Saturday, January 10, 2015

If Your Doctor was Your Lawyer

Back in 2013, when I was going through a round of chemotherapy for leukemia, my wife remarked, "You know, one thing I will give you credit for is that you do listen to your doctors."

She meant that when the doctors prescribed a regimen for me, I followed their instructions to the most minute detail.  

"Why wouldn't I?"  I asked.  "They are professionals.  I went to them with a problem and they told me the best way to handle it.  Why would I disregard that advice?"

I went on to tell her that sometimes, by analogy, lawyers have a similar job to doctors.  They go to school and train so that they can help others.  (NOTE: Yes, I know that is a very sterilized and idyllic way of viewing the job of the lawyer, but go with it for the sake of the blog post.)  I told her that despite my legal advice, some clients often think they know better.  If they heard some news or advice from me that they didn't want to hear, they immediately cited something they had seen on the news.  My years of law school coupled with practicing exclusively criminal law for over 15 years was nothing compared to something they saw on the news, heard from a cellmate, read in the law "liberry" or, my personal favorite, watched on Law & Order.  

Seriously, you have no idea how many times lawyers get confronted by clients who saw something different on Law & Order.  The bottom line is that it is a very frustrating experience when you give solid legal advice to a client and that client either argues with you or simply ignores your advice.  I don't enjoy it when my clients do it to me and I don't do it to professionals I ask to help me -- especially not my doctors. 

When I first got sick last year, my doctor, Sam Siegler, suggested that I stay away from doing my own Internet research.  He was sending me to a great oncologist and knew the oncologist would give me the real information that I needed to know.  I think Sam's warning was more directed towards my wife -- who firmly believes that no matter the problem, there is information on the World Wide Web that can solve it.

Earlier this week, I had to go to a dermatologist to take care of a small basal cell carcinoma spot near my left temple.  His advice was that he needed to perform a quick surgical procedure to cut the spot out.  It would leave a nasty scar and there was a small chance that it could cut the nerve that raises my left eyebrow.  His clear advice was to do the surgery, and, of course, I agreed.

Later on, I started thinking about what it would have been like if the conversation between me and my doctor had been more like conversations with me and some of my (more meth-addicted-type) clients.  It would go something like this:

DOCTOR:  Well, Mr. Newman, it looks like you have a small bit of basal cell carcinoma.

ME:  Carci-what?  What does that mean?

DOCTOR:  It's a type of low-grade skin cancer that . . .

ME:  Cancer?!  I'm not trying to have cancer!

DOCTOR:  Um, okay, well the fact of the matter is that you do have it and we have to do something about it.

ME:  I don't see any cancer.

DOCTOR:  It's that little spot on your left cheek.

ME:  Man, that's a zit.  I've been having zits all my life.  It's not cancer.

DOCTOR:  Sir, I've been a dermatologist for fifteen years and I can assure you that it is a basal cell carci -- 

ME:  Why are you trying to put this on me?

DOCTOR:  Nobody is trying to "put" anything on you.

ME:  I've been watching ER for twenty years and Grey's Anatomy for ten years.  This ain't cancer.

DOCTOR:  Yes, it is and we need to do a small surgery.

ME:  Surgery?!  What the hell are you talking about surgery? You don't know anything about cancer.  You do that chemodiation stuff for cancer.

DOCTOR:  I think you mean either chemotherapy or radiation, Mr. Newman.

ME:  Whatever.  My cousin's girlfriend's brother got cancer and he got that chemodiation and I'm not going to be doing that.

DOCTOR:  No one is asking you to do that, sir.  It is just a small surgical procedure that will leave a small scar.

ME:  A scar?!  I don't need anymore scars.  I've already been married three times, man!  Don't tell me about scars.

DOCTOR:  Well, the bottom line is that you have a basal cell carcinoma and it has to be dealt with one way or the other.  This is my best medical advice to you, sir.

ME:  This is bullsh*t, man.  I'm going to go get a Free World Doctor.

DOCTOR:  A what?

ME:  You ain't working for me, man.


Mark Bennett said...

I was wondering when you were going to write about Siegler and the temple case. Thank you.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Well, since I'm a witness in it and therefore under the Rule, it will probably have to be when the hearing is over. You're welcome.

