Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Missouri public defender Patty Poe develops a case of lockjaw when asked to identify her lawyer "friend" who helped make determinations about Carol's case

Patty Poe
When we left Missouri public defender Patty Poe, she was huffily telling Carol and me about the stringent nature of her legal education at the University of Missouri School of Law, while admitting her research skills were so limited she had to consult an unnamed "friend" for help with fundamental issues in Carol's case.

For some reason, Carol and I were alarmed that an unknown third party was helping make determinations about Carol's defense in a criminal case, which at that time, still carried the possibility of jail time. We also were concerned about the possibility that Carol's attorney-confidentiality rights had been violated.

With that in mind, Carol sent Poe an email, asking about a couple of issues -- including the status of Poe's mysterious "friend" and the role he or she was playing in Carol's case:


This is Carol. I need to check with you on a couple of things:

(1) I need copies of what little discovery has been produced in my case. If my memory is correct, the state has produced the following items:

a. Photos taken by Dep. Scott Harrison of my broken arm and other injuries;

b. Copy of 911 call from Burrell Health;

c. Photos taken of the back seat of the patrol car in which I was transported.

I need these items -- and any other discovery that has been produced-- ASAP. You are welcome to mail them, or I can stop by your office to pick them up.

(2) In our final in-person meeting, you mentioned that you had consulted a lawyer friend of yours, someone who was knowledgeable about tenant-landlord law, regarding my case. As I understand it, this person was helping make decisions about my case, and I don't even know who he is. Further, I'm concerned that this could have been a breach of my attorney-client confidentiality. I don't understand why you would deem it appropriate to consult someone else about my case, especially without my permission and without identifying this person. Aside from those concerns, I need that person's identity now. Please list the name, location, and contact information for this person in response to this email.

Thank you,

Poe's response was short and . . . well, short:

Hi Carol:

I closed your file, you may stop by the office and ask for a copy of it, all discovery will be contained therein.

In reference to my friend I consulted, I didn't disclose your name or any specific facts that would identify you as an individual. I simply asked her a couple questions regarding evictions as a whole -- nothing specific to your case.

Good luck!


Well, what do you know? There is the "good luck" Poe could not seem to manage on the day she bailed on Carol and left the courtroom in a rush, even before the hearing was over. You will notice -- Carol certainly did -- that Poe left a key questioned unanswered. So Carol sent this follow-up:


I will pick up the file and discovery, etc.

I do, however, need to know your friend's name, location, contact info, affiliation (law firm), etc. You cited the information she provided as grounds for your opinion that the eviction was lawful -- when, in fact, it was not lawful. Her statements most certainly did have an impact on my case, and I want to know who she is. I have a right to know who she is.


How did that sit with Poe? Well, it's hard to tell because she has yet to respond. Poe apparently thinks it's OK for a third-party lawyer to provide input on Carol's case, but Carol does not have a right to know that person's identity.

Carol and I suspect that does not square with Missouri ethics rules. We also have this question: If the third-party lawyer's impact was so benign, why does Poe have a problem identifying her?

Since Poe seems to have developed a case of lockjaw, perhaps Carol will need to take it up with a judge, the Missouri Bar Association, or some appropriate authority.

It was our understanding, that Carol's representation was under the auspices of Patty Poe and the Missouri public defender's office. If it was affected by someone other than Patty Poe -- someone apparently not affiliated with the PD office -- Carol wants to know who that was. And we are quite sure she has that right.

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