Today I received an e-mail from a concerned mother. Her son has some kind of felony charge - the type not relevant - and has been appointed an lawyer. Her concern is real and legitimate. She has a recording from this lawyer saying that IF the mother pays the lawyer some money, then the lawyer will approach the judge about putting the defendant son in the Cenikor program. If mother does not pay, then the lawyer will not approach the judge about the program.
My response? What the hell?! Not only is this just morally wrong, but it is unethical (and if she were to be paid and still filed a voucher, it would be illegal.)
Mother contacted me after reading some of my old posts (sorry chums and fans for being away so long) because she didn't know what to do to help her son. You know what? Neither do I really.
Of course, I advised mother that she and son should file a grievance against lawyer when it is all said and done. The lawyer is stupid enough that she left a voice mail of her proposal. Mother needs to be involved in the grievance process because she is a witness and the target of the solicitation of money.
But what can be done for the defendant now? Of course, it is not really my problem. I have no connection to the case except the e-mail I just received, and I have no obligation to help them. Or do I now that I am aware of the unethical behavior? And even if I do have an obligation, my obligation is to report it to the State Bar - not to the district judge. But again, how does that help defendant because his case will be long settled before the State Bar grievance board even looks at the case?
I asked some questions of mother and will await the answers while I contemplate how to proceed. I am considering obtaining a copy of the recording and going to the judge of the district court where the case is pending and report it myself. (Too many times judges have little patience with defendants who complain about their appointed attorneys for many reasons - including that the complaints are often ridiculous and lie.)
I really do not have time to get involved, but if I don't, what does that say about me and my concern about people in general getting a fair shake? And, I am concerned about that.
What to do, what to do . . .