Practical Advice: Don’t Let Your Client Pay You in Guns
Wow. A pharmacist accused of murder decided to pay his lawyer with his firearm collection. When the Judge presiding over his case inquired as to how many guns, exactly, that collection entailed, a constitutional fight ensued. Quick: which amendment gets play? (Hint: it’s not the 2nd!)
“I gave every weapon of mine to my attorney. I swear to the Lord,” Jerome Jay Ersland said.
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure last week allowed Ersland, 57, of Chickasha to be released on $100,000 bail but she banned him from any access to weapons. The hearing today was to see if he had complied with her order.
Ersland told the judge he no longer owns the weapons. Defense attorney Irven Box said he took the weapons and other personal property from Ersland as payment of part of the attorney fees in the case.
Box told the judge he has accepted other unusual payments in the past, including comic books.
The case arises out of Ersland’s shooting – in purported self-defense – of an individual robbing his store. You can see the video here. And as for the constitutional right to withhold information about Ersland’s gun collection? That would be the right against self-incrimination:
District Attorney David Prater also said prosecutors could use the answer to that question against Ersland at trial.
The judge at one point said she would put Ersland back in jail if he didn’t answer her question but eventually she decided not to revoke his bail. She said she had learned a lesson and will not in the future let a defense attorney collect a defendant’s weapons.
This advice is generalizable. Take cash over credit, and credit over barter. And never, ever, take the instruments of the crime.