By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
I’m going over to me what are the top ten principles of defending people. To recap the list so far:
- #10 You Can’t be Judgmental
- #9 Be Organized
- #8 Be Optimistic & #7 Inoculate Your Client
- #6 Investigate
- #5 All Eyes are Equal & #4 Know the Enemy
- #3 Believe Your Client
#2 Find Something to Be Angry About
I went to law school because I hate injustice. It is everywhere in the criminal system. You only have to look. In many ways I feel like I’m at my very best when I’m upset although I’m sure it just feels that way.
I don’t care how bad or hopeless a case may seem — there is virtually always something to be upset about. It may be over-zealous punishment. It may be battling prosecutors and police lost in an echo-chamber of righteous indignation. It may be facing a complaining witness who tells half-truths to paint themselves in a better light at my client’s expense. It could be getting upset because no one seems to understand the mental illness or addiction my client is suffering. It could be because I feel authority figures are acting like bullies. There are some cases where I even find myself at odds and in a power-struggle with a Judge.
The good news is most cases aren’t hopeless. Show me a lawyer who gets fired-up about how his client has been mis-treated, and I’ll show you an effective advocate.
One thing I’ve learned through experience, though, is there are arguments which feel good to make; there are arguments my client enjoys hearing; and there are arguments that win the case. Give me the latter every time, please. Being upset has to be channelled and tempered with telling the most powerful and effective story for the jury.
I find apathy is the result of not finding something to be upset about while defending a case. Again, the good news is I haven’t seen a case go to trial where I can’t find something to be angry about.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is licensed by the State Bar of Texas.