Friday, March 25, 2011

One Defense Lawyer's Philosophy about Being Right and Winning

I have seen and heard lawyers and doctors speak (more like brag) of their successes. I believe one should "Never take credit unless you are also willing to take blame." I allow others to speak for me in their testimonials/reviews. If you look at them with clear eyes you will see less hype and more reality.

I learned most of my life philosophy as a Chiropractor. I would adjust, help, assist, and guide (with chiropractic, physical therapy, and acupuncture) but the power that made the body does the ultimate healing not the doctors. In the criminal defense context we have no control over the Judges, the prosecutors, or the juries. As lawyers, we can advocate, persuade, convince, explain, demonstrate, and challenge but ultimately we do the best we can with what we have been given.

I could speak of "my DWI successes" but then I would have to balance that with speaking of "my DWI failures."  First off we must define success and failure. It is a perspective. It requires a context. Not everyone fits in the same box or mold. Someone with a long criminal history, and someone with no history are not the same. Someone with horrible facts, behavior, driving, testing, and statements is not the same as someone with different facts. If someone is looking at 3 years in jail, and has a weak case, does a result of straight probation mean success or failure? Outright dismissals are a rarity. It is the stuff of TV shows and hit movies. O.J. Simpson was an anomaly. There are certain FBCs (facts beyond change) in every case that I must work with and sometimes they are challenging to surmount.

Often the best wars are the ones never fought. My greatest victories have come by preparing thoroughly, cross examining police at hearings, suppressing evidence, and demonstrating strength. Concessions allow the other side to save face, and in the battles we fight daily, often with the same opponents, it has been a prudent and effective strategy. As they say pick your battles.

I use the same philosophy in my marriage and with my children. I have found that lawyers that "fight" every case and issue burn out, and are usually divorced (or single). Being "right" and proving you are "right" and "winning" (as Charlie Sheen has demonstrated) may not be the best long term strategy.