Sunday, December 18, 2005

Why People think Lawyers are Liars

One thing I've always despised is lawyers who lie, in order to project what they think is the "right image" to the public. It is sick, sycophantic, and silly.

Look at these two "fact/fiction" questions and answers on the Texas Young Lawyers Association American Juror web page, which was cited on the Jur-E bulletin on December 16, 2005:

"Fiction: Attorneys only pick jurors with a college degree.

"Fact: The main thing we’re looking for from potential jurors is the ability to be open to both sides of a debate. It’s up to the lawyers to present the evidence clearly. But we count on the juries to be honest in deciding for themselves what is true and what is fair. That is not based on intelligence or education- it’s just a basic sense of right and wrong."

Let me make it clear: any associate with my law firm who looks mainly for jurors to be open to both sides of a debate will be unemployed before Voir Dire is over. We want jurors who will NEVER, EVER under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, WHATEVER THE EVIDENCE consider the other side of the debate. We want jurors who are 100% biased towards our side, 100% hostile to the other side, and if we can get 12 of them, we want them.

We will settle for a fair and impartial jury, as a bare minimum. We assume, and have never seen this assumption proven wrong, that the other side is also seeking jurors who will be committed to their case, and biased against ours. That's the way the game is played - and shame on TYLA for lying to the public and prospective jurors about it.

"Fiction: Lawyers ask questions designed to figure out who will help reach a verdict in their client’s favor.

"Fact: Voir Dire is a French term that means "Speak the Truth." Prospective jurors are sworn to tell the truth so that the attorneys or judge can ask questions to find out if they can be impartial unbiased, and trusted to make a reasonable decision based on the facts of the case."

Again, any associate with THIS firm who does not ask questions designed to figure out who will help reach a verdict in our client's favor will be unemployed before Voir Dire is over. We don't want a fair jury; that is the MINIMUM we will settle for. We want a jury that will NEVER, EVER under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, WHATEVER THE EVIDENCE, vote against us.

Any lawyer who says he wants a fair and impartial jury is either incompetent (being deluded by bar association PR) or is simply lying, lying, lying. The public knows that. I've spoken to many high school classes. I ask them what they think a lawyer wants out of a jury, and they tell me a jury that will vote for their client. We know they know. Yet we strangely persist in lying to them when we know we'll be caught. That's either insane or stupid.

What is weird is that bar associations lie, to people who they know will KNOW they are lying, in a vain attempt to improve the public image of the bar. What they are in fact doing is proving to the general public that lawyers are liars and manipulators who cannot be trusted - because they lie when, if they gave any thought to it, they'd know they'd be caught by anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

Kind of disgusting, this collective indifference to reality in the pursuit of image, isn't it?

P.S. I also tell high school classes that what the judge wants is a jury that will be compliant and will return on time after lunch. Judges HATE that I say that - one judge complained so much that the Houston Bar Association will no longer use me as a speaker. But that is the institutional bias of the judiciary. If we cannot tell the public the truth about what we do and how courts operate, it seems to me we have far more to worry about than our public image. What we have to worry about is that our public image may well be accurate.