7/28/2010

Please Don’t Tell My Mama I’m A Criminal Defense Attorney. She Thinks I Play Piano In A Whorehouse, Or How Can You Possibly Represent “Those” People?


People often ask me how I can possibly represent someone I think might be guilty, or how can I represent someone who has been accused of a terrible crime. My answer is always the same. People have a constitutional right to a trial by jury under the 6th Amendment of constitution, whether they are guilty or not. People have a right to a fair trial and due process under our 14th amendment as well. The reality is that if they are guilty then the jury will convict them anyways. If they are innocent, or the prosecution does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty, sometimes the jury might even vote for acquittal.

When I’m sitting at the counsel table and the jury walks into the courtroom they look at me like I’m a human rodent. I can tell by the looks on their faces that while they’re scanning the client next to me, sitting in an ill-fitting and rumpled dress shirt and khakis, they are asking themselves, “I wonder what he did?” The Judge reads the charges and the jury then looks at me with a combination of scorn and repulsive loathing. Then I make my opening statement...

One time I made my opening statement in a drunk driving case and a jury literally burst out laughing out at me. I continued on with my opening and proceeded to trial, and my client was found guilty in less than 10 minutes – not even enough time for their coffee to get cold. My client was obviously guilty, and nobody likes drunk drivers anyway. He got his 6th amendment right to a fair trial, and I got most of my fee and a bunch of dirty looks from angry jurors who felt I was wasting their time.

Nobody ever asks a corporate attorney, “How could you possibly represent Bank of America? Or AIG?” Nobody ever asks a corporate lawyer whether or not they would represent a corporation if they knew the corporation did something wrong.

Judges look upon me with the same contempt as jurors, and sometimes even do a better job trying to convict my client than the District Attorney. Police officers will sometimes even lie to me while looking at the jury with a twinkle in their eyes. The jury may even know the police are lying, and still convict.

Reasonable doubt is such an abstract and vague concept that the limited people (including some lawyers and even judges) who really understand it usually ignore it anyway.


You will notice from my last mugshot, which was for an arrest on April 12, 1985, that I was once a ne’er-do-well, pot-smoking, hard-drinking redneck who carried a shit-eating grin everywhere I went. I specifically remember the jailer telling me as I posed for this mugshot at the county jail, “take that shit-eating grin off of your face.”

I was minding my own business one day, and after consuming way too many drugs I decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to ride a freight train. While waiting in a car at a railroad crossing a train rode by, so I ran up and grabbed the ladder and began running from car to car. Needless to say Southern Pacific Railroad was not pleased. I was summarily arrested, and after a two day jury trial where I earnestly protested my innocence I was convicted and ended up serving 90 days in the county jail.

From my own experience as both a hapless criminal and a skilled and professional criminal law specialist, I always zealously advocate and defend my clients to the fullest extent of the law and my ability, and do everything I can to convince the jury that my client should be acquitted. I do my job, and I let the jury do theirs. Sometimes I am devastated when someone I truly believe is innocent is convicted. Think of the DNA exoneration cases.

2 comments:

  1. Mr.Pori -
    Can you recommend any good children's books that introduce the concept of Due Process? Criminal justice issues are way oversimplified in juvenile literature, which is as it should be I reckon, but I'd like to find a simple book about Habeas Corpus.

    - MX

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry it took so long to get back to you MX.

    I wish I could. Maybe I should write one for you. Habeas Corpus is very difficult for many experienced attorneys to understand. Most people think it means "body of evidence," but what it really means is "deliver the body." Habaes corpus can only be used when an appeal cannot be used; for instance, when someone needs to introduce evidence before the court that was not brought before in another proceeding.

    Generally, It can only be used to complain about federal constitutional issues such as a trial lawyer's ineffective assistance of counsel, overcrowded jail conditions, or some other violation of a federal constitutional right. It cannot be used to complain about state procedural errors like some state court's rules of evidence--unless they violate the right to the Sixth Amendemt righ to a Fair trial. Nor can habaes corpus be used to challenge a state court ruling on a 4th Amendment search and seizure violation.

    Procedural Due Process is generally the right to have a fair hearing before the State deprives you of some constitutionally recognized right-- like the right to have your children not removed from your home without an opportunity to present evidence and testify on your won behalf, or the right to a hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles before they revoke your license.

    Substantive due process is more abstract but in an overly simplified definition, it means the right to be protected from state or federal rules that arbitrarily or capriciously deny you of a constitutionally recognized right.

    Sorry I couldn't answer your question.

    ReplyDelete