There are things of which I am certain – my love for my children, that summer follows spring and that I am a criminal defense lawyer. All other things are up for grabs and open to discussion including whether winter, as I have always known it, follows fall, my children’s love for me and whether I’m actually any good at this criminal defense lawyer thing.
People call me up looking for a lawyer and I always wonder what they want. If they ask me if I’m any good what do they think I will say? No? I am, in fact, quite terrible but you don’t need to know that. Doesn’t everyone say they are good? Doesn’t everyone puff up their qualifications and say they know how to do things they don’t know how to do just so they can get their foot in the door? Well, don’t they?
I don’t. But I probably should. In case I start to do that, read this piece and know things I don’t do as part of my full time gig: Juvenile court. Apparently it’s an entire world unto itself. I get calls now and again for it and I admit readily that it’s not my forte. I’m pretty sure I could handle it considering the rules of evidence are fairly lax, but if you are looking for someone who knows the judge by name I’m not your girl.
Family law. I don’t understand it and I think the rules are pretty complex and it could totally fuck someone’s life up. Imagine you are filing a divorce or custody agreement and you do it wrong and the people who hate each other are still married?? That’s almost like going to prison for a lot of people. It scares me and I don’t even dabble in it. If you need someone, I could probably get you someone.
Here’s one you probably wouldn’t guess – DUI. I think I could do it, seems similar to drug crimes and I think the science behind it is fairly interesting. I always like cross-examining experts, especially doctors and medical examiners so I think I would dig this too. But since I haven’t had a lot of them I would be hesitant to say this is something I do very very well. (although I will bet I could do it better than most. Wow, this post sounds sort of braggy, doesn’t it?)
Here’s something else I don’t do: I don’t work harder for you if you are innocent.
This is a topic that’s gone round and round the internet and if I weren’t so fucking lazy I’d link to all of the posts (remember those good old days when we used to do that, actually ‘talk’ to each other through our posts? Oh, le sigh) but like I said, I’m lazy and don’t feel like going back and doing that. You can google it and find it yourself. But it’s one that is a core concept in the criminal defense field – do we care if our clients did it or not.
I answer nay. In fact, a potential client called the other day and said he wanted to hire a lawyer who would defend him because they believed he was innocent. The right answer would have been yeah, totally man. That’s me. I think you didn’t do it. But, my stupid self wouldn’t allow me to say that so I told him if he wanted someone who fought harder for innocent clients than for ones who admit guilt, that wasn’t me and he should find another lawyer.
He called me back the next day.
Truth. It does not matter to me if you did it. It does not matter to me if you did not. I can think about it at night before I drift off to sleep, but I probably will not because thoughts will be taken up by how I can best craft a defense for you in either case. My job, dear potential client, is not to seek justice. My job is to defend you. Let your friends and family champion your righteousness and let me hire an investigator to find out if your ex-girlfriend’s daughter is known to tell tall tales and maybe has a boyfriend who doesn’t know she is under the age of consent.
This same potential client said he didn’t know how I could do what I do, defending people who are guilty. Ah! Can you believe it? It came from a client who believed I should only defend those who deem themselves to be free of sin. But, dear potential client, the government deems you the son of satan and well, your facts are only what the jury decides they are. Your innocence means nothing if I can’t prove it. Your innocence means nothing if the jury is convinced of your guilt.
Ergo, it doesn’t matter to me if you did it because there are people out there who believe you did. And it’s my job to get you out of this jam with as few bruises and scrapes as possible.