Thursday, October 24, 2013

U.S. v. Steele (9th Cir. - Oct. 24, 2013)

You'd think that if you were a criminal defense attorney, you'd know better than to hire a hit man to kill your wife and mother-in-law.

Sure, you might know some unsavory people.  But presumably you'd also know that people get caught.  All the time.  Even when they think they're infinitely smarter than the police.

Admittedly, California attorney (and UCLA Law School graduate) Edgar Steele might perhaps have gotten away with it. The pipe bomb that the hit man put in the tailpipe of the wife's car might have indeed gone off.  Except that the wife had the good fortune to get her oil changed at an extremely fortunate time.  Which led to the discovery of the pipe bomb.

You'd at least think that Steele would know that, after the first attempted bombing had failed, not to threaten his would-be hit man.  But nope.  That's exactly what Steele did.  Telling the hit man that unless he tried again -- harder, this time -- Steele would hire a second hit man to kill not only his wife and mother-in-law, but the first hit man as well.

You know why you don't do that?  Because at that point, the hit man might well go to the FBI.  Which is exactly what he in fact did.

Even if you make all of these mistakes, I can't fathom how a defense attorney could possibly be stupid enough to tell his wife -- on an obviously recorded line from the jailhouse -- to perjure herself.  But yep.  That's exactly what Steele did as well.  So add witness tampering to the list.  Which also doesn't exactly help your defense on the murder charge at trial as well.

Not the brightest decisions anyone's ever made.  At all.