I am a criminal defense lawyer in New York City..Ask me anything
I graduated law school in 1989 and immediately became a public defender in Brooklyn, New York. In 1995 I opened my law practice which is now called Epstein & Conroy where we concentrate heavily on defending the accused and investigated. My most recent well known case was the "Ho's Of Allentown" which was tried in Manhattan Supreme court.
there is no moral dilemma, you have a job to do and you do it. The police, the DA, society, sometimes their whole family is against them, you are all they have and you act honorably by trying to provide legal assistance
Except that the same people are paying the public defender and the DA so there's nothing to act honorably about. What happens to that person or their life has no bearing on yours.
Yes, understand i am not always the defender of the system, but one beauty of ours is that the defense side is expected and indeed required to zealously represent their client no matter who pays. not that this always works in reality of course
Before becoming a criminal defense lawyer, were you someone who enjoyed playing ''devil's advocate'' in discussions?
I came back to answer some questions which I unintentionally neglected yesterday. I wouldn't say exactly, yes I used to like to debate, but i would genuinely oftentimes be on the side of the underdog, not just to piss people off, but because i genuinely believe what i said, and say ofr that matter
Anyhow, thank you for your interest and your questions. I hope I am leaving properly (I'm a rookie at this), but it's been a blast! thank you all!!
Is there ever a case where you know the guy is guilty, but you have to defend him? How do you negotiate that feeling with your job?
Of course!! remember everyone is presumed innocent and guilty only if and when they plead that way or a jury finds them so I guess you mean I know they're if guilty in "reality", nothing to negotiate, it's like asking a Dr how to hey treat someone whom they know is not a "good guy". I have a job to do, and I do it without hesitation
Do clients ever confess guilt to you? If so does that make your job difficult or impossible?
Yes, some do, edpecially when they pay you there is more trust. For the most part i'd say no, it does not effect my ability to perform my job. Btw on more serious cases like Murder where my client prob must go to trial, i never even ask them, and i completely focus on the government's case and how to defeat it
what if you had a strong feeling the guilty person would commit another crime if not incarcerated?
I really try not to think that way. The ethical rule is that if you know your client will imminently kill or seriously injure someone you must report it. But do you suppose an emergency room Dr thinks about what his seriously injured patient may do in the future if he successfully treats him?
What do real NYC lawyers think of Law & Order ( the original)? Allowing for the exigencies of tv drama like compressed time and the same cops working with the same lawyers over and over, how accurately does it portray the law and the cases?
I despise law and order!! Not only is it completely inaccurate, but portrays prosecutors as saints in white hats, and defense attorney as scum...i will say this, prosecutors, judges, etc are prone to political considerations in their roles, we are pure and true, we unabashedly and unashamedly represent only our client and no different "public interest"
I remember having the law and order view of the sides until I watched a real criminal case (Jim Leyritz DUI manslaughter case). In that case the prosecutor was a complete dick and almost got caused a mistrial due to mentioning evidence she knew the judge excluded; it would have been a mistrial if Leyritz didn't insist on it continuing. Overall it was a weak case that stood on bad expert testimonies.
OK, well this scenerio, unfortunately, is much more realistic then the dribble offered by L & O, where their only goal, seems to be to convince you that those in power have the purest of hearts (BTW SOME do, not most)
I think I answered this, no?
Fair enough! Are there shows that you feel get it right?
I'm seriously trying to think of one and cannot. some movies were more spot on. I really don't want to be a hater, but nothing specific comes to mind right now
also, the rules of evidence make it difficult to portray authentic courtroom encounters as exceptional drama, this is one dilemma
I came back to answer some questions which I unintentionally neglected yesterday. Well for instance lawyers could only ask questions of witneses which they are qualified to answer, and have to lay foundations for the questions too. so for instance you cannot pull a Matlock and say, well I have a witness who is prepared to testify that....you must actually call that witness and he/she must be subject to cross examination...this is one prime example, i.e. a lawyer cannot 'testify"
Have you ever watched the television show "The Wire"? If so what did you think about defence attorney Maurice Levy. Especially in regard to his famous season 1 courtroom confrontation with Omar.
