I just finished the Atlanta federal criminal securities fraud case that I have been working on for the past three and a half years. After a two-day sentencing hearing, my client was given a sentence of 10 years in custody, along with being required to pay back around $1.4 million dollars to some investors.
The case generated some publicity. Some readers know how I like to pontificate about how the press more and more simply repeat any “press release” issued by some prosecutor’s office. For example, compare the prosecution’s press release about this case with the story in the local paper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (usually called “the AJC” by folks hereabouts). Note that the AJC simply rephrases and rehashes the press release with absolutely no mention of anything from the defense side. Next, compare the AJC’s story with two other stories in publications devoted to the legal industry, Law.com and Law360. Each of these latter stories give a far more nuanced and complete story from the sentencing hearing, and include portions of the defense arguments or statements by me.
I’ve already written about how cases with some publicity add an additional level of stress for the criminal defense lawyer. The other day I posted about the difficulty of doing a federal criminal sentencing hearing when the Probation Officer seems to recommend every potentially applicable sentencing enhancement to the federal Sentencing Guidelines, and how hard it is to get a “good” sentence when the lawyer spends so much energy showing the Judge the probation officer’s errors that the Judge is kind of tired of ruling for the defense when it comes to the final sentence. Instead of those topics, today, I want to briefly talk about long-term relationships in criminal cases.
I genuinely like most of my clients, probably because I tend to like people in general. However, my clients are going through some of the most stressful parts of their lives. I get to see the toll it takes on the client and his or her family. The lawyer part of me sometimes recedes into the background when I have been representing a client for many months and sometimes many years. So, when a long-term client is convicted, and then sentenced, it also takes it out of the lawyer. Good criminal defense lawyers also tend to be individuals who like other people, and all of us are very down when a long-term client gets sent to prison.