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Reflections on a Guilty Verdict

sky.jpgMy web people “give me all kinds of advice, trying to enlighten me”. One thing they harp on is to “tell everyone what a great attorney you are.” That’s the essence of marketing, right? Ok, so I’m about to tell you that 1) I lost a trial, and 2) I made mistakes at trial.

Last week I lost a jury trial that sent my client to prison for the minimum mandatory prison sentence of three years on a firearm charge. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that the plea offer was also the three year min man, and after the guilty verdict, the judge simply imposed the plea offer (great judge, true). I advised my client of such before trial. So, it was my humble opinion that we had nothing to lose by going to trial.

It sucks losing a trial. I feel so bad for my client, and I’m constantly dwelling on all the crap I did wrong. There was room for improvement with my strategic decisions, my closing argument, and witness testimony that should have been objected to. But often times, there’s more to learn more in losing a case than winning. And hey, if you win all of your cases as a criminal defense attorney, you’re not trying hard enough!

90.5% of the time, this blog dogs out cops, judges and prosecutors. But in this jury trial, the prosecutor was great to work with (had a trial with him before, still good to work against, can’t say that too often!), and the judge was excellent as well. Even the cop was “honest” on the stand. No complaints, mark your calendar.

The highlight of this whole process was my client. Wow, what a great guy, a blessing to a criminal defense attorney. My client knew his chances were slim, but wanted to roll the dice anyway. He was pleased with the process, trusted my advice, and after the guilty verdict/prison sentence was pronounced–he was peaceful, and sincerely thanked me for a job well done. This client was a pleasure from start to finish.

Good clients are common, great clients are rare. I wish him all the best.