Oh thw Wire! I have been told that it is the best series on television ever. Every year i swear i will get the DvDs and check it out...unfort, i still havn't
You should check it out. here is the scene. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIQbd3SF17k
cCool, yes intense...thank you!!
Ok, i will...thank you
Similar to my earlier question, how do you deal with the kind of scenario where your client does have an alibi that would seemingly make the act beyond a logical, reasonable doubt, yet a jury convicts?
For example...the defendant's wife claims he was in bed with her all night. The only counter information is someone else claiming that the defendant perpetrated a crime.
What do you do when there's no factual information other than these two contradictory claims, yet the jury convicts?
Yes, alibi can be a very tricky defense especially when it involves a family member, etc..it is by no means not "fool proof"
as a general rule, btw, most criminal cases are won by challenging the State's evidence and not by the proof the defense puts forward, however, there are of course always exceptions
Do you agree with those who assert you should never talk to the police even if you are innocent? If so, why?
Yes, if not never I'd say 95 % of cases. at the very lest consult a lawyer first, because as i am answering your questions I am thinking of exceptions. Nevertheless, it's a safe rule to live by
If they think you are guilty, btw, its very unusau than anything you say will change their minds..also legally, statement against your interest are admissible in court, statements for you, i.e. self serving are not admissable
have you ever watch the Lincoln lawyer
yes, i really liked it..pretty close to my job, but just diffeent enough to make good drama
I'm of the opinion that people should have a good criminal defense attorney's number on hand, in case the need ever arises.
How do you go about finding a criminal defense lawyer that is exceptional? How would YOU go about finding a good attorney to defend you if you suddenly found yourself in trouble in a new, unfamiliar city?
that's a good question. in my case i know of many people and their reputations I guess the best thing is to get a consultation and ask really well thought out questions sometimes you just get a feeling in your gut I guess when you meet someone
Is that really a good metric? I mean, presumably what we're doing when we assess by our gut is judge how good a salesman that person is, right?
Are there other metrics that distinguish an exceptional criminal attorney from others? Maybe a certification or clerkship or something like that?
Not really, i could see how hard it would be for someone unfamiliar to really judge a lawyer. Some talk alot, and fight, but it does not mean their substance is good. Probably the best thing to do is to actually find ou when they are on trial and sit in on the case. I know this is time consuming..but this is a difficult dilemma.
Ah, I did not think of that. Thank you. I mean, seriously. Thank you so much for contributing here--it's appreciated deeply.
thank you for saying that
My stepfather (who was a regional counsel for the IRS and later the ATF, in addition to a few years in private practice) always said there are two kinds of lawyers: tigers and pussycats. Tigers get in there and fight for you, while pussycats are much more passive, effectively waltzing you through the courtroom.
He couldn't really tell me how to spot the difference, but he introduced me to a 'tiger' who represented him, and she had that vibe, with penetrating questions, no-nonsense attitude and a quiet toughness that made me glad she was on our side.
I've met a handful of pussycats, too. Nice people. Calm, polite, not really hungry or driven the way some lawyers are. They just want to bill their $500 an hour and go home. I look for someone who's a good scrapper and relishes a fight. If I was in trouble, I'd ask around about who the good lawyers are and meet with several until I found one that felt right.
Yes, I think you make sense. However, be careful, sometimes a lawyer has to be somewhat diplomatic like where the evidence is piled up against you. In these cased you really don't want your lawyer acting like abull in the china shop. I try to remain liked but also respected and serious, i find that i have more tools to help my clients when you possess all those traits. by the way, when the cause is right, prosecutors and police respect you when you are a Tiger in court...if you just bluster for your won ego, your reputation may suffer
What are some of the best loopholes in the criminal justice system that you know of/have used personally?
Hmm, good one. those loopholes are getting rarer and rarer. I guess speedy trial is an effective one, here the prosecutor fails to prepare a case in a timely matter causing a dismissal. this happens more often in misdemeanor and smaller cases.
What is the strangest case you've ever worked on?
Wow there have been so many. maybe the one where my client, 15 year old was accused of, along with others, taking "self help" to get property back by robbing another grou of kids. amongst that group one person got stabbed, so all of "our" group were charged with acting in concert. As it ended up, it was revealed that the stabbing "victim" had actually stabbed himself, and had done that many times over the course of a year or so
Wow that's a crazy story! And thanks for doing this AMA!
