Poor Bill DuBois: We can imagine his early joy when Hans Reiser, a putative millionaire, a marginally famous software guru, arrived in his office, cash in hand, seeking legal assistance because OPD thinks he killed poor Nina, his estranged wife (that manipulative mail-order bride from Russia, still “missing”).

Ah the lure of publicity, of a lurid drama, of fame even, and the not-trivial consideration of hard cash-in-hand (an all too rare resource from those criminal defendants who are not members of a drug cartel).

Flash forward to the mid-week chastisement by an irritated Judge Goodman for DuBois’ earlier demonstration and Bill’s current contention that the court has improperly admonished Mr. Reiser – in public.

Poor Mr. DuBois was then admonished himself for merely “standing up to the judge” for berating Hans.

I suspect that Bill knows better. May I let you in on the secret? A client from hell expects at least the appearance of a spirited defense for his money; this creates the dynamic in which the attorney may feel impelled to perform a certain amount of courtroom fire and brimstone in the interests of “client control”.

But DuBois must feel ill used by now, having given the last full measure of devotion to his client’s perceived interests by – assuming that current reports are to be believed — he actually took possession of those hidden hard drives seventeen months ago. DuBois will have placed his grip on the license to practice law at risk; he is on fragile ground here, and for what? The client is happy? The court is happy? Bill is happy? No, we can be certain that no one is happy… Except possibly Paul Hora.

The best that can be hoped for from the defense perspective: that the belatedly recovered hard drives contain nothing incriminating. This (I believe unlikely scenario) would give credence to the claim that the client from hell was merely paranoid and possibly innocent at that.

Mr. Reiser is on the witness stand TUESDAY once again. He won’t be excused (in my opinion) until the hard drive issue has been resolved. [NOTE: I am advised that, even if the hard drives themselves are recovered, the technical difficulties in restoring deleted or encrypted files may prove too daunting given the time frame. Well see…]

I wish I had better advice for the defense team, here. It reminds me of the classic anecdote told in ethics classes. The attorney is relaxing in her 3rd floor offices, enjoying the breeze from the open window. Her client, having leaped from the 96th story without parachute flies past the attorney’s window, shouting, “What do I do now?”

The attorney shouts back: “Don’t jump!”

Stay tuned.

The Out-Lawyer

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