Thursday, July 31, 2014

VICTORIES: Some Clients Never See Them (Until Later)

I like to go to trial.  Like Walter White said in the finale of the series Breaking Bad, "I did it because I liked it.  I was good at it."

But trials are not about the lawyer.  Trials are about what is best for the client/defendant.  It is a rare mix of circumstances that send a client to trial:  the innocence of the defendant; or the desire to extract a better resolution from strangers than a plea offer from the prosecutors; and the willingness to gamble in an imperfect system designed to seek justice based on unpredictable perceptions, beliefs, and biases.

Trials are intense for all of the parties.  The witnesses questioned by skilled lawyers, the lawyers who have to follow the rules which govern the procedure (unless the lawyers choose not to follow the rules), the victims who are wronged and sometimes traumatized, and the defendant who is unsure of his future and fate.

But sometimes trial is not the best option.  I plead a client  to 10 years in prison this week 45 minutes before a jury was going to decide his fate on three felonies, all of which were enhanced to 25-99/life.  At the moment that reality sets in for these clients and they take a deal, the fact that I would have made more money in trial dissipates and the realization that my advice spared him decades of his life behind bars makes it worth the effort.

He probably won't realize the bullet he dodged until later, but only then will he recognize that he would be better off than the other option of dying in prison.

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