Thank you..p.s. that case did, of course get dismissed!
What is a law or laws that you think get in the way of our rights as citizens in regards of the the judicial system?
there are so many, i think drugs should be legalized for example, the thing I hat the most is mandatory minimum sentencing, where basically legislatures with no familiarity with a specific case are making a judgment on what an individual should be sentenced to
Have you ever just flat out not liked one of your clients? How did you deal with that?
Also, I always hear people complaining about jury duty but have never been selected myself, would you say that having to be involved in court cases is as shitty as people seem to think?
it happens, but rarely. Usually people appreciate what you do for them, and you try not to judge them for what they were accused of doing out on the street, it's like anything else in the world, some people are easy to get along with, others are never happy. BTW this holds true for prosecutors, judges, court officers, clerks, etc too
To the cases that you have lost (if you've lost any) have you ever felt like your client would do something to retaliate? Have you ever been threatened by clients?
NO, one time a client said that if i lost he would cut me. we went to trial and unfortunately i did lose, but before the verdict came in, i said, so you still want to cut me? and his reply was, no, you did a good job for me
Once a prosecutor's office has decided to file charges in a case, do you feel that they remain open to the possibility that the defendant could be innocent and truly reevaluate as new information comes to light, or is the predominant attitude closer to, "We've decided he's guilty, now it's about winning rather than ensuring the truth comes out?"
I.e., once they've committed, is it an unspoken decision that "truth" = "he's guilty?"
that really depends on a case by case basis, sometimes they are provided contrary evidence like an alibi, or whatever..usually though it's probably a practical consideration, like this case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt
That was my first choice yes. it all was rooted in my fascination with the bill of Rights, and it was brought to my attention that no other type of lawyer deals with those rights more that a crim def lawyer.
Ok, i tried this before, but i don't know what i did wrong. Thank you for allthe questions and comments, i really loved it, but i have to go now. All the best!!
This is a serious question, not a jab at you nor an attempt to trap you into some kind of judgmental position...
In the Allentown case, some women claimed that the Georges threatened and beat women who didn't make quota. Others testified that the Georges treated them like family. (Aside from the whole prostituting them thing, of course...)
Question is, do you actually believe the Georges are not doing anything to damage those women, and hence aren't worried about it happening further when your defense is successful? Or are you able to compartmentalize that moral issue solidly enough to focus only on the job of ensuring that the Georges' legal rights are upheld through the process?
Like I said, no judgment implied, I'm curious which way (or some other way) this rests in your experience.
this is a problem when people rely too much on media reports. No woman ever testified in court that the George's hit them when they did not make "quota", this was surmised to be the casein the context of thousands of hours of tapped phone conversations. No woman tesitified against the George's (except a so called expertwitneess). I have no problem with my defense which was that, yes, the George's operated an illegal business, bet did not traffic the women ho participated. Not only was it an effective defense, but truthful as i saw it
who participated, ha ha, an unfortunate typo considerering
and incidentally, i am aware of ghastly cases of trafficking where the state should come down hard on the perptrator(s), it just so happens this was an over-stretching on the part of the DA
If i'm stopped while walking outside or in a store by a cop, And he asks to see my bag. I say no. Can he detain me? If so, Can he then check my bag?
Well he can, but legally no he cannot, unless he has some independent info giving him probable cause. You should never voluntarily consent to a search by law enforcement. make them break the law so you have a fighting chance in court (but I do not recommend getting into any sort of physical confrontation)
Alrite cool, Thanks. This actually just happened to me, He said I would be seeing a warrant for my arrest becuase I said no to a COMPLETELY random search. Lol. I'm also 18.
Yes, that was probably a lot of bluster, I'm certain that you are safe
What is your relation to (if any) to David Epstein, famed Barbri contracts lecturer, superfan of Sharon Stone, and coiner of phrase "Armadillos From Texes Eating Tacos Playing Rap?"
What was your strategy on doing well on the MBE portion of the bar exam?
no relation, Just follow the methods you are learning and remain calm avoid freaking out when taking it, this is half the battle!
