We are Not Former Prosecutors
If you have spent any time browsing the web for information about criminal defense lawyers, you have no doubt run across those who advertise their prior careers as prosecutors as a reason for you to want to hire them.
I normally don't spend a lot of time responding to the silliness of the various marketing strategies employed by others. In this instance, however, I feel compelled to break from tradition, and respond.
Here is another way to describe a lawyer's "former prosecutor" status:
"Until a short time ago, it was my job to do everything in my power to make sure your case ended however I wanted it to end, including possibly with you getting a criminal record and jail time. Now that it suits my most recent career move, I promise to do exactly the opposite from what I have spent my previous career doing."
This is a marvelous example of a marketing strategy of attempting to transform something that could be perceived as negative into something that could be perceived as positive. How do you reconcile spending your entire previous career doing the exact opposite of what you now do? You suggest that you have secret inside knowledge that you will use for the benefit of your new client.
One specific way that the experience of being a prosecutor is different from the experience of being a defense lawyer is that, as a general rule, prosecutors quickly get used to having things go their way. For any number of reasons, right, or wrong, the system is geared toward advancing the causes of prosecutors. Don't be fooled by media portrayals of prosecutors "hamstrung" by legal technicalities who are helplessly outwitted by slick high paid defense lawyers. That's comic book land. In the real world, prosecutors get their way...a lot.
It's just the way it is in a million subtle and some quite unsubtle ways. As a defense lawyer, on the other hand, it is much the opposite. As a defense lawyer, you have to learn to take a punch. You have to learn not to fall apart when absolutely everything doesn't go your way or how you planned it would go. It takes time to get there. It takes experience.
Further, the notion that prosecutors are imbued with some sort of secret knowledge that they will use to your advantage is appealing, perhaps, but in practice is downright ludicrous.
Because if you penetrate the appealing marketing notion of hiring the "insider", what are you really left with? What do you think is really and truly going to happen? Do you really think that your insider former prosecutor is going to call up his old buddy at the office on a secret phone and get you some kind of special favor or treatment?
Really? You really think that is going to happen?
First of all, this is illegal. Do you really think that your former prosecutor is going to commit a crime because of what you paid him or her in your single case? Do you really think that would be worth it? If caught, that means he would not only be arrested himself, but his license to practice law forever after would be in jeopardy.
Second, remember that it takes two here. Not only are you counting on your former prosecutor lawyer to commit a crime for you, but you are counting on some third party you don't know who is currently a prosecutor also committing a crime. Where is the incentive for this?
Further, if I had a nickel for every time a current prosecutor has complained to me about some former prosecutors constantly finding ways to remind them of their former status, I would be a far wealthier man.
So if there is no undercurrent of criminal influence peddling in play, then what? Is it possible that the former prosecutor will have some super secret knowledge unavailable to every defense lawyer? Like what? What vast reservoir of insider information will be in play?
The answer is "none" other than perhaps an old employee directory from the District Attorney's Office in which they worked.
Experience being a prosecutor is not experience being a defense lawyer in the same way that experience being a professional baseball catcher is not experience being a professional baseball pitcher.
For those who follow baseball, you know that Buster Posey is a great All Star catcher, and has years of experience where he has proven himself to be a great catcher. So in game seven of the World Series, with the bases loaded and nobody out, would you want to bring in Buster Posey to be the relief pitcher? No? Why not? He has lots of experience in the game of baseball. He has even been extremely successful. He works in the same stadium as the relief pitchers. He even knows a lot of pitchers and works with them. But none of those things speak to his ability to be a relief pitcher. So of course it would be ludicrous to bring in Buster Posey as a relief pitcher in game seven of the World Series with bases loaded and nobody out. As great a catcher as Buster Posey is, you have no idea whether he is now or ever will be a great relief pitcher. With the game on the line you will want to bring in someone who has spent a lifetime developing the skills necessary for being a great relief pitcher.
It involves many similar issues, of course, and they work in the same place, but it is an entirely different mindset, with an entirely different set of goals, and an entirely different set of skills.
At Shalley and Murray, we are not former prosecutors. We have spent more than 27 years fighting for people accused of crimes.
This has been our experience.
This has been our passion.
We are criminal defense lawyers.
The Story of the Farmer, the Fox, and the Dog
A wise old farmer kept losing chickens to foxes, something that had never happened before on this farmer's farm. He placed an ad around the area, looking for a security guard. There were two applicants.
The first applicant was a dog. The dog came highly recommended from another farmer who had been employing the dog to guard his chickens for years. The dog had never eaten or attacked a chicken, ever, not even once. The dog had proven himself to be quite a match for foxes.
Much to the farmer's surprise, the second applicant was a fox. The fox explained that he was tired of the life of a fox, all the sneaking around, avoiding the dogs, stealing and eating chickens on the run, and bad behavior. The fox longed for what seemed to him to be the easy life of the dog, getting to live in one place, getting free meals given to him, only in exchange for chasing away foxes. The fox told the farmer that he knew all the fox tricks, and even knew most of the local foxes, and would easily be able to catch them at their tricks or use his friendship with them to convince them to go elsewhere.
The farmer thanked the fox and the dog for their applications and thought about his options.
After thinking about it, the farmer had to admit to himself that he was tempted to hire the fox to guard his chickens.
But the wise old farmer hired the dog.