EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Monday, November 2, 2015

Was Gutierrez Trying to Get Involved in a South Carolina Case a Week Before Adnan's Scheduled Trial?

Today, we will premiere the Cristina Gutierrez episode of the Undisclosed Podcast. This is just a quick post about something we didn't include in the episode. Adnan's initial trial was scheduled to start on October 13, 1999. Here is a portion of Gutierrez's motion for a continuance, filed on October 11, 1999:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.15.24 AM

We will delve into this motion for a continuance and the motion mentioned in this excerpt much more in our pretrial/discovery episode in two weeks. 

I left this South Carolina trip out of the episode because it is a question, not an answer. Was Gutierrez trying to get involved in a case in a sixth jurisdiction* in the days before Adnan's originally scheduled trial? I don't know, but I do know this: Gutierrez was (1) in South Carolina from October 1-4; (2) in court for a trial on October 5-6; (3) in court in connection with another case in another jurisdiction on October 7-8; and (4) in court for a trial on October 12th. That's a hell of a schedule leading up to a scheduled first-degree murder trial. More on this in the Addendum.


*The other jurisdictions were Maryland, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Alabama, and Maine.




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This seems utterly reckless. Whether it was illness-impaired judgment about how much work she (and her law student interns) could handle, a desire to resurrect her dimming reputation, or the need for money, her actions appear to descend to a level of contempt for her responsibilities in Adnan's case. Hard to see any justification, particularly from our (disad)vantage point.

Posted by: Sato Moughalian | Nov 2, 2015 5:08:34 AM

How many states was she admitted in? That's seems like an awful strange combination. I get MD and PA and I would have not been skeptical on DE or DC but Maine, Alabama, Puerto Rico and SC? Seems like she was trying to do way too much in way too many places. I would have loved to know her reasoning.

Posted by: Sam | Nov 2, 2015 6:43:08 AM

It would be interesting to hear from other defense attorneys in ref. to how many murder cases they handle in many jurisdictions all at the same time? I know they do work cases at the same time but usually not all murder cases in different states? Is this something that she did throughout her whole career? Were these other 7 cases from the associates & the partner that left during the same time? That she was picking up their cases?

Posted by: Sunny | Nov 2, 2015 7:54:49 AM

Couldn't this all be connected to what you sited in previous postings about the changes in partners and staff at her law firm? If the firm was going through serious problems then perhaps to save face she didn't want to walk out on clients and instead took on additional cases being handled by the lawyers that had left the firm. Financially she didn't want to send clients elsewhere, but in the end it wasn't a good move for anyone involved. I imagine we will learn more about these issues at the firm in today's episode.

Posted by: Suzanne | Nov 2, 2015 8:28:08 AM

I wanted to ask-why didn't Tina take any depositions? Never referred to them in cross exams?

Posted by: Sunny | Nov 2, 2015 12:38:58 PM

Sato: She really spread herself too thin.

Sam: I don’t know. I think she was seeking to appear pro hac vice in most of these cases.

Sunny: I’ve never heard of anyone handling this many murder cases in this many jurisdictions at the same time.

Suzanne: Most of these were cases from other jurisdictions that Gutierrez chose to take. I don’t the departures can explain them.

Posted by: Colin | Nov 2, 2015 1:46:56 PM

Did she have a legal responsibility to disclose to all of her clients the number of cases she was working on simultaneously?

Posted by: Holly | Nov 2, 2015 5:58:12 PM

Sunny: Depositions are not taken in criminal cases in Maryland except by agreement or on a motion if the witness may not be able to testify at trial. Not sure if this is true in other jurisdictions, but the Maryland Rules do not otherwise allow them. It is very, very unusual for there ever to be a deposition in a criminal case.

Posted by: Jane | Nov 3, 2015 6:33:25 AM

Thanks Colin-Interesting, because in most criminal trials that I’ve watched, both the Prosecution & Def. Attorneys have used depositions to impeach each other’s witnesses-they were testifying differently. They’ve actually stated in court to the judge that, they need time to depose the witness before they cross& judge grants time to do this. These were murder trials-Florida, AZ, CO...

Posted by: Sunny | Nov 3, 2015 10:24:16 AM

There's a manic quality to Ms. Gutierrez' behavior that would seem to indicate mental illness that may well have preceded her MS. Interesting that she completely acquiesced to her own disbarment (though in a patently dishonest fashion, referencing her health challenges as the sole justification), after years of refusing to acknowledge that she was gravely impaired and ruining her clients’ lives in the process.

Posted by: Anya | Nov 3, 2015 10:56:33 AM

To put things in perspective, what is a typical caseload for a defense attorney?

Posted by: AJP | Nov 3, 2015 11:01:30 AM

I have owned a small business, and am about to become a lawyer, and I honestly can't imagine trying to do both at the same time.

Posted by: Jason P | Nov 3, 2015 11:44:12 AM

Depos in criminal cases is just another "quirk" of FL crim pro.

Posted by: Jason P | Nov 3, 2015 12:04:25 PM

I don't really have a frame of reference about whether or not this is "too thin" a schedule for her or any attorney. Can you maybe give us a schedule of an attorney that covers the same kinds of cases now? Also, before she started getting sick, what were her schedule like?

Posted by: af | Nov 5, 2015 7:55:16 AM

i dont think its a matter of asking other attorneys to be honest. Common sense tells us that it is not particularly a good idea to travel from state to state, court room to court room, not really focusing on any case because they all become a jumbled mess, while your multiple clients have placed their destiny,liberty and finances in your less than capable hands.

imo, it is downright negligent.

Posted by: red | Nov 10, 2015 11:45:23 PM

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