Why Representing Yourself in Criminal Court is a Bad Idea

Bad Jury Instruction Revives Hertz Wrongful Death CaseSo you’re a big fan of all those law dramas both on the big and small screens. After years of watching actors in perfectly-tailored suits argue cases for their clients in the most dramatic and thrilling fashion, you believe you’ve seen enough to know about the law and court procedures. With everything you’ve “learned” from these legal dramas, you are confident that you can ably represent yourself should you become the subject of a legal investigation or get charged with a crime.

The confidence is admirable, but representing yourself in a criminal court without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is a very bad idea. Here are some of the reasons why:

You don’t have extensive knowledge of the law and court procedures

Contrary to what you believe, watching legal dramas will never supply you with the legal expertise required to argue your case in court with any degree of competence. Criminal defense attorneys spend interminable years studying the law in law school and later in court. They train to become extremely familiar with all court procedures. What you see in law dramas are just that: drama. Real-life cases need a little more than that. The fact that even lawyers who are facing criminal charges hire other lawyers to represent them in court should drive that point home.

The other party will likely have a lawyer

If you’re facing a criminal charge, you will be going up against a district attorney who will naturally know more about the law compared to yourself. Things certainly wouldn’t be looking good for you.

Consider the paperwork and the rules

Any legal case, criminal or otherwise, requires a mountain of paperwork. There is also a laundry list of rules that govern the processing and the submission of these documents. One missing page or one missed deadline could spell the difference between conviction and acquittal. Criminal defense attorneys know this stuff, but you probably don’t.

Judges won’t tolerate your lack of legal knowledge

You probably know very little about the law, and it will show in court. Some judges may treat you with a little tolerance, but most judges probably won’t. And you know what will happen if you get on a judge’s bad side. In contrast, the opposing party would have a lawyer familiar with the law, legal procedures, and with the presiding judge.

There could be civil cases where self-representation somehow works, but it is incredibly rare in criminal cases. If you are charged with a crime, your best bet would not be yourself, but an experienced criminal defense attorney. To know what a good criminal defense lawyer can do for you, check out the infographic below.

Infographic provided by AZ Criminal Law Team

Widower of Smoker Recovers $1.65M Verdict, Scores Major Victory Against Big Tobacco

big tobaccoA man who lost his wife 14 years ago to lung cancer as a result of her lifelong addiction to tobacco recovered a $1,650,000 verdict in a landmark victory against tobacco company R.J. Reynolds this week, ending an eight-year battle for justice.

Plaintiff attorneys Craig Stevens and John Dill of Morgan & Morgan represented John Maloney in the case on behalf of his late wife, Carolyn. Ever since she died Maloney has fought to hold the tobacco giant liable for her death.

50-year conspiracy

The jury found that R.J. Reynolds, committed negligence, sold a defective and inherently dangerous product along with fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud and was part of a 50-year conspiracy that put consumers’ health at grave risk. Jurors also found that the company’s actions ultimately were the cause of Carolyn Maloney’s addiction and death, and awarded the client a $1.65 million jury verdict as a result.

Additionally, because Stevens and Dill beat the expired Proposal for Settlement, R.J. Reynolds will have to pay attorney fees and costs — which could add up to over $1 million.

This case has special significance because it is part of the “Engle Progeny” litigation. After the Florida Supreme Court decertified a class action lawsuit filed by pediatrician Howard Engle for injuries suffered due to smoking, thousands of former class members were able to file individual lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers for their injuries and losses.

Mrs. Maloney was one of those former class members and this suit was the first of the “Engle” cases to be won in the jurisdiction.

“This verdict is a satisfying conclusion to the long fight for justice against the tobacco giant,” Stevens said. Despite the setback of a mistrial in 2016, Morgan & Morgan’s attorneys kept up the fight and retried the case this year, because they knew Mr. Maloney deserved better.

8 years and 2 trials

“I spent 8 years fighting this case for Mr. Maloney,” said Stevens. “We went through two jury trials to finally get justice.”

“We are very pleased that the jury did the right thing,” said Dill. “It was a long battle, but worth every second. Our client had the love of his life taken from him because of corporate greed. Justice is sweet.”

The case is John Maloney, as PR of the Estate of Carolyn Maloney vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., case number 07-CA-015578, in the Circuit Court of the 20th Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida.

