From a divorce lawyer who slept with his client (and billed her for it) to a defense attorney who slept through his client’s trial, lawyers have been caught engaging in all types of bad behavior. In this post, we take a look at some of the most embarrassing legal blunders of all time. A few of the lawyers in this post were disciplined for their conduct. Others simply embarrassed themselves (and their clients).
When lawyers engage in conduct that rises to the level of malpractice, they can be sued by clients for their actions and/or omissions. To succeed in a legal malpractice claim, a client must prove four separate elements. First, the client must prove that an attorney-client relationship existed. Second, the client must prove that the attorney acted negligently, or in the alternative, acted with intent to harm the client. Third, the plaintiff must prove that the attorney’s actions or omissions were the cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Fourth, the plaintiff must prove that the plaintiff would have been successful in the underlying case had the attorney not acted negligently.
If you are concerned that your lawyer has committed malpractice, an experienced malpractice attorney can help you understand your rights. Even if you do not have a cause of action against your attorney for legal malpractice, he or she may be subject to discipline by the state bar or the courts in which he or she is licensed to practice.
Please enjoy this post on most embarrassing legal blunders of all time.
We have compiled a list of some of the most embarrassing legal mistakes and blunders of all time. Be thankful these weren’t your lawyers!
The Caddish Divorce Lawyer: A divorce attorney had his law license suspended indefinitely after he admitted to having an affair with a client he represented in a divorce proceeding and billing her for the time they spent engaging in adult relations.
The Forbidden Question: The trial of Drew Peterson for the death of his third wife was nearly derailed by a series of mistakes on behalf of the prosecution. While examining a key witness, a prosecuting attorney asked a question that the judge had specifically forbidden her from raising. The prosecutor claimed that she had accidentally read the question from pre-printed trial materials. A motion for a mistrial by Peterson’s attorneys was ultimately denied, and Peterson was convicted.
The Sleeping Defense Attorney: Martin Zimmerman, a Texas defense attorney, was removed from a case after his client complained that he repeatedly dozed off during his trial, did not know his name, and neglected to enter a plea bargain that would have spared him 20 years in jail.
The Flubbed Oath: On January 20, 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath of office while delivering it to President Barack Obama during his inauguration. Out of “an abundance of caution,” Roberts stopped by the White House the following day to re-administer the oath.
The Secret Plea Bargain: The defense attorney of a woman charged with capital murder neglected to tell her about a plea bargain offered by prosecutors. In exchange for pleading guilty, prosecutors were willing to give Rebecca Simpson five years in prison. Unaware of the offer, Simpson went to trial. She was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 25 years in prison. When the defense attorney’s blunder came to light, Simpson’s sentence was reduced by 20 years.
The Mid-Deposition Nap: A malpractice lawsuit was filed against a prominent New York City litigator after a client accused him of sleeping through a critical deposition. The dissatisfied client alleged that the lawyer “positioned himself on a couch … put his hat over his face and slept through much, if not most,” of the deposition. Because the client couldn’t prove that his case would have turned out differently had the lawyer stayed awake during the deposition, the malpractice suit was ultimately dismissed.
The Bad Review: A lawyer was disciplined after she revealed confidential information about a client in responding to a negative review the client posted on the review site Avvo. The client had retained the lawyer for an employment law matter. In the lawyer’s response to the client’s Avvo review, he stated that the client had beat up a female coworker.
The Spectacular Failure: The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit lambasted immigration lawyers, stating that they had “failed spectacularly” by neglecting to inform a client of a hearing date. After the missed hearing, a deportation order was entered against the client. The lawyers also failed to inform him of this. As a result, the client was jailed for nine months and his wife and child were forced to live in a homeless shelter.