Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Text Me, Bro*

As we continue to ask like a deer in the headlights why the reputation of lawyers continues to fall like a rock, all the time thinking it is solely based on "other lawyers," here comes the story of two parties that while naturally about as adversary
as any two sides, are notoriously known to be civil, cordial, and professional.

That's the text transcript of a Broward County, Forida criminal defense lawyer (public defender) and prosecutor. H/T JAABlog.

Now unless there's some unseemly allegation that the criminal defense lawyer stole the prosecutor's cell phone, it's pretty clear that the number was freely given out in discovery.

But this prosecutor has rules. Take the cell number, but just don't use it to text messages about cases. Perhaps some inappropriate jokes or "LOL my BFF" is preferred.

Yeah, this is a silly little thing, and the prosecutor looks like a hysterical over reactive jerk. No ethical violation, no formal violation of any policy.

But now this prosecutor is the laughing stock of the courthouse. Nothing wrong with the "who is this" that we all do when a text comes in from an unknown number, but once verified - that this was from a public defender in the prosecutor's courtroom - the response should have been "call me at the office."

Last year there was a story about a lawyer who refused to communicate by email. She would send her opposing counsel her policy, and refuse to respond to any emails. I said then that any lawyer who tells me they don't communicate by email will be advised that I do not communicate by phone, fax, or U.S. Mail, so carrier pigeon may be the way to go.

I text prosecutors all the time. "I'm running late for court, ask the judge to pass our case." "The witness called, he'll be 10 minutes late for the depo." I never use it to discuss important matters. It's not enough space, and I can't keep copies.

But this conversation above was of no moment. Just a lawyer commenting on a resolved case. If the prosecutor didn't want to be contacted by text, there was a better way to respond, not like a stalked victim of some enraged nut job.

* For those who didn't get the title of this post.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Anonymous said...

More to the story? From the Miami Blog:

UPDATE: We received this comment:
I am a Broward criminal defense attorney that is familiar with each of the parties. Trust me, I wouldn't want this particular PD bothering me on my cell phone either. Especially when the context of the texts appears to be: client gets probation when state wants more, court imposes probation, state brings up restitution, PD gloats about the successful departure sentence and the victim's comments.

The PD was once investigated for a road rage agg assault, and later pushed a female ASA into a wall when plea negotiations broke down. The ASA is a standup guy. Trust me, things aren't always as they seem.

Monday, July 19, 2010 10:28:00 PM

Josh King said...

Brian, let's focus on the important thing here: Evidence that a real lawyer is using an iPhone!