Jury Awards $150 Million Against Testosterone Therapy Maker Abbvie

An Illinois federal jury hit testosterone supplement maker AbbVie with a $150 million verdict for punitive damages, finding that the company fraudulently marketed AndroGel by creating a condition dubbed “Low T,” and advertising the product directly to men as a kind of fountain of youth for symptoms such as low libido, weight gain, and mood swings.

However, it also decided that AndroGel was not responsible for plaintiff Jesse Mitchell’s heart attack.

Testosterone therapies are approved only for hypogonadism, a condition in which men produce too little of the male hormone due to disease or defect. Yet AbbVie and other testosterone makers launched aggressive marketing campaigns aimed directly at consumers.

6,135 cases

Mitchell sued AbbVie in 2014 after suffering a heart attack while using AndroGel. His lawsuit is one of 6,135 cases against testosterone therapy manufacturers consolidated into MDL 2545 (multidistrict litigation), IN RE: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation. US District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly of the Northern District of Illinois is supervising the MDL.

According to Beasley Allen, his lawsuit pointed to numerous studies that found a link between testosterone treatments and cardiovascular risks, including heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, some of which can be fatal. The drug companies did not include these risks on the safety labels of their testosterone products.

AbbVie argued that Mitchell’s heart attack could have been caused by his obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol or family history.

The jury ultimately sided with the drug company on the question of cause, but stood with Mitchell on his fraudulent misrepresentation claim. No compensatory damages were awarded, but the jury awarded $150 million in punitive damages in Mitchell’s favor.

The MDL dates back to 2014 and names drug companies such as AbbVie, Besins, Eli Lily and GlaxoSmithKline, and includes products AndroGel, Testim and Axiron, among others. The lawsuits were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois in Chicago. About 6,000 cases are now pending in the MDL, 4,200 of which name AbbVie’s top selling AndroGel.

Judge Kennelly has selected about a half dozen AndroGel cases to serve as bellwethers, the first of which ended in a mistrial in June after the plaintiff’s lead attorney fell ill. That trial is rescheduled for September.

Beasley Allen lawyer Matt Teague is handling testosterone replacement therapy litigation for the firm, and serves on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee for the MDL. For more information, call 800-898-2034 or email Matt.Teague@beasleyallen.com.

3 Steps to Increase Conversions and Profits

If you’re trying to fill a bucket with holes in it, which works better?

  1. Pour more water in the bucket, or
  2. Plug the holes in the bucket

The answer is obvious, yet most law firms do just the opposite.

Your “bucket” is your Intake and Conversion Process. You spend thousands of dollars every month to make the phone ring. When it does, what happens?

Most firms convert less than 20% of those callers into clients. That’s a shame.

But instead of looking at your process and plugging the holes, you spend more money trying to get more leads so some of them will make their way past the holes and become clients.

A better approach is to plug the holes in your intake and conversion process. Then you’ll convert more callers to clients without spending more money on advertising.

How to Beat Goliath

Intake and Conversion are where you can differentiate yourself from every other law firm, connect with your lead in a meaningful way, and give them a reason to hire you. This is a leverage point in your marketing that can act as a fulcrum allowing you to convert a higher percentage of callers with minimum effort and cost.

Every law firm advertises. You may not be the Goliath in your town, but you can outmaneuver your opponent with a better process. You know as well as I do that Goliath has holes in his bucket also.

You don’t need to convert every caller. You just need to convert 3% more than you are today. Do this and you’ll have more money than you’ll know what to do with flowing into your pocket every year.

3 Steps to Increase Conversions and Profits

To increase your conversion percentage without spending more money on advertising, there are three steps:

Step 1: Have a solid intake process. Record every call coming into your firm and listen to a dozen of them. You’ll learn a lot. Then implement proven intake processes (there are good companies offering training on this).

Step 2: Send every caller something different than the other firms she is calling. Everyone sends brochures, business cards, pens, CDs, and magnets. You should send something that sets you apart.

Mail every caller a signed copy of your book. Books have perceived value in the mind of your prospect. Everyone can create a brochure. All firms have a website. But only a few have their own book.

A book conveys credibility better than anything else. It allows you to speak to your lead personally, in the privacy of their home. They’re engaged with you in a vacuum since they are not looking at other information when they are reading your book.

