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Jul 13 2010

High Profile Cases Make Some Lawyers Forget Their Obligations

Lindsay Lohan’s search for a new lawyer led to a Chicago Lawyer named  Stuart Goldberg. How she found Mr. Goldberg, I don’t know, as his website seems to indicate he specializes in State and Federal street narcotics cases.  But in any event, he was flown to LA to meet with Lohan for six hours to see if he would be her new lawyer.  Apparently the meeting didn’t go well because Goldberg didn’t get the gig. But what he did get was a media opportunity that he quickly used to expose some of his prospective client’s issues.  Here are the two most prominent quotes attributed to him:

“I’m concerned that she’s not disciplined or tethered enough to the reality of adult consequences. She doesn’t seem to have the awareness of what’s going to befall her.”

This quote is not something that will help her as she goes on probation or even as she is housed in custody.  It could likely result in law enforcement placing greater restrictions on her than they otherwise would have.  Her potential lawyer told the world she is not “Tethered to reality” and lacks “awareness” of what’s happening to her.  While truth may be a defense in a defamation lawsuit, it is not a defense to breaching client confidentiality and your obligation to put your client first.  While he was not yet her lawyer, the attorney-client privilege is in place when you are giving a consultation to determine if you are gong to be retained.  He could have only learned about her awareness or how tethered she was to reality during the six hour interview.   Here’s his second quote:

My impression of Lindsay is that she’s a fragile lost child – a sleeping beauty with her head in the sand. I found her not fully forewarned of the consequence of her actions.

Hardly a vote of confidence for someone about to be under the careful watch of the Los Angeles  Sheriff’s Department and Probation. He also blurted out that during the interview, Lindsay wrote diagonally across a writing pad, exactly as was depicted in the courtroom pictures showing her adorning her nails with  “f*ck you.” While she has since admitted that her nails were painted that way, this last piece of information should not have come from her prospective lawyer.  You think the judge assigned to her case  or the probation officer who will be are not reading all of this? This interview occurred in People magazine for crying out loud.

Yes, we are all spending too much time focusing on this simple Violation of Probation case, but it serves as an example of what happens to lawyers when they get in this arena.  It is unsettling to me to see lawyers throw their client’s best interests out the window for the sake of publicity.  Very, very rarely is it in a criminal defense client’s interest to have media attention and long quotes from your lawyer in the newspaper.  It can be very hard for clients, especially celebrities, to not have “their side of the story” in print or online to balance all of the bad press.  But that’s for the publicist to figure out with the legal representative how to slowly put out positive information without damaging the defense of the client.  If it can’t be done, then it can’t be done and hopefully the result will be the vindication the client needs. Lohan’s first lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley did a goo d job of doing that , but could have done more to control Lohan’s courtroom appearance and demeanor as I previously wrote about (before the nail fiasco).

More media attention and personal information revealing her instability is the last thing this young woman needed.  She needs a good LA-based criminal appellate lawyer to tell her whether she has a shot at reducing her sentence (unlikely) and to help begin the restoration of her life and career.  And the first criteria to ask during the interview is  “Will you keep your mouth closed?”

2 comments

  1. doris catlett

    we find ourselves in a despere situation.there is a custody battle going on,between my daughter and her husband.the child has just turned four yr old and was finally diagnosed with a fatal disease,called infantile ceriod lipofusinosis,(batten disease)this is a fatal disease which there are only 450 known cases in the whole world.of course we put our faith in a,what we thought was a good honest lawyer,who made the situation sound like we may could have the process over in 30 days.the case involved a divorce,along with custody.we paid our retainer fee and went on with the case.it has been almost three months,now and feel it’s getting close to the end of all the obligations being fulfilled on the defendent’s part,who has done everything that has been asked of her.me and the grandchild’s mother, have worked 24/7,to find help for ali.we have found that help.people are reaching out to us and offering that help,but the court insist on carring out a protocol of which i can understand in a normal situation.this is far from normal and seems some protocol could be put on the back burner or speeded up in a life or death situation such as this one.we have a mercy flight who has offered to fly the child,me,the grandmother,and her mother to a batten’s hospital of excellence in houston,texas.the father has temperary custody and we have some time with ali,also.he has been notified about this help,but we don’t know wheather he will be in agreement or not. we have the appt set up for aug 24th to be seen by the dr. there.this agency is going to take care of all the expenses,even housing and food.our alli has a life expectancy of from 4 to 7 more yrs, if a seizure or illness takes her quicker.she is having quiet a few seizures daily aand are not improving.time is of essence.everything is on go,for the help that could prolong her life and perhaps a cure be found.we were told,in the beginning that this was all about the child,if so why and how can they with good concious, keep this child from getting the help,she so desperatly needs?our trusted layer has just notified us,to let us know that we need to have 7,000 more dollars,other than the 3,750 dollars, wh we put down as a retainer,by this friday or he’s not going to represent us anymore.about the only thing we have gotton for that,so far is 12 hrs of visitation with our precious baby girl.i have to wonder if it needs to be drug out,so the lawyer can drain us to the point of bankrupcy and the death of a beautiful little girl.maybe there’s a good reason , for this ,but i don’t know what it could be,except that someone is profitting from this sad sitituation. if there is an answer,we sure would appreciate one right now. thank you and may God bless

  2. Oscar Michelen

    I am sorry to hear about what sounds like an extremely difficult situation. You didn’t say what state you are in, but most states have a procedure for emergency relief where you can get in front of a judge within 24 hours to ask for an order. You can ask the court for a temporary custody order to take the child to the appointment in Texas. If your lawyer wont do it or you cant hire the lawyer to do it because he/she wants too much money, perhaps you may qualify for a free attorney through the Legal Aid Society in your state. Finally, in many family courts there are personnel there whose job it is to help folks without a lawyer draft the paperwork they need so maybe you can try and go it alone. Good luck

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