Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tough cases

I am currently working on a couple of cases that are pretty much always on my mind. I don't know exactly what to do w/ them & it's stressing me out a bit.

So far, I have never had a client take a case to trial against my advice, although I have had clients take plea offers against my advice. So, clients have put a lot of faith & trust in my recommendation about trials. Which means I need to be able to give a sound recommendation.

Usually, this is fairly easy to assess. In some cases, the evidence against the client is overwhelmingly bad & going to trial would almost certainly result in a conviction. If there is a good plea offer that would be a better outcome for the client, that's an easy assessment.

Other times, the evidence against the client is either inadmissible at trial or really weak & easy to poke holes in & point out flaws. The case is one that we reasonably could win @ trial. Sometimes there is a really, really good offer but sometimes, they're isn't and then it makes sense to go to trial.

The ones that are difficult for me & the ones that are currently on my mind are the ones where it's almost impossible to figure out whether a trial or a plea agreement is a better option. This usually happens when the state has decent, but not rock solid, evidence & we have logical counter-arguments and/or evidence. When the two sides are evenly matched, it's really difficult to make a recommendation to the client about which is the better option.

There is also the concern that maybe my assessment might be tainted by "trial psychosis." This is a common thing we defense attorneys get. As we work a case up for trial & as we are in trial, we become convinced that there is no way that we could lose @ trial. The closer the trial is & the more work we do to prep it for trial, the more certain we are that we are going to win. This happens no matter how awful the evidence is against the client or how unlikely a win really is. Which means my advice, if given during a trial psychosis moment, might not be the most reasoned assessment.

So, I am trying to think out the cases before I hit trial psychosis mode. I want to be able to make a rational assessment of the cases that I am currently mulling over. But they are tough, because both sides have decent arguments.

So, I cannot stop thinking about them. Even when I am not @ work, they are stuck in my head.

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