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How JUSTICE is really achieved in our court system.






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Mar 10, 2014

How JUSTICE is really achieved in our court system.

So… last week you were speeding down the highway when you were stopped by the Maine State Police outside of the York Maine toll booths on your way back to your home in Massachusetts. The officer smelled “booze” on your breath and asked you to do some field sobriety tests. You complied with his request and proceeded to trip over your shoelaces and ultimately, fail every one of the trooper’s test. As a result, you’re placed under arrest and brought back to Troop A down in Alfred and given a breath test. Because you’re from Massachusetts, every attorney has advised you to NEVER submit to a breath test. So, you refuse to give a breath test and are given a summons with a court date.

Now that you’ve got a lawyer, you’re probably expecting to see something out of Law & Order. Courtroom drama. Perry Mason moments. Excitement. Sorry to be a wet blanket but most of the work is done behind the scenes. Oftentimes, criminal cases can take many months (and in more serious cases, a year or more) to get resolved. That resolution may be in the form of a trial (where you get to see some courtroom drama or Perry Mason moments) but in most cases, will be a negotiated outcome.

Real JUSTICE takes place in the DA’s Office and through discussions amongst counsel; not in the courtroom. This is where plea agreements can be fashioned to satisfy the client, the victim and the state. If you leave justice up to a jury, you’re leaving a lot to chance. Better to have a negotiated and certain outcome (if possible) and feel like you were treated fairly rather than holding your breath, waiting for a jury to return a verdict (hopefully not guilty).

Of course, if you go to trial, that means ALL hopes of negotiating a favorable outcome have been abandoned and no resolution can be reached. That also means that you’re leaving the case to be decided by a jury that knows nothing about you beyond the “facts” of the case. Sadly, juries sometimes make decisions in a case that have NOTHING to do with the facts presented. I’ve had juries decide cases both for and against clients based on nothing more than speculation and the arbitrary whims of the jurors. It cuts both ways and cuts deeply for the aggreived party. Therefore, trials should be reserved for the “nuclear option” where if it can’t be resolved through negotiation to the satisfaction of the client, we can always go to trial.

That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney who knows the prosecutors, has a good relationship with the prosecutor, can “sell” you and your case to the prosecutor and most importantly, know how to “play well with others.” I like to think that I’m working with the DA, not against him or her. While we don’t always agree, we almost always get along. I have a very amicable relationship with the vast majority of the DAs out there; and since obtaining a just result for my client depends heavily on agreement and cooperation with the DA, those relationships are of paramount importance.

So what are you paying for when you retain me or a member of my law firm? You’re paying for our knowledge, our experience, our trial skills and most importantly, our relationships with the attorneys handling the State’s case. Those relationships cannot be discounted or minimized and are crucial to the successful outcome of your case.



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