A Harris County Lawyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great to read that you are going to be writing more often!

Just Sayin' said...

Mark Bennet, Esq.:

What is your take on the Temple case?
Any Rice theologian such as yourself would conclude it's soooo much more likely for a couple of teenagers to smoke a little weed and decide to execute a teacher than it is for a cheating husband to kill his wife, whatcha think dog?

How many more days do you think the defense ought to harass Siegler on the stand? Clearly four (4) days is obviously not sufficient!

I wonder if the Rule also applies to DeGuerin and his inept minions……boo hoo, but I digress.

Maybe the rumor that Siegler is running for DA in '16 is true……...I'll bet her Hollywood $$$ could fund quite the campaign.
We'd all love to watch her try Temple again just to see Dick stumble in his platform shoes……but at least he wouldn't cry out loud.

Hey, Mark I recall you saying Siegler would flame out in the private sector…… if we take her civil practice and movie stardom off the table you'd be spot on. LOL!

It's not a big leap reading through the lines of your pettiness……..integrity isn't for everybody.

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

Please confirm or deny whether or not KS is going to be our next DA. The tease to get us all excited is not fair if the "rumor" is nothing more than wishful thinking. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Kanye West v. Mark Bennett

And I wonder if you know
What it means, what it means
And I wonder if you know
What it means to find your dream
--Kanye West

And I wonder if Temple is guilty
There must be Brady must be Brady
Temple can't be guilty no he can't
Siegler scares me she's so mean.
--Mark Bennett


Anonymous said...

Please Identify below a practice, phenomenon or individual(s) perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate:

a. Cancer
b. David Temple
c. Mark Bennett
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

I am simply "wondering" about the relevance of Mark Bennett's comment in this thread. Thank you.

Mark Bennett said...

Dim zealots are the people most likely to be unethical. Ambivalent people don't care enough to cheat, and smart true believers don't need to cheat.

"Just Sayin'" is a dim zealot. I said Siegler would "flame out in the private sector"? He's a liar. It never happened, and never would have. (If a guy would tell lies from behind a mask, what wouldn't he do?)

I'm a fan of Kelly Siegler, and always have been. I'm happy for her TV success, and I would be happy for her success in civil law (winning prosecutions translates directly to winning PI cases, but as far as I can tell she's not tried that yet). Kelly is a smart true believer who didn't have to cheat to win cases.

I'm ambivalent about Temple. There is a story that wasn't told to the jury; whether the defense could tell that story wasn't Kelly's call to make, but it appears that she made it anyway.

I'm sad that nobody here has any appreciation for a good pun.

Anonymous said...

Mark Bennet, Esq.:

Calling you out does not make one a dim zealot. Check YOUR blog history to jog YOUR memory regarding YOUR scathing predictions on Siegler's success in the private sector……..apparently YOUR cerebral cortex is a bit dim and/or selective in recall function.

Most civil issues do not actually go to trial and often times a strong reputation as a tough and prepared litigator results in settlement. Are you also alleging that Siegler has not settled any 7 figure civil cases since retiring from the DA's office? If so, your dimness is again exposed.

Your suggested ambivalence on the Temple "story" must be some cryptic "pun" that challenges the totality of evidence and logic; please elaborate!

Are you actually suggesting that, "smart true believers don't need to cheat" THEREFORE they don't?
You apparently graduated from the Dick DeGuerin School of Deductive Reasoning and Ethics.
It's not the true believer; but rather the truth revealed by tenacious preparation and courtroom prowess that wins the day for an ethical conclusion.

Mark Bennet judging what is and isn't "Kelly's call to make"……….now that's laughable.

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

You know, all I can give you is my anecdotal experience, and I can certainly think of exceptions, but the former DAs that I have tried civil cases against have been anything but effective. Maybe they weren't the winning prosecutors Bennett referenced, but my experience is that prosecutors don't always, or even often, transition well to the other court house.

This is not a comment on Siegler, whom I've only met once, or my bald friend Murray, who I think would do well in either court house. Too bad the civil lawyer's habit of working past noon would interfere with his corduroy-wearing, jet-setting, Char Bar sitting criminal defense lawyering/TV lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

I truly laughed out loud reading this. That is spot on how the conversation would go if you were a doc.

