Lawyers I’ve Known

No. 1: Spies Like Us

By Dave Grossi  |   Apr 23, 2015

[Editor’s Note: Dave Grossi is a Calibre Press emeritus and a consummate professional with a wealth of experience that ranges from expert witness testimony to deep undercover work. His sense of humor might have something to do with his success. This is the first installment in a series about the various lawyers he’s worked with throughout his year–all hilarious! Enjoy.]

As I near the end of my careers—more than 20 years in operational law enforcement and then another 20 as a consultant/trainer—I’ve often had a good laugh at some of the characters I’ve crossed paths with along the way. I could fill a book on some of the cops and trainers I’ve networked with. I don’t know if I’d ever have enough space to do those folks justice. Calibre Press, however, has given me enough to fill a few paragraphs about some of the legal beagles I’ve met during my time as a trainer/consultant and court expert.

Hopefully, this series will bring a few smiles to the faces of our readers. It’s also going to require a little self-deprecation on the part of those attorneys who may recognize themselves, although I’ve gone to great pains to mask the identities of those lawyers who may lack a sense of humor. (By the way, I have to tell you that in every case described here, the defense prevailed either at trial, an outright dismissal of the claim, or the settlement agreement reached between the parties had the action against the individual officer dismissed as part of that agreement.)

Lastly, please understand: these are caricatures of real attorneys described in the actual incidents as I remember them. With that said, here goes!

Spies Like Us
I’ve met some paranoid people in my lifetime. But this first attorney takes the cake. I had a deposition scheduled down here in Paradise. Apparently, southwest Florida in February is a little more appealing than upper Michigan. Anyway, the depo was supposed to take place at a local hotel conference room at 10:00 a.m. and my custom and practice is to have a short breakfast conference with the attorney/client prior to the deposition just to get a feel for what the opposing counsel is like.

Some, I’ve learned, act like they’re in front of a jury when they take your deposition with all the theatrics and mannerisms that go into a full blown “Law and Order” trial cross-examination. They’ll show up in their $1,200 suits with an entourage of two or three other lawyers. Most, however, are pretty laid back and wear golf shirts and khakis. Many are very experienced in civil rights work, while others—not so much. So I’ve come to realize it’s a good idea to get a feel for what the attorney who is deposing me is like. Hence, the pre-depo breakfast meet.

The day before the deposition, my client and I had agreed to meet at the depo site (the local hotel) for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. About 8:00 am, en route, I get a call on my cell phone from the attorney. He wants to change the breakfast meeting to a diner about a mile away from the hotel. His reason being the other attorney happens to be staying at the site hotel and he doesn’t want that lawyer to see us meeting together. Now, there’s nothing improper, inappropriate, unethical or illegal about lawyers meeting with their experts prior to a deposition. So I was a little taken back by the request, but agreed to meet him at the diner.

I arrived about 10 minutes early, looked for someone who might be an out-of-town attorney in the dining room, but didn’t see anybody who could be him. I had never worked for this attorney before, so all my dealings with him had been on the phone. My CV has a recent black and white photo of yours truly so he knew what I looked like.

I took a two-top table where the view faced the door so I could see when he arrived. At about 8:05 a.m., my cell phone rings again. It’s the attorney. I expected him to say that he got tied up in traffic or got lost, but instead I hear a hushed voice telling me to “look to [my] right about 45 degrees.” I look and there is the lawyer sitting at a corner table peering around a potted palm tree, the fronds covering the right side of his face, and the screen of his laptop hiding his chin, mouth and nose. “Hey,” I reply. “You want me to come there? I have a seat here for you.”

“No, come here,” he whispered.

I took a seat at his table and after a few adjustments of the foliage we got down to business. I’m sure our waitress thought she was serving a couple of CIA operatives with all the hushed talk and occasional peering over the palm fronds. The level of paranoia pouring through this guy’s veins probably required an intervention by a mental health professional. Remember, the other attorney was over a mile away at the hotel. I was surprised that my client wasn’t sporting a pair of Groucho Marx glasses complete with big bushy eyebrows and a mustache.

There’s paranoia and then there’s PARANOIA. However, I must say, he turned out to be a great trial lawyer.

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Dave Grossi
Dave Grossi is a retired police lieutenant from upstate NY now residing in southwest FL. He was the Lead Instructor for the Calibre Press, Inc. Street Survival Seminars from 1988 through 2000.