39. Thinking of Representing Yourself? Think Again.

“He who represents himself has a fool for a client” – Anonymous

Too often people choose to represent themselves in court in order to save money, or because they believe that their issue is “simple”. This often leads to disastrous results. Without the aid of an attorney, you may be unable to meet all the technical requirements to prove your case or fail to realize you could have “gone for more”.

Using a divorce case as an example, this may mean paying more in child support or even having less time with your kids. In a civil case, your entire case could be lost on a technicality, even if you were right all along. Losing your case may also result in having to pay for the other side’s attorney fees and court costs, even if you didn’t hire one, defeating the entire purpose of saving money.

I have seen many self-represented litigants realize once inside the courtroom that they are in over their heads. In desperation, they will turn to the judge for advice. Unfortunately for them, their second realization is that judges are unable to provide any guidance and that they are truly on their own.

If you are thinking of representing yourself, or are currently representing yourself, call us today and our winning attorneys will make sure your case is handled right.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq.

38. Federal Appellate Defense: Complex Litigation

Many lawyers say that they handle “complex litigation”. Really? Do they? Have they actually gotten positive results? Make them show you.

Here at Mackey Law Group, our lawyers don’t just say we handle complex litigation, we do it all the time and we win!  Recently, Pete Mackey and T.R. Smith obtained a federal court jury verdict in the Middle District Court in Tampa, Florida (yes, we actually work and try cases in federal court) for one of our business clients. This trial victory is highlighted in our blog entitled “Federal Court Jury Trial Victory”.

Then, the loser’s Washington D.C. and West Palm Beach big-firm lawyers appealed the Tampa Federal Court verdict to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia. This did not intimidate our lawyers in the slightest; we never missed a beat. Mackey Law Group’s lawyers have litigated in federal court for years and our lawyers have successfully represented many clients in appeals. So, after year of appellate briefs and submissions to the appellate court, on July 18, 2019 the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed our client’s jury verdict. A copy of the Eleventh Circuit’s entire opinion follows this blog. Opinion Affirming

The lesson to be learned? Don’t settle for anything but the best when choosing litigation counsel. Ask questions and demand answers. Here at Mackey Law Group we are litigators who actually know how to take a complex litigation case through trial, win, and then through the appeal process if necessary. To obtain the best outcome you can, you need to retain the best lawyers you can.

35. Spanish Language Representation

 

Going through a divorce, or any legal dispute for anyone is a difficult process. If English is not your first language, it can be especially overwhelming. Over 20% of Floridians converse in Spanish at home; yet, many find that the judicial process has few resources to accommodate those with limited English skills. At Mackey Law Group, we understand the importance of being able to hear and read the legal jargon in your native language.

In a recent divorce case we handled, the parties were able to successfully reach an agreement after going through multiple drafts of it in Spanish. Being able to read and understand the agreement in your native language can be a key component to settling a case.

Further, being able to go into court with an attorney you can understand is, unfortunately, a luxury in our State. But we at Mackey Law Group are able provide such a service to our clients all the time in that two of our lawyers are fluent in Spanish. If you need legal services in Spanish, call us today.

 

Representación en español

Pasar por un divorcio o cualquier disputa legal es un proceso difícil para todos. Si el inglés no es su primer idioma, puede ser especialmente abrumador. Más del 20% de los floridanos conversan en español en casa; sin embargo, muchos encuentran que el proceso judicial tiene pocos recursos para acomodar a aquellos con inglés limidado. En Mackey Law Group, entendemos la importancia de poder escuchar y leer la jerga legal en su idioma nativo.

En un caso reciente de divorcio que manejamos, las partes pudieron llegar a un acuerdo con éxito después de haber revisado varios borradores en español. Ser capaz de leer y comprender el acuerdo en su idioma nativo puede ser un componente clave para resolver un caso.

Además, el hecho de poder acudir a los tribunales con un abogado que usted pueda entender es, lamentablemente, un lujo en nuestro estado. Pero nosotros, en Mackey Law Group, Podemos brindar tal servicio a nuestros clients todo el timep, ya que dos de nuestros abogados hablan español con fluidez. Si necesita servicios legales en español, por favor llámenos hoy.

 

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq.

27. Selecting a Litigator-Trial Lawyer

For most people, when they need to retain a lawyer for a contested matter (a trial case), they go to the internet and review web sites. That’s a great place to start; but, it should only be “a start”. Nowadays, most lawyers/law-firms have glitzy websites and espouse that their lawyers are “trial lawyers” and represent that their lawyers have great winning loss  records. In many instances, nothing could be further from the truth.

Mackey Law Group’s lawyers are literally in the courtrooms every day in a variety of different types of cases. This means we are not afraid to go to trial and do not try to convince a client to settle because of courtroom inexperience. You may be surprised to hear that we never encounter most of the TV or bragging website attorneys, which logically means they are not in the courtroom as often as they would like you to believe.

