Interviewer: I want to give the readers on the website a window into your mind. I would like them to see how you think and how you tend to defend cases. With that in mind, think back on the interesting, unusual, maybe tough cases that you’ve handled and give me an example of one.
Freddy: I can give you a good example. I had a case that was actually completed not long ago and this is what happened in that case.
I was at the courthouse, defending people like I do every day, and a lady asked me, “You look nice, are you a lawyer?” I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” She said, “You dress very nicely.” I said, “Thank you”. She said, “Can I ask you a question, I’m having a problem.” I said, “Well if you have a problem and it’s a legal problem, I may have a solution, let’s talk about it”.
I sat down with her, as I had about 20 minutes before my next case and we talked about it. She was a lady of very simple means. She didn’t have a lot of money but she was married, and had been married for 39 years. She had several children and about ten grandchildren. She was being charged with the crime of taking something from a store. The value of what was taken was very high. They were charging her with a high level theft. She had no criminal record, however, nobody would listen to her and nobody believed her story, but for some reason, I did.
I talked to her and said, “Tell me what happened.” She explained to me what happened and I said, “I’ll help you, and I can represent you.” She didn’t have a lot of means, so we put her on a payment plan for a long period of time and I just essentially did the case for very little money. I said, “Let’s get into the case and figure out what we have to do.”
One thing that’s very important about the criminal justice system, and our country affords you this protection, is that you are innocent until proven guilty. You do not have to prove yourself innocent and say you didn’t do something. The prosecution has the burden of proof of proving you guilty in a criminal case.
Pre-Trial Motions and Motion During Trial
There are several pre-trial motions that and attorney can file. Some of these pre-trial motions that you file may be arguing points of law saying that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof or that certain evidence should be suppressed. You can also file or introduce motions during trial. In a criminal trial the prosecution usually goes first and puts up their case. After that, the defense goes and puts up their case, if they choose to.
What Is a Directed Verdict?
In the middle of these things, after the prosecution’s case, you can ask the judge for something called a “directed verdict.” This motion indicates that the prosecution has not met its burden to prove its case. Because they did not meet their burden to prove their case, in turn, there should be a verdict for your client and the case against the client, known in court as the defendant, should be dismissed.
Those are very risky motions, but we do them sometimes. In her case, we put up a motion for a directed verdict, as well as other motions, that explained several points of law and cited several cases as to why we thought it was necessary. In that case, the judge sided with us actually, and the result was a directed verdict. My case against my client was dismissed and she was very, very happy.
Rarely in my practice do people say thank you, at all, for anything. This time the woman turned to me and she said, “I have never been in trouble before, you took my case and you believed in me. You found a way for me not to be guilty and because of you, my husband has his wife, my children have their mother and my grandchildren have their grandmother. I won’t forget it.”
That, to me, was more than a card saying “Thank you.” That was a client that was validating what me and my staff do as a living and saying that, because of us, justice for her was protected. Believe it or not, there are people that are not guilty of crimes. When they are confronted by the court system, usually the only person that they have on their side is the lawyer that they choose.
Interviewer: That is a great example.
* Results achieved for one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate the ability to achieve the same results for every client because every case is different, every judge is different and every jury is different.
By Freddy Woods