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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Crim Defense Atty
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1805
Experience:  CA Atty since 1976, primarily criminal law. 150+ jury trials.
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Can a public defender be employed when there is an issue of

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Can a public defender be employed when there is an issue of liability in an vehicle / pedestrian accident?
HelloCustomerand welcome to JustAnswer.

Thank you for asking your question on JustAnswer. Please be aware that answers on this site are to be used for general information purposes only, not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific legal advice. JA Legal Experts will provide only general information about the law, and will not apply their legal knowledge or skills to resolve or advise on the customer's specific factual circumstances described in the question, such as by proposing a specific course of action. By answering questions, experts do not form attorney-client relationships with users of the site. The laws, regulations, other governing authorities, standards, practices and procedures that apply to your particular question may differ depending on your location and information typically discovered through in-person evaluations or visits. No attorney-client relationships shall be formed on the site, experts are prohibited from having off-site contact with customers and experts may not represent customers in their cases. Communications on this site are not confidential and shall not be the subject of any associated privileges, so post with discretion. Communications on this site are limited, do not involve in-person evaluations or visits, and do not include safeguards and procedures typical of in-person evaluations and visits. For specific legal advice, consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.

If you are referring to a civil trial for damages based on liability in such an accident, then a public defender will not be available as they are appointed solely for criminal cases.

Sometimes civil liability is an issue in a case which also involves criminal charges. In such a case, the public defender would be available to any criminal defendant who qualifies for the PD's services (based on income/financial resources). However, the PD would be able to handle the liability aspect of the situation only with respect to an order of restitution in the criminal case.

How exactly did this lawyer you hired "attach" your father's signature to documents that your father never saw? This is a potentially serious allegation (forgery), which raises both criminal and ethical concerns.

How soon is your father due in court? If you have enough time, you should consider retaining another attorney or possibility seeking the services of a legal aid attorney. If you let me know where you are located, I can probably find you contact information for local legal services.

Thanks for asking your question here on JustAnswer. If you have any other questions, please let me know.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dear lawyer:

The document was printed out and a careless copy of my father's signature was attached with a staple to the back of the 8 page document and then a notary's stamp was placed in the center... My father was with me on the date qualifying the completion of the document, the notarized stamp and signature was placed in the center. Copies with different ink tone... And although the notary references the Produced identification to a a driver's license > no license number or state is identified > just DRIVERS LICENSE...

My father and I never read or reviewed the document which was sent on the 15day of September 2010>
the attached notary stamp and signature with my fathers on top very light was stamped and notarized on September 21, 2010. >>>This signature was attached via the staple to the Answers to Personal Injury Interrogatories, which was >.. noted to be true and correct... Suzanne
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The accident was almost a year ago. my father was hit while walking in a shopping area where there are over a doze crosswalks and a speed limit of 20mph... my father was just feet away from the crosswalk...
The driver stopped his vehicle and waited for my father to pass.... Perhaps he was a little impatient > because before my father passed, he stepped on his gas > and sent my father flying... My father ended up in the ICU for 4 days on monitors, suffered a head trauma, blood on the brain, lacerations, and his foot seemingly looked like a vehicle ran over it...

Although The officer reported the accident > she did not issue any citations. And although she reported to have not spoken to my father > removed by rescue, she provided a statement from my father and stated there was no damage to the vehicle and my father was "non-icapacitated _

The driver a doctor > reported to the police > my father ran into him... In the deposition and interrogatory, he denied seeing only hearing, "a thump" Suzanne

Thank you for the accept, I appreciate it.

It is improper for a notary public to notarize a signature that he did not actually see the person sign. However, the notary has no obligation with respect to the document the signature is attached to. In other words, a person can sign a blank sheet of paper and a notary can notarize that signature; and then, that signature can be attached to any document. The notary's only function is to authenticate the signature, not the document. Nevertheless, if the notary did not witness the signature, then notarizing it is improper.

The notary is not required to record on the document specific information about the manner in which the signature was authenticated. It is not required, for example, that the notary record the driver's license number or state. All that is required is that he affirm having seen sufficient evidence to establish the identity of the person making the signature.

All of that said, if the lawyer somehow used a notarized signature to attach to a document that your father never saw and did not authorize use of his signature on, that is unethical (and perhaps illegal). Where the answers to the interrogatories in some way incorrect? What impact did they have on the case?

The other matters that you related in your most recent post are factual issues which likely would be the subject of dispute at any trial of this case. Did you have an additional question about those matters?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What information would be subject to dispute??? The speed limit, the not seeing, the hearing of the thump or my father's truth of walking across the street and stopping the driver????

My father is not able to run, or walk fast, there are no bushes or trees he could fall out, >>> the driver states, my father ran / walked into the back of his vehicle... The vehicle would of have to of passed my father and my father would have to have moved extremely fast to catch-up and hit the rear of his vehicle..
My father;s left foot suffered a severe contusion > it looked as if the tire of a vehicle left its impression...

