Bad Ideas, Lawyer of the Day

A Diabolical Defense Strategy

An attorney representing a man in a Virginia Circuit Court came up with a creative defense strategy for one of his clients. Attorney George Freeman was representing a man who had pleaded guilty to fraud. Due to nine prior convictions, Rodney Newsome was facing serious jail time.

But Freeman got him off with no sentence at all: By telling the judge that Newsome was dead. From the Washington Post:

Rodway told Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Devine that in 2008 and 2009, Newsome’s attorney at the time, George Freeman, had filed doctor’s notes, and then a report from the Maryland health department, that “indicated Mr. Newsome had gone to the big courthouse in the sky.”

Newsome claims not to have been aware of the fact that his attorney was filing forged doctor’s notes and death reports. He just thought he had a good attorney?

Assuming that Newsome was indeed dead, the judge dismissed the charges. But psyche, Newsome had not had unsuccessful brain surgery. He was in fact alive, and getting into trouble again.

Newsome tried to open a bank account with a stolen check earlier this year. When he was arrested for attempted fraud, he became resurrected. The deception was discovered thanks to the judge’s clerk who spotted the case and recognized the name.

The Washington Post reached out to George Freeman for comment, but he did not return their call. Sounds like he may be facing fraud charges of his own in the near future. Unfortunately, the “innocent because I’m dead” strategy probably won’t work this time around.

‘Dead’ Manassas man returns to life — and to jail [Washington Post]

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