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Lawyer Withdraws After Client Threatens His Life

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 16, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A criminal defendant offers to pay someone to kill his lawyer, but aren't there people who would do it for free?

Bad joke, but seriously when a client is willing to pay $30,000 to literally terminate his attorney, it's obvious there is an attorney-client conflict.

That's why a judge allowed the New Jersey attorney to withdraw. The public defenders aren't exactly happy to take the case, however.

$30,000 Question

First, there's the question about qualifying as an indigent defendant. If you can afford to pay a $30,000 contract killer, shouldn't you be able to retain a private lawyer?

Of course, now that Michael Anthony Nocera has been charged with conspiracy to murder, it might be hard for him to find a lawyer willing to take the risk.

The ABA Journal reported that Nocera allegedly offered to pay "anyone" to kidnap his lawyer, shoot him in the head, burn the body and then dump it in the ocean. (Wouldn't that be spreading his ashes? Just saying...)

Technically, prosecutors said Nocera wanted the "remains disposed of in a body of water." But this all went down on the Jersey Shore, so yeah.

Failure to Communicate?

It's not clear what led to the breakdown between the lawyer and his client. The threatened attorney won't comment, and Nocera hasn't said anything except that he'd like to kill him.

Nocera was already in jail on charges of sexual assault and assault of a child. He also faces counts related to photographing a child in a sexual act.

A deputy public defender stepped in at his arraignment on the new conspiracy charge. Nocera will continue be held without bail while he conspires, or rather confers, with his next attorney.

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