I always hear people say that the US system of justice, although flawed, is the best in the world. To me this sounds like a cop out to avoid acknowledging flaws and fixing them. If you could change any one thing about the criminal justice system, what would it be?
it may well be the arrogance you speak of, we may have the best system, I'm not sure, but definitely this is used by those involved to not extend themselves, to hide behind decisions of others, etc. all you have to do is to look at the spat of wrongful convictions to know, that no matter how good a system is, human beings will find a way to mess it up, if not constantly, all too often
btw, i think an end to mandatory minimums would be a great start, this way if a judge feels that the jury made a mistake at least (s)he could reflect this in a lesser sentence
Alternatively, if a judge has been bought off, they can give someone powerful enough to buy off a judge a lessened sentence. I'm sure it's not common, but just wanted to provide the other side of the coin.
I hope this does not happen, but I'm certain all kinds of things go on to which none of us are privy
If you were arrested right now, would you defend yourself in court or hire an attorney?
I would definitely hire, thogh i would constantly annoy him re how i would handle my case...ha ha
I am in Texas so this may not apply to what you could say, if so sorry.
But if you have spent time in jail, and then never eventually charged with a crime. If you catch a case at later date could those days spent in lockup count towards any time you could be served with?
I'm asking this because I was placed in county jail, then released when outside sources brought forth evidence proving I didn't do what I was being charged with (criminal mischief) and am now on probation for assault on a peace officer. I made the mistake of asking the whole "if I am not being detained I am free to go right?" and the officer got a little upset and threw me to the ground, and then I got charged with resisting and assault.
Also I would like to tell you to look up a lawyer in Austin, Tx called Adam Reposa. On youtube specifically. He is a person who is against the practice of many courts just getting people to plead guilty for lesser sentences and the like. His videos are very entertaining and he seems to be someone who is passionate about the shortcomings of the legal system in general.
No, unfortunately, at least in New York, if you are incarcarated for two cases at once, and you beat one of them, all the time for THAT case gets credited for the second case. but that's with simultaneous incarcaration
And I will look him up, than you for the recommendation!
Hey, thanks for the response!
And yeah, this guy is amazing. I am currently debating to maybe get off of probation as I have a good job waiting for me out of state, and he is saying I could maybe get even some SWAP time. Which I don't know if the same term is there in New York. But essentially work-release. Mr. Reposa is great, a lot of lawyers in town either think he is insane or love him. I think he is just tired of the state of things and honestly that is a good thing.
Best of luck to you!
Thank you, it takes the insane or radical to make any type of change, as Lenny Bruce said, we need the radical. Even if they are not always right, every system needs to be questioned and every response need to be thought out.. it is good for everyone in the long run
It does, Lenny Bruce was a great man. You are right there.
And I know this job is heavy stress. After watching the videos and reading about Adam I wonder and worry if he will end up jaded down the line. Your responses to the questions in this thread are very nice and detailed. I really hope you never get jaded as well. The job you do is admirable.
Thank you brother
thank you my friend!
Does your conscience ever get the best of you and cause you to rethink your career choice?
I have, and shold have, the clearest conscience of any professional you have ever know or heard of...no
Hello! I'm starting law school this year, and I would love if you could give me some advice :D
Good for you, i guess...ha ha..no really, congrats. Only advice i could say is don't let yourself get psyched out. Know that you are smart and have confidence. Don't let all the loud mouth know it alls make you feel that you are falling behind. Also, the best thing you could do is just keep up with the assignments, it's challenging, but you will avoid a lot of stress that way.
Any tips for someone that wants to get into law?
That's pretty general, but I'd say, go for it if its for the right reason(s). In other words if you are genuinely interested, or really want to help people in that way, but if you consider the law merely for status or a way to make money, you may find it to be a real grind
I'm studying for the bar exam right now. Well, right now, I'm actually on reddit, but I'm SUPPOSED to be studying for the bar exam.
Ha ha...yes. I sm one who constantly questions rules and authority, but my fear of not passing allowed me to completely surrender to the methods i was taught during my bar review course, and am proud to say that i passed on the first attempt. Also, just chill and relax when you take the exam, that is half the battle....DO NOT hang out with the nervous types as you are taking it!
