How COVID Broke The Criminal Courts – Blog 2 (Access to Courts)

August 11, 2020

 By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

One of the things I miss most with the pandemic is not seeing everyone at the Courthouse every day.

Being a defense lawyer is like being an athlete who shows up to the same clubhouse 3 or 4 times every week.  Over the years you have the opportunity to develop social, collegial, and professional relationships with everyone in the building.  You get to know other defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, court coordinators, bailiffs and even the security guards at the front door.

These relationships are more than just fun.  They are the “WD-40” of courthouse efficiency.  It goes without saying being face to face allows everyone in the building to do their jobs more efficiently.  Not only that, being physically in the courthouse allows me to solve 10 problems a morning instead of just 2 if I’m trying only to work the phone.

Put in its simplest terms — I have a much more challenging time being an active influence for my client when I’m not “in the room where it happens.”

The limited access to prosecutors and court personnel presents two main problems.

Courthouse pictureFirst, is the limited ability to communicate.  In grade school we learn about verbal and non-verbal communication.  The stuff happens to be true.  Advocating for a client in person where the prosecutor or Judge can see and sense the depth and passion of an argument — even an informal one — is far better in person.  Texting, phoning, and even zoom simply isn’t as effective.

The second is simple access to prosecutors and court personnel.  During normal times it is much easier for me to be able to — for example — grab a prosecutor and visit with a Judge quickly about troubleshooting a problem either on the bench or in chambers.  Hurdles to those conversations are far more easy to overcome.  What used to take minutes can now take weeks.

Life will get back to normal.  My hope is that when it does, the ability to communicate with everyone at the courthouse does too.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is currently designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.



Why You Shouldn’t Represent Yourself in a DWI

February 9, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

Here’s why:

DWI Laws Are Nastier Than You Think

The laws against DWI are getting nastier and nastier with no end in sight.  My clients hear me repeat the phrase, “no politician ever got elected in Texas promising to go easy on DUI cases.”

Many people arrested for DWI feel they were wrong and should take responsibility for their mistake.  While this is an extremely admirable trait — it assumes the price for taking responsibility isn’t cruel and thoughtless.

The one thing the legislature can’t take away from you is your constitutional right to an advocate.  It’s the only way to try and level the playing field.

Don’t Assume Your Arrest is a Lost Cause

First, as any prosecutor will tell you, DWI’s can and do very frequently end in acquittals.  Jurors are just like you.  In a DWI they truly presume you innocent unlike other cases.  They listen much to the dismay and chagrin of the prosecutor and the police officer who would have them believe there is only one side to the story.

Scientific Testing are Man-made Mouse-traps

Blood and breath tests can be discredited through different scientific arguments and sometimes you can demonstrate to the jury the test was simply improperly conducted.  The equipment is fallible and jurors are often surprised at just how imprecise these machines truly are.

The practice of blood warrants is controversial.  Forcibly putting a needle in someone’s arm would be a 2nd Degree Felony under the Texas Penal Code (aggravated assault with a deadly weapon) if it weren’t conducted under the color of law.  Regardless, DWI enforcement has lost so much perspective that this practice is justified to solve first-time DWI offenses that are Class B Misdemeanors.

Police Have to Follow the Rules Too

Additionally, Judges frequently suppress improper traffic stops or other improper police contact.  This means that where an officer has been overly-aggressive in finding a reason to pull a car over or the officer didn’t have the right to visit with you… all or some of the evidence may be thrown out by the Judge if improperly attained pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.23.  In those instances field sobriety tests, breath tests, and even blood tests can be inadmissible for the prosecution.

There is so much at stake in a DWI for your future that a short article hardly does it justice.  I’ve only addressed the tip of the iceberg as far as consequences and punishment.  There is so much other red-tape such as driver’s licenses suspensions, surcharges for driver’s license renewals, and deep-lung-devices being ordered on your car, it hardly makes sense to go into this process alone.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. None of the content herein is intended to be legal advice, specific or otherwise.  For legal advice, please contact an attorney.