Truth be told, most self-proclaimed “trial lawyers” are not experienced winners in the courtroom and most of them have never even tried a jury case. These Website Legends push paper around and then scramble to settle their cases because they are actually inexperienced in the courtroom. But how does a non-lawyer know how to select a real trial lawyer? The following are some questions you should ask and demand answers to:

  1. When was the last time you actually tried a contested case to conclusion?
  2. How many trials have you first-chaired (the first string attorney) in the past three years?
  3. Have you ever selected a jury and first-chaired a jury trial to conclusion?
  4. Do you win most of your cases? Why not?
  5. Are you a Small Claims lawyer, a County Court lawyer, a Circuit Court lawyer? Cases in each court go up in  complexity as more money is at stake.
  6. Are you admitted to the United States Federal Court? Have you tried cases to conclusion in Federal Court?
  7. Are you also a “mediator”. If so, why? Do you not have enough work in your office and/or cases to try?
  8. What types of cases have you taken to trial where there is a jury or judge verdict in favor of your client?

All of the above are fair questions. Any real trial lawyer will welcome the opportunity to answer such questions. Web site bragging should never be the reason to hire a lawyer. You may be placing your financial life in a lawyer’s hands and you need the best. My personal observation is that many lawyers are ill-prepared at trial, lack real knowledge of the rules applicable to trying cases, and are just plain lazy……not returning telephone calls, not planning-out how a case should proceed, and failing to be mentally aggressive.

Make sure that you are selecting the right lawyer. Here at Mackey Law Group we are experienced trial lawyers. We are also winners. We welcome the opportunity to answer the above questions. Make sure that you get the very best lawyer that you can afford.  Never settle for less.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.

 

22. Translation Problems in the Law

Being able to communicate effectively with your attorney is central to the foundation of all attorney client relationships. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to obtain effective legal representation if you and your attorney don’t speak the same language. Many choose to rely on a third-party, such as a friend or relative to help translate.

The problem with this “solution” is two-fold. First, like the children’s game of telephone, key information gets lost and distorted along the way. In the legal arena where details matter, this can be fatal to one’s case. Second, involving a third-party may jeopardize the attorney client privilege, a crucial component of any case.

Here at Mackey Law Group P.A., we understand the importance of communicating directly with our clients. This is why we offer legal services in Spanish as well as English. If you are in need of an attorney who speaks Spanish I, Jorge Martinez, will assist you personally. No one should have to settle for an attorney they are unable to communicate with.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq.

4. Board Certified Attorneys: Are They All Experts?

Board Certification is admirable; it is evidence of experience and likeability in one’s local Bar. But, don’t be fooled by window-dressing labels when selecting your trial attorney. I have found the vast majority of such “trial attorneys” are ineffective and unjustifiably arrogant. Recently, there has even been a court decision which allowed a non-certified trial attorney, who had certain qualifications, to call himself an expert. This was being opposed by; you guessed it, Board Certified attorneys.

When selecting a trial attorney, you should be hyper-critical. This is a do or die choice for you when faced with a financially high-stakes situation. Ask your potential trial lawyer: (i) How many civil jury and bench trials have you first-chaired (many ex-state attorneys and public defenders use their criminal trials to qualify for civil certification); (ii) What is his/her track record? Have they won the vast majority of their civil cases for their clients?; and (iii) Will they provide you with references? A successful attorney will have many satisfied clients all of whom should welcome the opportunity comment of their trial counsel. You want a winner.

Why do I write this blog? Am I just a disgruntled civil trial attorney who is not Board-Certified? Actually I was Board-Certified in Business Litigation by The Florida Bar.  I was in the very first class of such lawyers in Florida in 1996…..I was in my early 30’s. And there were less than 25 of us in the whole state. The standards back then were vastly more stringent than they are today….many more civil bench and jury trials were required. Now things are watered-down. Most “trial attorneys” now push clients to mediation and settle cases, never setting foot in the trial forum. The days of real trial attorneys seem to be waning. My Business Litigation certification was not renewed because some lawyer anonymously sent in a negative “peer review”; being liked by the other attorneys is actually one of the criteria for recertification. I was neither allowed to know who my accuser was nor was I able to question the review. I was never even allowed to know the content of the peer review. I was simply not re-certified because some lawyer, who I had probably beat in a case, said that I was not “nice and cordial”.

I hope that this illuminates one of the problems you will be faced with in selecting trial counsel: you will be bombarded with labels of Board Certified and those attorneys will try to convince you that only they are “experts”.  In my opinion, those certifications are nothing more than the result of a beauty contest. Do you really want your trial attorney to be the most popular attorney with his adversaries? Do you want your gladiator to be liked by the others for scratching the backs of opposing counsel?

As my old boss said, It’s fairly simple: Who did you “like” better as a kid, the one you could push around on the playground or the one who did the pushing? Now fast forward to being in a situation where you need skilled and aggressive representation: do you want the “liked” kid who is now an attorney and has a bunch of certifications or do you want the seasoned trial attorney, the expert who all the other lawyers have heard about, the one they fear?

Prosecuting or defending your rights in a civil lawsuit is a win and lose game; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I love to come up against Board Certified Attorneys; most of the time, they’re like lambs going into the lion’s den.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.