My father was hit by the front of the vehicle and the vehicle kept going...


From what you've said, it is clear that the driver disputes your father's version of events. All of the facts appear to be in dispute -- essentially, your father says the car hit him, the driver says your father walked into the car. Now, which of those is believable is up to the court (or jury, if there is one) -- and I can say only that your description of your father's physical capabilities makes it sound like his version is more likely to be credible. Presenting his version of the events in the most favorable light will help to insure that he wins -- and for that, he almost certainly needs the help of a lawyer.

I did provide contact information for the local bar association's lawyer referral service in my answer to your other question. You or he should contact them as quickly as possible to be sure that your father's interests are fully protected.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you so very much for all professional information...

I wish all was easy... The telling of the truth or shall I say proving the truth.

Alas, the driver now states, he never saw my father and remember little except what his witness said...

His witness was introduced on his interrogatory in June 2010; 6 months after the accident. If there was a witness why did the driver not inform the officer? The officer reported, No witnesses. The driver stated the witness said, "my father ran into the vehicle..." Well, although the name + telephone # XXXXX provided, our lawyer was unable to contact and the name of the women witness has never been found to exist . at address + number. Then in November at m father's deposition, the driver's lawyer > mentioned 2 other witnesses... Each, our lawyer has been unable to contact... No depositions or affidavits were provided. And now the driver, says, he's dying of asbestos cancer... And although, he can drive his wife and play his golf, he is released from trial... Sadly he is a retired doctor with multiple malpractice suites > he is most probably, ashamed.

Trying my best, Suzanne

You're welcome, Suzanne, and yes, sometimes proving the truth is more difficult than it ought to be.

I assume that your question why did the driver not tell the officer about the witness is rhetorical -- or, perhaps a presage of what might be asked of the driver at trial. The fact that the officer recorded in his report that there were no witnesses can be used, by having the officer testify, to impeach the credibility of this later "discovered" witness.

On the other hand, if no one can locate this or any of the other supposed witnesses, then they will not be able to testify at trial. And the driver cannot testify himself as to what the witnesses might say (as that would be hearsay, which is not admissible). Therefore, the fact that they cannot be located is actually to your father's benefit. Eliminates having to impeach them.

I'm not sure what you mean by the driver being "released" from trial. Do you mean that he is excused from appearing? If so, then he won't be able to testify, either, which will leave your father's testimony uncontradicted (unless the driver was deposed and his deposition testimony can be used at trial). Even then, juries don't like it when witnesses (especially defendants) do not show up. Your father's in-person testimony will carry a lot more weight than will the reading of any deposition testimony by the driver.

You may well be right that he is too ashamed to appear in court, but as I said, that will be to your father's advantage. Good luck to both of you in this difficult situation.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you, > your correct; "excused" > although supposedly a video deposition > for the trial was taken at the good-doctor-driver's home in Boca Raton with our lawyer and his insurance lawyer... Our lawyer stated, the video was only 10 minutes, and that two of the doctor's statements which were contradictive / > "impeach" > misstatements > lies.

Thank you again Mr. Run Tam... Let me just clarify... The witnesses here say testimony can not be presented in the trial by the good doctor-driver' insurance lawyer. And the 1 witness that was mentioned in the interrogatory + the deposition, can not be spoke of... > since our lawyers have not been able to contact the witnesses and no depositions or affidavits have been shared > provided to our lawyers.

If my father presents his case in trial, can the officer, be called in to trial to disqualify the officer's statement? Can we use the police report, where she reports, my father's statement yet reports he had been transported via the emergency rescue prior to her arrival at the scene of the accident.

I just want to know, if we have a case >>>> a case of truth against lies... Perhaps all is saving the insurance company money and being responsible for their client's negligent driving.

Your professional opinion is valued... We are currently looking for another lawyer...

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Mr. Run Tam, the docet appointment is for March 12, 2011...
We are meeting with a lawyer tomorrow and have another appointment to meet another on Tues, the 8th.
I do hope we find someone sharp and honest to take the case.

I realize it is late but the information has not changed... Is it difficult for a lawyer to review the past documents and plead the case before a judge and jury?

Even if we accept the doctor's statement that he heard, "a thump" at the rear of his vehicle as he was driving > there is no logical way a vehicle can pass an individual and not see the individual unless they were not looking at the road ahead, or at the marked crosswalks in (bright yellow, blue and white)...

My dad has never changed his story > this doctor-driver has continually changed his story; from the police report, to the interrogatory, to the deposition to the pre trial homebound questions / answers video, which will be available to the jury.

Dad's bills at the hospital ICU and Triage + + neurologist, specialists in wrist, foot and therapy total to $57,00 >>>$40,000 with Humana's payments Suzanne

Hello again Suzanne,

I was away for the day and just now getting back here to JustAnswer.