What are your thoughts on rehabilitation versus jail? In your opinion, are most criminals rehabilitative? If you believe in this, what criminals should have this offer?
Wow, there are some people so evil and crimes so ghastly that rehabilitation should not be the goal (however, this does not mean necessarily they should be tortured with inhumane conditions in prison), others definitely may be prone to rehabilitation. I find the biggest most effective method of rehabilitation is age, ha ha, sounds simplistic but statistics will tell you that crime is mostly a young man's game
What do you know about foreign lawyers practicing in the US?
I'm a law student in New Zealand and have thought about moving to the US after school. What would be your thoughts on the idea?
I guess it depends on the type of law and what your ultimate goal is. I have seen trial attorneys with accents in new york (international, regional, etc) whom have done very well. It never hurts to infuse a little humor when you first deal with the jury. people ultimately judge you on your skill and passion
As a public defender, is your primary job to see that the suspects get off the hook, or that they get a fair sentence? Or a combination of the two?
For any crim def attorney it is both or either. In every case I approach it to see that I can achieve the best, but most realistic result under all the circumstances
Thank you for taking the time to share your insight, knowledge.
My question is jury nullification. I just recently heard of this. The way I understand it is I have a right as a citizen and jury member to look at the facts of the case against the defendant AS WELL AS the actual law that is being utilized.
If I disagree with the way the law is being use by the prosecution/state then I can with a good conscious still find the defendant not guilty due to the misuse of the law. Am I correct in my understanding?
If it is correct, why is the actual judicial instruction never say that? (I've been a juror twice in my life and never heard those instructions to actually put the law itself under microscope just the 'facts presented').
Is jury nullification something we should learn more about and where do you suggest we go to find credible, reliable information.
Wow !!!! Right on!!! you are totally right, its the way our system is designed, but it scares the hell out of people so the system has made every effort to stop this. I could write a book, but yes, a jury's verdict cannot be legally questioned unless t was influenced by outside corruption or pressures.. Everyone , including judges and prosecutors should know about jury nullification and it should be acknowledged, if not encouraged on a case by case basis (BTW it does go on, no pros in Kentucky will attempt to get a conviction of a marijuana growing case, so I've heard)
were you a federal, state, or local public defender? why are you in private practice now instead of being a public defender?
I was a defender in State court (though I had clerked for two Federal Defender offices during law school). why I went private is for many reasons. the immediate reason was that in 1994 Legal Aid went on strike (unwisely) and gulluiani "fired all of us, I had a one bdrm apt and a baby then, so decided the only way to protect my futre is not rely on the morons who ran our union or moron politicians...now i do it my way...a good way i may add
What current supreme court justice has done the most to erode the protections of the 4th amendment?
Probably clearence Thomas, even Scalia, who is a conservative understand that 4th am protects against big government. thomas is a simple disaster at every level
I've heard people say that juveniles are basically treated guilty until proven innocent. To what degree would you say this is true?
Kind of true. Family court is not strictly criminal, so a defendant (or respondent) is not entitled to exactly the same rights, however, here in NY at least,the courts have pretty much adopted many of the same rights for both. however, no juries, etc...it's not the fairest system still, thats for sure
Has the gentrification of Brooklyn impacted the kinds of cases that you take on?
A little bit, I think it's been worse for business...ha ha...But for better or worse there are always people, no matter how much money they have, or how they look, that need some legal assistance from time to time
I know I am late to the party but it's worth a shot. As an Australian traveling in the US, do I have the same rights as other people? More specifically can I also refuse the random search of my bag by a cop?
Yes, you have the same rights...exercise them!!
Any advice for a 1L who wants to be a public defender?
every opportunity you have, clerkships, clinics etc, work in the field of crim defense, that's what I did
Generally in NY at least, the defendant must be present to vacate a warrant. I have heard though of people in other states having this done. Either way though,mif a case is minor and your lawyer can talk to the right person, sometimes exceptions are made
OK, I'm logging off again, I hope I did not ignore anyone, if i did it was not intentional, just inexperience with this format...cheers and best of luck to you all!!
If a client admits their guilt to you.... what do you do? or are required to do?
And btw..lawyers are required to not divulge to anyone any confessions by a client
How accurate was Al Pacino's role in And Justice For All?
