A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No, This Isn't How To Spot A Criminal Defense Attorney's Kid

I'm one of those that laughs at things on the internet that others don't find funny. I think people get a little too bent out of shape about well-intended jokes that because they don't fit in to someone's narrow agenda, are criticized as "not funny."

But I didn't find this funny.

Yes, that's a post by another civil lawyer who believes that only civil law is lucrative - as we criminal lawyers are all out here taking a few bucks for small cases, and that it's funny that a criminal defense attorney's kid is saying "fuck the police."

Reminds me of something that happened a couple weeks ago at my dinner table.

I was relaying that I saw a police officer my family knows, to which my youngest said "where, at the doughnut shop?"

The dinner table conversation ceased. I looked at my wife and thought "where did she hear that?" We certainly don't joke around the house about the old police/doughnut connection. I then let her know I didn't think it was funny, and didn't want to hear it again - not in my presence, or someone else's - especially around school where someone's parent may be a cop.

Yes, my days are filled trying to find their mistakes, where they violated constitutional rights, and how I'm going to show that their allegations are BS. But the not-so-secret secret amongst criminal defense lawyers is that many of us are friendly with law enforcement. Some of us have close friends that wear guns and badges. Others, well, we enjoy a mutual respect. When our homes are robbed, we call the police, when we have a car accident, we look to the police to resolve the dispute between opposing cars. When they drive around the neighborhood, we wave, and when they attend the local community events, we say hello. Whether it's the cop we've known for years that slaps us on the back after we trash him on the stand, or the one that remembers the advice we gave him as a young rookie, or the one that lets us surrender our client next Tuesday, instead of "immediately." We both have a job to do.

Yes, there are scumbag cops, and there are scumbag lawyers. But there is no room for a culture of either cops or lawyers finding joy in their kids lack of respect for either. Is there a cop's kid writing "lawyers are assholes," on a chalkboard?

So I don't know where my kid heard this doughnut shop comment - maybe it was on TV, or maybe it was from some kid at school with a chalkboard at home and a parent with an interesting sense of parenting.

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


  1. Yeah, that was me, making a donut joke to your daughter. I was wrong, and I'm ashamed of myself. The truth is, I love donuts as much as, if not more, than any cop I know.

    I'm jonesing for donut even as I type this. I'm so ashamed. I especially love the bacon maple donuts at Voodoo donuts. I will buy a donut for a cop the next time I'm there. I swear.

  2. "Amelia," or whatever your name is that tried to spam my blog, I'm posting your comment below but without the link to the lawyers you are spamming for.

    The spamming lawyers are Steven Burton, Justin Pratt, and Ashley Burton of Salt Lake City.

    Here's your otherwise thoughtful comment you spammy piece of crap:

    Ugh! i cannot believe that. I don't find it funny at all either! And it's true being a criminal defense attorney does not mean that you disregard respect for police. It's not like there's an endless middle school rivalry between criminal defense attorneys and police officers...

  3. shg, I don't have a problem when my daughter makes jokes about fat New York lawyers eating doughnuts.

  4. Taxpaying Lawabiding Citizen Lawyer7:22 PM

    Good prosecutors do not automatically demean defendants. Good defense lawyers do not automatically demean the police. We represent our clients. We defend them to the best of their abilities. We are not them. The attorney who falls back on the "every police officer is a lying piece of dirt" defense may be popular among certain segments of the community, but look at their results.

  5. Stephen Stanfield12:43 PM

    Oh come ON Tannebaum, that was funny. I laughed out loud when I read it. I love this picture too:

  6. Brian. I'd love to echo your beliefs and agree with your premises, but, and I don't mean to disparage, maybe you are long from the "grassroots". Or, maybe where I practice is the exception (in a bad way). My findings with the majority of police and prosecutors are they jump straight to "your client is a dirt bag".

    I laud your desire to practice law on the high road; I myself try to stay on that path too. My experience, however, has found too many who do not.

  7. Different side of the same coin, but I always bristle when people describe criminal defense as keeping criminals out of jail.

    I hope that my hypothetical future kids understand that my job isn't to scam the system or keep scumbags on the street, but to protect people's rights, protect the truly innocent, and get a fair sentence for the guilty.