NTL member representing professor accused of stabbing death

National Trial Lawyers member Kenneth Wine says his client, a professor who’s accused of stabbing a Chicago man to death in late July, is a “gentle soul.” Wine made the comments Monday in a first appearance for Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem. Andrew Warren and Lathem are accused of the stabbing death of 26-year-old Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau on July 27 in Chicago. Wine says he’s received “dozens of calls and letters in support of Dr. Lathem.” Wine is urging people to withhold judgment until all of the facts are revealed. Read more about the story at the Associated Press website.

Courtroom experience counts

When the American Bar Association holds its annual meeting later this month, members will be considering a proposal to get more courtroom experience for junior lawyers. The proposal will address several ways to help younger, less experienced attorneys gain valuable courtroom experience. Find out more about the proposed program in this story at Marketplace.

Why Representing Yourself in Criminal Court is a Bad Idea

Bad Jury Instruction Revives Hertz Wrongful Death CaseSo you’re a big fan of all those law dramas both on the big and small screens. After years of watching actors in perfectly-tailored suits argue cases for their clients in the most dramatic and thrilling fashion, you believe you’ve seen enough to know about the law and court procedures. With everything you’ve “learned” from these legal dramas, you are confident that you can ably represent yourself should you become the subject of a legal investigation or get charged with a crime.

The confidence is admirable, but representing yourself in a criminal court without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is a very bad idea. Here are some of the reasons why:

You don’t have extensive knowledge of the law and court procedures

Contrary to what you believe, watching legal dramas will never supply you with the legal expertise required to argue your case in court with any degree of competence. Criminal defense attorneys spend interminable years studying the law in law school and later in court. They train to become extremely familiar with all court procedures. What you see in law dramas are just that: drama. Real-life cases need a little more than that. The fact that even lawyers who are facing criminal charges hire other lawyers to represent them in court should drive that point home.

The other party will likely have a lawyer

If you’re facing a criminal charge, you will be going up against a district attorney who will naturally know more about the law compared to yourself. Things certainly wouldn’t be looking good for you.

Consider the paperwork and the rules

Any legal case, criminal or otherwise, requires a mountain of paperwork. There is also a laundry list of rules that govern the processing and the submission of these documents. One missing page or one missed deadline could spell the difference between conviction and acquittal. Criminal defense attorneys know this stuff, but you probably don’t.

Judges won’t tolerate your lack of legal knowledge

You probably know very little about the law, and it will show in court. Some judges may treat you with a little tolerance, but most judges probably won’t. And you know what will happen if you get on a judge’s bad side. In contrast, the opposing party would have a lawyer familiar with the law, legal procedures, and with the presiding judge.

There could be civil cases where self-representation somehow works, but it is incredibly rare in criminal cases. If you are charged with a crime, your best bet would not be yourself, but an experienced criminal defense attorney. To know what a good criminal defense lawyer can do for you, check out the infographic below.

Infographic provided by AZ Criminal Law Team

‘The Trial Lawyer Marketing Method’

Why Legal Directories Should Be Part of Your Online Marketing StrategySuccessfully marketing law firms has become a unique method unto itself, and now one entrepreneur is recommending some of those techniques to other businesses. Entrepreneur Tony Verner says his strategy, which he calls The Trial Lawyer Marketing Method, “helps you intimately understand your prospects and market to create a “big idea” that leads your prospects through your case argument so they become your customer.”  Read more about how legal marketing can work for non-legal businesses in this article at Entrepreneur.

Is it fair for a witness to ID the accused in a courtroom?

courtroom witnessIt happens a lot in the movies, and a fair number of times for centuries in real-life courtrooms: a witness on the stand is asked if he or she can identify the person accused of committing a crime. You know what happens next: the witness points to the defendant. But is that fair? It’s coming under question, and The Marshall Project takes a closer look.

Why You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney

Man released from prison after being in jail for 13 years.

When you find yourself facing criminal charges, you have to get the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. After all, being charged with a crime is a serious matter. Even if you are slapped with a relatively light offense like drunk driving, you will still need an experienced DUI lawyer by your side. Without good legal representation, a conviction is more likely, and that will lead to substantial fines and possible jail time.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the importance and benefits of having a good criminal defense attorney defending you. Let’s list some of the reasons why you need a criminal defense lawyer if you get arrested for a crime.

Criminal defense attorneys know the law and the process

A criminal defense attorney has studied and trained to get a full understanding of every aspect of criminal law and court procedures. Whatever questions you might have about your case, you can be sure that your defense lawyer will be able to answer them. Aside from the ability to scrutinize every fact, evidence, and testimony presented in a criminal case, a criminal defense lawyer is also well-equipped to work the legal system by finding loopholes or inconsistencies that can help you with your case.

Criminal defense lawyers can protect your rights from Day 1

Keep in mind that since you’re a suspect in a crime, the police and prosecutors will naturally do what they can to pin the deed on you. Sometimes, however, your rights could get violated along the way, like not reading your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest or goading you into saying anything that could be used against you in court. But when you have a criminal defense attorney present, all of your Constitutionally-guaranteed rights will be fully protected.

Criminal defense attorneys know the people in the legal system

Criminal defense lawyers work with prosecutors and judges all the time. They know how to negotiate with prosecutors to get the best plea bargains, which is how most legal cases end. Their knowledge of the judge’s preferences, dislikes or leanings help them come up with arguments that will work. Such knowledge can only be obtained through experience, which is why getting a criminal defense attorney who has been practicing his profession for quite some time now is your best bet.

The importance of hiring a criminal defense attorney the soonest possible time can never be stated enough. And if you have more questions regarding criminal defense, check out the infographic below.

Graphic courtesy Arizona DUI Team

Facing criminal charges? Know your rights

Being charged with a crime is no laughing matter, even when it’s a simple DUI and all you need is an experienced DUI lawyer. Any criminal charge, after all, comes with hefty fines and penalties if you are found guilty. And if the crime you’re being charged with is a capital one, your life is on the line as well.

When criminal charges have been filed against you, you should do your best to defend yourself. Getting the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney would be a good place to start. More importantly, you should be fully aware of all your rights. You are, after all, presumed innocent until proven guilty, and entitled to all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

The right to remain silent

Whenever you’re questioned either prior to or during court proceedings, the accused has the right to refuse to comment or give an answer. It’s usually a way of invoking your right to avoid self-incrimination as stated in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The right to counsel

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that every criminal defendant has a right to be represented by a lawyer. If the accused cannot afford an attorney, the state will have to appoint one for him or her at no cost. It’s also important to remember that the right to legal representation is not limited to criminal trials. A person charged with a crime has the right to have a lawyer every step of the way, from the moment of arrest right through the appeals process after conviction.

The right to a trial by jury

Under most circumstances, criminal defendants have a right to a trial by jury as explicitly stated in Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and the Sixth Amendment as well. Aside from a trial by jury, the defendant also has the right to a public and speedy trial. The Supreme Court, however, has made it clear in Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66 (1970) that only serious offenses that carry a potential sentence of more than six months’ imprisonment merit a trial by jury. For petty offenses, defendants will have to settle for a trial by judge.

If you want to know more about your rights, check out the infographic below so you can better prepare for your defense with the help of a good criminal defense lawyer.

Information and infographic provided by NTL member Brian D. Sloan

Rights you ought to remember infographic