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Clients come with a lot of baggage, but in this case -- which begins, of course, with "Florida Man" -- the client brought some particularly gnarly literal baggage into his lawyer's office.
John Marshall, the Florida Man in question, allegedly killed his neighbor in self-defense and then drove the body to his lawyer's office. So how does this mesh with the ethical requirement that lawyers safeguard client valuables?
According to The Associated Press, the incident began when Marshall announced his plan to build a shed on rural property he had purchased. Theodore Hubbell, his neighbor, didn't want Marshall to build anything on the rural land. They argued a few days before. Hubbell returned with a gun, fired it at Marshall, but missed.
Marshall tried to get the gun away from Hubbell, but Hubbell was hit in the jaw with the gun. Eventually Marshall got control over the gun and fatally shot Hubbell. Not knowing what else to do, Marshall put Hubbell's body in the bed of his pickup truck and drove 30 miles to the Harris Law Firm in Fort Myers, Florida.
News reports about the incident don't suggest Marshall was a prior client of the Harris Law Firm. Marshall called the office days before the incident, when Hubbell first confronted him, saying he feared for his life. The law firm suggested he get a restraining order.
If a simple phone call didn't create an attorney/client relationship, then bringing a dead body to the office certainly did. Robert Harris, who runs the law firm, was a little shocked. "They don't teach you about this in law school. That's for sure," he told The News-Press. At that point, declining representation isn't really an option.
Attorneys at the law firm called 911 shortly after he arrived there at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the News-Press reports. Marshall spent much of the day in the law office, finally emerging around 10:30 p.m. to have his wounds treated at a nearby hospital. The sheriff's department hasn't said whether it would arrest Marshall, given his claim of self-defense.
We've never heard of a client driving the murder victim to a lawyer's office, but it's a good thing Harris is apparently an experienced criminal defense attorney and not, say, a tax attorney.
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