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Client Stabs First, then Second Attorneys with Pencils

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 18, 2011 6:43 AM

Have you ever been afraid that one of your clients is going to go all Jason Bourne on you and try to kill you with a ball point pen?

Maybe you should.

No, this is not another ridiculous law school hypothetical. Though, try to IRAC this case: one of your clients has tried - and succeeded - in stabbing you in the neck with the pencil. What result?

Issue: Your client has stabbed you in the neck with a pencil.

Rule: Assault/battery occurs when someone attempts to or does actually manage to physical strike you.

Application: Your neck is bleeding from where a pencil was jabbed into it. Obviously, this means that the physical strike was successful.

Conclusion: Your client has assaulted and battered you.

This might sound ludicrous, but maybe this is what was going on inside the heads of Washington state defense attorneys Gurjit Pandher and Tom Cox. Both attorneys had the unfortunate luck of getting assigned to a stab-happy inmate, Joshua Monson, who is on trial for murder.

Monson stabbed his first attorney, Cox. Cox withdrew from the case (for very understanding reasons), and Pandher replaced him. Monson then stabbed Pandher, reports the Seattle Weekly.

Maybe someone should inform Monson about the proper procedure to express dislike for your attorneys. Firing them is one option. Asking the court to replace the court-appointed counsel is another. Stabbing with a pencil? Not so much.

The offending jailhouse pencil is approximately the size of a golf pencil. Neither lawyer was seriously injured by Monson.

Maybe jailhouse officials should consider giving Monson something with less sharp points to take his notes with. Like crayons, or finger paint. Or an Etch A Sketch.

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