Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Open Letter To The Orlando Criminal Defense Bar

So, how's the courthouse coffee shop these days? Remember when you all used to sit around and talk about this judge, and that prosecutor, and whether Joe was going to win that tough case down the hall? You mused over the recent Fourth Amendment ruling and whether Judge so and so would get re-elected, having kicked a big coke case?

Now the Orlando criminal defense bar seems like the movie Cocoon. Remember? A couple guys found an energized pool that made them feel great? Then everyone jumped in the pool and sucked all the energy out of the pool, ending the magic, and killing the people who lived in the pool.

Is this that important to you? This perceived fame? This extended 15 minutes? Would it have killed you to decline to be a pimp for the cable news shows, for your local media outlets who just want to see the defendant convicted? A staple of law practice is that when someone is attacking a colleague, it's often difficult to find a local lawyer to handle the case. Not anymore. Fame, money trumps any sense of "Bar."

The public loves it, spewing love all over those lawyers who will "tell the truth," as in be on cue for criticism of the lawyer who walks the same courthouse halls on a daily basis.

And those who were lawyers involved in the case who are no longer restrained by your representation? Is this what your former clients, Casey's parents, Mark, want to hear you say about their daughter? Are the compliments from the mob-mentality public that essential to your already successful career?

The Casey Anthony trial will end. The cameras will leave, the reporters you think are your friends will move on to the next big trial in the next local community, with the next group of lawyers willing to spend their days trashing their colleagues. You won't be relevant to the broader legal system. You were used for a reason - a need for local Orlando lawyers to dump on the defense. Violins everywhere are jealous.

To the young lawyers in Orlando, the ones who look up to the more experienced around them, who strive to be great trial lawyers, and be a part of a bar that provides support, mentorship, and constructive criticism, the answer to your question is "no," this is not how local criminal defense bars should operate. Those lawyers that are more interested in fame and love from the public at the expense of those they share a wait in line at the podium with, are the exception.

Take my advice, when the Casey Anthony case is over, the lawyers you saw on TV that you should want to ask questions to, to seek advice from, to get perspective about the the practice, are those who sat at counsel table.

Non-anonymous comments welcome.Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.Share/Save/Bookmarkokdork.com rules Post to Twitter