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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lawyer Just Phones it in...

Saw this one come down from Washington, Wright v. Van Patten, No. 07-212, (January 7, 2008).

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that nothing in its own precedent prevented a lawyer from participating in a plea hearing by speaker phone. However, the unsigned opinion cautioned that the justices weren't ruling on whether such a practice should be allowed.

Joseph Van Patten was charged with first-degree intentional homicide under Wisconsin law, but he pleaded guilty in Shawano County to a reduced count of first-degree reckless homicide. His lawyer wasn't physically in the courtroom for the plea hearing, but participated by speaker phone. The judge imposed the maximum 25 years in prison.

It's hard to imagine NOT appearing in court for a substantive hearing/matter. Right? Your communication is not just verbal isn't more of communication actually non-verbal? That said, I should never have to appear in court in-person for status hearings.

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