Criminal defense includes going to court, conducting a trial, examining witnesses, and speaking on behalf of a client in a courtroom where the accused and his lawyer may stand alone before a wall of intense media attention, public anger, and mistrust. We sometimes hear frightened or angry members of the public question whether we can afford to keep alive the traditions of justice that began hundreds of years ago in England, in France, and in every part of the world where citizens decided that might never makes right, and that a fair and even-handed system of justice was the best guarantor of the personal liberty and prosperity of the ordinary individual and the best method of guaranteeing everyone’s liberty and safety.
Our criminal justice system is based on an adversarial tradition. Assisted by the power and resources of law enforcement and the State of Wisconsin, the attorneys for the government present their side of the argument for the guilt of the accused. Defense attorneys speak for the accused. We help accused people defend themselves with every argument or piece of information at their disposal. That job doesn’t start when we stand up at the counsel table and address the court or begin to question a witness. It begins when we listen to what our clients tell us about their situations and about who they are. We have the compassion to understand people and to know the most important question is not what happened but why. The defense of an accusation of criminal wrongdoing, like the trial itself, is human drama of intense feeling and emotion. We don’t ignore the human part of the legal problem; that human part is usually the key to a great result.
My office offers the benefit of an established working relationship with an experienced investigator, and his agency for backup when needed. We can develop the evidence and locate the witnesses necessary to win your case. More importantly, we find that good preparation often eliminates the need for costly and risky trials, as prosecutors see that their original view of the case may have been distorted by inadequate, hasty, or biased investigation by law enforcement. We learn the parts of the story that no one else has bothered to find out. When it is apparent that a case will not result in a dismissal or acquittal and that our principal work will take place at sentencing, we can refer you to the appropriate psychologists, counselors, and family therapists without waiting for a judge or probation agent to order treatment. When you get before that judge he’ll be able to see that you are motivated to help yourself, and why you deserve another chance.
They make them bigger, but they don’t make them better. I’m talking about the firm, not the attorney. I am a sole practitioner now, although I have been a partner in firms and the employer of associate attorneys in the past. I have come to see that clients want to talk to me and no one else, except maybe an investigator. They don’t want anyone else working on their files and that’s fine with me.
There is an old saying among family lawyers that you know you have done the best you can when both parties to the divorce or family case leave the courthouse equally unhappy, the point being that no one really thinks you can make a client happy who is going through a divorce or family litigation. I am not sure that is true, but I certainly agree with the idea that people who have family law disputes are among the most distraught and pained of any client with whom a lawyer ever works. I think our job as lawyers is first, not to make things any worse than they are by interjecting our own egos, tempers or bad manners into an already difficult situation. Our job is to help people settle their differences when they can do so amicably, perhaps because they still care for each other; because they have children together; or, perhaps merely because they want to waste as little money as possible while moving forward in their respective lives. If we can’t facilitate settling those differences, then it’s time to fight as hard as we have to in order to see that our client is treated fairly in the justice system and we do just that. One thing we know how to do is have a trial, put on evidence and persuade the court to see your case as it should be seen.
I may not always be the lawyer you need, but I hope I can always be the lawyer you turn to when you need a legal resource. I don’t do every kind of work, although I remember when I had to handle a much larger array of cases than I do now. I don’t step into the areas of work that are best handled by other, competent professionals but I do think that after all these years, I know who they are. I know I can depend on them to help our clients if they ever need that assistance. If you already have that kind of relationship with an attorney, I have no intention of interfering. I am willing to help you find the right lawyer if you need help sorting out where to go.
I’ll be happy to listen to you, help you select the right sub-specialty of the law that fits, and help you select a lawyer that’s right for the legal problem, for your budget, and for you.
I’ll make, or help you make, that first telephone call if you like, help you get settled in with your lawyer, and I’ll do my best to see that you are well cared for as the case progresses. I am not a full service law firm, but I can help you get all the services you need with your legal problems.
This is who I am. I have chosen a very limited slice of the law to focus on. I think I excel in that limited area. I am most disheartened by the cold call that asks only what I charge and whether I am free on the day of the initial appearance. I am most delighted by the potential client who asks questions and really wants to know what he or she is getting. I don’t mind the questions and I’ll be happy to answer them all.