Anonymous said...

If Bennett was as smart as he thinks and actually became a physician:

Dr. Bennett: What are you doing in my Emergency Department?

Patient: I'm so sorry to bother you sir. I've been vomiting for 2 days, my fever is 104 and and I have terrible pain on the right side of my lower belly.

Dr. Bennett: This is a Level I trauma center you dimwit! I am the chief of trauma and you are nobody.

Patient: Sir, I truly believe there is something terribly wrong with me.

Dr. Bennett: The only thing wrong with you is that you are a liar and a dim zealot. Your symptoms are insignificant and do not warrant my medical expertise.

(Patient passes out lacerating her head and nurse enters the exam room after hearing the commotion. The patient is hemorrhaging and seizing on the floor. Dr. Bennett is playing a video game on his cell.)

Nurse: Dr. Bennet what is going on?

Dr. Bennett: This woman is really messy and annoying. Get one of the med students up here to tape up her head and send her home.

Nurse: What is her diagnosis doctor?

Dr. Bennett: Urban Women's Blight Syndrome and she's clumsy.

Nurse: What?

Dr. Bennett: I am too important to waste my time any further.

Anecdote: The patient's autopsy the following morning revealed……..

A Dimwitted ADA Zealot said...

Mark Bennett,
I was wondering why those who truely believe they're rich people buy the crazy shit they buy. Is it because they need it or because they want it?

Jefe said...

Anonymous 12:31, your play is miscast. Bennett would never treat a client like that. Prosecutors and judges, maybe.

Anonymous said...

The label to this post is "Humor". No one besides MB got the joke. The fact that he trolls y'all openly is even more hilarious. Siegler is the doc, not KS. Temple is MN's head not the convicted murderer. Lighten up and pay attention.

Just another dumb ass ada said...

Jefe and/or Anon 11:07,

1. I was wondering if Mark Bennett is related in any way to Shirley "Sybil" Mason?
2. Please explain how someone who exalts his intellect based on blatantly illogical reasoning and irrational commands earns your support.
3. Are the rules of evidence and procedure applicable to all equally or are they selectively enforced as you all deem fit?
4. Speaking of trolls, you geniuses sure had a love affair with the queen of trolls.......I'll bet you still miss the Hell out of Patsy. C'mon admit it!
5. Good luck when KS is the next DA.

Anonymous said...

I just read the 1st 2 days of Kelly Siegler's repetitive testimony on Bennett's blog. How disgusting and embarrassing that the Harris County District Attorney's Office has allowed this abuse of process to continue 2 additional days and the witness still has not been passed!
First Assistant Belinda Hill, who essentially runs the HCDAO, has always been a team player standing up for what she believes is in the best interest of justice. It begs the question,therefore, as to whether or not she has been ordered to stand down on this miscarriage of justice by Devon Anderson for political reasons. What other explanation could there be, absent total incompetence by the chief law enforcement agency of Harris County?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:04, do you even writ, bro?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:42,

Do you have a brain and a pair of cojones or just a box of excuses?

Anonymous said...

anon 2:21 pm

you seem to have no idea how a writ of habeas corpus works. it's not my job to teach you. in fact, i'm actually questioning your understanding of criminal trial procedures in general. in short, if you think you can do better, by all means, run on into that court and assist the defense in shutting down that writ proceeding and end this travesty! lulz.

i'm absolutely positive you have no idea what's wrong with that last sentence. i'm also sure going to just blah blah blah because your gut instinct is to run your mouth without filtering for the lack of logic and knowledge. however, i welcome any explanation you have for your lame ass comeback. i'm also looking forward to your next lame ass comeback. do proceed.

Anonymous said...

Dade County doesn't put up with the bullshit you all do in Harris County:

A. See Breedlove v. Singletary, 595 So. 2d 8, 10, 17 Fla. L. Weekly 67 (Fla. 1992) (“Claims of trial counsel’s effectiveness are not cognizable in habeas corpus proceedings.”).

