One Hand Clapping

Opinion: Trial Conflict Creates A Close Call

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Norm Pattis

"You think it's my choice?"

Then another: "Why isn't your client going to cut a deal?"

Lawyers advise, clients decide, I try to tell them. They roll their eyes, and pretend to understand what I am saying, so I've developed new locution when asked about why a client just won't agree to a prison sentence.

"I'll tell you what," I say when asked about a client's decision to fight.

"I myself will plead guilty, if you will agree to serve their time. Deal?"

That shuts 'em up.

I tossed and turned for a night or two trying to figure out how to appear in two courtrooms at the same time. Try as I might, I just couldn't find a way.

One my associates, Brittany Paz, stepped up. She'd appear to try the civil case if necessary, even though the client wanted me to try it. The thing I most like about Ms. Paz is her willingness to walk into any fight; she's granite in search of the buzzsaw whose teeth she will break.

But first, I try another continuance request. I call my adversary. No answer. He, no doubt, was enjoying the sight of me on the ropes, and was savoring the chaos that could only benefit his client.

I lay out in the motion the timeline. It was the court, not me, who let prior counsel out of an old case, mere months before trial. The client was pro se. She asked me to appear. I did. I've been in trial more than usual this past few months. There was no intent to game the system, no effort to derail justice.

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