|Painting Old Houses and DWI Defense|
It's ALL ABOUT THE PREP
Father's day weekend on a beautiful and clear summer June in Ithaca is not as big a deal as Mother's Day.
Those mothers, they are a mighty powerful group, whether they are speaking out about drunk drivers or having a holiday. But nevertheless my wife went out of her way to celebrate this weekend. I got a grill, a present or a job? you decide!
It is such a thankless job to be the "GrillMaster"... She did her best to make my day special. It is tough to be her, I am a big pain at times, sometimes so full of myself, and tougher yet to be married to a man whose attention is focused elsewhere quite often. I get lost in my own thinking. Yeah, I am guilty of not listening, or hearing what she is saying. I like to sit and think. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night with ideas or creative strategies.
This was especially so this special weekend because my brain was preoccupied with an upcoming DWI Suppression Hearing.
I get into my cases. I get excited about the challenges in my cases. How to get over some bad facts. How to maximize the value of good facts. I write out all my cross examinations in long form because I believe my goals and sub-goals need to be nailed down right the first time. I spend many hours preparing.
I have been watching a house painter for the past two weeks. I like watching other people do work. He was prepping a house a few blocks from Gimme Coffee. I am not a house painter but I do know one thing about painting. The key to doing a good paint job is all in the prep. Old homes require meticulous prep. Get rid of all the old rot. He spent hours and hours Scraping, sanding, and puttying each nook and cranny. The detail in the prep determines the final value of the paint job. Bad prep (incomplete or inadequate) leads to a bad looking and short lasting paint job. Even applying the best paint perfectly will not excuse a bad prep job. Ultimately, the paint will chip, peel, or look horrible.
Funny but DWI case prep is much the same way. You will rarely have a good result or a great result ie. great defense without complete and detailed preparation. I shudder when I see attorneys "wing it." Maybe in old westerns gunslingers can shoot from the hip but a well done defense requires time and work. For instance, For a recent defense to my client's DWI charges I wrote out a detailed cross examination chapter for the arresting officer (many chapters make up a hearing or trial) of my client's driving pattern pre-stop, it looks or sounds something like this:
GOAL: normal driving responses
At approx 200am on 01/10 you were traveling west on buffalo st.
You then saw a car in back of you
A car with bright headlights
You then let the car pass you
it was a red car
the red car was a 2003 bmw
You followed the red car
You followed the red car closely
You watched my client’s driving very closely
You observed the driver
His driving was not erratic
There was nothing unusal about his driving
Isn’t it true that the only violation you observed were bright lights from the car
Aside from that everything else appeared to be normal
You didn’t observe anything else erractic or unusual about the operation of the vehicle
The car traveled at the appropriate speed
The driver stayed in his lane of travel
You then activated your emergency lights
The driver slowed his car down
Gradually he reduced his speed
He brought the car to a stop
Parallel to the curb
The car did not touch the curb
the car used his turn signal
the right turn signal
And mr. c immed pulled over as a normal driver should in that situation
He parked his car on buffalo st in a normal manner
Each piece of my puzzle goes into place to build on my theory of the case. Great mental and physical function, step by step, block by block, chapter by chapter of cross examination of the cop. I usually have prepared between 15-20 chapters for a suppression hearing. Often I have 3 to 5 chapters to cross examine one field sobriety test. The time put in is well worth the effort. All the detailed preparation builds on the strengths of my case theory and exposes the weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
Chapters lead to establishing chapter goals which then adds up to a story. Our successful story of driving like a normal driver and functioning (mentally and physically) as a sober individual. The concept of using cross examination to tell a story and creating chapters comes from the master book on cross examination, written by Pozner and Dodd, called The Art and Science of Cross Examination. It should be in every trial lawyer's book case.
In my defense practice, my mantra, "the prep, the prep, the prep will give you the right rep."