by Jerry Guarino
Maria Gonzalez had grown up
in the gang world of Los Angeles. She was smart
enough to stay out of trouble, but her friends
were all criminals. So, she went to law school,
to become a criminal defense attorney, hoping to
save some of the wayward sisters and brothers of
her youth. Fresh out of law school, she would
surely make a difference.
The lettering had barely
dried on her door when her first client came in.
Ms. Gonzalez, my name
is Isabella Lopez. Are you a criminal lawyer?
Come in Isabella. Im
a criminal defense lawyer. How can I help you?
My brother Diego has
been arrested for selling drugs. Im worried
that someone my kill him in prison before the
Why is that?
Well, he made a lot
of enemies, poaching drug business from other
gangs. Hes in the county jail and you know
the sort of men they have there.
Yes, unfortunately. I
grew up there and escaped the gang life.
Good, then you
understand my concern.
Of course, but why
didnt he get his court-appointed attorney?
You would have to hire me.
He didnt want
to trust an ordinary lawyer. I have money.
Maria looked over Isabella,
noting a well-dressed woman with proper makeup. I
wonder where she got this money.
This could take
months. I would need a $5000 retainer and ongoing
Isabella refrained from
showing any nervousness but didnt want to
seem overly confident of her ability to pay.
Can I give you cash?
Maria was more skeptical
but tried not to show it.
Isabella took $5000 in
hundred-dollar bills out of her purse and handed
it to the attorney.
May I ask what you do?
Isabella paused a moment.
I work in a
So, youre not
mixed up in any of Diegos crimes then?
Isabella paused again.
Not unless being his
sister is against the law.
No, thank goodness.
But there are too many Latina women in prison
because of their family or boyfriends.
Yes, so youll
take his case?
arrange to see him in county today.
The correction officers
brought Diego out.
Gonzalez. Your sister hired me to represent you.
Oh, thank God, maam.
You have to get me out of here. It wont be
long before the other inmates find out who I am.
So, your only crime
is selling drugs? No gang violence or weapons?
No. One of the rival
drug dealers turned me in to the cops.
Ill be with you
during the arraignment. Hopefully, we can post
bail. But you need to be contrite before the
judge. Tell him you made a mistake and would
never do it again.
Yes maam. I can
At the arraignment, Diego
did just that. The judge did show mercy and
offered bail, in the amount of $100,000 if he
promised to stay at home confinement until the
trial. Apparently, he did feel that Diegos
life was in danger.
But wearing an ankle
monitor did not stop Diego from working his drug
business. He used his sister to make drug deals
while he set them up on the phone. Isabella wasnt
so innocent after all.
In the months before the
trial, Diego and Isabella had amassed nearly $500,000
in sales. When Maria realized that Diego and his
sister were still dealing drugs, she decided to
milk them for legal fees in excess of her actual
work. Isabella continued to pay Maria $5000 each
The trial was starting soon.
Maria was ready to defend
Diego, and hopefully, keep him out of prison.
Your honor, my client
made a mistake, a first offense. And he has
promised to never do it again. Can we dismiss the
charge and let him rehabilitate his conduct?
The judge asked the
prosecutor for his comments.
Your honor, I have a
witness that states Diego and his sister have
continued selling drugs these last months. The
defendant never stopped his criminal behaviors,
even after you showed him leniency and gave him
home confinement until the trial. In fact, I have
evidence that Mr. Lopez shot one of the other
gang members, who is in the hospital.
Maria was visibly upset.
Your honor, I had no
revoking the bail for Mr. Lopez and ordering him
back to county jail to await the trial.
But your honor, his
life may be in danger there.
Well, he should have
thought of that before lying to me and this court.
Officers, take Mr. Lopez into custody arrest
Isabella Lopez too.
Isabella cried out. No,
Then Maria Gonzalez spoke
Your honor, these two
have deceived me. I would like to withdraw my
representation of Mr. Lopez since I had
unwittingly become part of their scheme.
Ms. Gonzalez, you do
realize the canon of ethics demands that you
continue to represent Mr. Lopez, but you are not
obligated to defend Ms. Lopez.
I do, your honor. She
will have to get another council.
So, Isabella hired another
attorney and Maria continued her defense of Diego,
although begrudgingly. She met with Diego that
Mr. Lopez, I trusted
you. Now I find out you shot someone. You and
your sister have put me in a very difficult
position. How can I defend you without putting
her in prison?
It was all her idea,
Ms. Gonzalez. I swear that I was ready to go
Well, lets hope
that the jury will buy that.
But what Maria didnt
know is that her attorney planned to blame Maria
for setting up this whole scheme. She made a deal
with the prosecutor to lay it all on her for the
plot, in exchange for leniency in sentencing.
attorney was apparently as unscrupulous as his
clients. Maria Gonzalez was stripped of her law
license and ordered to stand trial for drug
Lawyers: Maria Gonzalez by Jerry Guarino
Copyright April, 2023 All Rights Reserved