Hello everyone and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent media reports of a Kansas lawyer who is apparently in trouble for allegedly knowingly allowing her client’s identical twin brother to be identified as the defendant at a preliminary hearing in a criminal case. The case is State of Kansas v. Darrel W. White Jr.
According to recent reports in the Kansas City Star and elsewhere, a criminal defense lawyer allegedly appeared at a preliminary hearing and misrepresented to a judge that the man sitting next to her during a preliminary hearing on a robbery charge was the defendant. The county attorney has now moved to have the lawyer held in contempt and removed from the case and was quoted as saying that she is required to report the lawyer to the Missouri Bar.
The reports state that when the judge called the case of State of Kansas v. Darrel W. White Jr., he asked the lawyer if her client was in custody and she replied that he was in the courtroom. The judge then asked “Mr. White” to come forward; however, it was Darion White, Darrel’s identical twin brother, who came to the defense table. After the proceedings began, the prosecutor called the victim to testify. She described the strong-armed robbery and identified the man sitting next to the lawyer at the counsel table as the person who committed the crime. At or around that time, the arresting police officer in the case, who was outside the courtroom waiting to be called to testify, noticed that a man leaving the elevator appeared to be the person he arrested.
The police officer told the prosecutor and the judge ordered a recess in the proceedings. According to the media reports, after the proceedings were again commenced, the lawyer conceded that the man at the counsel table was not her client; however, she claimed that she never intended to mislead the court. She told the judge “(m)y client was not planning on testifying at all…(m)y client was not the one I called to come to the table. This honorable court asked for Mr. White, and that’s who’s at the table today, Mr. White.”
As one might expect, the judge was not amused. According to the reports, he stated in a recording of the hearing “(i)t was presented to me, it was presented to this court and it was presented to the state that the person sitting at that table was your client…(w)as it your intention to bring someone else up to this counsel table so she (the victim) could misidentify him?” The lawyer responded “No, your honor.”
Unfortunately for the lawyer, when the twin bother who was not the defendant testified as to what had occurred, he said the only reason he was there was because the lawyer “asked me to.” The judge then announced that he was continuing the hearing until Jan. 9, 2012 and that he would let the presiding judge of the judicial circuit decide whether the lawyer would be removed from the case.
Bottom line: do not do this…I repeat, do not do this!
…and be careful out there!