Three Questions for Kerrville Lawyer Guy James Gray

This is going to remind many of you of David Martin’s conduct in the Cameron Willingham case, but this isn’t normal for Texas criminal-defense lawyers. Really. I promise.

After Matt Baker got sentenced to 65 years in prison for the murder of his wife:

Baker’s Kerrville-based attorneys, Guy James Gray and Harold Danford, said they respect the jury’s verdict. They tried to withdraw from Baker’s case less than a week before his trial started, citing ethical reasons.

Gray clarified those reasons after trial.

“We discovered (the affair) about six weeks ago, and we finally figured out that Matt was being untruthful with me, and I asked the judge to let me and Harold get out, but the judge didn’t want to delay the trial,” Gray said. “He was being untruthful, mostly, about Vanessa Bulls. But once you get untruthful about one part, you naturally begin to question all the other parts, too.”

Gray said he probably could have done a better job representing Baker but thought the evidence did not rise to the level of a conviction.

“He fooled me about the affair, but I really think there was probably some reasonable doubt there,” Gray said. “There was an awful lot of circumstantial evidence that they proved. But the credibility of Vanessa Bulls was pretty low, and to get to the drugs and the pillow and the suffocation, you have to believe her.

“While my opinion of Matt is pretty low right now, I do believe that there was technical reasonable doubt.”

(Waco Tribune)

1. So you tried to withdraw because you figured out your client was lying to you. I have to ask: is this your first criminal case? Our clients lie to us; it’s our job, as often as not, to save them from themselves.

2. Then you announce to the world at large that your client had lied to you. Are you using different disciplinary rules than the rest of us are using? If I were a client, I might lie to you just to make sure that you didn’t spill my secrets to the nearest reporter.

3. Is there some local rule in Waco allowing lawyers to throw their clients under the bus once the case is finished? You and David Martin ought to get together and go bowling.

[Update:  he's a former prosecutor. Just sayin'. . . .]

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
This entry was posted in ethics and/or professionalism, media, privilege and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Three Questions for Kerrville Lawyer Guy James Gray

  1. Mark,

    Don’t blame Waco for James Earl Gray and David Martin. Gray lives in Kerville and Martin in Corsicana. The local bar has been as vocal as everyone.

    Gray needs to worry – unlike Martin, his client is still alive.

  2. Jackie Carpenter says:

    WOW!!! This breach of confidence is egregious! You may come to learn that a client is lying, but you don’t spill privileged information! Confront the client, but this??? Is lying even a reason to withdraw?

  3. Cyn says:

    Ridiculous. As you commented, we have clients that lie about all kinds of things – things that matter & things that don’t, & it includes things that embarass them. It is one thing to try to withdraw because the client says that he will lie on the stand (& we cannot subjorn perjury), but another thing to make such an attempt a public matter. His actions sound grievable on top of being the actions of someone who should not be allowed the opportunity to protect the rights and lives of people.

  4. Mark,
    I think there is a rule for this. In fact, I can think of two:
    Rule 1.6 (a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent.

    Rule 1.9 (c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter…shall not thereafter:
    (2) Reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require…

    Seems pretty clear to me. Don’t do it.

  5. Kat Cothran says:

    I’m trying to understand this. Lawyers don’t reveal information relating to the representation except as rules permit or require.

    Do lawyers have to tell a judge when their client is lying? When the client plans on lying? When the client has already lied?

    I’m a cynical son of a gun, but I want to live in a world where lawyers don’t let clients lie in court.

    However, I do see the difference between stopping a lie in court and airing a client’s laundry in the court of public opinion AFTER a case is over.

    • Mark Bennett says:

      Do lawyers have to tell a judge when the client has already lied? No, absolutely not. Not only do they not have to, but they can’t.

      The other two situations that you ask about don’t apply here (Gray didn’t put his client on the stand), but the interplay between the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality to the client and her duty of candor to the tribunal is a great topic for discussion. The textbook answer is that when the client is determined to get on the witness stand to lie, the lawyer can’t rat on the client but shouldn’t do anything (including asking questions) to help the client.

  6. “Gray said he probably could have done a better job representing Baker but thought the evidence did not rise to the level of a conviction.”

    So a man gets 65 years in prison for crime when his attorney who candidly admits he could have done a better job? And we wonder why potential jurors will candidly admit at times they do not believe in our system of justice.

  7. Nancy Pine says:

    I always thought that the laws of client confidentiality were paramount. There’s a law firm in Massachusetts that still refuses to release documents related to the Lizzie Borden case. It doesn’t matter that everyone involved is long dead. Client confidentiality is still required.

  8. Lee Stonum says:

    The best and particularly the middle of your private bar seems to be better than ours, but your worst is also worse. This is shocking.

  9. Pingback: Todd Willingham's witch trial: the ignorant investigation | Re:harmonized

  10. Pingback: Todd Willingham's witch trial: the dreadful defense | Re:harmonized

  11. Deborah Tanton says:

    Guy James Gray practiced law in Jasper County Texas for years. So dont blame Kerrville. If it hadnt been for the death of James Byrd no one would probably of ever heard of him. Why would it be suprising for a defendent to lie to his attorney yet the police can do it to people they are questioning any time they want to? Anything for a confessinn!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>