Friday, July 20, 2007

Lawyers Policing Lawyers

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment about Peter Cherbi's post on his "A Diary of Injustice in Scotland" blog. Here Peter laments about a Scottish court case in which a lawyer (presumably a criminal defense lawyer) had admitted to giving his client a false alibi. A quote from the press account of the case . . .
A LAWYER gave a "serious criminal" a false alibi for his trial on abduction and attempted extortion charges, a court heard yesterday.
The solicitor, Shahid Pervez, 39, told police that the man, who for legal reasons cannot be named, was in his office discussing an insurance claim when the crime was alleged to have been committed.
Not a good way to build the persuasive case, I must say. The post piqued my interest after having recently commented on the importance of defense lawyer credibility here. Peter went on to say:
Of course, lawyers regularly give alibis to other lawyers when it involves a client complaint, on everything from defrauding banks & faking up files, to even defrauding clients & the inland revenue. It's just this time, the lawyer has admitted in court, giving an alibi to a client. Usually, there isn't even an eyebrow raised to the former, but the latter it seems is a taboo in the legal profession, not to mention against the law in both cases of course . . . The Council of the Law Society of Scotland Act 2003 was yet another piece of legal profession sponsored legislation which was claimed would clean up the regulatory world of lawyer covering up for lawyer .. although as we all know, has had no impact on the ever rising levels of corruption in the Scottish legal profession, only proving yet again the failure of allowing lawyers to regulate themselves.
Peter is on a crusade to root out what he sees as corruption within the legal profession in Scotland. Apparently, the profession there regulates itself internally, but doesn't work that well from Peter's point of view. Their system is not unlike our own in Texas in that our profession is regulated from within. Each lawyer licensed to practice law in Texas is subject to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and is regulated by the State Bar of Texas.

Our system of regulation within the profession is worthy of public trust. Earlier in my defense career I was honored to serve on a State Bar grievance committee where we heard complaints of lawyer misconduct. During my 6 years of service we heard a variety of complaints ranging from unconscionable fees to outright criminal behavior on the part of practicing attorneys. I believe the process was fair overall and achieved just results for both the complainants and the lawyers involved. (I am happy to say I never heard about a lawyer covering for another lawyer, or heard of lawyers giving a client a false alibi!)

Anyway, check out Peter's blog. If you are a Clint Eastwood or Richard Burton fan, you'll be happy to know one of his favorite movies is "Where Eagles Dare." A great WWII action flick.

No comments: