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Re: [Lex_Rex] Fwd: [law-discuss] Hiring an Attorney

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  • James Foster
    Mitch Whatley wrote: Ed, Before any lawyer could interpret your letter, he would need to know more facts. You say that you already have a
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 12, 2005
      Mitch Whatley <mwhatley@...> wrote:
      Before any lawyer could interpret your letter, he would need to know more facts. You say that you already have a judgment and yet there is going to be a trial to determine damages? This seems odd because civil cases generally don't result in two trials unless one of the parties appeals the trial court's decision. What makes your situation unique? What was the nature of the judgment?
      Further comments: Lawyers are not addressed as "honorable." The proper salutation is merely "Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Smith." If the lawyer is a judge, then the salutation is "Dear Judge Smith." The address block should look like this:
      Mr. John Smith
      Attorney at Law
      123 Elm St.
      Anytown, TX
      Mr. John Smith, Esq.
      123 Elm St.
      Anytown, TX
      or, if a judge:
      The Honorable John Smith
      United States District Judge
      1100 Commerce St., Suite 1502
      Dallas, TX
      In addition, when you hire an attorney you are not relinquishing jurisdiction. Only courts have jurisdiction; lawyers and parties to litigation do not.
      I am also confused about your views regarding your right to counsel. You cite Art. I, section 10 of the Texas Constitution, which only pertains to a criminal defendant's rights to be heard, and suggest that this should apply equally to plaintiffs in a civil trial. Our system simply does not work that way. A criminal defendant's constitutional rights do not correspond in any manner to a plaintiff's rights to bring a civil action. A plaintiff in a civil action has the right to represent himself pro se, or he can hire an attorney. Neither the Texas nor the U.S. Constitutions have any applicability here. The Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment do not apply. Similarly, the rules regarding attorney fees for court-appointed criminal defense lawyers have no application whatsoever to the fees associated with the lawyer-client relationship in a civil trial. These two situations are mutually exclusive.
      If you want to be the plaintiff in a civil action, there is no need for you to go to so much trouble to establish a fee agreement. That is the lawyer's responsibility. Depending on the circumstances, a lawyer may accept your case on an hourly rate or on a contingency basis once he knows the details of the situation  The lawyer generally will explain which fee arrangement is best for both the lawyer and the client. Therefore, I'm not sure what you want to accomplish with your letter of intent.
      I hope you find this helpful.
      Mitch Whatley
      Southlake, TX
      I wanted to chime in here and say that as a private law student, who handles issues on his own (am not an attorney nor do I hire them) I concur with all of Mitch's questions (and was grateful he asked a few of them, I was very confused) and agree with all of his corrections, which to my understanding, are all accurate.
      There are aspects of the original writer's post that indicates more study on his part is needed and I encourage it.  I hate to see "pro-se-ers" going into court lacking knowledge, it makes a bad impression on the rest of us who do it but are better attuned to procedure and rules. 
      Thanks for that response Mitch, mine would've been almost identical.

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