Attorney ignores heart attack

August 20, 2009
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I’ve heard of coming to work when you don’t feel well, but going to court while having a heart attack is taking it to the extreme.

A defense attorney in California woke up with severe chest pains. A normal person would either call 911 or go to the hospital; attorney Michael Lukehart, 55, decided to go to court to deliver his closing arguments because he was in the “zone.”

He told a local television station, “You get focused if you’re a real serious litigator, at some point nothing gets in the way of finishing the trial or doing your job and it’s not bright.”

“It’s not bright” is an understatement.

I admire his dedication to his client, who’s on trial in an attempted murder case, but to ignore a heart attack to go to court is foolish. I’d hope most attorneys, even those that are “real serious” litigators, don’t ignore the signs of a heart attack or some other major health issue just because they have to be in court that day. How could he focus on delivering arguments with massive chest pains? What if he dropped dead during closing arguments?

The news article doesn’t say if the case went in the favor of his client. Lukehart is expected to recover. He went to the hospital after arguments.

Journalists are probably a lot like attorneys when it comes to calling in sick: we usually don’t. We know our job has to go on and I bet attorneys think the same way. It’s not like you can just call in sick when you’ve got a trial going on. But again, if you’re having a heart attack, I’d hope the judge, jury, and other parties would understand.

I bet our readers have their own experiences of either coming into work sick or seen opposing counsel show up in court looking like they should have stayed in bed. At what point do you decide you are too sick to go into work?
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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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