Category Archives: Trial Cases

In response to Daniel Q

I do not try as many criminal defense cases as civil cases for the injured.

I tried many criminal cases as a young prosecutor, and I am not proud of the fact that I never lost one that went to trial. Could I have been right that many times? I once convicted a man of first degree murder with the death penalty attached after which I pled to the Wyoming Supreme Court to reduce the charge, and the court did.

It is usually not hard to win your cases as a prosecutor–usually. You have the evidence, the investigators, the leaning of ordinary citizens toward your side of the case.

Winning as a defense attorney is another thing. Some public defenders try in a single year as many cases for persons charged with serious crimes as I try in ten years. I know a public defender who has seven hundred cases to watch over and who tries scores of cases each year.

This system is terribly broken because public defenders are often, more often than we know, not provided the time to prepare and the resources to launch a competent defense. These lawyers, hated by some, fight on with little pay and are the true heroes of the profession.

When many years ago I saw the light and refused to take on any cases on behalf of corporations or to longer represent the state as a prosecutor, or otherwise, I began to take criminal defense cases that appealed to me. They were usually seen as losers by those who claimed know, but I could give myself the time and the money to properly prepare and present these cases.

I have just finished the defense of Geoffrey Fieger in Detroit, a case I worked on for more than two years, one in which I had all of the resources necessary to make a competent defense. Mr. Fieger was acquitted on all ten counts.

But in the Imelda Marcos case, one that lasted more than three months, I had only three weeks to prepare. This, was an anomaly.

I have tried many other jury cases, including murder cases (written about in two of my books, Gunning for Justice and The Smoking Gun) but I had the time and the assets to properly prepare. Preparation and passion are the key to winning, always. Always.

When lawyers compare their own records to mine and ask questions, they are being unkind to themselves, because most criminal defense lawyers have dockets with too many cases. It takes a lot of criminal cases to provide the income necessary to survive in this field. Most criminal defense lawyers would love to have the time to prepare their cases that I have had in most of mine.

I do recall having pled one of my clients in the middle of a trial when the US Attorney offered a deal no one could refuse–no jail time and a smile. But that has not been my M.O.

Thanks for your question.