Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Not Guilty! My favorite words!

I was in trial this week on a difficult case. The charge was one of those where just the charge itself is bad & people assume being charged is bad enough. It was a very tough case w/ difficult facts to work with & even more difficult bc I honestly believed my client was innocent. And those are the hardest to defend bc the pressure to be successful is so high.

This was a commit to prison case, meaning if he were convicted, he'd have had to go to prison, no probation. And it was a long sentence: 91 months. My client had a lot at stake going into trial. And I was so nervous I was shaking at last Friday's pretrial motion hearing.

We started on Monday & wrapped up today. Jury went out at 11:50 a.m. They had a verdict by 1:25 p.m.

My heart sank. That felt too fast to be good for my client. They felt like it was going to be a guilty verdict & I was going to be devastated & my client was going to be beside himself.

The verdict was not guilty. I gasped audibly in shock & joy. So did my client. I grabbed his shoulder, he grabbed mine, and he said softly, "Thank you so much. Thank you."

My client had been in jail since his arrest. He was released after the verdict. He had to go back to the jail to be booked out, but this time, the transport bailiff didn't have to hand & leg cuff him. My client was a free man. My client finally got to go home & get his life back & see his son again.

There is no way to describe the feeling of getting a not guilty verdict. It's relief and joy and excitement and vindication and satisfaction and tons of other emotions all at once. Getting a not guilty that saves someone from prison, that adds even more to the emotional overload.

Seeing your client finally walk out w/o handcuffs and knowing I'd helped to set him's an experience like nothing I can ever explain. It's powerful & overwhelming & humbling all at the same time.

Days like this make it all worthwhile.

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