Lawyers doing lawyer things

 Anyone with an IQ over 115 is probably better off defending themselves, on average, than relying on a lawyer in most circumstances. It would astonish you to know how few lawyers even bother to read the material that is directly relevant to the situation; some litigators even go so far as to pride themselves on refusing to read anything. They read the judge, you see. Or the jury.

President Donald Trump was set off by the defense mustered by his legal team at the start of his Senate impeachment trial, raging at key admissions and a presentation that appeared to drive away a key Republican vote.

Trump, viewing the proceedings from his new home at Mar-a-Lago, was aghast that one of his lawyers, Bruce Castor, acknowledged the potency of the opening argument put forward by House Democratic impeachment managers, ABC News reported. 

Castor even acknowledged that his team changed course after viewing the Democrats’ presentation, which featured dramatic video of Trump supporters storming the Capitol and taunting police officers with obscenities as they bashed in doors and windows. 

‘I’ll be quite frank with you, we changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done,’ Castor admitted. ‘And I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things.’ 

During three-and-half hours of debate on the Senate floor Tuesday, the defense and prosecution had the chance to argue whether holding an impeachment trial of a former official is in line with the Constitution.

Several Republicans, however, are ridiculing Trump’s defense team for missing the point of their outlined argument against the constitutionality of the timing of the proceedings. 

‘I thought the President’s lawyer – the first lawyer just rambled on and on and on and didn’t really address the constitutional argument,’ Texas Senator John Cornyn told reporters outside the chamber following his vote against moving forward. 

It doesn’t surprise me at all that even a very high-priced lawyer would completely miss the point of the actual argument. From what I’ve seen, most of them – not all, but most – have a tendency to do the legal equivalent of “read until offended”. The legal version is “read until you recognize a term of art that might serve your objective”, then focus on relying upon that to the exclusion of all context, relevance, or consequence. The more procedural, as opposed to substantive, the better. And if anyone happens to point out that the application doesn’t make any sense in light of the context, relevance, or consequence, snort derisively that they just don’t understand the term of art or how the law works.

This inability to read correctly, by the way, is how many insane legal concepts are enshrined into law over time. One lawyer with a weak case presents an argument based on an out-of-context sentence, which a clueless judge erroneously accepts at face value. Once an appeals court accepts the same out-of-context argument, the new precedent is established, which gradually metastasizes up throughout the circuit, until the U.S. Supreme Court either cements the new precedent into law or throws it out entirely.