Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wearing two hats

I must preface my remarks by saying that I know plenty of good attorneys that also write bonds - it's common practice for attorneys who handle a high volume of traffic tickets.

My question is whether there is an inherent conflict in both writing the bond and representing the citizen accused?

As a criminal defense attorney, my job is to keep my clients out of jail as long as possible. That means stretching out a case if necessary. However, the bondsman's interest is ensuring that client shows up in court for every scheduled appearance - and, the longer a case draws out, the more risk the client won't appear or will end up in more trouble.

If you're the attorney and the potential bondsman, do you argue for a personal bond?

What happens if a client doesn't appear? Do you ask the judge to give your client one more chance or do you cut your losses and surrender the bond?

And the true dilemma - if your client skips, do you do nothing or do you track him down and hand him over to the police?

Do y'all think there's an ethical dilemma at play?


Cyn said...

I never thought about the problem but I agree it could cause a dilema. Better left to ticket courts than to higher level courts. (Used to be every attorney wrote bonds - without really thinking about it - in traffic court. I haven't done it in about 18 or 19 years.) Good point, Mark.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Good point, Mark?!?!

What, is this like Bull Durham when Annie is making love to Nuke and calls him Crash and when he complains she asks him if he'd rather she be sleeping with Crash and using Nuke's name or the other way around...

But, thanks for the comment nonetheless.

Mark Bennett said...


You can guess my opinion on this, but I'll give it anyway: it's a conflict of interest.

Suppose the lawyer/bondsman learns that the client is shopping for a one-way ticket to Venezuela.