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The Long Fight

I was thinking earlier this week about “The Long Fight”.  We get in long fights in criminal law.  This was a case that I just finished up on Monday; the defendant was charged for about two years with attempted murder of her one year old child, and when I looked back on it earlier this week, it occurred to me that a whole lot more pain and suffering had happened for everybody concerned then was really necessary and I wondered; why was it that that happened?

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Transcription of: The Long Fight

I was thinking earlier this week about “The Long Fight”.  We get in long fights in criminal law.  This was a case that I just finished up on Monday; the defendant was charged for about two years with attempted murder of her one year old child, and when I looked back on it earlier this week, it occurred to me that a whole lot more pain and suffering had happened for everybody concerned then was really necessary and I wondered; why was it that that happened? 

This was a situation, a bizarre situation for sure.  We had police reports early on that were describing video evidence and those reports really exaggerated what had happened.  Now, I don’t know if the DA’s looked at the video tapes closely enough early on but from the start we just had a real difference of opinion.

I thought the video tapes really showed that there was no attempt to really harm that child; that really there had been a mistake, and at the worst, it had been a misdemeanor child abuse, and the DA’s office felt from the very start that it was absolutely a craven attempted murder of this child, never mind that fact that, just exactly where that would have come from, what was the explanation for it, why could it have even happened that way, but we butted heads for the better part of two years and the rest of the family were incredibly upset about it; the amount of anxiety for my client, her family; the separation from her children for two years, the father of the children and his family; the anger that just never really resolved, and understandably on some level, but the long fight happened because the system didn’t exactly work real well.

The District Attorney’s office and our side, we went at it for a long time.  Sure, we tried to convince each other of each position but we really didn’t approach any kind of a resolution.  We put it on a trial calendar; we were going to have to go to a jury to get my client acquitted and at the end of the day, maybe it was the trial prep, I really don’t know, the District Attorney’s office took one good hard look at it, one last good hard look at it and decided that they couldn’t prove an intent to kill, that they couldn’t prove that there was any kind of a serious injury; there really wasn’t any injury at all.  And none of this is to say that a defense attorney’s client has to be blameless, these long fights, sometimes they come, just because there is a real difference of opinion about what the punishment should be.

So, it behooves us to get started early, to look at it, to talk to each side, carefully, from the start; try to figure out where the middle ground is, pay close attention to what each other are saying; maybe that fight wouldn’t have been so long.  I’m sure there wouldn’t have been as much anxiety and difficulty for the people involved.  At the end of the day, the client didn’t go to jail, didn’t go to prison for the years that they wanted in the first place.  She suffered, she suffered a penalty, for sure, but I’m not sure that anybody really came out happy about the result; maybe that’s how it had to be, but I’m not sure that it had to be drawn out as long as it was.

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