Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chicago Lawyer Shooting

I've been thinking a lot about the disgruntled client who shot his ex-lawyer in Chicago, but I'm having difficulty formulating my thoughts into a coherent discussion.

What I can say is that probably every lawyer in the country has received a letter like this, accusing another lawyer of "screwing" the writer and ruining his life. The majority are from prisons, but as this shooting and the Lefkow shooting show, there are plenty of angry lunatics wandering the streets.

I recently had an angry client, for whom I actually WON the case, who shouted obscenities at me and hung up on me, primarily angry that lawsuits cost so much to file, which isn't something I have control over. And I've gotten plenty of calls from clients seeking a new attorney because "My lawyer is stealing my money. He's a liar. He stole the deed to my house." (Seriously. Heard that one.) Some of these people are talking about brilliant, morally upright lawyers I actually know personally and look up to as paragons of ethics! Which means the three possibilities are that half the lawyers in Peoria are living double lives and stealing from their clients, that these clients are lying, or that these clients have no grip on reality whatsoever either due to mental illness, substance abuse, or just plain wishful thinking.

So I guess the whole thing has me a little rattled by the level of crazy out there, and by how many folks blame their lawyers for their problems. I wish I had something more brilliant and coherent to say.

I sort-of get where some of these people are coming from. I get how frustrating dealing with the legal system is. I get how it's ridiculously expensive for a private citizen. I get how when you're dealing with something frustrating and upsetting that you don't understand very well, you can easily exaggerate the events in your head. But I find myself a little rattled and perturbed by how a run-of-the-mill crazy lawyer-hating letter escalated so easily into violence, when I talk to people with similar frustrations probably once a week.


Anonymous said...

Should not rattle or amaze you, people shoot people when they get cut off in traffic. The legal system is frustrating, it was designed by lawyers for lawyers, the average person should be angry and disapointed at every aspect of a lawsuit. ( not to the point of violence).
I would bet that at least 50% of all workers comp cases are bogus and the percentage is much higher than anyone wants to admit on personal injury cases as well. People lie, people are greedy, people steal, lawyers are people.

Eyebrows McGee said...

Actually, the real problem with the legal system is that it WASN'T designed; it just grew.

It worked pretty well for an agrarian society in 1787 but it's struggling under the weight of modern demands on the court system.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that guys like Kevin Lyons will only bother to prosecute a case that is on a silver platter already won, to protect the stats from his office. Yet in the civil arena attorneys will go after a nickel anywhere and sue anyone without a worry at all about the merits of the case. The guys that you want working that hard are the very people that do not and guys that should be tossing cases out the door never do. I firmly believe that defendants in civil cases should be able to recover legal fees when they win, it should not cost you money to defend yourself against a greedhead with no morals. I would also like to see prosecutors grow a set and actually attempt to make cases rather than just handle the ready made cases.