If a video deposition was taken and your lawyer was present to cross-examine the driver, then that deposition is admissible at trial if the driver is actually incapable of appearing. However, it doesn't sound like his testimony is going to be very persuasive, particularly since it has discrepancies in his own story.

I agree that testimony cannot be presented by the driver's lawyer. He would have to find the witnesses and bring them in to testify in person. And, since no depositions were taken of the witnesses, there is no deposition testimony to be presented if they are not available.

If the officer comes to court and testifies, and her testimony is inconsistent with her report, then the report can be used to impeach her testimony. And yes, if her report says that your father had already been transported, and she did not interview him at some later time/other place, then the report could be used to impeach her testimony at trial that she took a statement from him.

As for whether or not you have a case, as I said before, this is primarily a dispute between two people telling inconsistent stories. The jurors will have to decide which of the two they believe -- and as I said above, your description of your father's physical capabilities makes it sound like his version is more likely to be credible. If the jurors believe him, he will win the case.

Retaining a new lawyer at this later stage in a case may prove difficult, as he or she would have to get up to speed very quickly. However, a good lawyer could do it and still be effective at trial. When I was a young DA (a long time ago now!), we used to receive cases between 10 am and noon and start trials at 1:30 in the afternoon. Most of the time, they were cases we had never seen before -- so our preparation time was pretty much limited to the lunch hour.

The "thump" the driver heard at the rear of the vehicle could have been the rear wheel running over your father's foot after he had been knocked down by the front of the vehicle. In fact, since his foot appears to have been run over, that seems quite likely.

Good luck both finding a new lawyer and with the trial of the case.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you so very, very much your wonderful professional knowledge, support and direction.
I am so grateful. I sometimes feel lawyers and doctors present themselves as above all others...
Their knowledge or view of the case, their decision to move in a specific direction is never shared.
They keep speaking, listening to themselves, evade direct questions, thinking they are all knowing and then charge for their time; 200. - 300. an hour...

Best Regards XXXXX XXXXX and those close in your life,
You're welcome, Suzanne, and thank you for the accepts and kind feedback. I wish you and your father well in the trial. Let me know what happens.
Jim Reilly and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Run Tam, I don't know whether you received my last message..
My father and I have been speaking with a few lawyers by phone, and many are reluctant to accept a case, which has been passed from one lawyer to another... I just don't understand.. There is enough information in the good doctor-driver's interrogatory and his deposition which can prove he was not looking when driving or not caring when he did realize the "thump" was an old man...
His negligence is evident and his deception and not wanting to stand trial for his misdeeds..

Alas, everything else is heresay, regarding the witnesses, which have never been contacted, > the doctor never disclosed any info re: the witnesses to the police, and he did not stop on his own or call the police when he knew he hit the old gentleman, my father.... All seems like an easy case to present before a jury > and allow the jury to decide on the liability in the case..
The liens are minor > and I openly stated > I would pay all so that nothing will come off the case > if we win >>> and there is no court filing of interrogatory or deposition since all is completed...
Why are so many lawyers scared?
Why are so many lawyers scared to go to trial?
Are all lawyers just sitting on the asses and negotiating their legal settlements over the phone? .
Where is the meaning or desire for justice?


I am not sure what message you are referring to as your "last" -- I have already responded to all of your posts except this one. Perhaps you tried to post something else that did not get posted properly (?).

I understand your frustration at not being able to get another lawyer to take this case. Of course, I cannot speak for the individuals with whom you have spoken, but there may be legitimate reasons why at least some of them cannot or will not take your father's case. It is relatively close to the trial date and most lawyers carry heavy schedules which do not permit suddenly inserting an obligation that may take two or three days of trial to handle. Some don't want to take over any case in the middle, since they were not able to prepare for it (including obtaining discovery) themselves. Others may simply not feel comfortable handling this particular kind of case (I practice primarily criminal defense and would be very reluctant to step into any civil case close to the trial date).

It is true that some lawyers are afraid to go to trial. A trial can be a nerve-wracking, stressful experience, especially for a lawyer who has not done a lot of trial work. And yes, there are some lawyers who simply won't do it, preferring to settle cases, even if they have to do so on less favorable terms than they might get after a trial. I have finished more than 150 jury trials in my career, but I know many lawyers who have practiced for years without ever going to trial.

Nevertheless, as I said, it does seem that there is a lot of evidence which supports your father's contentions and that most of the contrary evidence will be inadmissible or unavailable at trial, so it would seem that he has a reasonably good chance of winning. Eventually, this should be enough to convince someone to take on the case. You just have to find the right lawyer -- one who is not afraid to go to trial and who does have a sense of fairness and justice. They're out there -- keep looking and good luck finding one.
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