My worst experience with a client so far was with an American national accused of raping a child. From the very start, he wanted me to file motions which are out of order in our jurisdiction and he wanted everything fast. I constantly reminded him that this is not the United States and we have our own system and procedure here, including timelines of cases.
He was arrested in June, arraigned in August, pretrial conference was set in September, and the presentation of the first witness was set in October. Meanwhile, he constantly called me up and sent emails to ask for updates on the case I was tempted to ask the jail warden to remove his phone and email privileges.
But the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was his consulting another lawyer, who promised him that as long as he could pay, his case would move fast and he could be released by December. I tried putting some sense into his head by asking him if he sincerely believed that that lawyer could do what was promised when obviously that lawyer had not seen the records, which are with me, and he could not also check the records with the court because I existed as the counsel of record. He did realize he might have been promised more than what could be delivered, but he insisted on hiring that other lawyer, at four times my acceptance fee, as my collaborating counsel. I would not have none of it because I personally hate that lawyer, God bless his soul, because by that time he had already intruded into my practice four times, receiving before I was able to the acceptance fee prepared by my putative clients by his promises that he could handle the cases better than a neophyte lawyer. (One time, an inquest for a drug case and a hearing I had to attend to happened to be scheduled on the same afternoon. I rushed to the prosecutor’s office after the hearing only to find my supposed to be clients, who brought the acceptance money with them, to have already paid it to that lawyer.)
Thus, I told him that I would like to be relieved as his counsel. He did not want to release me as his counsel. When I sent my paralegal to the jail to have the client sign his conformity to the withdrawal as counsel, he refused to sign the same and immediately sent me an angry email afterwards.
This is exactly from the email he sent:
“This is not going to turn out the way you think. Are you sure this is the way you wish to proceed? I have nothing to lose but money and more time. You on the other hand have everything to lose.
I wish you would come see me monday because after that there is no undoing what transpires and there will be a legal record of it. I have never failed at anything in life.EVER.”
Because he refused to sign my withdrawal, I filed a motion to be relieved of my duties as counsel, set for hearing to coincide with the hearing for the first witness for the prosecution. I asked the court that I be allowed to keep at least 50% of the acceptance fee.
The court relieved me of my duties, but ordered me to return the entirety of the acceptance fee, which I did, because I could always look for money elsewhere but peace of mind is priceless.
He engaged the other lawyer, who died the next year. After the death of his second lawyer, he attempted to contact me through the jail guards who knew me, but I told them I have learned my lesson. He later attempted to engage the managing partner in a loose partnership I used to be a part of, but when the managing partner saw the record and realized that I used to be the counsel of the accused before I joined her firm, she asked for my feedback and I told her matter-of-factly the attitude of my former client. He ended up being defended by the Public Attorney. He was later convicted of acts of lasciviousness but before he could be transferred, COVID happened. At the height of the infection of the city jail, one of the jail guards who knew us both informed me that my former client had died, although I have no way of knowing whether it was due to COVID.