August 28, 2012 2:16 PM   Subscribe

I am currently involved with a criminal case. I have a lawyer, but would like a resource for multiple opinions on some questions I have related to the case. Is there a forum frequented by lawyerly types? A paid website where I can poll a panel of lawyers? Any offline resources? Thanks you.
posted by The Dutchman to Law & Government (14 answers total)
Why would you not ask your lawyer these questions? Something isn't right here.

This site has some books for the self-help type.
posted by yclipse at 2:33 PM on August 28, 2012

The primary source for this information should be your lawyer.

The secondary source should be a different lawyer.

There is no tertiary source.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:38 PM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

you're asking for legal advice, and it sounds like you want it for as cheap as you can get it. you can call multiple lawyers to find out what consultations will do for you- but it's unlikely that you'll be able to get for free what they make their living off of selling.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:41 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am not suggestion anything, but there are people who tend to ask so long for different legal "opinions", until they hear an answer that matches their expectations.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:43 PM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

You should be careful what and whom you ask. Statements you make when randomly blabbering about the case online could come back to haunt you. Any advice you get from random lawyers on the internet based on limited and vague details outside of the context of an attorney-client relationship is unlikely to be helpful and could well hurt you. If you have concerns about what your lawyer is telling you, then a good approach is to discuss your questions and concerns with your lawyer and/or to seek a second opinion from another qualified lawyer in your jurisdiction.

If your questions were purely factual in nature, there are resources for legal research help, but it clearly sounds like you want "opinions" about the case. Lawyers do not provide legal advice lightly, and you certainly shouldn't put much stock in one who does so without a full understanding of the details of your case.
posted by zachlipton at 2:53 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you want legal research, and do not want to pay a lawyer or law student for it, you can do it yourself at a law library.

Here's the thing that should go in the thread below about stuff non-lawyers don't know about legal ethics: if a lawyer listens to the facts of your case for the purpose of giving you legal advice about it, they are creating the appearance of an attorney-client relationship, with all of the obligations that that entails. If is highly likely that they can be found to have created an attorney-client relationship by giving you advice. This has serious implications for an attorney: it means that they cannot represent somebody who is adverse to you in a matter that may be related to your case. It means that they owe you certain fiduciary duties. It means that they can be open to malpractice claims if their advice turns out to be wrong or in some way to harm you.

That's why you have to pay them for their advice.

If your own lawyer isn't answering your questions to your satisfaction, you should say so. To your lawyer. "I don't understand. Explain this to me." If they don't, won't, or can't do so to your satisfaction, you are free to fire them as your lawyer and to hire someone else or to go it alone.
posted by gauche at 3:00 PM on August 28, 2012

I've been very vague in my question for the reasons zachlipton points out. The questions I want to ask are a bit wider in scope than the case itself. E.g., if the outcome of the case is x, how will that come up in employer background checks in various US states? Is that still the kind of thing I should expect my lawyer to know or research on my behalf?

As far as cost goes, it's true that I can't afford to fully hire additional lawyers, but I'm open to paid solutions as well as free.
posted by The Dutchman at 3:11 PM on August 28, 2012

If you expect "other" lawyers to have answers, why do you think your lawyer won't? You are presumably paying him/her a pretty penny - get your money's worth by asking these questions the next time you meet with him or her.
posted by COD at 3:13 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

These are absolutely the types of questions you should ask your lawyer. It's part of his/her job to be able to advise you of the consequences of various legal strategies (take a plea, go to trial, etc.). If your lawyer doesn't know the answer, s/he should be able to research it. This is a big reason why you have a lawyer--to protect you from unintended consequences. So ask!
posted by lassie at 3:56 PM on August 28, 2012

Ask your lawyer your question about the impact of the case on employer background checks. Your lawyer will either answer your question, tell you he can do the research to answer your question (which might or might not cost extra), or will refer you to another lawyer to answer your question.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:57 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe you want Prison Talk. Most posters are not lawyers. But last time I checked, there seemed to be a lot of people asking questions in the sort of ballpark you indicate and people weighing in with their own experiences. Frankly, if I were a defendant that board would scare me shitless, but it's free.
posted by BibiRose at 4:02 PM on August 28, 2012

I have worked for a court system. I have seen really, really, REALLY REALLY REALLY bad things happen involving people who went looking for information off of the internet for how to handle their case that they should have gotten from a qualified attorney with knowledge of the full details of their case. If you have any question at all about your lawyer's competency to handle something, consider looking into getting a new lawyer. If you're just not sure they'll know, a large part of what you're paying your lawyer for is not just what's in their head, but their knowledge of where to find information they don't already know.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:39 PM on August 28, 2012

Ok, got it. I will ask my lawyer. Thanks all.
posted by The Dutchman at 6:35 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dutchman, your (specific) question is one that will be very, very difficult for your lawyer to answer. The collateral consequences of a crime are often unknown until years later. Plus, your question is multi-jurisdictional, eg: "How will my plea to crimes X and Y affect my job options in states A and B". It is also related to non-government entities, as criminal background searches are usually conducted by private companies, which may capture information from extra-judicial sources.

Your first question, when you talk to your lawyer again, should be: "do you know the answer to this question?" And if the answer is "no", your next question should be "what lawyer should I talk to that WOULD know the answer to this question."
posted by Happydaz at 9:12 AM on August 29, 2012

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