On the Benefits of a Flat Fee Agreement

Jamison KoehlerLaw Practice, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

Criminal defense attorneys often use flat fees; that is, we charge a set sum to cover the entire course of a representation. This includes arraignment, negotiations with the prosecutor, any legal research that needs to be conducted, preliminary hearings and status hearings, trial, and, if necessary, sentencing. As Mark Bennett has put it, the flat fee is at once the …

Judge Easterly Lets The Facts Speak For Themselves In Damning the Government for Brady Violations

Jamison KoehlerEvidence, Opinions/Cases, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

You suspect it happens all the time:  the prosecutor withholds exculpatory information from the defendant, thereby preventing the defendant from mounting an effective defense.  The problem is that, with the government in sole possession of all the information, you have no way of proving it. And then there is Vaughn v. United States, 93 A.3d 1237 (D.C. 2014). With an …

When Police Officers Shade Their Testimony

Jamison KoehlerProfessional Responsibility/Ethics

“Runner!” This is what one police officer yells to the other two officers, and all three officers take off in pursuit of a suspect who has decided to flee. According to the officer’s testimony at trial, the officers are 20 feet behind the suspect and “closing fast” when the suspect suddenly comes to full stop.  The suspect bends down by …

Taking The Fall For A Client

Jamison KoehlerLaw Practice, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

If you work for the federal government, you have a boss. Depending on the structure and size of an organization, staffers normally work for a branch chief.  The branch chief reports to a division director who, in turn, reports to an office director.  The office director works for an undersecretary or an assistant secretary, and that person reports to the …

U.S. Capitol Building

On lawyers who take on more than they can handle

Jamison KoehlerLaw Practice, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

Back when I worked for the federal government, there were some employees who were really, really busy.  You knew this because their offices were a mess.  Their telephones were no longer accepting messages.  They had that harried look.  And they always talked about how busy they were, especially when you came in to give them more work. Despite all this, …

Jefferson and Washington monuments

The Ethical Obligations of a Prosecutor

Jamison KoehlerProfessional Responsibility/Ethics

According to Rule 3.8 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, a prosecutor in a criminal case shall not: “[i]ntentionally fail to disclose to the defense, upon request and at a time when use by the defense is reasonably feasible, any evidence or information that the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know tends to negate the guilt of the accused …

U.S. Capitol building

Open Letter to an Honest Cop

Jamison KoehlerD.C. Superior Court, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

Dear Officer Parrish: A couple of weeks ago, I cross-examined one of your colleagues from the 3rd District.  The issue at that hearing was similar to the one under consideration today:  Whether or not the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain my client. Your colleague decided to strengthen the government’s case against my client by lying.  …

Joseph Rakofsky’s Former Client Sentenced to 10 Years

Jamison KoehlerCurrent Events, D.C. Superior Court, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

After pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, Dontrell Deaner has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised probation. Remember Dontrell Deaner? Just over a year ago, his name was all over the Internet in connection with the Joseph Rakofsky fiasco. Rakofsky was the lawyer, a few years out of law school, who took …

D.C. skyline

Do Your Job, Mr. Prosecutor. And Turn Over the Evidence.

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Current Events, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

The prosecutor has acknowledged that he should have turned over certain information to defense attorneys. That is what he says today. The case was back in 1984. Witnesses came forward when he was still preparing the case to say that there were two other men in the alley that night who were never charged.  One of these men, identified by …

Aerial view of DC

Grace. Class. Loyalty to the Client.

Jamison KoehlerProfessional Responsibility/Ethics

  “I want a new lawyer.” The defendant and his lawyer have clearly had some type of disagreement, and this is what the defendant, standing at the bar of the court alongside counsel, says to the judge. Who knows what the issue is?  Maybe the lawyer wasn’t returning phone calls. In this case, the defendant would be justified in seeking …

On Ethical Issues Raised by “Letter Lawyers”

Jamison KoehlerLaw Marketing/Networking, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

  Mark Bennett refers to them as “letter lawyers”; they are the lawyers who, with the hopes of securing new clients, send out advertising materials to the people whose names and addresses have been listed on public arrest records. A friend of ours was charged recently with a misdemeanor traffic offense and received over 20 letters in the mail.  She …

Jefferson and Washington monuments

Rakofsky v. The Washington Post: Being on the Other End of the Attorney-Client Relationship

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Law Bloggers, Current Events, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

Over at My Shingle, Carolyn Elefant muses about finding herself on the other end of the attorney-client relationship; in this case, as one of over 80 defendants in what started out as Rakofsky v. The Washington Post, what one wag dubbed Rakofsky v. The Internet, and, with Rakofsky’s lawyer giving notice to withdraw from the case, what now appears to …

Jefferson Memorial

More on Joseph Rakofsky: The Story Keeps Getting Worse

Jamison KoehlerCurrent Events, Law Marketing/Networking, Law Practice, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

“We really didn’t check him out.  He said he was this and could do that.  We thought he was telling the truth.” — Henrietta Watson, grandmother of defendant Dontrell Deaner The blogosphere has been abuzz the past week with the story of Joseph Rakofsky, a 33-year-old lawyer two years out of law school who took on a murder case in …