MURDER ACCUSATIONS,
TEMPORARY TATOO CONCEALMENT, AND THE PRACTICE OF LAW


Michael Sean Quinn*

            Each of the following men, X, Y, and
Z, is to be conceived as a defendant accused of murder in a Florida state
court.  In addition, each of them had
tattoos visible to ordinary observers. One of them, Y, has very controversial
tattoos, including “Fuck you” and a swastika plus a line of  Frankenstein-like stitches down his face. 

Each of these defendants requested that he be provided with makeup
of cosmetic services to conceal them.



In the case of X, his lawyer applied them from a supply
provided him by the relatives of the client, i.e., the accused.



In the case of Y, the court ordered the services of a
cosmetologist at $ 100.00 a day.



In the case of Z, the judge refused to provide a make-up
artist.  The press report does not say
whether Z could use the “X-option.”



I have doubts about permitting this sort of thing at
all.  The accused is trying to conceal an
important feature of who he really is, and it seems arguable to me that the
jury should actually see him.  I can’t
imagine that there is a 5th Amendment right to conceal the “Fuck
You” locution you have stamped on your forehead. 



For me the more interesting question is the case of X.  In that case X’s lawyer was applying the
makeup him/herself.  (I am not trying to
guess whether the lawyer was male or female, though I certainly couldn’t do it,
nor can any of the men I know, granted that I am a bit of an introvert and may
simply have never had sufficiently intimate conversations with males to be in
the know.) In any case I wouldn’t do it; I’m sure I don’t know how, and I doubt
I would want to learn. 



In any case,  I feel certain that that this fact does not diminish my credentials as a capable
lawyer. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. I certainly had a duty to zealously pursue my client’s interests and to zealously advocate his case. Does the fiduciary level of loyalty require that I do a makeup job on him?



The problem of the lawyer for X is that s/he was helping X
present something false to a tribunal., namely “who” he was.  Lawyers are forbidden from doing this when it
is testimony (the hear-able) or documents (the readable). So isn’t there
something wrong about a lawyer helping a client conceal from the triers of fact
the actual physical appearance of the defendant.



Suppose a man with a swastika tattooed on his face, and he
was accused of the murder a Jew—say, a militant West Bank radical
sympathizer.  Surely that particular
tattoo on X’s face would be relevant to some degree to determining something
relevant to the charge.  The court is not
demanding that he say anything. It is simply requiring him to appear as he
really is.



Surely, if the alleged murder had occurred 10 year before,
and X had immediately had his tattoos removed somehow, other people or photos
could be used to create a picture of his frames of mind.

Now, there are lots of the exceptions to the requirement that
an accused present himself as he, as it were, really is. A man who persistently
walks nude in city parks should not be required to appear naked at trial. Quite
the opposite. That’s entirely different, though the possibilities for humor are
immense. 



But what do we do about this one. The tatoo says “Judge Joan [the judge sitting in the case] gives great blog jobs”  One is tempted to say, “That on has to go.” But exactly why? 





 

Michael Sean Quinn, Ph.D., J.D.
The Law Firm[s] of Michael Sean Quinn et

Quinn and Quinn

                                 1300 West Lynn Street, Suite 208

                                             Austin, Texas 78703

                                                 (512) 296-2594

                                            (512) 344-9466 – Fax

                                E-mail:  mquinn@msquinnlaw.com
             

Originally posted on 08/13/2015 @ 8:37 pm

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc. (530)

One of Texas's leading insurance scholars, Michael Sean Quinn is a past chair of the Insurance Section of the State Bar of Texas and has a broad legal practice.

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