Good drama, but totally inaccurate. That film is maddening, albeit compelling, because even though there are tons of problems with the system, that film fails to identify the real ones and just plays into common misperceptions
How long does a case usually last? And why?
that is hard to answer generally, let's just say the more rights you have and criminal defendants have more rights than many other litigants, the more process is involved in bringing a case to its conclusion
Why do they have more rights?
Because freedom is our most precious possession, so it is, and should be, hard for the State to take it from you
Have you ever gotten death threats(or the sort) from one of your cases?
No, just threats of being cut or beaten...ha ha...but no serious threats ever
Do courtroom dramas piss you off?
most of them...yes..ha ha...sometimes i do try to suspend my disbelief though
How do you feel about John Grisham and his books?
I must admit, when i do have time to read novels, they are more often unrelated to the criminal justice system...sorry
how much of your job is politics and how much is actually working a case?
Nothing about my job is politics thankfully. When we get hired by someone our only goal is to get the best result possible under all the circumstances of the case. This is why, even though crim def lawyers are much maligned, I believe we are the only truly honest people in the system..i.e. we have no divided loyalties
For someone who is considering a complete career change from say engineering to law what resource would you advice to give me a feel of what I am getting into? Some sample course material, examples of what actually we'll be required to do would be great!Thx
Well engineering is a great background if you want to get into the lucrative filed of patent law, but law school itself is not all that challenging just a sh__load of work thrown at you. The saying seems to be true re law school, the first year they scare you to death, the 2nd year they work you to death, and the 3rd year they bore you to death. Did i answer the question?
First up-thx for answering my question.Yes it does. I'm glad to hear that it is not challenging but more work.I think I'm better at handling more work compared to tougher open ended situations.So that is definitely a plus.
If I do I'l mostly be doing law as part time while i work .However the most important thing for me here is to understand if I will like it or not.I took up engineering only to realize it wasnt for me .So what I am asking is like if there is some way of knowing what i'll do? Will it be more research, will it require more talent than hard work - do you see what I am saying? Like if you asked me about my job -i'll probably tell you that you'll need to know a computer language well and you'll be dealing with loads of code figuring out where we screwed.There be limited tools and you'll need a good understanding of fixing stuff on your own.
Also is there some sort of free intern or junior level job I could possibly do to get a hang of stuff?
In school,it's more hard work than talent...it is not difficult concepts, mostly very logical actually, and in that way kind of fun. But it's lots of stuff thrown at you, and you really need to keep up with it or risk falling behind. They really do not teach you how to be a lawyer, but maybe how to think like one. Really nearly all of my practical know how came after law school
I want to go to Law School but I'm seriously at a loss for what I should major in in college. What would you tell someone like me?
I would say it really does not matter. i think philosophy give you a nice broad cirriculum that would make you well preopared. but i now of math majors, engineering, etc. The LSAT test, unlike the MCAT, is not knowledge based, and is really more akin to an IQ test
I would say though, just do some major that will make you think, something at least somewhat serious
Not a citizen of USA, so don't have too many questions.
Any television shows that show defense lawyers and their work in the courtroom more realistic than others?
Also think it's cool that you do the AmA with full name, many lawyers around try to remain anonymous when they come here.
I have nothing to hide bro, i am proud of what i do. I really wish i could tell you a good TV show, but all i can say is wait until TRU TV shows another trial...it may be a little tedious , but at least its real
Is a second Central Park Jogger case possible today?
You mean as far as charging the wrong people and forcing confessions? Not only is it possible, its inevitable, not if but when is the next one
It's just that you'd think something would change in the mentality of the NYPD and DA after such a case, seeing on how many levels they all fucked up. It's probaly just me being very naive.
I would hope you are right...the human ego is a devilish thing though
Do you think it worse to incarcerate one innocent man or to release ten guilty ones?
yes, an old fashioned sentiment, unfortunately, but that i sincerely believe
Is it anything like CSI?
There are CSI - like cases, but in reality most cases come down to what someone says, and how believable and reliable they are
Do public defenders usually just try to get a client to plead guilty for reduced sentence, and how good are public defenders vs. an average defense attorney vs. a really expensive defense attorney. Thanks.
