Most lawyers after they get their law degree just go and do enough CLEs to maintain their license. That is the bare bones minimum. If you are going to take someone’s hard- earned money, the money of family members or friends who worked very hard to attain it, you must do all that you can. Just knowing the law is not enough in today’s society. So I decided I am going to learn as much as I can about all aspects of criminal defense from jury selection, the law, to how to effectively try a case, how to present it to a jury, how to use visual effects, etc.
A lot of times, I know the science more than some of the analysts the government hires, so it is hard to pull stuff over on me. By knowing the science it is easier to explain it to juries so they can understand it. I have taken over cases where the prior attorney’s offer was X. I got the case, I worked it up, and I got a better offer because of the work I put into the cases. For example, in DUI cases, I have earned reduction in the punishment tier just because the government knows I will take the case to trial. Being known as a fighter and a lawyer who knows what he is doing, is better my current clients and better for my future clients who have not even been arrested yet. I believe if you are going to do something, you do it right and learn all you can. Getting twelve CLE credits plus two ethics credit a year is not nearly enough.
How Are You Able To Utilize Science To Defend Your Clients?
First, you have to know that stuff backwards and forwards. You have to know as much or more than the experts on the other side and then it is just practice, practice, practice, so you can take something complex and make it simple. The more trials you have the better you get at it. It really is that simple, plus by going to a lot of training and constantly learning from lawyers and scientists I have become a much better lawyer. So it is practical experience as well as constant learning. I have tried approximately one hundred jury and non-jury trials in my career so far.
How Often Do You Retain Expert Witnesses To Defend Your Clients?
As often as my clients can afford them. The government puts a lot of things in the courtroom calling it science and it is not, it is junk. Just look at the number of exonerations through DNA where the analyst says, “We tested DNA, it’s his”. Then they re-test it later and show it is not. Bite mark analysis is junk science that has been repudiated by real scientists, and thousands of people have been convicted on that. Many are now being freed.
There are analysts out there who falsify data such as the one in Massachusetts who said she tested drugs for years. She never did. She lied. It would have been discovered a long time ago if the lawyers simply asked for the testing data. Lawyers allowed that to happen because they did not get educated on the science and failed to ask for the data which cannot be faked in these machines. That is malpractice.
I go out of state for training a minimum of four times a year. So far in 2016, I was in Scottsdale, Arizona in January, Key West, Florida in February. Dallas, Texas in early May. Then Las Vegas, Nevada in late May. Plus I am scheduled to be in Las Vegas, Nevada in late November for a sexual assault seminar and to speak in San Diego, California at a metrology based science seminar in early November. My topic will be the measure and issues in federal drug statutes.
We also use experts in cases where our clients plead guilty. We use them to present reports to the court for use in mitigating their sentences. Especially in sex cases. I use experts a lot to do evaluations of my clients in sex cases to get better deals or better sentences from judges. In terms of experts, I now have one on retainer that is a full-time expert forensic scientist who will review data from my cases with no charge to my client. He is a former police officer who worked in a forensic testing lab in California testing blood and drugs as well as firearms analysis, who then became a lawyer and now he is an expert witness.
There is NO OTHER law firm in Pennsylvania that has an on staff expert to look at the data from their clients’ cases for no extra charge. That is built into my fee. Nobody has that.
Importance Of Having A Working Relationship With DAs, Judges And Law Enforcement
If you are respected, it makes your job easy. It is not hard to be polite. When you are polite you get more in life than you do if you are not. If people know you are competent and polite, your job is easier. Last year, I received a referral from a person who works in a courthouse in another county. I have had state police officers refer cases to me. I even had a district attorney refer a case to me. You get that by earning respect.
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