Shake Hands With The Devil

Lately, I have had the misfortune of working on a case where my adversary is absolutely the epitome of a dirty slimy seriously-on-his-way-to-getting-himself-disbarred D.A. He lies to me, he lies to the court, he hides evidence, he calls me names on the record. It's disgusting.

I've considered filing an ethics complaint against him, but at this point, I don't want to make things worse for my client. And I haven't brought most of his indiscretions to the judge's attention, because I want to keep the focus on my case, not turn the trial into a name-calling circus.

Yesterday, though, I almost lost it when the D.A. put out his hand as if to shake hands. As I've mentioned before, I think that, in general, I have a decent relationship with most of my adversaries. I can respect the fact that they have a job to do. But I couldn't believe the nerve of this D.A., to put out his hand as if to say "good game," or "we're friends, this is just business."

When someone puts out their hand to you, though, you don't have a lot of time to consider it. But I took a second to deliberate whether or not I could get away with giving him the "stink palm," which I learned about in Mallrats but have yet to actually use. After only a moment's consideration, I decided I probably could not pull it off. Especially not in the courtroom. And, seriously, what was my other option? Could I say, "Wait right here," run to the bathroom, and then shake his hand? Nope, I decided, there was no getting away with it.

So, in the end (no pun intended), because I was raised to be polite, I shook his hand.

Of course, after he walked off, I quickly rushed to use my antibacterial gel. I may shake accused criminals' hands all day, but this guy is truly despicable.

Maybe I can get my revenge by volunteering him for 30 days in jail?


  1. I know the type. I was just at an ethics traning last week and a small portion of it was devoted to prosecutors. The practice book (here atleast) and the rules of professional conduct have a separate section on prosecutor's behavior. It's amazing how much they get away with. One prosecutor here called and spoke to witnesses, knowing that they were represented by counsel (these witnesses being PD's themselves) and yet nothing happened. It's an interesting decision to make, whether to report someone to the ethics committee or to just ignore it. It does get rather annoying after a while, though, because prosecutors do indeed do whatever they want to.

  2. I have had far fewer bad prosecutor's than good ones nevertheless the bad ones stick with you longer. I have complained about bad DA's in the past, most often to their bosses who were often friends of mine. Sometimes I take the real sleazy ones and set them up for a fall. (this takes some though however) Mostly though over my 22 years in this practice, I just have learned to fight fire with fire. If they want to play games well then I know alot of em and I rather write the rules. I think that this approach probably has made me a bit more cynical than I want to be. I would rather return to the days of old where I beleived in those that represented my government and in their basically good selves... oh well I guess that is kind of naive given the nature of our work and the inherent risks and consequences. I have found that the Prosecutors most often dirty are those with the least courtroom skills and the strongest level of low self esteem and confidence. Maybe the best way to deal with them is to force them to make a case before a jury, and put them and their behavior on trial too.

  3. Ouch. I know those types. Man. Ouch.

  4. >>> He lies to me, he lies to the court, he hides evidence, he calls me names on the record.<<<

    That's unfortunate. Prosecutors should not behave that way, even though so many defense lawyers do.

    Maybe you'll report him at the end of the case? Aren't you ethically obligated to do so? Especially if he lied to the court?

  5. Update, just for the hell of it: I did mention it to the judge after the case. I got about two seconds into it, just long enough for the judge to see where I was going, and she said, "That's enough. I don't want to hear anything about this. Let's move on."

    I said, "Judge, I think..."

    And she told me to move on or I'd be in contempt. So much for that idea. The Judges here would prefer to bury their head in the sand.