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.
By Marty Hubbell
What’s next in the Ryan Widmer case? Expect the defense to file a motion for a new trial in the next few days. This motion must be filed within 14 days of the verdict that was rendered on February 15, 2011.
This motion is critical for Widmer’s case, and is separate from the appeal of his actual murder conviction. His appeal would be to the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown, Ohio; the motion for a new trial would be heard by Judge Bronson in the Warren County Common Pleas Court. The appeal will not be filed until the upcoming motion is resolved in the trial court.
Why is this motion for a new trial important? The 12th District Court of Appeals is probably the most conservative appellate court in the State of Ohio; less criminal convictions are overturned in this court than in any other appellate district. If he cannot persuade Judge Bronson to grant him a new trial, it is likely that the next significant hearing for Ryan Widmer will occur in about 14.5 years, at his first parole hearing.
The defense attorneys are scrambling to find any and all evidence they can to support the motion. From the press releases thus far, it appears that they are going to try to argue some form of juror misconduct.
By: Tom Diehl (in 2008)
Plaintiff: Doctor, Did my client incur these medical bills as a result of her motor vehicle accident?
In just about any personal injury action, a primary goal for Plaintiff’s counsel is to introduce medical bills and medical records pertaining to the underlying cause. There is a certain procedure that should be followed to ensure this admissibility (and to reduce attorney stress) so that the example above does not occur.
In order for medical bills to be admissible, the charges must be: (1) reasonable and necessary; and (2) proximately caused by the motor vehicle accident. The first element (reasonableness) can usually be established simply by providing opposing counsel with a copy of the bill five days prior to trial.
“In an action for damages arising from personal injury, a written bill . . . itemized by date, type of service rendered, and charge, shall . . . be prima facie evidence of the reasonableness of any charges and fees . . . provided such bill . . . delivered to attorney of record for each adverse party not less than five days before trial.” O.R.C. §2312.421
Just establishing that the charge was reasonable, however, does not make the bill automatically admissible. After all, charges incurred for treating a cold are not admissible in a claim for injuries from a motor vehicle accident. Proof must be provided that the charges were necessitated as a direct and proximate result of the accident. Typically, this will require expert medical testimony. See e.g. Lasley v. Nguyen (2007), 172 Ohio App.3d 741 (holding that plaintiff claiming neck injury from motor vehicle accident was not qualified to render opinion as to the cause of her medical injuries and that medical testimony was required.)
To be admissible, a medical opinion on causation must be stated to a reasonable degree of medical probability. Stenson v. England (1994), 69 Ohio. St.3d 451. Thus, the following example establishes the introduction of medical bills
Plaintiff: Doctor, let me hand you a copy of the emergency room bill, which I supplied to opposing counsel two weeks ago. Do you have an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical probability as to whether these charges were necessitated as a direct and proximate result of the car crash?
Plaintiff: What is that opinion?
Doctor: The charges were necessitated because of the car crash.
At Thomas J. Diehl & Co., LLC, we have been handling personal injury claims in Southwest Ohio since 1988. We regularly work with counsel in ethical fee sharing arrangements. Thomas J. Diehl is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America and a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.