I paid Brian upfront for his services. Brian is a nice guy and an articulate and thoughtful communicator. He indicated that he was interested in results and a "shark in the courtroom", and he was good about keeping in contact with me and the court. The problems: I hired him based on incorrect information on his website regarding summary offenses, which he still hasn't corrected even though I've pointed it out. I made it clear to him before I hired him that I didn't want to make a deal with the police and court, but he told me later that he had to talk to the judge and officer without me for "discovery". The judge later made it clear in court that there is no "discovery" in the magistrate court for a summary offense, and now I don't know what they talked about without me. My court date was rescheduled two times for the officer and took about a year to take place. Brian told me that he was bringing a stenographer so we would have proof of the arresting officer's testimony, but he did not do so and did not tell me he hadn't until after the trial. I now have a judgement against me for "public intoxication" even though the police claim to have never conducted a sobriety test, and their evidence was that I was slurring my words and smelled of alcohol, which I testified someone had just knocked onto me before I was violently removed from a bar. But police neglected to mention the evident head trauma and obvious concussion caused by an assault they witnessed, which would cause me to slur my words for days after, and Brian didn't question them further about it in court. He didn't question officers about their relationship with the person who assaulted me, or with the establishment it happened in, and he referred to it as "an altercation" rather than an assault. His argument against the disorderly conduct charge was that "it's not a catch-all. He's allowed to be an A-hole". As in, he referred to me as an A-hole in court rather than pointing out that I was literally sitting with an open head wound, covered in blood, while police held my ID which I supplied them with with no argument, because they were conducting an investigation on ME, while my attacker stood over me. Officers claimed that they told me to go home, while they were holding my ID, but he didn't bring that into the argument. The Judge was very complimentary of Brian before he handed me a guilty verdict. Brian did a good job of getting along with the judge, but not a good job of pointing out inconsistencies in the officers' testimony. As soon as the case was concluded he attempted to sell me further services and even had a contract already printed up. In fact, he attempted to charge me more for the next case than we'd previously discussed if it were to go this way. It was a disconcerting and disheartening experience, and now I have a criminal record for the first time, in my thirties, even with no priors and no evidence against me other than the inconsistent testimony of officers who were not held accountable in court when we had the opportunity to hold them accountable.
Response from Brian Zeiger October 23, 2020
Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate very much your acknowledgment that I did fight your case and that I never discussed a guilty plea.
This was a summary matter in a magistrate court, where often the judge is not a lawyer and some of the rules are loosely applied. I explained to you both before and after the trial that if you were unhappy in any way with the outcome of the proceeding at the magistrate court, we could appeal to the Court of Common Pleas and start over. This is called a de novo appeal and it's very common. Further, I explained to you both before and after, in writing and orally, that Common Pleas court was not included in our original agreement. I also explained to you after the matter that my recommendation to you was to appeal to Common Pleas Court, and if you were unhappy with me, to use a different lawyer, but that you should appeal for a new trial regardless of the lawyer because I truly believed you were not guilty as a matter of law.
Strategy decisions are usually left to the lawyer, and I intentionally made the decision not to bring a court reporter. This case happened years ago. Your comment is years later, so I cannot recall any discussion we had about a court reporter. The argument I made to the judge, I specifically recall, I was arguing Pennsylvania law as it applied to your case and not about your specific conduct--i.e. as a matter of law you were not guilty of the summary citation.
Thank you for the constructive feedback.