Thank you, Allen. I won't pretend this is not going to my head, nor that I don't like it!
Let's just say I am now defending adult clients who were not conceived when I passed the bar....INVESTIGATION
I am a sole practitioner; my staff consists of me, me, and me. I do my own paperwork - thank God for word processors!
I probably will not reconstruct this phase entirely, nor in chronological order. Also, I have not consulted my client as to this analysis, so I have to consider carefully whether I am encroaching on privileged information or inforamtion that came out in the trial - Legal Ethics is not autmatically an oxymoron, my friends
Most of my information concerning the fight came from my client. From what she told me I determined she had a valid self defense claim against the woman - and she was not charged as to the man. He didn't want to prosecute and the police officer was torn as whether to charge her with his injury.
At one point I went to the bar parking lot with my client to see the geography for myself.
My client was employed, owned her own house, and realized one gets what one pays for; she was willing to pay for an investigator. For me, this was a first.
I asked colleagues for investigator recommendations. Normally, I am guilty of just as soft-headed, liberal-leaning thinking as Allen thinks I am
, but for the area of town where this took place, the investigator had to be white. A fact of life; the best investigator I knew was black, but he would not have gotten me nearly so much information.
All the participants and witnesses are white; the area, Portland, is a mostly-white, working-class enclave in the poorer area of town, surrounded by the black and inner city areas.
It's a tough area; a typical joke is that in Portland Poker a straight flush is 5 unrelated cards and a 9mm.
The investigator I hired, on two attorneys' recommendations, was a retired police officer who was also a Ph.D. in psychology.
He interviewed the bartender/owner, the man who got cut. one supposed eyewitness. Kentucky law allows a converstaion to be recorded surreptitiously if one party knows about it, and he carried a mini-cassette rcorder. He also had access to NCIC records.
(I remind you of my extensive staff resources; guess who spent hours of time transcribing the damned tapes...?)
There was a probable-cause hearing in the lower (district) court, wherein the police office was not there but they put on the female "victim," which allowed me to memorialize her story. Signifcantly, she
testified that my client had hassled her on earlier occasion and had refered to her a 'psycho bitch,' while "victim" was in the washroom, as my client was leaving the bar out the back with the man with whom she had been playing pool.
"Victim" came out the back door and they "got into it."
"Victim" couldn't say who struck first; it happened quick.
"Victim" said no one said anything in the fight; that the only ones out there were "victim,", client, the man, and "victim's" friend, Ms. X, whose name she couldn't completely remember.
(Remember my "extensive staff?" Guess who transcribed the probable cause hearing....)
My investigator did his investigations after - way after - the probable cause hearing, so he knew our side of the case as well as the victim's story.
I went thorugh the medical records of the "victim" with my wife, who has a JD and is also a RN. As earlier reported no wounds got past the fascia; there was no blood or clots in the peritoneal fluid. The exploratory surgery caused a huge scar, and I objected in pre-trial motions in limine
to any pictures that incuded that scar as inflammatory.
(I lost the motion; saved my right to appeal the ruling by renewing the objections at the trial. I also refered to the photos to show the total absence of bruises on the face of the 'victim' to back up my client's version that client never even hit "victim."
I also got copies of my own client's medical records from her physicians, showing a 10 year history of degenerative disc disease in her neck and continual treatment therefor, in order to show that her fears of serious physical injury or death at the bare hands of another woman were, in fact, reasonable fears under the circumstances. I delivered copies of the records to the prosecutor (who by this time was the second prosecutor on the case; the first had left town with her husband under the reciprocal discovery order, who agreed to stipulate their autherticity without my having to call in the custodian of medical records from the doctor's office. Good.
The first prosecutor was a neophyte and did not worry me. The second prosecutor was one of the most experienced trial attorneys in his office, and had handled numerous high-profile cases, many succesfully. I had never gone against him one-on-one before; I had second-chaired the defense in a death penalty case he was prosecuting and plead the sentencing phase. I got a lesser sentence than he asked by using ju
tactics on him; I compared my client's culpability level with one of the co-defendant's who had already pled guilty. (In fact, all 3 co-defendant's had pled guilty; our client was the only one who insisted on trial.) This person's culpability was most like my own client's. He received the a straght (viv-a-vis
life without parole) life sentence on the charge. I argued that that was what this prosecutor really
thought this crime was worth and that my client should not be punished more for exercising his constitutionsl rights to trial. The jury agreed with me.
I had also discovered the facts that bolstered an insanity defense in a kidnapping case from our client's medical file (for the same attorney who tried this other case); we were hoping for a Guilty But Mentally Ill
verdict and actually achieved a Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity.
Not shabby results.
In any event, this prosecutor was very comfortable in a court room and very intimidating to defendants and witnesses. I could expect one hell of a fight from him.
[This message has been edited by student (edited October 05, 2002).]