Friday, December 03, 2004

Lawyers and lawyers

I drive in to work every day down the same street (Desert Inn) and pass a series of billboards. Las Vegas is big on signs and billboards - the current fad for signs is to have a giant TV screen as part of the sign. When I say giant, I mean big - the one in front of the MGM Grand is probably 20 feet high and 50 feet wide. With blinking pictures and promos for the upcoming concerts and ads for the night clubs flashing away. Really gives you something to look at when sitting at that *** slow traffic light on the corner of Tropicana and the Strip. But back to my original premise -
One of the billboards I pass is for a law firm that will go to court for you if you get a traffic ticket. Sounds nice - even help the little guy. Reminds me every morning of one of my customers in San Diego. It was the law firm of Mr. Ticket and Mr. DUI. If you can't tell from the name, they represent people who are stopped for traffic infractions and drunk driving.
Mr. Ticket handles traffic tickets - I think his base fee was around $150, and he would go to court for you and 95% of the time get your ticket dismissed. In California $150 is probably the average price of a fine for conviction on a ticket, so this way you paid about the same, didn't have to take a day off work to go to court, and didn't get that infamous hit to your car insurance when the company finds out how bad you really drive.
Mr. DUI handles drunk driving offenses. I think his up front fee was around $2,500. If you had enough money he could get you off from just about anything. There are legal experts that can argue about how bad a blood test is, how waiting 20 minutes to take a urinalysis could not possibly represent your blood alcohol level at the time you were stopped, how the last meal you ate affected the breath test - you get my drift. There are paid professionals on every side with every opinion. If you could afford the best for your side then you win. Probably like just about every court situation around. Ask OJ. (sorry, didn't really mean to bring that back. Yea, I know he wasn't convicted, that's my point)
At times I appreciate the services that attorneys present. If I ever got a ticket I probably would use these guys. But there are times when, as an outside observer, it seems things may be excessive.
One night I was leaving their office after putting in some program changes - they were open nights and weekends so as to be available for their clients. As I was about to leave one of Mr. DUI's clients was just leaving. This was his third time being represented by this law firm. Both previous representations were successful - he avoided conviction on his DUI arrests. I opened the front door for him, and he had problems in just walking out. He appeared to be totally drunk on his ass. (I must say, I am NOT an expert in this matter. But I have observed the strong smell of alcohol, the bloodshot eyes, the slurred speech, the inability to walk straight, and usually these indicate the presence of alcohol in the blood. Again, I AM NOT AN EXPERT - DO NOT TAKE MY OBSERVATIONS AS EVIDENCE) He proceeded to walk, or rather stagger, out to his car parked out front, get in the drivers seat, and after a few minutes of trying to get his key in the ignition, he quickly pulled out and sped off. After visiting his lawyer on his third DUI offense (at this law firm, I don't know his prior history). I was very tempted to get on my cell phone and call the cops about an apparent drunk driver, but I don't think my client (the lawyers) would appreciate me turning in one of their clients. But thinking about it, maybe it would have been OK because then they would have the opportunity to represent him in another case. $$$$ fees.
My point is, that everyone deserves representation and an active defense. But I have to drive on the same roads as guys like this. My wife crosses the street with drivers like this roaring down at her. My son may date OJ's next ex wife (OK, sorry to pick on OJ). I know that sometimes the government does not do things correctly (ask at your next IRS audit) and people need lawyers to represent their interests. But at what point should the lawyer start representing the good of the people instead of the money of their client? Shouldn't Mr. DUI have noticed the restricted abilities of this individual, and done something about it?
OK, I know that at times I am unrealistic in my expectations. For some reason I think that everyone should do sensible things, but my definition of sensible evidently is not the same as everyone else's. I try to be a nice guy, not cut too many people off in traffic, try not to hit too many kids in the cross walk, try not to squeeze too many loaves of bread in the supermarket before finding the softest one. Shouldn't everyone just be nice? Why can't we all just get along?
Legal disclaimer - these are my personal opinions. If you are a lawyer, please do not sue me over this. If you are Mr. DUI, I respect your work. If you are the client I mentioned, STOP DRINKING AND DRIVING. Personal opinion again.
Sorry, no pictures again. Guess I better change the subtitle on my blog.

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