Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another Criminal Defense Conference, Another Few Minutes Of Dreaming

Over the past two weekends I've attended two different criminal defense conferences. In 15 years I've probably attended 30 or so. Each one includes talk of new case law, good and bad. They include war stories of that case, or those cases, where a judge, a jury, or a motion led to victory for the defendant. There's that new case that the police will learn to "get around," and there's the judges who tell us what they like and don't like in court.

And at the end of every conference we are led to the same belief, that we can win more cases, that we can win every case.

These conferences bring defense lawyers together within a state, a federal district, or a country. We learn we all have the same issues, the same cases, and the same clients. We leave and return to court Monday with a renewed sense of "what if?"

And then there's Tuesday.

Yes, if we tried every case, we'd control the system. If all our clients had the money to hire the best experts, or even a mediocre investigator, we could learn things that would cause a jury or judge to think twice about whether our client was guilty.

But we don't. Private lawyers don't, public defenders, don't

It is a system, and as we defense lawyers hear in court from the bench, "we have to move things along."

The economy is making things worse. More desperate lawyers practicing criminal law, taking fees to "pay the bills" that aren't enough to do a competent job. Take the client to court and tell him you got a great deal. He doesn't know. He'll spend 30 seconds thinking about whether to become a convicted felon, which is 30 seconds less than he spent thinking about who to hire.

We leave these conferences with a renewed sense about Monday, only to be faced with the inevitable Tuesday.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit

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