by Carol Reimer
article is not intended for those men and women who adhere to a strong
code of ethics in the Legal Profession. Unfortunately, it has not
been my good fortune to find very many. (Perhaps I can think of
one). And so, it is my intent to shed light on those attorneys within
the legal ranks who are unfortunately - dishonest and unethical.
We all saw the O.J. case years ago and almost threw up with the "not guilty" verdict. How many of you know, that despite having been found guilty in civil court, O. J. Simpson has not paid one penny in retribution to the Ron Goldman family? We are now witnessing the Laci Peterson trial. Scott Peterson, a sociopath, is being defended by a well known lawyer - Geragos - despite his open acknowledgement that his client is a liar (Scott Peterson) who has questionable morale character. One might assume that Geragos took the case for the publicity it would bring to him should he win an acquittal for his client. It is bad enough when the guilty are exonerated because of the skillful expertise of their attorneys - but even worse - when the innocent are convicted unjustly!
Recently, I have been the victim of an ambitious attorney who misrepresented his motivation and expertise to secure a fat fee. As the saying goes: "He saw me coming". So, the blame rests with me because I should have known better and not with the charlatan lawyer who used unethical and devious promises to sucker me in. Hell, that's fair - right?
When you are an honest individual, no matter how intelligent you may be, you do not live your life in mistrust and suspicion. You erroneously believe that most people are good - and not out to get you. Strong words of advice - "Never, never judge a book by its cover"!
Often, we do not have a choice and must hire an attorney who we assume represents justice and fair play. We innocently expect a solution to our problem as we assume he/she is the expert. We do not suspect the attorney of any unethical conduct unless we have been previously burnt by another attorney. Being too trusting and naive is the first mistake we can all make. Never trust anyone until you have checked his/her credentials.
In my case, the attorney took advantage of the situation and did not use prudence. Yes, I am fighting back now - but I have no guarantee that I will see any of my money returned to me. (Incidentally, he practices in Melville, NY).
The Legal Grievance Committee, supposedly out for your welfare, will not retrieve your "fee money" even if the attorney is found guilty of unethical conduct. Like all other societal organizations and/or agencies, they are usually not set up to insure your rights as one may think. Many of them are really just "bogus" fronts for the various professions. (Try to report a dentist that has given your mouth a fraudulent appraisal).
As a public service, I am now offering some important advice for anyone who must retain an attorney:
Check his/her credential. Don't rely on a friend's referral. A lot can happen in between cases.
Know and read your client rights. Should you suspect your attorney of unethical conduct, (those living in New York) can contact:
State of New York
However, as previously stated, even if the attorney is on a list, this Committee will not assist you in retrieving your money. Most likely, the charlatan attorney will get a warning (slap on the wrist) and the case is then closed freeing this person to exploit another unsuspecting victim.
Remember, when in a
legal crisis, calm down, think, and
then make a positive decision. That's all you can do - and even then -
there are no guarantees. Good luck.