B. New Evidence
If there is newly discovered evidence in your case, you may petition the court for a writ of habeas corpus. However the evidence must be very strong.1 It must be so strong that, if admitted, it would probably produce an acquittal on retrial.2 In addition, you must be able to prove that the information was not known by you or your attorney and could not have been discovered by you or your attorney at time of trial.3 You may also file for a habeas petition if you can show that the prosecutor failed to turn over exculpatory evidence (evidence that would have been likely to support your innocence).4 To establish a claim that the prosecutor failed to turn over such evidence, you must be able to show that:
(1) The state possessed evidence favorable to you;
(2) You did not possess nor could have obtained such evidence with reasonable effort;
(3) The prosecution suppressed the evidence; and
(4) There is a reasonable probability the case would have come out differently if the
evidence had been disclosed.5

Anonymous said...

1. DNA evidence may be such an example. See JLM, Chapter 11, “Using Post-Conviction DNA Testing to Attack Your Conviction or Sentence.”
2. See Jones v. State, 591 So. 2d 911, 915, 16 Fla. L. Weekly 745 (Fla. 1991) (stating that “the newly discovered evidence must be of such a nature that it would probably produce an acquittal on retrial”); see also Davis v. State, 736 So. 2d 1156, 1159, 24 Fla. L. Weekly 260, 260 (Fla. 1999) (denying post-conviction relief motion because petitioner’s allegations regarding expert witness testimony were speculative and thus not newly discovered evidence); Williamson v. Dugger, 651 So. 2d 84, 89, 19 Fla. L. Weekly 582, 582 (Fla. 1994) (denying habeas corpus petition because new affidavits petitioner offered to impeach a witness’s credibility were not likely to lead to an acquittal on retrial).
3. See Jones v. State, 591 So. 2d 911, 916, 16 Fla. L. Weekly 745, 745 ( Fla. 1991) (holding newly discovered information must have been unknown at time of trial and could not have been discovered through reasonable diligence); see also Steinhorst v. State, 695 So. 2d 1245, 1247–1248, 22 Fla. L. Weekly 335, 335 ( Fla. 1997) (affirming the denial of defendant’s habeas motion because due diligence could have uncovered files relating to the fact that defendant’s judge recused himself on a co- defendant’s case, which defendant attempted to offer as newly discovered evidence); Correll v. State, 698 So. 2d 522, 523–524, 22 Fla. L. Weekly 188 (Fla. 1997) (denying petitioner’s post-conviction relief because the evidence on an expert witness’s education offered to impeach the witness could have been discovered at trial).
4. See Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 1196–1197, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215, 218 (1963) (holding that “suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution”); see also Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 421-22, 115 S. Ct. 1555, 1560, 131 L. Ed. 2d 490, 498 (1995) (applying Brady and reversing the denial of a habeas corpus petition because the state failed to disclose evidence favorable to the petitioner); Brown v. Wainwright, 785 F.2d 1457, 1458 (11th Cir. 1986) (reversing petitioner’s conviction because the prosecution knowingly allowed false testimony to be introduced and exploited in its case).
5. Downs v. State, 740 So. 2d 506, 513–517, 24 Fla. L. Weekly 231 (Fla. 1999) (denying motion for post-conviction relief because appellant’s contentions that appellee had, among other things, withheld exculpatory evidence and that appellant had received ineffective assistance of counsel were meritless); Mills v. State, 684 So. 2d 801, 806, 21 Fla. L. Weekly 527 (Fla. 1996) (denying motion for successive petition where defendant failed to produce statements or evidence to show that further proceedings would have changed court’s conclusion of guilt); Scott v. State, 657 So. 2d 1129, 1132, 20 Fla. L. Weekly 133 (Fla. 1995) (reversing trial court’s decision and remanding for evidentiary hearing on issue of possible Brady violations raised by defendant’s motion, but denying habeas petition as procedurally barred); Hildwin v. Dugger, 654 So. 2d 107, 110–111, 20 Fla. L. Weekly 39 (Fla. 1995) (denying habeas petition but vacating and remanding for new sentencing before a jury because counsel’s errors had deprived petitioner of a reliable penalty phase).

C. Don't be a pussy all your life

Anonymous said...

Dade County ADA,

You nailed it but remember: you can't fix stupid or scared.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if Siegler has finished testifying?

Thank you.