There are great and dedicated aggressive public defenders, but in many cases they are over-worked and under paid, and sometimes you do get the burn out factor. It is impossible to rate each type of lawyer from certain criteria, but in general crim lawyers are like everyone else, intelligence savvy, hard work and caring ( though not caring so much you are in fear) go a real long way to getting optimal results
How would you advise people to deal with the Stop and Frisk BS? What if they tell you to empty your pockets?
Maybe I'm a cynic but do you think it will long be before they have an American equivalent of the old Russian "paper's please" of old? it seems to be heading that way.
I agree. Stop and frisk is a complete sham. Legally speaking no one should be stopped and frisked unless the police have reasonable suspicion that the person has or is about to commit a crime... Unfort, when you are subject to an illegal search, and nothing illegal is uncovered, your legal options are limited. This is why the recent class actin suit in new york was the most effective way to deal with this nonsense
1) Should there be a three strike and you're out policy?
2) Should there be life sentences for all murder convictions?
3) What do you think about the "affluenza" bullshit used for the teenage drunk driver in Texas that killed four people?
4) Have you ever defended a client, won, and then after he told you in private he really did it? How did you react? If it hasn't happened, how do you think you'd react?
I am strongly against three strike policies, i find them very inhumane, i do think many murderers should get life n prison, but on a case by case basis, thisaffluenza is B.S., but i don't think it was really offered as a defense, more as mitigation....even so, i found it offensive that the system should treat someone more favorably, basically for geing an a hole and raised by a holes
Is there another legal system from another country that you envy or have parts of it that the US would adopt and why?
That's a great question, in fact so good, i am afraid that i will have to think about that. In general i am a strong advocate for our criminal justice system, but believe that we have allowed hysteria to diminish the rights of the accused, and as i observe it, many mistakes are not due to merely the system, but to the petty egos that sometimes have awesome power over individuals
If you think of anything I'd love to read it.
I have thought of something. In this country we tend to "criminalize" every malfeasance people find troubling or offensive. I think in the US it's harder to be convicted, but easier to be arrested initially. I think the gov't and the crim just syst has gotten to far involved in interpersonal relationships. I think it would be better if we could find alternate ways to resolve disputes short of arrest and prosecutions, as we should with medical issues, i.e. drug abuse.
What advice would you give a mock trial student trying to write an opening statement?
This really depends on what side of what type of case, i would say grab them early with a provocative, though sustainable statement, and don't give away too much,i.e. Don't show all your cards.
Have you ever had a "really?" moment with one of your clients, either when their case was first given to you or something they did during trial. To be more specific, did they ever say something to the cops or say something in court or do something that made you think "Did you really just do/say that?"
I would say pretty often on this one...ha ha..usually we can counsel them to face certain realities during the course of our representation, but some people have...lets ay audacity. Of course, i have had that same reaction to certain witnesses as well, including victims and cops. You have to get used to be lied to from every direction to be a crimonal lawyer
What is the stupidest thing you've ever seen? Or the craziest story? (that won't violate any confidentiality of course)
I gave one earlier..there are so many..how about when a guy paid me to represent his wife for domestic violence, even thogh he was the victim (not uncommon) and when i got her out, in the hallway i informed her that the judge issued an order of protection, well enraged she ran right down the hall and slugged her husband in front of numerous cops and court officers?
Which TV show depicts the Lawyer job/life the best?
As i have said, i'm not a big fan of most law dramas but i remember liking that show the practice
What has been the hardest case to defend and has anyone ever committed more cres after you allowed them to walk, if so, did you feel much guilt?
Hatd can mean different things in this context. The pimp/prost case i spoke of was time consuming since there was 1000s of hours of tapes to review. Hard to win may be different. Remember, 90% of my clients reach some disposition prior to a trial, though i hsve tried over 150 cases. All of my trials have been a challenge, just for different reasons. And certainly, some of my clients have committed crimes after my case is over, but ultimately, one must believe in personal responsibility, i do not feel i am accountable for my clients future acts merely by doing my job
When you were a public defender and you believed 100% that your client was guilty, was it difficult defending him/her? I have heard of cases where public defenders try to get taken off a case in this situation, but the judge order the attorney to stay. That seems like such a forced conflict from a moral standpoint.
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