My Motto is “Client Centered | Trial Ready.” I am trial ready in the sense that I build every case from day one to take it to trial. I prepare every case from day one to take it to trial. Every interaction I have with my client, the prosecutor and witnesses is with an eye towards trial. I am not afraid to try a case. I am client centered in the sense that my ultimate goal is to empower my clients to make the decision they think is best for themselves I don’t push clients to do one thing or another and I certainly don’t force an issue.
I won my first trial. I got a not guilty on a felony sex case. A few months after that big win I got a call from a guy I will call Martin, who was referred to me by the guy I got a not guilty for, John. Bobby was charged with his second DWI. He spent 60 days in jail on his first DWI and wouldn’t be willing to lose his job and do time in the slammer again. He hired me because he wanted a trial.
This case was in the notorious Montgomery County. If you didn’t know, virtually every cop car has a dash camera. The camera turns on automatically when an officer illuminates his lights, and your field sobriety tests will be recorded. In this particular case, my client was pulled over because his license plate light was not working.
Word to the Wise: You can get pulled over for virtually anything that is wrong with your car. This means make sure your inspection stickers and registration stickers are up to date, and that all of your lights and signals are working.
So my client get’s pulled over, and does excellent on the field sobriety tests. The only problems with my client’s performance appears to be as a result of his poor understanding of English. After the trooper placed my client under arrest for DWI, the trooper decides to play the DIC 24 on his computer. The DIC 24 is a document that warns people arrested for DWI that they can either consent to a breath or blood test, or if they refuse, their license will be automatically suspended.
My client requested that the DIC 24 be played in Spanish. The cop played it in English. My client then consented, even though he didn’t have a license in the first place, which begs the question, why would he even consent if he had understsood the DIC 24 warnings?
I researched the issue and advised my client that we would have a good shot on a motion to suppress. A motion to suppress is a request to the court to exclude the results of a search. Here, the search would have been his breath results because my client’s consent was not freely, knowingly, and voluntarily given. The problem here is that there is a totality of the circumstances test. In other words, do all of the facts and circumstances demonstrate that my client did not understand the DIC 24?
I felt confident that we would win. The prosecutor knew that I had a good chance. Normally, I wouldn’t tell the prosecutor that I was thinking about doing a motion to suppress. I told the prosecutor in this case for two reasons: (1) the remote possibility of a dismissal and (2) to improve my bargaining power since my client began to change his position on trial.
Did it work? You bet!
The offer was originally 75 days in jail on a DWI second, and a $2000 fine. In other words, my client’s next DWI arrest would be a felony. My client ended up taking a plea deal on a DWI 1st, credit for time served, meaning that there would be no jail time, and a $1000 fine.
My client was happy, and that’s what client centered lawyering is all about.