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Monday, March 11, 2013

The hardest part...part 1/4

I did something today that I know was wrong.  I do not know how long it is going to bother me or how long it is going to be hard to live with myself but right now I cannot stand to look in the mirror.

Today I stood next to my client as she pled to an offense that I so desperately wished she would take to trial.

As I prepared for this trial I could feel the blood rushing to the surface of my skin, I'm tingling all over and just outright excited.  The police officers did not do everything anything they were supposed to do when investigating the alleged crime, the prosecutor was stuck and he knew it.  So he offered to dismiss the case upon completion of a court diversion program.

In our office we sit two attorney's to a jury trial. Always. Even if you plan on doing everything from voir dire to closing, you have to have a second set of eyes and ears there with you, just in case.  Since I may be leaving soon (and my supervisor knows this despite the fact that we have not discussed it) it was suggested that I ask him to be my 2nd chair.  He has seen me do a cross-examination in one of his cases when I first started and has not been in court to 'supervise' me doing a thing since then.  So I ask him.  Mistake #1.

Let me digress for a moment.  I love trying cases, I love winning; I love trying cases and winning.  The only way to win is if you try cases.  There is no better place to try, try and try again when it comes to the legal field, than in the public defenders office (or a prosecutor).  So when I say I was ready to try this case, I WAS READY!  My supervisor had a different opinion.  I listened to his opinion. Mistake #2.

          "The only way you can guarantee her a win is with this plea."

          "Your enthusiasm, misplaced as it may be, is refreshing."

          "I am not questioning your ability to win based on your ability,
            I am questioning your ability to win based on the facts."

          "I don't think you have a winner that has the potential to be lost,
            I think you have a loser that can maybe be won."

Sigh, so I sat down and talked to my client about her fears, her concerns and her position on things.  Truth of the matter is, her only concern was money.  A conviction could not only mean jail time but also upwards of $3,000 in fines, costs and program fees.  The diversion program is approximately $755 and $500 of that can be knocked out by the judge waiving some of the costs.

Although I cannot guarantee my client a win, I can guarantee her that I will do my damnedest to get her acquitted.  I can guarantee her that I will do EVERYTHING in my power to show the jury that there is more than enough reasonable doubt to come back with a not guilty verdict.  I can guarantee her that if she is found not guilty that she won't have to pay a dime.  But I cannot guarantee her a not guilty...

...so...

I did something today that I know was wrong.  I do not know how long it is going to bother me or how long it is going to be hard to live with myself but right now I cannot stand to look in the mirror.

The hardest part of my job is standing next to a client entering a plea, while knowing in my heart they should be fighting.

Sigh....

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT