What Do You Enjoy About Litigating a Case?
Maybe the biggest enjoyment comes from knowing that I am working with someone who has put their faith in me, who has reposed their confidence in me, and knowing that I am truly in a position to help them through litigating a case. That this is something that I’m good at, it’s something that I have a lot of experience with. And, I like the feeling of knowing that when someone is counting on me they’re going to get the very best shot that they can.
From a personal standpoint I love being on my feet in courtroom, again, it’s a logic puzzle. You think what the puzzle is going to be, initially you prepare every way that you can, but there’s always something that is unexpected, there’s always a surprise.
One of the things I think I’m really good at is reacting to those surprises. Part of that is natural ability, part of that is a lot of experience. I think it’s something that I do really well. It’s challenging, it’s very intellectually challenging, but it’s also very, very rewarding. The litigation process, the trial process is one of the most important things that is built into our entire system of government. A person is faced with the entire force and finance and experience of the Commonwealth of Virginia or in some cases the federal government, arrayed against them, trying to take something away from them. Trying to take their freedom away from them or their good name.
In the courtroom it’s a jury of their peers that stands in between those consequences and them. I enjoy being part of that process, I enjoy guiding a jury and I enjoy making an argument to a judge that’s going to give my client the very best chance of that not happening. I like putting my finger on the scales to balance it back in my client’s favor.
What Criminal Cases Do You Find the Most Challenging to Defend?
I don’t think that there is a particular kind of case that is more challenging to defend than other. I think every case is challenging in its own unique way.
Certainly the sense that there’s a real person with a real life that will be impacted in real ways depending on the outcome of their case always presents a challenge. It’s a big responsibility and I welcome that challenge. I get personally invested in people, their anxieties become my anxieties, and their worries become my worries. I want the very best for them especially when life altering consequences are on the line which really can be in almost any case. I just want to know that I’ve done everything that I can and that’s what drives me, that’s what keeps me awake at night.
I guess I would say that what is most challenging is understanding that every case presents a unique challenge and that for the person who’s charged, it is often the most serious thing that they’ve ever faced. That there’s no one kind of case that should get more focused or more consideration than any other, but that every single one of them ought to be accepted as a challenge as though the person has a lot on the line, they usually do.
Which Cases Do You Find Most Interesting to Defend?
Any case can involve constitutional issues. I think people don’t usually think about constitutional law when they think about criminal cases or criminal practice. But the reality is that the rubber meets the road on the constitution in criminal cases probably more than any other area of the law, whether you’re talking about the Fourth Amendment and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel or Seventh Amendment right to jury trial in some cases.
These are issues that have the potential to play out in any case. And so, the cases that are most interesting to me are where there do turn out to be constitutional issues in a case. Is this a case where there has been, what I call a bad stop? Has there been an illegal stop of the person? Has there been an illegal search? Has someone been coerced into saying something incriminating? Has someone asked for or been entitled to the benefit of counsel in the situation and they haven’t given it?
These are incredibly important issues not just in a criminal case, but that are sort of fundamental to the system and to society. These are safeguards that are put in place because even the best trained and the most well-intentioned law enforcement, without these things holding them back, are going to go too far sometimes.
So it’s always interesting to me to really dig into the constitutional law, to really make sure that in the cases that I’m dealing with the client has received a fair process and that nothing has happened that runs afoul of their rights under the constitution. That always fascinates me the most.