A friend told me he once saw Sting on a London street in the mid-1980’s. Word traveled rapidly that he was there, and Sting slipped deftly away before he got mobbed. I, on the other hand, saw Roger Daltrey in a Vancouver hotel lobby in 2001,...
Entrenched ways of prosecuting in Northern Virginia have been engrained in the Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney's office, starting with chief prosecutor Robert Horan from the 1960's and continuing with his successor and former deputy Ray Morrogh; in Arlington, going back to chief prosecutor Helen Fahey from the 1980's, followed by Richard Trodden and then his preferred candidate Theo Stamos; in Loudoun, through fifteen years with Jim Plowman (soon becoming a Circuit Court judge) and his now short-term successor and interim commonwealth's attorney Nicole Wittmann; and in Prince William, with Paul Ebert at the helm since the late 1960's. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I have never defended with an expectation that I would not be dealing with many tough prosecutors, but instead with the knowledge that even the most intransigent-seeming prosecutor can be turned around at times, and that negotiations always must come from a position of strength, because going to trial is essential when negotiations do not accomplish what my client wants.
Transcending and reversing obstacles is a big part of successful criminal defense in Virginia, which has among the harshest criminal justice systems. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that criminal defendants are presumed innocent under the Bill of Rights. Some are in fact innocent, some have in fact committed crimes, sometimes people who have committed crimes do not get convicted, and sadly sometimes people who have committed no crimes get convicted. Being thrust into the arena as a criminal defendant can feel worse than having a truckload of dirt poured on you but instead can feel like being dropped headfirst into a vat of diarrhea.
Knowing one's true self is vital to anyone's life. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that discovering and reccognizing my true self is essential not only to me as a person, but for everything I do as a criminal defense lawyer, from connecting and empathizing with clients, to discovering and conveying their persuasive story, to persuasively engaging witnesses on both sides of the ring, and to persuading judges, jurors, prosecutors and police. I have experienced repeatedly turning myself and my soul inside out to know myself as a person and trial lawyer. The experience can be deeply painful, but is also essential and exhilarating, and the pain can heal to become a powerful building block for becoming stronger and stronger. For me, the alternative is to be a shadow of a human being.
Maintain vigilance with prosecutors and police. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know the necessity of such an approach. When Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong were photographed heartily laughing with each other at their first meeting, they were at all times maintaining their calculation, cunning, and awareness. They both knew how ruthless each other was, that Mao was willing to have slews of his countrypeople die for his dictatorial edicts, and that Nixon had no love whatsover for communists. The two got together not out of weakness, but from recognizing the geopolitical reality of countering the much larger menace to each of their nations that the the Soviet Union represented.
Jury trials happen so infrequently as a percentage of criminal prosecutions in Northern Virginia that it is all the more important to assure that one's criminal defense and DUI lawyer has sufficient jury trial experience. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I have tried dozens of jury trials and know that jury trial ability is not learned by winging it, but by such trials being part of the criminal defense lawyer's very being and bloodflow.
Virginia criminal lawyer on battling successfully via teamwork Battling successfully through teamwork is a key part of my work as a Virginia criminal lawyer. This is the second instalment of a two-part series on this topic; part one is here. Fairfax criminal attorney on the winning inspiration of lacrosse coach Robert Streeten In overnight summer camp at the age of thirteen,
Great lawyer Gerry Spence wins trials by embracing and revealing his entire self, warts, fears, vision, astounding ability, oration, and all. For the entire month of August 1995, I was in Wyoming at the then one-year-old Trial Lawyers College, at Gerry's beautiful Wyoming Thunderhead ranch ten miles away from the nearest paved road.
Recently, I was minding my own business, waiting for my client in the hallway of the Fairfax County jail's attorneys visiting section. Then I heard commotion where three meeting rooms away from mine, an inmate was ranting and raving at his lawyer, a kindly-spoken public defender attorney. His client burst out that he would get another lawyer, and ended the meeting. The man's lawyer remained unruffled, empathizing with his client's plight while of course not agreeing with the client's outburst. Clearly, this was not the first time he had experienced a defendant going off the handle. Sadly, Rodney Dangerfield's laments could have been about public defender lawyers
Being a judge is a privilege with awesome responsibility and power. Once a judge stops seeing judging as a privilege, it is time for the judge to hang up the judicial robes. Judging can be exhausting work. The criminal and civil lawsuits do not stop getting filed. Paperwork keeps getting filed. No sooner does one hearing or trial finish than the next one begins. Litigants and their lawyers seek postponements, the ear of the judge's staff, and favorable modifications to the judge's last adverse ruling.
The job of judging can be lonely. People who called the judge by his or her first name before becoming a judge now stop using the judge's first name. Once a judge becomes a judge, s/he cannot as easily kick back and brainstorm with lawyer friends about pending cases before the judge, lest ex parte communication rules get compromised directly or indirectly. Judges have practical and legal limits even on brainstorming their cases with other judges.
Soldiers and street fighters battle without referees nor the expectation of referees' presence. They fight in the law of the jungle. As we approach four years of the buffoon-elect in chief's White House tenure, I have low overall expectations of Trump's upcoming nominees to the scores of upcoming federal trial and appellate judicial vacancies.
At the Trial Lawyers College, I learned that its founder Gerry Spence is at once an incredibly powerful persuader, very in touch with his strengths and weaknesses, and ready to reveal his vulnerabilities. This started out as simply with Gerry's voicing his disappointment that "Nobody picked me!"
The battle lines are drawn. Prosecutors and police are not the friends of the criminal defense. Judges are at best the referees. A criminal defendant needs an able lawyer at all stages of the prosecution.
Nobody ever said that trial lawyering would be an easy profession. As I have said time and time again, this work is filled with proverbial projectile vomiting, projectile diarrhea, underhandedness by too many prosecutors and police, unfairness by too many judges, and shoveling sh*t.
Remember importance of keeping proverbial physical contact with opponents, because maintaining physical contact with an opponent gives us the best chance not only to listen to and anticipate where they are coming from now and next, but also to neutralize and overcome their attacks much better than when they are at a distance.
THE NAYSAYERS ARE BUT NAYSAYERS I have attained many successes despite the naysayers who seemed at first to have had sagacity. A relative told me that so many lawyers revile their jobs. A federal agency lawyer told me of all the litigators who suffer ulcers....
One day I was speaking with a taijiquan teacher about yelling people. He replied: “Why try to figure them out? It is just wind.” That advice is great for staying powerfully calm and unrattled in the face of someone exploding in an unjustified tirade. However,...
Straight through my law school graduation, mass communication was heavily controlled by corporate-owned media, deciding whom to name and pay as great people, actors, newsmakers and politicians. Then the Internet took the world by storm in the mid-1990’s, followed shortly after by my static webpage...
Amadeus includes a great scene where Mozart mocks Salieri’s limited musicianship to his face, by running circles around him by inventing and playing, on the spot, much more complex variations of the composition that Mozart has just heard for the first time. The world is replete with...