By Marty Hubbell
I get asked that at least once a month. All attorneys have heard from potential clients who want to hire a Bulldog to represent them. Why? Because they erroneously believe that such lawyers are effective advocates for their clients.
Some people are generally unreasonable and unpleasant; some of these people happen to be lawyers. It is not hard to find them, as they are usually preceded by reputation.
These Bulldog lawyers have an inability to arrive at appropriate results in a timely fashion. They don’t return phone calls, are unprepared for hearings, and are unable to competently identify key issues in a case. But they are wonderful at turning legal cases into personal vendettas, when doing so has no practical purpose. Legal fees tend to get expensive, quickly, when fighting about anything and everything.
A Bulldog lawyer does not intimidate a competent attorney. I tell my clients in advance about the other attorney’s reputation, in order to prepare them. No party to litigation truly enjoys the experience, and you have to wonder about the unnecessary emotional cost their clients pay.
Judges and juries do not appreciate Bulldog lawyers. Court time is valuable and dockets are crowded. Recent studies suggest that jurors are particularly sensitive to choosing sides in a trial based upon a Judge’s rulings and demeanor toward individual attorneys. If an attorney argues ten points of law, when only two are viable, the stain of the poor arguments can filter down to the good ones.
There is so much more to being an effective advocate than just being adversarial. Be cautious when a lawyer brags about being tough and aggressive. A competitive spirit should not be confused with a combative personality. The qualities you should demand in a lawyer are no different than those you would want from other people in your life: diligence, competence, honesty, and reasonableness.
Marty Hubbell is a partner in the law firm of Diehl & Hubbell, LLC (www.DiehlHubbell.com), and has been practicing criminal defense law in Warren County, Ohio for ten years. He has been named an Ohio Super Lawyer, and is a part-time Magistrate for the City of Lebanon, Ohio. He can be reached at (513) 932-2121 or MHubbell@DiehlHubbell.com
Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
By: Gabriel Moorman
Stacy Schuler, the former Mason High School gym teacher accused of having sex with a number of her students, has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
This often utilized and rarely successful plea is an attempt by the defense to offer a legal excuse for Ms. Schuler’s actions. While quite possibly the defendant’s best argument, the requirements for such a plea are very difficult to establish.
The defense, in effect, is not contesting whether or not the sexual conduct took place – they are only arguing that Ms. Schuler did not possess the necessary mental state or intent to commit the crime.
The trial court will order her to be evaluated, and the expert report will probably be provided in about 4-6 weeks.
Her trial is set to begin on August 8th, 2011, at the Warren County Court of Common Pleas in front of Judge Robert Peeler.
As I walked out of the Warren County Common Pleas Court in Lebanon, Ohio, this morning, the mood was tense. I had been at the courthouse for a hearing of my own, and couldn’t help but notice the frenzy of reporters and news cameras in and around the area. Virtually every news station in Dayton and Cincinnati was there.
Ryan Widmer, the husband accused of murdering his young wife, was standing in the hallway next to the lobby. He was surrounded by his legal team and a number of supporters. Widmer looked tired and scared. Unlike his previous days at court, he wasn’t laughing. Nor was he smiling. I wonder if something has changed for Ryan Widmer? Maybe he is starting to realize the gravity of this trial – what has been lost, and what is at stake.
I wonder if this attitude change is related to the mystery witness? Is her testimony as damaging as the prosecution seems to suggest? Her role in this ever increasing drama may be pivotal – and, at the least, very interesting.