When you connect with the issues they are experiencing and relate with them and their emotions, they’ll feel better about you, begin to trust you, and want to hire you.

You’ll stay around longer because they’ll refer to your book more often than anything else you send them. They’ll carry it with them, have it on their night stand, and share it with their family.

But it doesn’t stop there, you need to take the next step.

Step 3: Follow Up Purposefully: The beauty of a book is that when your intake specialist is gathering information, they should know what specific questions and concerns this caller has. And when you mail your book to them, jot a note for them to read chapter 3 specifically, as that chapter addresses the issue they are dealing with.

Now your team has a reason to follow up with your lead. They can call in a couple of days to make sure your book arrived and ask if they’ve read chapter 3. If not, call back in a couple more days. You aren’t pestering them, you are helping them. The information in your book is valuable and will help them find a solution to their problem.

Following up purposefully is basically having a reason to call other than to ask, “Do you have any questions?”

Where You Should Focus

To increase your conversions and increase your profits you need to focus not on spending more money to get more leads. You need to focus on your intake and conversion process, plug the holes, and differentiate yourself from every other firm in your market.

By doing this, and creating your own book that connects with your caller and establishes your credibility and authority, you’ll easily convert more callers into clients and increase your profits.

The business of law is not that difficult. You need to attract leads, convert them to clients, and settle their case.

To gain more clients you need to differentiate yourself from every other firm they are calling. You do this by perfecting your intake and conversion process and sending every caller a signed copy of your own book. This is the fastest and most cost-effective way to increase conversions and increase profits.

This article was adapted from the soon to be released book Michael is writing with Harlan Schillinger.


Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert. He can help you create your own book, become The Recognized Legal Authority in your market, and use your book to convert more callers to clients and generate profits.

How to reach Michael:
Michael@PaperbackExpert.com and (501) 539-0038.

‘The Trial Lawyer Marketing Method’

Why Legal Directories Should Be Part of Your Online Marketing StrategySuccessfully marketing law firms has become a unique method unto itself, and now one entrepreneur is recommending some of those techniques to other businesses. Entrepreneur Tony Verner says his strategy, which he calls The Trial Lawyer Marketing Method, “helps you intimately understand your prospects and market to create a “big idea” that leads your prospects through your case argument so they become your customer.”  Read more about how legal marketing can work for non-legal businesses in this article at Entrepreneur.

Mass Tort Lawsuit Filed over Eliquis for Causing Fatal Internal Bleeding

The estate administrators for a New York man filed a product liability suit against Briston-Myers Squibb Co. and Pfizer Inc., charging that their drug blood-thinning drug Eliquis caused the internal bleeding that killed him.

Raymond Warme of East Hampton, NY, was prescribed Eliquis in April 2014 for atrial fibrillation. Within two months he began having gastrointestinal bleeding which led to his death.

The case, Dawn Dunn et al. v. Briston-Myers Squibb Co., case No. 156043/2017, is filed in New York Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are his daughter Dawn Dunn and his significant other Orla Troy.

Fraud and deceit by Big Pharma companies

The New York lawsuit says, “These representations were made by defendants with the intent of defrauding and deceiving decedent, the public in general, and the medical and healthcare community including decedent’s prescribing doctor, and were made with the intent of inducing [them] to recommend, dispense and purchase Eliquis, all of which evinced a callous, reckless, willful, depraved indifference to health, safety, and welfare of the decedent herein.”

Bristol-Myers and Pfizer’s wrongdoing started in 2010 with the Aristotle clinical study, calculated to get the drug approved by the FDA. During that study, the companies concealed side effects and didn’t report a death, subjects dropping out and dispensing errors, the complaint states.

Employees of the drugmakers also wrote an article published on Aug. 28, 2011, in the New England Journal of Medicine based on the study which the editor-in-chief found to be inaccurate and containing omissions, the suit says.

The FDA said on Feb. 9, 2012, that the companies showed “a pattern of inadequate supervision” and the agency pressed to get more information during the approval process, saying data was missing. The agency also said the label should mention the quality-control issues in the study, according to the suit.

On Dec. 28, 2012, the FDA approved Eliquis to reduce the risk of stroke, blood clots in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

“Defendants overstated the efficacy of Eliquis with respect to preventing stroke and systemic embolism, failed to adequately disclose to patients that there is no drug, agent, or means to reverse the anticoagulation effects of Eliquis and that such irreversibility would have life-threatening and fatal consequences,” the suit says.

