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Unfit counsel
April 21, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

"This conflict of interest hits at the heart of the attorney-client relationship." Robert Caulley has served 14 years of a life sentence for the murder of his parents, a crime he says he didn't commit. Some hope that unknown DNA found on a gun at the crime scene will prove his innocence, citing similar exonerations in other high-profile Ohio cases, but so far Caulley's attempts to revisit his case with further DNA testing have failed. But look, Caulley already had his day in court with his lawyer by his side, doing everything possible to clear him, right? So he thought -- until he learned that his defense attorney was sleeping with his wife during his trial.
posted by escabeche (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
She said she began and continued the affair with Owen because it helped take her mind off of her then-husband's case and brought a "sense of normalcy" during a time when her life had been turned upside down.

Her sense of normalcy is pretty screwed up.

In any case, why this is something that sounds like it belongs in a soap opera, it probably won't have any bearing on the case since it looks like Robert's wife was estranged before the trial. What should - but won't - is this: "He repeatedly asked for an attorney but instead was put on the phone with an assistant prosecutor, who suggested that he cooperate."

Also: first and last links are the same.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:40 AM on April 21, 2011


But isn't that unethical?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:42 AM on April 21, 2011


no, i guess the first and last links can be the same.
posted by clavdivs at 9:44 AM on April 21, 2011 [27 favorites]


The reason it has bearing on the case is because, even though his wife was estranged, his attorney still has a reason to want Robert to be in jail and out of the picture, and therefore might not defend him as vigorously.
posted by mai at 9:45 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


His lawyer must of thought he was innocent, only an idiot would sleep with the wife of a murder.
posted by papercrane at 9:50 AM on April 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Fortunately, our Supreme Court has already said that post-conviction Brady review serves no purpose. Brady's based on the idea of a liberty interest in exculpatory evidence, and you can only have a liberty interest if you're innocent. And we know Caulley's not innocent, because he was proven guilty in a court of law.
posted by kafziel at 9:56 AM on April 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wow. That poor bastard.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rule 1.8 Conflict Of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules
(j) A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:12 AM on April 21, 2011


I would be perfectly okay with his defense attorney and his ex-wife serving, hour for hour, the amount of time he spent in prison in the slam themselves. Under the same lovely conditions. And complete forfeiture of their assets to give him some starting cash.

That seems fair, as a beginning.
posted by adipocere at 10:22 AM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


This scenario may have been too on-the-nose or over-the-top to be a totally fictional "Law & Order" episode, but now that it's happened IRL, it's "ripped from the headlines." I think Criminal Intent is shooting now, but if not we'll get Dick Wolf's sexy sexy take on this in the next season of LnO Prime.
posted by Straw Cab at 11:07 AM on April 21, 2011


I think Criminal Intent is shooting now, but if not we'll get Dick Wolf's sexy sexy take on this in the next season of LnO Prime.

If you mean LnO "original", that's been cancelled. But I see this as more of a LnO SVU thing. (Maybe I just wanna see Ice-T hearing about this and then say "...That's so messed up.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on April 21, 2011


that's been cancelled.

It never stays canceled. If this winds up on SVU I bet Stabler tries to punch the defense attorney. Stabler always tries to punch where justice fails.
posted by Straw Cab at 12:28 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It never stays canceled.

No, the original linchpin series has formally been cancelled. They're letting all the others (SVU, Criminal Intent, Los Angeles, UK, East Waukegan, etc.) keep going, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on April 21, 2011


DUNH DUNH!
posted by mudpuppie at 2:02 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, this is not governed by the specific rules of professional responsibility in the same way that "Ain't no rule that says a mule can't play football." "Don't start sleeping with a client you are representing" is something which you expect to come up. "Don't fuck the spouse of the person you are responsible for keeping out of prison" is moral ground which one would hope that defense attorneys would be able to navigate on their own, so clear-cut is the conflict of interest.

I've known some hard-ass judges in my short time, but all of them are harsher on counsel than they are on clients. I can't imagine any of them not hearing this on "inadequate representation" grounds.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:20 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a lawyer my literal response to the last sentence was an out-loud, "GAAAAAAAH!"

There ain't enough disbarrin' in the world ...
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:27 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't understand the mindset of people who don't want DNA testing done.
posted by delmoi at 5:34 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I completely understand why this is a conflict of interest (giggle*), it really shows how much I'm driven by my own guilty conscience when I think "if I was screwing some guys wife, I'd feel so bad about it, I'd make sure to, at least, give him the best defense possible." This is why I am a horrible guy to cheat on your boyfriend/husband with.



* - Using that phrase on MetaFilter makes me laugh this week
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:37 PM on April 21, 2011


I honestly don't understand the mindset of people who don't want DNA testing done.

Because they go from 48-1 to 47-2.
posted by Talez at 9:52 PM on April 21, 2011


I've known some hard-ass judges in my short time, but all of them are harsher on counsel than they are on clients. I can't imagine any of them not hearing this on "inadequate representation" grounds.


Navelgazer, thank you for giving me some hope as I head off to bed tonight.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:58 PM on April 21, 2011


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