked to me again with a look of confusion. I couldn’t help but make first question on cross examination something along these lines: “I just want to be clear, I thought your name is pronounced ________(fill in the blank correctly) instead of _________ (the wrong way), is that true? Priceless.
- Read the Judicial Cues. Judges are people too. They are supposed to be impartial and unbiased. They are supposed to approach every case with a clear and open mind as a trier of fact and/or a decision maker issuing rulings. Yet they have feelings, impressions, and opinions. Their patience only lasts so long. Their tolerance only lasts so long. An idiot attorney will ignore these signs and completely miss the cues that judges are always giving. A smart attorney knows how to see the case from much more than the legal and factual perspective. A smart attorney will be able to see how the judge looks at the case as well and begin to feel when the judge is agreeing with you or growing impatient with you. Today the judicial cues were ENORMOUS and completely missed by the defense attorney. The entire case the judge was dropping hints about the potential positions of each party involved. I personally wondered how on earth we ended up in trial today with so many blatant hints as to the position the judge was taking. Any reasonable and half intelligent attorney would have seen this and advised their client to begin settling. But alas, in my case the defense attorney was so off base that she really thought she would win even though she didn’t know the law nor the facts. This message was constantly reinforced to the client throughout the entirety of the case. I can only imagine how those private conversations went: “You are right Mr. Client, and you have a great case. Lets keep driving this thing hard and see if we can get the other side to back down.” This attitude prevailed through the whole case and never ceased to amaze me. At every turn the defense always thought they were right and were genuinely surprised at losing. In any event, the most priceless moment in this case was at the outset. The judicial assistant came into the court room and asked the attorneys to join the judge in chambers. Sitting down with the judge, he opened stating the obvious (or at least it was obvious to myself and to him): “Why are we here? Are we really having a trial today?” I jumped on this opportunity to chime in and join my sentiment with his. He then asked us if we wanted to know his thoughts regarding the case. An idiot attorney will decline such an invitation or not understand its importance. The defense attorney just stared at the judge in confusion as to what was happening. I chimed in again and expressed my delight at an opportunity to know the judges thoughts about our case prior to a trial – it was a true treat. After a short conversation where the judge recommended that we reach an agreement because a ruling would not benefit defense counsel, we departed and held brief settlement talks. The best part is that I walked out of that room not caring what settlement we would reach or not reach, the idiot lawyer has forced us into a trial that was unnecessary – I knew it, and I knew the judge knew it. Priceless. Other judicial cues come during the trial or previous hearings wherein judges grow frustrated at a line of questioning. While sometimes its important to continue these questions in spite of the judge’s negative opinion, extreme caution should be given to that strategy when it’s not a jury trial but rather a bench trial. Don’t frustrate the one making decisions on your client’s behalf.
- Be Reasonable – Don’t be Greedy. No one likes the greedy guy. As in many industries, the legal profession typically has a realm of reasonableness. A set of defined limits where you can be asking for too much. For example, a soft tissue bicycle accident where the total medical bills amount to about $3,500.00 with that or less in property damage is generally not a $5,000,000.00 case. Asking for that would be unreasonable and the attorney taking that position will most likely appear to be greedy and an idiot. Sometimes the laws are so clear that you can say a client is entitled to a certain amount in damages, or entitled to a certain range of pain and suffering. When the defined limits seem clear, and the attorney is asking for way more than what is reasonable – then the attorney is typically an idiot and will lose the case. Especially when the attorney doesn’t know the law, rules, or policies affecting the reasonable limits. So it was today, the defense lawyer had dug in so deep into an area of law which so clearly out of the range of reasonableness that her persistence in pursuing that argument not only LOST her the trial; but the judge awarded legal fees reimbursement for my client as a result of having to even go through the trial. The pre-trial settlement talks the judge prompted us to engage in after leaving his chambers were so fruitless because the defense was blind by their own unreasonableness. We went to trial notwithstanding the judge basically telling us what he would rule on before we even started the trial Embarrassing. Be reasonable and operate in the reasonable realm.
If the defense lawyer would have simply known the law and policies in this case then we could have avoided trial all together and a fair settlement would have been entered into months ago. The judge was so sure of that same fact that he awarded a reimbursement of attorneys fees to my client for having to pay for my representation in the trial. Additionally, if the defense lawyer would have just read the judicial cues and operated in the realm of reasonableness then we would have avoided the trial as well.
Fortunately for our profession not all lawyers are idiots. Some of us actually prepare for trial and know our cases and local judges like the back of our hand. Trying cases is a skill and something to look forward to not avoid. I’m proud to say that in the cases I have litigated in Federal and State courts it is more common to come across excellent attorneys as opposed to idiot attorneys. However, be aware… there’s an idiot in every village…
Arizona Bicycle Accident Attorney Ben Dodge
If you, or someone you know were injured in a bicycle accident caused by road debris, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben Dodge, a licensed bicycle accident lawyer in Arizona, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles.
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In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the United States every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
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Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 480.656.8334.
His Main Offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (Home Base Office)
4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
Mesa, Arizona 85206
Phoenix Arizona Office
2415 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Salt Lake City Utah Office
299 South Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
St. George Utah Office
321 N. Mall Drive, Suite 103
St. George, Utah 84790
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire State of Arizona including but not limited to Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Gilbert, Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Surprise, Kingman, Page, Lake Havasu City, Payson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Queen Creek, Paradise Valley, Show Low, Winslow, Maricopa, Nogales, Globe, Avondale, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Carefree, Wickenburg, Pinetop-Lakeside, Strawberry, Anthem, Safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and can assist in representation in all 50 states. He has helped cyclists in New York, Texas, California, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.