I thought I had a brilliant idea, a great defense. The risk was huge, but it’s not like the defendant had a lot of other options, and the reward was what every defendant wants, the win. But having come up with a novel approach, it seemed like a good idea to run it past someone I respected with a lot of experience.
“You’re nuts,” he said. “Look, it’s got no chance of working. None.”
So the worst that could happen was that we’re back in the same boat we are now, no defense and putting on a brave face in the hope of winning the game of trial chicken. If this idea loses, then we’re back to trial.
“You don’t get it, do you,” my experienced friend told me. He looked very serious. I probably didn’t look too happy myself.
The problem, he explained, was that I was outside the box, itself not a bad thing but the sort of thing that could brand me as the village idiot around the courthouse. It was the sort of idea that people would talk about, others would hear about, and pretty soon would spread throughout the building. And when I crashed and burned, I would be the laughingstock of criminal defense lawyers.
Criminal defense lawyers love to do the usual. There’s safety, even admiration, for those who fight the good fight in exactly the way the good fight is supposed to be fought. If they win, great. If they lose, everyone pats them on the back and congratulates them for a hard fight. Either way, the criminal defense lawyer goes home to a cold beer and a warm embrace. Do you think we all dress alike for nothing?
I thanked my experienced friend profusely, for both the time and concern he gave me. It really was very kind of him to put up with my novel approach and care enough to tell me not to do it.
I did it anyway. It worked. I was stoked beyond belief, and quite the hero for about a day. Then it was all forgotten around the courthouse, but my client’s wife sent me a bottle of Hennessy cognac as a thank you. I don’t really care for cognac, but the thought was very much appreciated.
The next day I wore a suit to court that was neither gray nor blue. People stared at me, but I really couldn’t have cared less.