About Us
Representative Matters
Citations to the Law
Employment Law
Health Care
Legal Resources
dicta inter alia
Privacy Policy
Contact Information

little authority for what might be said, among other things

dicta inter alia

A lawyer discovers that his client is guilty of the horrible crime for which he was just found innocent.
—From The Writer's Book of Matches (Writer's Digest Books) by the staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts: A Literary Journal



Some days you earn your reputation.  Given the circumstances, “scumbag” was too high a compliment.  A scumbag who represents another scumbag is undeserving of such tepid vitriol.

On six previous occasions Gordon Knott came to me for help to bail him out of his latest mess.  But I can honestly say I’m surprised that Gordon was, in fact, guilty.  I merely never considered the possibility.  He had an ironclad alibi.

The state’s witnesses, each with a sadder story than the last, made a compelling case that he was a scam artist who had taken their hard-earned money.  The state charged him with fraud, alleging that Gordon had sold his victims a stake in a phony real estate development.

I don’t usually handle criminal matters; they’re too dicey and it’s tough to make a living from small-time criminals who have neither the means nor the inclination to pay you – win or lose.  But, I made an exception for Gordon.  He was, after all, something of a rainmaker for me.  He threw regular work my way: real estate closings, loan documents, deeds and covenants, commercial leases, and just about all the light corporate work a solo guy like me could handle.  The thing is, this was a real development.

Gordon imagined himself a real estate guru.  But that was a stretch.  There was very little that was real about his development empire.  Just enough so that when he took prospects out for a “look,” they’d come away sufficiently satisfied to think that they were about to buy into something promising. Like Knotty Pines.

“Knotty Pines,” the glossy brochure said, “promises to be the premier lifestyle community on Loxahatchee Shoals.  Choice sites available.  Lock in now.”  The prosecutor who read the brochure into evidence aptly noted for the jury, “The ‘Pines’ continues the tradition for which Gordon Knott, the South’s preeminent developer, is known.  Whether you choose luxurious southern living or prime investment property, Gordon promises to overlook no detail.”  Trouble is, the statement is literally true.  Gordon didn’t look over a single thing.  He left the details to me.  As it turns out, all except for one.

Gordon was a salesman who sold promises and dreams.  But he always explained the risks. “It’s rare.  But these deals sometimes fall apart and leave you with nothing,” he warned them.   In fact, that was just about the only thing I had to ask on cross-examination.

Velda Cooper, who told the saddest story about how her husband took his own life when their lifelong savings dwindled to nothing and how she lost her house and had to give up her dog, Woody, to the pound because the efficiency she moved into wouldn’t allow pets, had to concede that, yes, Gordon did warn them about the risks.  She just never believed it could happen.  She held out for the promise of living the good life on Loxahatchee Shoals.  “Speculative risk in the real estate market,” I explained with just enough well-practiced empathy in my closing argument.

True, there is no Knotty Pines on Loxahatchee Shoals where Velda Cooper and her husband’s retirement home and barking Woody ought to be. It was only a vision Gordon sold.  As for the property itself, those 150 acres of wetlands and weeds were the sole holdings of one of Gordon’s companies I set up.  When I found out the property could actually be developed, I transferred the title to my name and sold the land for a tidy sum.  I was still waiting for my check and the last of the paperwork to clear when we went to trial.  So I knew Gordon couldn’t be guilty of defrauding any of the Shoals investors.  The jury got it right.  Or so I thought - until I got back to the office.

My secretary, Wanda, handed me a fat brown envelope with a stack of printouts of recorded deed transfers and title searches and a letter explaining the delay.  It seems that the property had been sold the day before I made my deal.  The timing of the transactions had confused the records custodians at the Loxahatchee County Clerk’s office and it had taken several weeks to straighten things out.  But there it was. 

That scumbag Gordon Knott had gone and sold Loxahatchee Shoals right out from under me.  He had, in fact, taken their money and their dreams. 

The bar’s code of ethics says I can’t report him.  But I do plan to collect my fee in full.


Copyright 2006 Martin James O'Connell









The content of this web site is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. Contacting anyone at this e-mail address does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any use of this web site is for personal use only. All other uses are prohibited. © 2003 - 2010 MARTIN JAMES O'CONNELL . All rights reserved.

For information about this web site, contact:


Copyright 2010 Martin James O'Connell


Home ] About Us ] Representative Matters ] Citations to the Law ] Litigation ] Employment Law ] Health Care ] Legal Resources ] dicta inter alia ] Privacy Policy ] Search ] E-mail ] Contact Information ]