"When you get to the end zone, act like you've been there before."
– Darrell K. Royal
Too few lawyers heed Royal's admonition. Every dismissal becomes an excuse for a victory dance. They post to their blogs, tweet on twitter, have their buddies laud them on the listserves. Does it help get them business? Maybe so. But to their peers, it looks like they've never been there before.
There are wins worth bragging about. Hell, most wins are worth bragging about. The odds against us are steep, and when we get the neck of the accused out from under the boot of the state, that's a great thing. People should know about it, right? Sure, but at issue isn't the value of the win, but the character of the winner.
Acting like you've been there before shows style and grace.
There's this guy, Jeff Gamso. Jeff is a criminal-defense lawyer in Ohio, a former English professor. He's got this blog, Gamso—For The Defense. He writes well and passionately about criminal justice matters and the death penalty.
So when a regular reader sent me this story, about the Ohio Supreme Court tossing out (on separation-of-powers grounds) part of that state's sex-offender-registration statute that reclassified 26,000 sex offenders to more serious categories, I went to Jeff's blog to see what he had written about the win.
Nothing. Not a word. In July 2009 he mentioned in passing that he was "back from several days at a death penalty defense seminar and the preparation of a major brief on Ohio's sex offender law," but he hadn't patted himself on the back once.
Most lawyers will never get a statute held unconstitutional. If I ever do, you can bet I will let you know it. But Jeff shows us how a consummate pro does it. How it should be done.
Attaboy, Jeff. For the win, and for acting like you've been there before.