Hernandez v. Gil, — So.2d —-, 2008 WL 5156623 (Fla. 3d DCA Dec 10, 2008) [Attorney Interview]
You know you’re having a bad day when the 3d DCA writes an opinion for no other reason than to lecture you on your ethical duties.
Although the arguments raised by the appellant below and here are meritless and would ordinarily prompt a per curiam affirmance, the role and actions of Hernandez’s counsel warrant attention.
Ouch! The 3d DCA goes on to admonish Hernandez’s counsel for going along with her client’s “continued direct disobedience of unstayed court orders.” And to make matters worse, the 3d DCA ordered Hernandez’s counsel to pay the other side’s legal fees.
Just Say No!
What this case is really about is not ethics, it’s about saying “NO” to certain clients. The longer I practice law the more convinced I become that deciding which cases NOT to take is probably the single most important decision I make as a lawyer. The linked-to opinion is a prime example of how bad things can get when you take on the wrong case.
After writing about this case the last time it was appealed [click here], I was asked by a lawyer considering whether he should step in as Hernandez’s new lawyer what I thought about the matter. My answer: “Run, don’t walk, away from this guy.” Well, it turns out the 3d DCA has similar advice for the next probate litigator sizing up a particularly difficult client:
We believe that this opinion and the monetary sanctions that will follow provide an adequate lesson on when to decline representation . . . “Just say no” applies to some clients and matters, just as to drugs.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.