Life Is Rarely Black And White.
My dad was an attorney who worked in a variety of areas, but family law and criminal defense were his two most common practices. I learned a lot from watching him do both. From his family law practice, I learned that incidents are rarely black and white, and rarely is one person completely right. I also learned other things, like how and how not to treat people. Regarding criminal law, my dad always had skepticism of law enforcement. While I think he may have been a little overreactive to a few bad cops, and I never developed that level of cynicism, the seeds for not accepting as gospel what authority figures said were planted.
About two months into my first year at IU McKinney School of Law, I joined the Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office as an intern.
I worked there for about a year and a half. I helped prepare discovery to be disclosed to defense attorneys, did legal research for whatever prosecutor needed it, and won my first bench trial—a HUGE case where I proved that someone committed the infraction of passing on the right shoulder. (Which I also learned was only an infraction in certain circumstances.) The most important part of my time in Hendricks County was getting a feel for criminal law in general and for the courtroom.
I joined MCPO in May 2017 and was thrust into Court 10 handling general misdemeanors. After about a year in Court 10, I handled OVWIs in Court 7 for three months before being promoted to STRIKE, MCPO’s drug prosecution unit, doing Level 6 felonies in Court 25. This is where I met Kathie Perry and another attorney or two from The Criminal Defense Team. Finally, I was promoted to prosecuting major drug felonies before I was recruited by Kathie to join the Team in May 2019.
I really enjoyed what I did at MCPO, and I learned a lot. I did dozens of bench trials (trials where the judge, not a jury, gives the verdict), multiple suppression hearings, and six jury trials. My cases ranged from first-time thefts from Walmart or possessions of marijuana to major felony drug dealing and violent felonies. The cases I tried in front of a jury included batteries, thefts, resisting law enforcement, and possession of a handgun by a serious violent felon.
So why did I leave MCPO, join The Criminal Defense Team, and become a criminal defense attorney? One reason was I thought learning criminal law from both sides would make me a better and more well-rounded attorney, and that’s been true so far.
Another reason was I wanted to help people. I mentioned above that I learned early on that life is rarely black and white. Even when I was a prosecutor I empathized with some defendants and defense attorneys. Additionally, our justice system requires zealous advocacy to make sure the State does its job properly, from police up to prosecutors.
And finally, I liked the Team. I’d worked well with Kathie on a couple of cases and I appreciated her approach and the manner in which she dealt with me—professionally, respectfully and genuinely. Then I met the other partners and some of the rest of the Team, and I felt very comfortable. I liked the team approach, that they workshop things, bounce ideas off one another, and take advantage of the variety of skills, connections and experiences they have. Plus, everyone just seemed welcoming and fun.
So I joined the Team after Memorial Day 2019, and I’ve loved it so far. I’ve been in two jury trials, and our clients have both been acquitted of the felony charges against them. I’ve worked out some excellent resolutions for clients who needed it, and I look forward to continuing to do so.