Are Attorneys Above The Law

If you have ever been in the regrettable situation where you need the assistance of a good attorney, then you know how much of a blessing they can be. It is possible that your marriage is falling to pieces, and you have children that your visitation rights you need resolved; or maybe you have been injured in an accident, and need to make assistance making a claim against the party that is at fault. No matter what your need, the right attorney can help make the entire procedure much easier.

Nevertheless, regardless of all the good work many attorneys do, there are a large number of attorneys who operate on the other side of the fence. These are the ones who will rip their clients off, ignore and break the law themselves in order to enrich their own lives.

These same attorneys will use suspicious moral practices to get questionable results, all of which directly affects you.
“Quis Custodes Ipsos Custodiet”, by the poet Juvenal, which means “Who Shall Watch The Watchers Themselves”, is an old Latin saying that sums up this situation perfectly – It is extremely apt in these situations, for if we cannot trust our protectors to actually protect us, what can we do? Who punishes the attorneys when they break the law?

Terrifying Statistics

Even though you may believe that attorneys who break the law are in the minority, the number of incidents that have been brought to the public’s notice is on the rise. Some of the most recent examples of this are:

o In 2001, a total of ELEVEN attorneys in Tennessee were still practicing law, even though there was a list of charges against them which included bank fraud, perjury, and even one attorney who was to blame for his failure to deliver evidence, which caused an innocent man to be kept in prison for four years on a rape charge.

o This year in Warren, Ohio an attorney was charged with fraud, including deceiving an elderly woman out of over $80,000

o Also this year, two attorneys in Boise, Idaho, were convicted of shocking financial dealings relating to real estate purchases at University Place

Yet, in spite of these findings, and the guilty parties acknowledging their criminal behavior, they are still permitted to work and practice law. Why is this, and what can you do about it if it affects you?

The Censure Debacle

While a child is growing up, and if they do something wrong, we as parents would punish them – this is how we have all learned right from wrong. The same in goes in our adult life – we all know that if we break the law, we will get punished. Depending on what it is we have done wrong or accused of, the punishment can vary – from an official warning for something minor, to losing your driving license for a road traffic offense, to spending time in jail embezzlement or something even more serious. There are even times when someone has spent time incarcerated when actually innocent.

However, the same set of laws do not seem to apply to attorneys. When they do something unlawful, as a rule, it does not look as if it affects their job too much, because they are still permitted to practice law. Still yet, if they are punished in a more serious manner, you can bet your bottom dollar it will not be anywhere near as severe as how we would be dealt with for the same crime.

The rationale for this is something attorneys love to fall back on, and that something is censure, a convenient scheme of publicly scolding someone without really doing anything official. Sure, when you hear that an attorney has been “publicly censured”, it might look and sound good on paper, but in fact it is anything but. The only thing that happens is that a public official, or if someone of prominence does receive a warning, it is like being a slapped on the wrist, and told not to be naughty again. Not exactly inductive to making someone alter his or her ways. However, it is not just this that is at fault here.

The Old School Tie Network

When any kind of law is broken, if it goes to court then it is normally attorneys who will work to see that the correct type of penalty is laid down out by the judges. However, if it is an attorney who is on trial (although this in itself can be hard to achieve, thanks to the censure procedure), then you can just about ensure that an old friend or colleague from law school will take their case.

As if that is not bad enough, you will find that the attorney is probably a friend of the judge that is hearing the case, which does not provoke confidence that the case is going to be heard fairly or with impunity. It is this kind of “all for one, one for all” attitude that has seen public faith in attorneys lapse to an unprecedented low, which is a particular embarrassment for the good attorneys that do their job well and look out for the people that matter – their clients.

If you have been a victim of malpractice by an attorney, there are ways that you can bring them to justice, and not just leave them to go the normal route of censure and favors from friends getting them off the hook.

Taking The Law Into Your Hands

One avenue that you can take to see the offending attorney brought to justice is by way of the state governing boards that are supposed to be responsible for attorneys being able to operate in a particular state or county. Unfortunately, this can be a tremendously costly and is usually a very long-drawn out process, which is not always successful, because the attorney can appeal it and generally the accuser is unaware and unable to speak out against them again. While the appeal is going on, they are allowed to continue to practice law…ergo the attorney gets away with it.

Another way you might consider is to use another attorney, which may sound bizarre as you are bringing a case against another attorney. However, just like any job and vocation, there are some exceptional attorneys who would like nothing better than to successfully charge and prosecute someone who is blighting their business and good name in such a negative manner.

If you are unsure of where you should start, there is usually a lawyer referral service in your town or you can go online and do a search with Google, Yahoo or MSN where you will find lists of firms in your city that would be more than willing to take this type of case on.

Another option is to go to the local and national press. People hate to think of those intended to protect our rights as operating in an criminal manner, and they like it even less when it is an attorney who is using the law to further enrich their own way of life. For that reason, you should take all your facts and dates to the press, who would love to chase these lawbreaking attorneys down for you.

No matter what you decide to do, please do not just sit and hope that the attorney will be found out without your help – that is why there are so many bad ones on the loose in the first place.