Two years later in 2014, more than 1,000 adverse event reports were filed with the FDA in that year alone, including at least 100 deaths, and more than 6,000 adverse event reports in 2015 consisting of hemorrhaging / gastrointestinal hemorrhaging. Yet the companies never strengthened their label.

Research Reveals Workplace Discrimination Law Reinforces the Very Harms It Aims to Redress

Rights on Trial bookA major new book by three American Bar Foundation (ABF) scholars illustrates how employment civil rights litigation entrenches patterns of discrimination in and out of the workplace.

“Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality” offers a comprehensive analysis of employment civil rights litigation in the U.S. and gives voice to real plaintiffs in their pursuit of justice and defense of their fundamental civil rights.

Co-authors and sociologists Ellen BerreyRobert L. Nelson, and Laura Beth Nielsen examined 1,788 cases filed between 1988 and 2003 and conducted 100 interviews with plaintiffs, plaintiffs’ attorneys, employer defendants, and defense attorneys, to represent a holistic view of workplace discrimination law in action.

Though significant legislative and judicial progress in civil rights protections has been made over the past 50 years, “Rights on Trial” emphasizes how workplace discrimination based on race, gender, age, and disability persists. The authors find that the adversarial nature of litigation places plaintiffs at a disadvantage from the outset. Legal recourse is rare, but plaintiffs who do file legal charges often experience substantial challenges in navigating litigation, including:

  • mistreatment by their colleagues and management
  • difficulty securing legal representation
  • extensive personal and financial burdens – including job loss – as a result of the case.

Meanwhile, employers manage litigation in ways that minimize costs and insulate their workplaces from change, particularly through their reliance on small settlements.

Existing systems of privilege

The book exposes the ways that employment civil rights litigation can underscore existing systems of privilege. The research reveals that many plaintiffs struggle to obtain a lawyer as a result of structural inequalities and lawyer biases. It finds that 23% of workplace discrimination cases are filed without a lawyer or pro se. Cases filed pro se are dismissed at a rate of 40%, compared to 11% for cases with attorneys.

These disadvantages are exacerbated for people of color; African American plaintiffs are 2.5 times more likely to file claims without a lawyer and Asian American and Latino plaintiffs are 1.9 times more likely to file pro se compared to their white peers.

“Even though Americans revere rights, and employers say they strongly favor discrimination law, the litigation process demeans the people who make rights claims,” said the authors. “In fact, employment civil rights litigation tends to reinforce the very patterns of inequality that the law was intended to eliminate.”

“Rights on Trial” is the culmination of more than a decade of research examining the U.S. model of employment civil rights litigation. In February 2017, the EEOC cited the research contained in “Rights on Trial” as a basis for changes in its 2017-2021 Strategic Enforcement Plan. This research was supported by the American Bar Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Searle Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Ford Foundation.

“This book reflects ABF research at its finest,” said ABF Director Ajay K. Mehrotra. “The authors have conducted a deeply rigorous empirical study of employment discrimination that tackles timely and important questions about the stubborn persistence of discrimination and its relationship to social inequality.”

For more information on “Rights on Trial” or on Berrey, Nelson, and Nielsen’s research, please visit rightsontrial.com.

About the authors

Ellen Berrey is an ABF-affiliated scholar, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, and a celebrated sociologist whose research investigates the culture and politics of inequality, race, and law.

Robert L. Nelson is the MacCrate Research Chair at the ABF and professor of sociology and law at Northwestern University. He is a leading scholar of the legal profession and discrimination law and an expert on the relationship between law and social inequality.

Laura Beth Nielsen is a research professor at the ABF and professor of sociology and law and the director of the Center for Legal Studies at Northwestern University. Nielsen’s award-winning research focuses on the sociology of law, civil and constitutional rights, and how ordinary people understand and relate to law. She has edited several books on employment civil rights including “Handbook of Employment Discrimination Research: Rights and Realities,” co-edited with Nelson in 2005.

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is among the world’s leading research institutes for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. An independent, nonprofit organization for more than 60 years, The ABF seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions.  To further this mission the ABF will produce timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally. The ABF’s primary funding is provided by the American Bar Endowment and The Fellows of The American Bar Foundation.

