While we have a just system in place according to the principles it lay out, we must fight to make it work accordingly. Without truth in justice there cannot be any justice at all.
I have a core commitment to innocence and to the fundamental ideal of "innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".
This commitment, along with the large experience base from which I can relate to your clients, regarding the kinds of things those in custody live through while their case is being negotiated prior to trial, is simply one more skill set I bring to the table.
There is a clear bias that the defendant is guilty until proven
innocent. Any worthy defense attorney knows this. Jurors do not assume that the
man they vote into position as state prosecutor, nor the officers employed
to protect and serve, bring them innocent people to prosecute for horrific
Neither do they presume that when these officers are on
the stand they present mis-statements, poorly researched conclusions, or have
negated to present exculpatory evidence to the defense team by which you can
help to defend your client.
However, all of these things have repeatedly been
shown to occur in case after case in our court system today. As well, evidentiary findings show that defendants have been persuaded to give false confessions, and in some cases, even come to believe them themselves.
Sad. Frightening. True.
As a defense attorney you have to face this because you are responsible for the outcome of the trial for your client. This is why the use of someone to prepare witnesses to take
the stand, before having them testify, is so essential.
I have been on that stand. My life was on that line.
As well, I am trained in methods to help another be able to present the truth in a manner that makes his/her story most effectively conveyed to the jurors that will be hearing the worst possible things said about, and yet still need to remain open and receptive to this person. It is critical that the jury get the
facts straight from the origonal source before deciding on the fate of a person’s life!
All of this is a reality that the growing field of wrongful
conviction and innocence work is telling us is definitively a real and tangible
part of the courtroom drama. This has begun an interesting avenue of research and discourse in the field, but what about your client, today?
help now, and you have a case to win on her/is behalf! Taking the conservative
step of keeping your client off the witness stand shortens an important part of
the story the jurors NEED to hear from the person who can best tell it in the
way the jury will best receive it.
Like wise – while a defendant is not mandated to take the stand in
his/her own defense – there is an unspoken and lingering effect that the jury
will carry into the deliberations: that if they do not hear the voice, and
explanations, from the mouth of the one accused it is because of some kind of
dark and guilt related reason. After all, we all innately know that the
innocent need not be afraid to speak the truth! Right??? Kind of like we can all trust the police? . . .
Don't ignore this reality. The unspoken message is often the loudest one heard.
One of the reasons that the innocent client is not given the chance
to speak that truth in their own defense is that a defense attorney knows well
how aptly a prosecutor can indeed use ‘any’ words against his/her client. This leaves many innocent clients who have not taken the stand only to wonder for years
after a wrongful conviction, if that one choice might have been the determining
factor. In fact, I was not allowed to take the stand by my first attorney, but did in my second trial.
I believe strongly that a properly prepared defendant can both
take the stand and use it as a chance to get to know the jury and facilitate
their ability to see past the caricature that the prosecutor seeks to convict. One of the jurors interviewed after my first trial said "I just needed her to look me in the eye and say she didn't do it." Wow!
It is my firm position that in most wrongful convictions the jury convicts not
the person in the defendant’s seat, but the one that the prosecutors tell them
about. And that in this area, the disconnect between the two, is where the strongest defense
I posit that in finding ways to make your defendant come to life
for the jury, so that they can really know who he/she is, you can most impact the outcome of the trial. People are less likely to convict those whom they get to know, hear, begin to understand and feel they can believe. They are more likely to convict those whom they are afraid of and whom the
state convinces them they will never understand.
The time in the trial that your defendant spends talking to the
jury, even answering the questions presented by the prosecutor, alas,
especially answering the questions presented by the prosecutor, can be the most
significantly impactful opportunity for the jury to see the difference between
the monster that the prosecution presents and the reality of the person – very
possibly an innocent person completely free of any fault – that your client
© 2011 Julie Rea