So why in the world would a former police lieutenant and patrol commander in a police department become a lawyer and dedicate his focus and his practice to criminal defense law? Why would a person who wanted nothing more in the world than to become a police officer, fight crime, catch the bad guys and lock them in jail, become a "dreaded and despised" criminal defense attorney now use his training, experience, knowledge and energy in defending criminals? Why would a once high-ranking member of a police agency go to law school, graduate with honors, pass the bar on the first attempt and NOT become a prosecutor to continue his war on crime and "criminals?" My answer is simple. Because I love America and I love the freedoms that being an American guarantees. Because I enlisted in the Navy and fought for the freedoms this country provides. Because it is the duty of the criminal defense lawyer to keep a check on the might and the reach of government. Because that is what a patriot does.
Because I love the United States Constitution and the principles that it avails us all. Because I am grateful for the genius of our Founding Fathers and the vision that they all held for creating a country that has never before existed on this planet. Because those Founding Fathers had the COURAGE to stand up to tyranny and risk their very necks to bring the promise of freedom to a new nation and its people. A country of laws, and NOT men because of their privilege or station in society. A country where ALL men are indeed CREATED equal, but are the captains of their own ships and can forge a path that THEY CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES IF THEY ARE WILLING TO WORK FOR IT. Because I believe with all of my heart and soul that my brothers and sisters who are members of the criminal defense bar are among the most fervent patriots and lovers of freedom within the professional legal community. Because the only person who stands between the power and fury of the government and their client is their lawyer. Because that is what a patriot does.
People ask me, "How can you sleep at night knowing that you help prevent criminals from going to jail ?" Or "How can you look yourself in the mirror knowing that because of you some criminal won't answer for his crimes?" The answer is again simple....because what I defend are not just people....people who are innocent until they are proven guilty. What I also defend are PRINCIPLES. Principles of due process. Principles of fairness and equality. Principles of autonomy and individualism. Principles of justice and freedom. Because that is what a patriot does.
But I do have trouble sleeping at night. Not because I am now a member of "The Dark Side" as prosecutors sometimes jokingly refer to criminal defense lawyers. Because I am CONSTANTLY thinking of my clients and their plights. Because I toss and turn thinking of ways to give my very best to serve them. Because I think about the law and the crimes they are accused of committing. Because I think of the repercussions of their actions. Because I think of ways to better use the constitution and the state law to formulate their defenses. Because I know that they have put their trust in me to break my back for them in court. Because they count on me to master my craft as a lawyer. To know both substantive and procedural law. To file proper and timely motions and objections. To safeguard their constitutional rights. Because that is what a patriot does.
I sometimes have to remind my clients that I am not a magician. I do not come from a wizarding family. I did not graduate from Hogwarts School of Law. I am not a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. But you never know...I just may have a trick or two up my sleeve in the court room!