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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taking That Case In Norway

Until you've had it, it's the dream of every criminal defense lawyer - to get that case. The big one. The one everyone is talking about. That client - the famous one, the one everyone will be watching.

But not the one everyone hates. That's the one we don't take. The one we shy away from because we may look bad, we may get angry calls, and in today's world of marketing ourselves to death - it may affect our "brand."

Consequently, it is only the criminal defense lawyer that finds themselves in this dilemma - having to put oath of attorney above marketing and perception - having to defend the hated, despised, loathed, because it's the obligation of the profession we've chosen. We do this while other practitioners either applaud, or condemn us.

Talking Points Memo describes the events leading up to the call:

After massacring at least 76 people, most of them young members of the Norwegian Labor Party, right-wing zealot Anders Behring Breivik had a request: to be defended by Oslo lawyer Geir Lippestad.

Those following this horrific case closely know that the massacre took place at a Labor Party Youth Camp, Breivik having his issues with the Labor Party.

The story continues to the old "would a Jew defend a Nazi," or "would a African-American defend a member of the KKK,:" Breivik apparently did not know another biographical detail of his lawyer -- Lippestad is himself a member of Labor, the party whose policies of racial tolerance and multiculturalism the killer loathes.

Lippestad, a well known criminal defense lawyer in Norway, simply responded: "Someone has to do this job."

Lippestad went on to describe his thoughts and discussions leading up to his accepting the case:

"My first reaction was that this was too difficult," he said. "But then I sat down with family, friends and colleagues and we said that today is the time to think about democracy, and if I said no to this job, then I would say no to democracy.

Most of us criminal defense lawyers in America wonder what the system is like around the world. We wonder if being a criminal defense lawyer is the same in countries where they don't have a "Bill of Rights." We ask whether other countries have a Fifth Amendment. We wonder whether there are times when a lawyer has to take on a hated defendant.

Geir Lippestad didn't have to take this case. He knew that. He could of said no to the man who is currently the most hated man in the world. His agreement to represent this monster was not for the benefit of the client, but for the benefit of democracy.

Most of us will never be in this position - the thought of having to take on a case like this - to even have to consider it, scares us. We toil in "garden variety" cases and find meaning in paying the bills and getting an occasional dismissal or acquittal.

These are the moments that create lawyers. These are the moments that make websites, direct mail, and your LinkedIn account look meaningless (because they are).

I salute Geir Lippestad. I wouldn't want to be him, but I salute him.

Do you?

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

Friday, July 08, 2011

Casey Anthony: Epilogue

This will be it, nothing more to write.

Four years for four misdemeanor counts of lying to police? The proper sentence, in this case (assuming the double jeopardy argument doesn't apply to the four counts for one long interview). I don't know Judge Perry well, but what I do know about him tells me that he didn't give Casey Anthony four years because she was acquitted, he gave her four years because he thought she deserved four years.

Caylee's law? Go ahead, change the law, make yourself happy. Make it a felony. Question though: If Casey Anthony was convicted and sentenced to death plus four years for lying, would anyone care? Would anyone notice?

Caylee's law isn't about Caylee, it's about Casey.

Casey Anthony will have a miserable life. Stalked everywhere, turned away from most places, yelled at, screamed at, and have things thrown at her. I know you don't care, I'm just making a statement (since you all care so much about Amendment One, and none of the others).

Jose Baez, he won a case most lawyers will never try. He did it after only being a lawyer a few years. You're envious, jealous, angry, hateful.

He doesn't care.

He won, regardless of what you think.

For the lawyers and former judges on TV saying the jury "didn't understand reasonable doubt?" You disgust me.

To all those asking what I think of the verdict? I think a jury of 12 people agreed the state didn't prove the case, and when 12 people can read instructions and evaluate evidence and come to a unanimous decision, I am happy that the Constitution is still a part of our system, no matter how many politicians and self hating lawyers try to tear it down.

I'm sorry a little girl is dead. I have two myself.

But I never want the Constitution and our criminal justice system to take a back seat to those who believe the burden of proof is just a technicality.

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

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Embarrassment Of The Casey Anthony Verdict

The decision would be a foregone conclusion.

Everyone knew Casey Anthony killed her daughter. They never once criticized the prosecutors. Defense lawyer Jose Baez was a punching bag for his colleagues, his "brothers of the bar" in Orlando, and the public who enjoyed trashing him hourly - and with 3 years experience, was merely comedic relief for "legal experts" on cable news shows whose last murder trial was, well, let's move on.

I don't know what happened to 2-year old Caylee Anthony. Neither do you.

Neither do you.

But according to you, the case was solid. Casey was a lying slut, she lied to the cops, a few people opined on whether her trunk had a dead body in it, and well, a child was dead, so there we have it. The fact that there was no murder weapon, no cause of death, no witnesses, and a bunch of other "no," didn't matter. Cable news and social media addicts had no doubt, and all that was left was 12 people to agree with the majority of twitter, Facebook, and the zombie audience of Nancy Grace.

And like all of our best laid plans, it just didn't work out.

The jury of 12 unanimously rejected that the state proved Casey Anthony killed her daughter.

CNN calls this a "stunning" conclusion. Why?

Because the public knew she was guilty.

People are "disgusted," "sick," shocked that their demands that "the verdict better be guilty" were not met. Even lawyers, officers of the court, are showing disrespect for the system for which they are a part.

According to those not on the jury, if they were on the jury, the vote would have been 11-1, apparently.

This same jury that would have been applauded upon the return of a guilty verdict, is now a "bunch of uneducated" "morons" who "couldn't get it right."

The media is almost speechless. Almost, because the legal commentators are now stepping all over themselves to backtrack on their disgraceful commentary during the case and try to claim they are oh-so-pleased that the Constitution worked today. The media is on the verge of tears that the jury won't speak to them. I wonder which reporter is falling over which reporter to get Jose Baez' interview now?

I hope someone will compile all the comments of the media throughout the case so that we can all watch the summary, and make it a required lesson in every journalism school in America.

For the media now doing the typical questioning of their behavior during the trial, save it. You made your bed, you lost your bet that there would be a death sentence, and questioning yourself is the definition of hypocrisy.

As for the public's "disgust," and whiny disastrous attempts at complete sentences on social media - I can't help you understand the system of American justice. You don't care. You want what you want, damn the Constitution and jury instructions. All I can say about you is that I will argue for your right to act like complete morons and I will argue for a criminal defendant's right to a fair trial, which includes the obligation of the state to prove each and every element of the charge(s) beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt.

The embarrassment of the Casey Anthony verdict is not the verdict, it's everything surrounding it.

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