- Posted June 9, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
Marietta Lawyer Georgia
WHAT CLIENTS WANT
The first thing I want after I’ve been arrested is to find a lawyer who: (1) went to a fancy law school, (2) wears expensive clothes, (3) makes a lot of noise in court, or (4) wins my case?
Most people don’t care about their lawyer’s education, clothing, or showing off in the courtroom. They just want to WIN. With the exception of a very few high-profile cases where media might help, victories are won by careful, detailed preparation and negotiation. Some, like our recent DUI case victory, require motions and hearings. Our victories last month in a burglary case, an aggravated assault case, a drug case, and two other DUI cases, involved preparation, investigation and negotiation with the prosecutors.
If beating a case were easy, everybody would do it. It is important to have a good legal education, solid experience, and the ability to listen to the upset person who was just arrested. As a longtime Marietta lawyer, one important factor we know is applying the education and experience to the facts told by the client and comparing the defendant’s facts to the story told by the police.
In a DUI case last month, the arresting officer had made what appeared on paper to be a solid case. It would be my client’s third DUI conviction – if convicted. By visiting the intersection where he was arrested, I was able to develop a vital legal issue: Could the officer really have seen anything that gave legal reason to stop my client? At a hearing on my motion to suppress evidence, the judge heard the policeman’s testimony and ruled that the officer could not have seen any violation. Motion granted. DUI charge dismissed. In a somewhat similar situation (where the officer could not have seen anything relevant), I was able to help another multiple DUI arrest defendant to have her charge reduced, which saved her license and her job.
A careful review of the evidence, discussions with my client and witnesses, and knowledge of the law gave me the information and credibility to convince the district attorney to dismiss a drug case against another client last month. The same defense strategy gave us a victory in an aggravated assault case for the same client in the previous month.
Sure. I went to a good full-time accredited law school, and I wear a necktie to court. But my 40 years of trial experience, including 30 years as a Marietta lawyer, has convinced me that my goal must be to win for my client rather than to show off to the other people in court. It is important to tell the client what’s going on and what our real expectations are. An accused person wants to know what’s going to happen to him. As his lawyer, I can tell him my evaluation of the evidence and what I think the prosecutor, the judge, or the jury probably will do in the case. My clients like my low-beam/ high-beam approach. That is working to negotiate a great result without a trial but always looking down the road for the possibility that the case might actually go to trial.
A typical question by a defendant is “Should I plead guilty in the negotiated plea, or go to trial and risk getting a much heavier sentence if convicted?” There is no easy stock answer. Each case has different facts, different prosecutors and different judges. I demand that my clients maintain contact and work with me as I review the developing facts, which usually takes several months. Our (mine and the client’s) strategy will probably change somewhat as new facts are developed. Although our Marietta lawyer firm is based in Marietta, the practice routinely covers all Cobb, Paulding, Douglas, Cherokee, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Fulton counties.