Safety in the legal world

July 9, 2008
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The recent abduction of an Anderson attorney by his client raised an issue I don’t see discussed much – the safety risks of working in the legal field. Attorneys and judges work in a high-stress environment where court decisions can greatly impact lives. Tensions run high in many divorce cases, custody battles, lawsuits, and criminal cases. Sometimes clients can’t cope with that stress and take it out the person they see responsible for their demise – their attorney or the judge.

Attacks against attorneys aren’t uncommon. Just more than a year ago, an Indianapolis attorney helped save a Fort Wayne lawyer from being pushed over the fourth-floor rotunda railing at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. The attacker? A Lafayette man angry about the judge’s decision involving an insurance case in which the man’s wife was injured.

Three years ago, a U.S. District judge in Chicago found her attorney-husband and mother shot dead in her basement. The killer was a Chicago man who was angry Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow had dismissed his lawsuit against the medical industry. Apparently, the man was looking for the judge, who wasn’t at home at the time of the murders. The man killed himself after police pulled him over for an equipment violation on his car.

Just yesterday, Anderson attorney Thomas Hamer was tied up by his client Richard Hudson, who was out of jail to attend a Social Security disability hearing in Indianapolis. Hudson abducted the lawyer after deciding he didn’t want to go back to jail. Hudson later let the attorney go and stole Hamer’s car, but he has yet to be caught.

Unfortunately, there are even more examples from around the country of violence against attorneys and judges. As someone who works in the legal profession and handles intense cases where emotions run high, is safety an issue that’s always in the back of your mind when you represent a client or make a ruling? You can’t predict how the client or party in the case will react, so can you even prepare a plan to protect yourself?
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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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