Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Who's being served?

As I was leaving the municipal courthouse the other morning I happened to pass by the offices of a well-known Houston traffic ticket defense firm. Out front they had a sign that announced to the world that if you missed your court date and hired them to defend you, they'd post your bond for free.

Sounds like a good deal, right?


It's not the best of ideas for your attorney to be your bondsman. Attorneys and bondsmen have interests that sometimes diverge. Everything smells great when the defendant shows up to court on time - but what happens when that defendant decides he's got other business he needs to take care of the morning he's supposed to be sitting in traffic court?

The attorney's job is to get his client through the process as painlessly as possible. His interest is in prolonging matters as long as necessary to make it go away. The bondsman would rather get the case over with quick so he can turn around and post the next guy's bond.

But once the defendant misses court all hell breaks loose. The attorney's job is to get his client's bond reinstated if possible and to try to live and fight another day. The bondsman, on the other hand, just wants off the bond.

While the attorney may continue to fight to get the case to go away, the bondsman wants the defendant to plead out his case. And what happens when the attorney and the bondsman are one and the same? Whose interest is the attorney serving in that case?

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