Bennett’s Chainsaw dictates that it will not be easy, but I love the what really happened? case—the one in which the client is innocent, but his innocence is entirely incompatible with the proof the government thinks it has. In these cases, often a thorough investigation reveals the key to the case, discrediting or clarifying some key piece of evidence so that the government’s case crumbles like old crackers. Sometimes, though, the facts are impervious to further investigation; nobody knows nothin’ contrary to the government’s evidence. Someone has forgotten, or is stonewalling, or is dead.
Sometimes in these cases the questions reveal the answer.
Why is the complainant’s story so different from my client’s? Where did the gun my client said the complainant had get to? Who called our home phone right before our arrest? How did the cops show up so quickly? The unanswered questions are like interlocking puzzle pieces that surround the one lost piece. Once the questions are in place, the shape of the lost piece is clear, so that you know what it is.
You might not have a witness willingly testifying to it, but you can try your case knowing the truth and, knowing the truth, you may convince the witness to finally agree to it or persuade the jury to see it in the shape of the missing piece.