Have you ever felt that something just didn’t feel right? For almost 15 years I worked as a prosecutor. I was effective at my job, but something just didn’t feel right. I stayed at the position largely due to the inertia of my life. But again, I just didn’t feel right. I graduated from Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis and began practicing in 2004. Over my years as a Deputy Prosecutor, I observed the way the criminal justice system often treated defendants. I heard people refer to defendants in dehumanizing ways and I became more and more uncomfortable in that position. I eventually reached a point where I could no longer continue to work as a prosecutor. It didn’t feel right…to continue not feeling right.
I switched gears and started working at a high-powered law firm practicing exclusively Civil Law. Very quickly, I realized (again) that something wasn’t right. Civil law was not a good fit. Then it occurred to me. I finally had an epiphany. For some reason I had failed to recognize that I was a criminal defense attorney who had been masquerading as a prosecutor. It only took me 17 years to reach this conclusion, and I wasn’t going to waste any more time getting started doing what I was meant to do.
Immediately, I reached out to the Criminal Defense Team. In my career as a prosecutor, I had dealt with the attorneys at the Criminal Defense Team dozens and dozens of times and had formed a basic understanding of their philosophy with respect to their aggressive style of representation. I greatly respected that style, and I thought that it would be a great fit for me. I was pleased that they were willing to sit down and talk. The interview was conducted at a political fundraiser that the firm was hosting. Unfortunately, because of their hosting obligations, I had to wait until the end of the party to sit down and talk. I am a self-taught harmonica player. The firm had hired a live band to perform at the fundraiser. I thought “why not ask the band to sit in for a few songs while I wait for the interview to begin.” I grabbed my case filled with harmonicas from my car and, fortunately, the band agreed to let me sit in for a few songs. After I was done, Max Wiley, Kathie Perry and Andy Baldwin walked over in disbelief that I had joined the band before the actual interview. Perhaps I had made a bad decision. However, they quickly indicated they appreciated the bold move and later claimed that it helped seal the deal of offering me a position.
As a prosecutor, I noted how most defense lawyers seemed to emphasize resolving the case quickly and easily as possible, rather than focusing on obtaining the best outcome by putting effort, energy and enthusiasm into defending the client, whether they were guilty or not. In addition, as a prosecutor I witnessed that sometimes police and prosecutors quickly decide that someone has committed a crime and then will only consider evidence and facts which they believe point to someone’s guilt, ignoring evidence and facts which don’t fit with their theory of the case. The Criminal Defense Team believes that the criminal justice system is supposed to work differently. People are absolutely innocent unless and until the prosecutors can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But, most importantly, the emphasis is on “people”. What is the correct outcome for the people that are accused? That should be the focus. What we do on a day-to-day basis has a real impact on people’s lives and I take that responsibility to heart, as do all the attorneys and staff in the firm.
In my career, I have tried, literally, thousands of cases, many of those to a jury. I am thrilled to be able to use the experience and skills I have gained through those trials to try to make a difference in the lives of our clients.
One last thing: It finally feels right.