Better call an ethics lawyer – S1E2 – Mijo

As a general rule, I avoid shows that focus on lawyers. I guess I prefer to watch shows that totally distort how other people do their jobs. But I am making an exception with a new show, Better Call Saul. My exception is admittedly because it is a spin off, with the same writers and directors, as Breaking Bad, what I consider the best show ever on TV.

But I figured if I were going to watch the show, I could probably find lots of ethical issue to discuss. So I began blogging each episode of Better Call Saul.  See my comments on prior episodes:  Premier.

Episode 2 is called Mijo:

0:01:  This begins with Frick and Frack trying to scam the grandma as a result of the accident.  Tuco does not put up with this.  Once his grandmother is in her room to watch TV, he knocks out the skateboard kids.

0:08:  Saul comes to the door as at the end of Episode one.  He tries to talk Tuco out of killing the boys and Saul.  And appears to succeed.  Tuco is about to let Saul cut the boys loose, who are tied up in the garage.  Once ungagged, one immediately blames Saul for trying to scam the grandma.  This upsets Tuco.

0:15:  Saul and the boys are taken to the desert, tied up.  Saul explains that it was a scam that accidently involved Tuco’s grandmother.  They think he is a policeman.  So Saul tries to sell he is FBI.  They don’t believe that.  So he confesses again.  Tuco’s boss is there.  The boss says let them go.  Tuco is not too happy about that.  So Tuco is permitted to kill the skateboarders.  McGill is cut loose.  McGill shows some humanity and pleads for the skateboarders’ lives.  He makes up stories about their widowed mother.  Rule 8.4 is getting a workout with this guy. Saul negotiates his butt off and talks Tuco into breaking one leg each.  That prevents them from running their skateboard crime.  Saul negotiates equitable justice for his clients – one broken leg each for their crime that Saul put them up to.  Given that they were going to die at Tuco’s hand, one could argue Saul met the competency requirements of Rule 1.1.  Although he lied briefly, he otherwise was honest with Tuco, as required by Rule 3.3, Candor Towards the Tribunal, in this case, Tuco and his unnamed boss, and perhaps Rule 3.9, as this may have been serving as an advocate in a non-adjudicative proceeding.

0:30:  Saul rushes them to the hospital.  Frick yells, “you are the worst lawyer ever!”  Saul responds:  “I just talked you down from a death sentence to six months probation.  I am the best lawyer ever.”  Hyperbole is not typically an ethics violation or fraud.  This is called “puffing.”

0:34:  Saul is taking to a woman at a bar.  He gets sick.  Next scene, Saul is at his brother’s house, drunk and passes out on the sofa.  He apparently drove drunk.  Not good.  Worse, he forgot to leave his cell phone outside.  He brother throws it out the back door and freaks out.  Saul’s brother, his client, may have a mental incapacity, calling Rule 1.14.

Saul and his client/brother Chuck.

0:40:  Next morning. Saul doesn’t remember much, but he didn’t drive drunk.  He apparently took a cab.  Chuck only cares about the phone and is wearing a “space blanket.”  Saul paid for the ER bill for his skateboard client with the broken leg.  This raises questions about financial assistance to a client, Rule 1.8(e), though Saul obviously feels he is settling a debt for which he has responsibility.

0:45:  Saul seeks a public defender appointment.

0:48:  Saul montage representing indigent defendants.  Saul is shown being a normal criminal defense lawyer.  The montage is funny and entertaining, but shows nothing particularly of concern.  Mike though is a real stickler for the parking gate and having enough stickers to avoid paying.  I get the feeling Saul is going to lose it with Mike.  That will not end well for Saul.

0:53:  Saul has a pull out bed in his office.  He is about to get comfortable with a drink when a potential client arrives. Oops, the potential client is Tuco’s boss.

0:56:  When Saul was pleading for his life in the dessert, he mentioned that he was trying to get the treasurer’s business.  Tuco’s boss figures that he can steal from the treasurer.  He wants Saul to find out where the embezzled money is hidden so he can steal it.  Saul, to his credit, resists.  Saul tells Tuco’s boss he owes him for convincing Tuco to let him live in the dessert, and he will be there as a lawyer.  He calls the conversation privileged.  Probably not legally a valid privilege due to the crime-fraud exception.

Tuco’s boss leaves, and show ends.

A good follow up to the premier, and a good set up to a story that will no doubt include the Kellermans and Tuco’s boss.

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