Chess Corner: Winter 2015-2016
by Tyler Flood, HCCLA president-elect and attorney
There is a French Proverb that says “You Cannot play at Chess if you are kind-hearted.” Don’t let fear stand in the way of success.
You have to have the fighting spirit. You have to force moves and take chances…
This job we signed up for requires a deep down passion for righting the wrongs we see happening every day in the criminal justice system. If we don’t fight to protect our rights, who will? Nobody. We are the rebellion against the First Order. Grab your light saber and go to battle.
Recently, a young-ish trial lawyer found himself in a tough spot that required him to do some soul searching. He was in trial when the State’s key officer, who was 3 months pregnant, was rushed to the hospital due to complications with the baby. She had miscarried before and she thought it was happening again. The witness became unavailable after the jury was sworn. The Court did not declare a mistrial sua sponte but instead urged the defense lawyer to request a mistrial on his own. A difficult position to be put in. The lawyer had the night to weigh his options. The Court and the State were putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense lawyer. The State even made terrible comments to the lawyer, among other things, threatening him that they would never agree to any continuances from him ever again in the future for anything and they tried to guilt him into putting the police officer’s interests before his client’s.
Being a reasonable and compassionate man, the lawyer was deeply torn. As much as he wanted to help the officer with her medical situation he decided that the right thing to do would be to remain loyal to his client. He politely and sincerely conveyed his sympathy to the Court and to the State but told them he just could not agree to a mistrial and would not be requesting one. The Court granted a continuance request from the State from Wednesday to Friday to see if the officer would be available so the trial could proceed. The officer saved the baby and recovered well enough to appear on Friday and testify. At 9:30 pm on that Friday night, the jury came back with a Not Guilty verdict.
Being a trial attorney is not for the weak at heart. It takes strength and courage to do this job the right way. We often find ourselves in frightening situations and we have to hold our chin up and face our fears head on. Sometimes we are put in positions where there is great pressure to compromise our ethics and our integrity. These are the moments that define who we are. Our decisions set examples for lawyers young and old. In the face of adversity, be strong and stand up for what is right. You can make lasting impressions on others that will empower them to be strong when the time comes. Most importantly, do the hard things and fight the tough battles for the one who matters the most…You!
The only real lawyers are trial lawyers, and trial lawyers try cases to juries…Clarence Darrow.