Meet America’s Craziest (Ex) Lawyer

If you’re looking for a good trial lawyer, look much further than former Kansas attorney Dennis Hawver.  The Supreme Court has just disbarred Hawver for what it calls “inexplicable incompetence” which you know has to be some kind of legendary stupidity to get that kind of language attached to it.

Hawver’s disbarment stems from his conduct in a trial way back in 2005.  Doesn’t the justice system move quickly?  See, back in the murder trial of Phillip Cheatham, Hawver told jurors that Cheatham was a cocaine dealer and that he had killed other people.  During closing arguments he even told the jury that they should sentence Cheatham to death.  This seems like good lawyering for the prosecution, except that Hawver wasn’t prosecution, he was Cheatham’s defense attorney.  That’s the worst defense in the world.

An investigation into Hawver’s awful defense also indicated he withheld evidence that his client wasn’t even in town at the time the two murders he was charged with were committed.  Basically he did every awful thing he could do as a lawyer.

Lucky for Cheatham, who actually was sentenced to death, his conviction was overturned due to terrible lawyering, and a new trial was scheduled for him so he didn’t have to die for the crime of getting an asstatsic lawyer.

As for Hawver, during his disbarment hearing, he dressed like Thomas Jefferson and wore a powdered wig, banging his fist on a lectern and repeatedly yelling “I am incompetent.”  So, you know, it seems like they made the right choice. 

During the hearing, the court pointed out that Hawver never followed up on his client’s alibi and didn’t know how to have his phone traced to determine he wasn’t in town.  Hawver’s defense was that he may not have done every single little thing to defend his client, but he tried as he saw fit and really did believe his client was innocent.  Maybe he recommends juries execute innocent people all the time.  He said that his client designed the defense strategy to present him as an accomplish drug dealing murderer who, if he really was guilty, wouldn’t have needed to fire so many shots to kill the people he was being accused of killing.  His defense was that he was a much better murderer than whoever really murdered those people.

If you are in the market for a lawyer in the future, make sure you don’t take that defense to them, just in case they try to run with it like Hawver did.