A recent criminal case, involving a Florida attorney, has not just raised the eyebrows of many Americans but questioned the righteousness and honesty of legal professionals. Keep reading to learn the whole story.
William Dean, a North Miami Beach attorney, was charged with attempting to extort around $800,000 USD from DeAndre Baker, a former NFL player, in exchange for getting his clients to modify their testimony. Representing three men, who accused two NFL players of assault and robbery in Florida, Dean was arrested on November 15, 2020. The charges against the New York Giants’ player was dropped on the very same day.
According to the Broward County state attorney, four men accused the football players of mugging them at gunpoint on May 13, 2020, but three of the accusers changed their testimony and the 4th denied to answer the questions of the prosecutor later.
The 50-year-old lawyer, William A. Dean, is the managing partner of the Florida-based law firm Ford, Dean & Rotundo, P.A. On Monday, November 15, he was charged in Broward County with demanding payments for three of his clients in exchange for having them alter their testimony or stop cooperating with prosecutors. When called, a woman at Ford, Dean & Rotundo said that Mr. Dean was not available to communicate. More calls asking the firm to comment on Mr. Dean’s arrest led to the line being disconnected.
The extortion charges cropped from an incident that happened in May 2020 in Miramar, Florida. The witnesses at the scene claimed that 3 men at a cookout mugged people of $70,000 USD in cash and jewelry at gunpoint. The witnesses identified the three men as Seattle Seahawks player Quinton Dunbar, New York Giants player DeAndre Baker, and an unknown man wearing a red mask. According to The Miami Herald, the charges against Dunbar were dropped in August 2020.
The 23-year-old DeAndre Baker was drafted by the New York Giants with the 30th pick in the 2019 N.F.L. Draft. On August 5, 2020, he was charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault. Baker was released by the team in September 2020 and on November 15, 2020, all charges on him were dropped by Broward County prosecutors. New York Giants’ spokesperson refused to comment on Mr. Baker’s status. The 28-year-old Quinton Dunbar still plays for his Seattle team, but the team declared on November 13, 2020, that Dunbar is out due to a knee injury.
The case began to clear up as the three men, who earlier accused Baker, later changed their statement or became totally uncooperative. Dean was invested in August 2020 after information surfaced that he was attempting to extort Baker. Assistant State Attorney, Paul R. Valcore stated that the claimed victims and witnesses became uncooperative that unchangeably spoiled their credibility. Mr. Valcore further added that one of the accusers even refused to answer questions and he was therefore later held in contempt of court.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office stated that according to the investing officials, Dean wanted Baker to pay over $266,000 to each of his clients in exchange for having them either alter their testimony or refuse to cooperate with prosecutors. Baker’s attorney, Bradford Cohen said that his client was an extortion victim, and the arrested lawyer had actually sought $1.5 million. However, no money has ever transferred, according to Mr. Cohen. He also hopes N.F.L. to look into this matter and let the case become more apparent before they decide on suspending the player.
Take-Home Lessons from the Case
It is largely suggested that if you are drawn into a legal procedure or a legal action has been taken against you (especially when you need to prove your innocence), you should immediately get in touch with an attorney, specializing in the type of case you are involved in.
However, one important thing to consider here is that it is extremely crucial to check the credibility of a lawyer before you hire him/her to represent your case. Why this is so important is quite evident with the story above – even the so-called protectors of law, justice, and legal rights can’t be trusted blindly.
So, how to ensure that you are hiring a genuine lawyer, who will guide you through the legal proceedings in a righteous manner? There are several factors to take into account when you are looking to hire a lawyer, who can best represent your case, both inside or outside of a courtroom.
Things to Consider When Selecting an Attorney
Here are seven points to consider that will help you hire the right lawyer:
- Identify Your Legal Problem and Contact a Specialist: You should be well aware of your legal issue. There exist many specialties and sub-specialties within the ambit of law, therefore it is good to understand what kind of attorney can best understand, handle, and solve your problem. Always get a specialist to solve your legal issues. Specialist lawyers keep themselves abreast of the latest trends in laws and understand legal subtleties specific to your unique case. This knowledge is critical as it could be the thin line between losing and winning the case.
- Make Sure the Lawyer has the Right Experience: It is another crucial criteria to consider. You should select a lawyer, who has a successful track record with the type of problem you are facing. This may include the duration of practice, number of cases handled so far, and outcomes of past cases. Besides, an attorney’s awareness of the other party, legal acumen, and ability to assess risk, develop infallible strategies, and navigate you through the complexities of legal procedures do count. Consider looking at the legal firm’s website to analyze the breadth and length of their practice.
- The Attorney Should Be a Great Communicator: Lawyers are expected to communicate effectively not only with you, but also with the opposition party and the jurors. He should be able to the community in an understandable way, and must know that overly communicating may not be necessary or cost-efficient.
- Consider the Lawyer’s Professionalism: Professionalism is beyond personality. A professional lawyer is expected to:
- Work to protect your rights and interests
- Work economically and efficiently
- Carry follow-ups appropriately & promptly
- Provide you with a suitable alternative for resolving the dispute
- Abide by all applicable laws
- Be punctual and stay well-prepared as and when needed
- Gather References On the Lawyer: Ask the shortlisted lawyers to provide you with client references for you to consult with. Dig deep into the lawyers’ industry reputation by checking with other reliable sources. Online sources and bar associations can help you learn about their background and any disciplinary actions against them. Hiring a lawyer is an important step toward the success of your legal case, hence you should avoid taking shortcuts in this reference-check process.
- Analyze the Lawyer’s Resources & Support Network: Choose a legal firm that has ample resources to back your case. Check that the firm has an information retrieval system that could save you time as well as money. Also, see if they have client education publications, informative websites, and/or newsletters that are valuable extras.
- Ask for Charges and Other Similar Arrangements: Hiring any lawyer will certainly come at a cost. Ask the legal firm to explain their billing methods and procedures in the first place to avoid any future confusion. While most attorneys charge on an hourly basis, alternative billing methods and contingency arrangements are getting popular.
Also, get clarity on other possible charges like copying, postage, specialist services, travel, etc. Always avoid considering an attorney solely on the basis of cost. Sign an Engagement Letter with the law firm or lawyer, describing the billing arrangement and other facets of the professional relationship.
In light of the extortion case described above, it is crucial to have an established lawyer, who has a clean track record and excellent reputation, by your side to represent you legally. We hope these tips would surely help you find the right attorney.