Suggestion to sell out my client-corruption or stupidity?
A few weeks ago I had my associate attorney attend court on my behalf. The court matter I believed to be simple.
Three weeks prior, I had argued at a hearing on a Motion To Suppress all evidence in my client’s case. The learned judge after careful deliberation decided that my arguments were correct and I won the motion. Accordingly all the evidence against my client was excluded as evidence in the case. This most honorable Court also deemed the arrest itself illegal.
The only issue to be determined prior to our last court hearing was whether the State Attorney’s Office would appeal the Judge’s ruling. The time elapsed for an appeal to be taken so I was of the opinion that the only thing that could be done when my young associate stepped in to court on that bright sunny day was for the state to announce a Nolle Pros- a dismissal of all charges against my client.
Upon arriving my associate attorney called the case and announced our presence for the court and indicated that she believed the state would make an announcement that the case was dismissed. The State then proceeded to ask the judge to recall the matter because they wished to speak with opposing counsel, my associate. Perhaps they had decided to appeal after all was all she could imagine and that they were going to hand her their Notice of Appeal although that did not seem logical because the time restraint had already passed.
The two parties go outside in the hallway; my associate somewhat bewildered. The prosecutor begins with “in an effort for Mr. Foley’s office to have a better relationship with the state attorney’s office. We would like for you to consider having your client plea guilty to a lesser included charge of reckless driving.” My associate after three years of training with yours truly said while looking around for a candid camera, “why would we do that- are you kidding?” They responded something to the effect that the sale to our client would increase goodwill between the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A. and the Broward state attorney’s office. They failed to mention that it is unbelievably the most unethical thing that our office or their office could do. To attempt to convince our client that pleading guilty is in his best interest when it clearly is not is undoubtedly illegal and cause for disbarment. The suggestion of the state that if we sell our client out this time that perhaps they will give a more generous plea offer on a future client that has fewer defenses is repugnant! Obviously, the suggestion by the state was not ethical on their part and I am still in disbelief. Most young prosecutors do not think for themselves and are supervised on nearly every word they speak with defense attorneys so it’s even more appalling when you think in those terms.
After discussing it in our office we wondered what defense attorney would ever accept such an unethical proposal? It turns out that
a few days after our proposal that another defense attorney who was in a similar circumstance, having won a motion and all the evidence was being excluded by judge, proposed to a state attorney that if the state offered them a lesser included charge that they would sell it to their client. The state did and the defense attorney sold out his client. What is going on in south Florida?