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"I Read on the Web that ...." AARGH!

One of the most frustrating, and sometimes infuriating, things a constitutional defense lawyer will face when talking to prospective [or even current] clients is to have one of them say “I [or my brother, mom, friend, etc.] read on the internet that [some half-baked and inapt and misunderstood supposed answer to their issue]; what do you think?” They are paying me thousands of dollars for my unique and unsurpassed service and they want to compete with me with something their untrained eye has seen on the internet!/? Are you kidding me?????/!

Most criminal and constitutional law issues are at least as complex as brain or open heart surgery, and many are not comprehended by a high percentage of law practitioners and even higher percentage of judges, yet people untrained in the craft think they can divine necessary substance from passing digests on the internet. It's almost too idiotic to be commented upon, but it must be.

Would you let a surgeon operate on your brain if he said to you “uh, I'm not really clear about this, but I read a blurb on the internet this morning, so I think I'll try [           ].” If you would not even consider letting him put scalpel to scalp with that sort of “study,” why would you try to inform or compete with your attorney with the same sort of facile bilge?

I have read things on the internet [and embarrassingly often!] written even by people who do practice this craft that are patently wrong, including often on websites of criminal law practitioners. The idea, then, that someone who does not practice law could come up with an effective answer to a complex legal problem by reading things on the internet is simply absurd.

If you are coming to me for help, trust that I know as much as you could ever discover on the web, and then much, much more, and I am constantly researching matters to keep myself informed, so let me do the research and the fight, and you confine yourself to helping out in only the ways I ask of you.

Criminal and constitutional law is more complex than brain or heart surgery, so believe me that you are not going to be able to help your case by reading stuff on the net. If you want net input, you should represent yourself, which you have the constitutional right to do, and use that as your own “scholarship.”

Michael Kennedy

Admitted to Bar, State of California, 1981 Education: Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania (B.A., 1970) Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles, California (J.D., Scale, 1981) Harvard Law School, Program of Instruction for Lawyers, Cambridge, 1987


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