I took the Oath to become a Member of the Michigan State Bar. My mentor, Ron Bretz motioned me into the bar.
Many have often heard me say, that I am living the ultimate “hippy” dream. Getting paid to go up against “the man.” All kidding aside, every day I still wake up ready, willing, and able to be a shield for someone accused of wrongdoing by the government. For years, I have carried the Criminal Defense Attorney of Michigan’s (CDAM) highest distinction-Constitutional Warrior. I have always brought a holistic approach to my practice. That means my clients and I will interact a lot (I pride myself on being accessible and have been answering my phone directly for years), looking for solutions outside of the case, to better themselves so they will not be on my docket again. As a very young man, I was exposed that we should do for others, hence, my docket is full of appointed cases, I also have a daily spiritual practice that guides me.
I have met some of the best people in the world. My colleagues have become my friends and I have seen many of them become judges. I respect all the shareholders in the system and know they are human like me and us.
The pandemic has allowed me to have greater respect for this profession. I and my colleagues have gone the extra length for our clients. Doing this, as we, too, are suffering a great financial impact. I remain willing to go into a courtroom and jail (we see our clients behind glass in Macomb County) if called to do so. Because someone is sitting in a cell, and as an 18-year member of the Board of Directors for CDAM, I will resist any efforts to run contested confrontation hearings by remote technology. Specifically jury trials, I fight the voice inside that sometimes rears its head, causing doubts as to whether my practice is dying a slow death. Way too many signs from the Universe to the contrary.
Thanks for being on this ride with me . . .
How does a criminal defense lawyer do their job; well everyone is entitled to have their day in court. This means that even if the client is guilty, the criminal defense lawyer must do whatever is necessary so that person will not be convicted of the crime.
How does that work? If you are a public defender, the client will be appointed and you have to meet with them. Before this person is arraigned in court, you will have time to discuss what will be their plea which will then be presented to the judge. Afterward, ample time will be given so you can conduct an investigation, review police reports, and examine the evidence to prepare you for trial.
During the trial, both sides will be able to present witnesses. Some of these are experts and after the prosecution questions this person on the stand, you will have the chance to cross-examine them and vice versa.
Before the trial starts or even during, you can try to settle this matter out of court. You have the right to accept or turn it down but you must first discuss this with your client.
When all the witnesses have spoken and the evidence has been presented, the only thing you have to work on now is your closing argument. You should summarize everything that has happened in front of the jury because the prosecution will do the same so the jury can now go to the jury room and make their decision.
How long will the jury will be deliberating is anyone’s guess. Sometimes a verdict will be announced in less than an hour while others will take longer. When the jury has returned, you will know if the jury has reached a guilty or not guilty verdict.
If the verdict is guilty, then you can appeal the decision to the higher court. If the verdict is not guilty, then your client can walk out of the courtroom as a free man.
The same thing happens when you are working for or have your own criminal defense law firm. The only difference is that clients will go up to you. When they walk in, they will want to interview you first to find out a little about you.
You should be ready to answer questions such as how long have you been a criminal defense attorney, how many cases have you won, do you go to trial often or decide to settle this matter out of court, and so on. How you answer will help them decide if they want to hire you or not.
Another difference between those who operate privately is that you can charge a certain fee for your legal services. You can charge a flat fee or on an hourly basis. This depends on you.
If you are handling a lot of cases right now, be honest with the client and tell them you can’t because you will not be able to represent them to the fullest of your ability in that condition.
So how do you a criminal defense attorney do their job? By operating on the assumption that anyone who is arrested is innocent until proven guilty. This is hard especially if you know your client did it but this is your duty as a public defender. You failed to do so will mean this person will spend the rest of their time in jail.