Is it fair for a witness to ID the accused in a courtroom?

courtroom witnessIt happens a lot in the movies, and a fair number of times for centuries in real-life courtrooms: a witness on the stand is asked if he or she can identify the person accused of committing a crime. You know what happens next: the witness points to the defendant. But is that fair? It’s coming under question, and The Marshall Project takes a closer look.

New Mexico Man Recovers $7.75M in Pressure Sore Malpractice Claim

Medical Scandal: Hospitals Fail to Report Bad DoctorsA New Mexico jury awarded $7.75 million to a 44-year-old man who developed severe pressure ulcers due to negligent treatment in intensive care.

Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. served as co-counsel for the subsequent injury claim, Case No. D-202-cv-2012-04942 in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque).

Co-counsel included attorneys Tom Rhodes and Robert Brzezinski of Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. and attorneys Randi McGinn and A. Elicia Montoya of McGinn, Carpenter, Montoya & Love, P.A.

The $7.75 million jury award against Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque was composed of:

  • $4 million award to the plaintiff for compensatory damages.
  • $1.5 million award to the plaintiff’s wife-turned-caretaker, Tammy Lee Bruyere, for compensatory damages of her own.
  • a $2.25 million punitive damage award to both plaintiffs.

Wound develops in 6 days

The plaintiff, Michael Webb, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital in 2011. He remained in a semi-conscious state for many days and depended on the medical staff at Presbyterian for all of his care needs. Within only six days, a skin wound had developed on his sacrum due to a general lack of repositioning of his body while he was unable to reposition himself. Five days later, a wound care specialist examined the wound and found that it had become a severe Stage 4 pressure ulcer.

The plaintiff’s attorneys focused on Presbyterian Hospital’s own patient safety policies and procedures for a significant portion of the trial. Its regulations require patients who are at risk for pressure sores to be repositioned once every two hours, or more frequently if necessary, with the specific intent of preventing pressure ulcers from forming.

Due to generally neglectful care, Mr. Webb was left in the same position for long stretches at a time. The end result was the formation of a large, painful pressure ulcer that required additional medical treatment, including painful debridement processes that removed skin, flesh, and damaged tissue in large amounts. His ulcer has still not fully healed.

Jurors who spoke with legal counsel after the verdict was given noted that the multimillion award was not only to fairly compensate the plaintiff but to also reinforce the need for adequate patient safety training at Presbyterian Hospital and other medical groups.

Why You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney

Man released from prison after being in jail for 13 years.

When you find yourself facing criminal charges, you have to get the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. After all, being charged with a crime is a serious matter. Even if you are slapped with a relatively light offense like drunk driving, you will still need an experienced DUI lawyer by your side. Without good legal representation, a conviction is more likely, and that will lead to substantial fines and possible jail time.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the importance and benefits of having a good criminal defense attorney defending you. Let’s list some of the reasons why you need a criminal defense lawyer if you get arrested for a crime.

Criminal defense attorneys know the law and the process

A criminal defense attorney has studied and trained to get a full understanding of every aspect of criminal law and court procedures. Whatever questions you might have about your case, you can be sure that your defense lawyer will be able to answer them. Aside from the ability to scrutinize every fact, evidence, and testimony presented in a criminal case, a criminal defense lawyer is also well-equipped to work the legal system by finding loopholes or inconsistencies that can help you with your case.

Criminal defense lawyers can protect your rights from Day 1

Keep in mind that since you’re a suspect in a crime, the police and prosecutors will naturally do what they can to pin the deed on you. Sometimes, however, your rights could get violated along the way, like not reading your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest or goading you into saying anything that could be used against you in court. But when you have a criminal defense attorney present, all of your Constitutionally-guaranteed rights will be fully protected.

Criminal defense attorneys know the people in the legal system

Criminal defense lawyers work with prosecutors and judges all the time. They know how to negotiate with prosecutors to get the best plea bargains, which is how most legal cases end. Their knowledge of the judge’s preferences, dislikes or leanings help them come up with arguments that will work. Such knowledge can only be obtained through experience, which is why getting a criminal defense attorney who has been practicing his profession for quite some time now is your best bet.

The importance of hiring a criminal defense attorney the soonest possible time can never be stated enough. And if you have more questions regarding criminal defense, check out the infographic below.

Graphic courtesy Arizona DUI Team