Advice to a Young Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer (bump)

Lots of new criminal-defense lawyers have discovered Defending People since this early post, Advice to a Young Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer. I’m bumping it back to the top because it’s one of those posts that I think people might find helpful, and might not happen upon otherwise.

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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3 Responses to Advice to a Young Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer (bump)

  1. Ken says:

    Great post, I’m glad you bumped it.

    When my partner and I left BIGLAW and opened our own shop with just the two of us and some rented desks, we faced some similar issues. I’ll come up with my own list from a slightly different perspective.

  2. Okay, I figured out how to open it.

    After 44 years of practice I think the best advice I can give is what to do with the “innocent client”. When someone announces this to me expecting a big break on the fee because he is, after all, innocent, I tell him:

    “Sir, I will now have to DOUBLE my usual fee”. (once they pick themselves up off the floor I explain): “You see, if you are guilty and I get you a great plea deal you will tell all your friends I am the best. Even if I just get you a decent plea deal you will still be happy. Now if there is no offer and we are forced to trial and I lose you will tell me, ‘Mr. Roberts, you put on a hell of a show and I know you tried your damndest. I mean, bottom line, I did do the crime and you ran circles around that rat ass D.A.’ and you are still happy with me. Now, we go to trial and I win. Why you will erect a statute on the courthouse lawn in my image at your expense.”

    “However, if you are innocent, I am in a real jam. You won’t take a decent plea deal or even a brilliant one as, after all, you are innocent. If we go to trial and I win you will tell me, ‘BFD, I was innocent. A law student could have won it’. And, god forbid we lose. You will write my name on the shit house wall of every jail you do your time in.”

    About that time they concede they might be just a little bit guilty.

    Young lawyers, you are now entering the best and most exciting time of your lives. You will have no friends in the courthouse so it is important to befriend the bailiffs and clerks. The other major players, the judges and prosecutors, will do their damndest to fuck you. DO NOT TRUST THEM!!! Good luck.

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