Whoops: “DUI attorney explains her own DUI charge”

by Walter Olson on October 2, 2008

Janiece Lacross, a drunk-driving defense lawyer in Washington state, has lately run into her own trouble with the law: “Last November she drove drunk with her three young children in the backseat. She hit a boy on his bike in Kitsap County, breaking his leg and sending him into the bushes. But the vehicular assault charge against her was dropped and reduced to just a DUI, which brought Mothers Against Drunk Driving to court to find out why.” Lacross entered rehab and will accept home monitoring and attend victim impact events as part of her plea in Tacoma to DUI and three counts of reckless endangerment; her repentant statements in court even made a relatively favorable impression on MADD, not the easiest thing to do. The passing bit of the story that induced a momentary double take: as part of her penitence, it is said that Lacross “even helped the young victim, Joseph Griffith, with his civil suit for personal injuries”. Against herself? (Keith Eldridge, KOMO, Oct. 1).

{ 10 comments }

1 SSFC 10.02.08 at 7:10 am

Against her insurance policy, which one would presume is large enough to cover the damages.

Civil defendants have told me, their lawyer, that they were absolutely responsible for the accidents they caused, and that they believed the plaintiff’s injuries were genuine. That information is passed on to the insurer, along with the advice that it might be good to settle the case.

That’s helping the plaintiff, in its way.

2 Matt 10.02.08 at 8:53 am

“Your Honor, in the past six months I have dedicated over 200 hours of my time in service to an underrepresented and politically powerless minority – drunk drivers.”

3 Ron Miller 10.02.08 at 9:15 am

SSFC, that is help, presuming that is what she did. But if that was the help, it is probably not best to offer that up as altruistic behavior because having the case resolved certainly plays to benefit of any insured defendant in an auto accident context.

I don’t know know exactly where driving drunk with you three kids fits on the food chain of crimes but it is up there. Certainly, it should be a jailable offense.

4 Richard Nieporent 10.02.08 at 9:37 am

This gives a whole new meaning to the term drunk driving attorney.

“Without this being taken wrong, last November was the best day of my life and the worst day of my life,” said Lacross. “But basically it’s been a smack upside my head and it woke me up and that’s why it’s the best day of my life because I’m finally addressing issues that I didn’t want to address.”

She handled all those drunk driving cases and somehow that didn’t leave an impression on her that drinking and driving was wrong? It was only when she was facing drunk driving charges that she had an epiphany? I am sorry, but I am not that credulous.

MADD learned that Lacross voluntarily went into in-patient alcohol treatment and she even helped the young victim, Joseph Griffith, with his civil suit for personal injuries. The vehicular assault charge was dropped at the victim’s request.

This is all so self-service. She knew exactly what to so to gain the favor of the court because that is exactly what she advises her own clients. Why should anyone believe that this was anything more than a ploy on her part to get more favorable treatment? She, of all people, knew what she was doing was not only wrong but also dangerous. She put the life of other people and her children in jeopardy. It is outrageous that the court showed leniency to her by dropping the vehicular assault charge.

5 Mike 10.02.08 at 1:41 pm

“She, of all people, knew what she was doing was not only wrong but also dangerous”

There are a lot of fat doctors. There are a lot of smokers. There are a lot of people who know something is wrong, yet do it anyway. Why?

“Knowledge” is a funny thing. It’s very easy to “know” something, but not really “get it.” Man, after all, is an emotional animal.

Perhaps this case made the defendant finally understand, on a deep and personal level, that she had a drinking problem. I can’t say, since I don’t know enough to have an opinion.

It is interesting to me that, based on single article, you seem to have a better understanding of the defendant’s psychology than everyone else involved in the case.

6 Bill Poser 10.02.08 at 7:50 pm

It is also possible that there are mitigating circumstances. Perhaps she was only driving because an emergency arose and she felt she had no choice. Who knows what the circumstances were?

7 Richard Nieporent 10.02.08 at 8:32 pm

Mike, why are you trying to make excuses for unacceptable behavior on the part of this woman? If someone is fat or smokes then they can harm their own health. If someone drives drunk they can injure or kill innocent people. Hopefully you can see the difference between the two.

“Knowledge” is a funny thing. It’s very easy to “know” something, but not really “get it.” Man, after all, is an emotional animal.

That is pure psycobabble. She is not retarded. She is a lawyer who defends drunk drivers. She understands better than anyone the harm done by these people. Thus, there is no way that she could not understand that what she was doing was wrong and dangerous. She chose to do someone irresponsible and she hurt a child. She should be punished for her actions. Is that so hard to understand?

8 Richard Nieporent 10.02.08 at 9:45 pm

Bill, I’m curious. Why do you have sympathy for this woman? Since you know what she did was irresponsible, why are you making excuses for her? Would you have done what she did?

9 Bill Poser 10.03.08 at 12:54 am

Richard, I’m not making excuses for her. I’m suggesting a possible reason (a) for the relatively lenient treatment she received and (b) for the fact that a DUI attorney, who ought to be more aware than most of the trouble it can get you into, might do it anyway. I have no idea what the actual circumstances were. My point is that none of us do. She may be a sociopath, she may be a chronic alcoholic, or she may be someone who got caught in a situation she could not reasonably have anticipated. I am very conservative about driving after drinking (which I don’t do much of anyhow) and even about driving when tired, but I can imagine circumstances where driving drunk would be the lesser of two evils.

10 John III 10.07.08 at 2:01 pm

What I want to know is, why do we spend so much time and energy telling everyone not to drive drunk, but we dont really penalize the people that cause accidents while drunk?

Why are they still able to own a car? Buy insurance, even at higher rates? Drive on a suspended license ( which should be a automatic jail sentence right there! )?

Why are they not charged with murder? Its not like they dont know the risk! Make vehicular homicide while inebriated an automatic 2nd degree murder charge, minimum 20 year sentence. Then watch drunk driving disappear.

Comments on this entry are closed.