In this video, we are treated to the hilarious yet tragic scenario of a defense attorney in Las Vegas who shows up to trial visibly drunk. The attorney, who is stumbling and slurring his speech, first claims that he is late for the trial because of a car accident, in which his Audi 600 was rear-ended. When the judge asks if the police were called to the scene, the intoxicated attorney claims that he is “philosophically opposed” to calling 911. He further states that he thought calling 911 would be a bad idea because the paramedics and police would take “at least 2 hours” to get to the scene. When the judge, who is initially patient and ridiculously deadpan, inquires as to the attorney’s clearly impaired condition, he responds that he thinks he suffered a “concussion” in the accident, which apparently involved multiple people and a hit-and-run driver, none of whom found it necessary to call 911. When the judge begins to grow impatient, the attorney then claims he suffered “multiple concussions” in the accident. The judge offers to summon medical help for the attorney, stating that if he did in fact have “multiple concussions,” then he requires a doctor’s attention as soon as possible. After more contrived excuses from the defense attorney and his companion, a woman he claims to have met on the way to court, the judge loses patience and orders a blood-alcohol test, which the attorney, of course, fails miserably. The judge then declares a mistrial for the case, which is a kidnapping case, so in the end, the attorney’s blunder seems to have worked out well for his client, leading me to wonder if the entire scenario was planned with the intent of causing a mistrial. The entire video raises a great many issues and questions regarding professional ethics on the part of criminal defense attorneys.
While the declaration of a mistrial by the judge by no means indicates that the defendant gets to walk away scot-free from the kidnapping charges he faces, it does mean that there will be a retrial at a certain point in the future. If the defendant does not fire his attorney for being a drunk, this will give his defense attorney more time to build a solid defense case and gather evidence in his favor. Thus, the drunken courtroom dramatics staged by the defense attorney seem to have been completely intentional, with the goal of achieving the declaration of a mistrial. The defense attorney has certainly fallen out of this particular judge’s good graces with his antics, but if he knows what he is doing, then he will file a petition with the Las Vegas court to have another judge assigned to the case.
As for his professional standing after this drunken incident, the defense attorney will almost certainly be reported to the Nevada State Bar for this offense, but it is unlikely that he will be disbarred or lose his professional license. The attorney will almost certainly be found in contempt of court, and may be temporarily suspended and have to pay a fine, but this can be easily fixed. The defense attorney can claim to have an alcohol abuse or substance abuse disorder, enter a treatment facility, and work out some deal with the court to attend 12-Step meetings on a regular basis and submit to random drug and alcohol testing for a prescribed period of time. Thus, the man who initially appears to be the worst criminal defense attorney one could ever hope for might actually be one who is extraordinarily clever. Through this maneuver, he bought more time for his client to build a strong defense case.
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