Once a case starts, what kind of mistakes do you see people make that hurts their chances of getting a desirable result?
I have seen people sink themselves by making statements about a case that's ongoing. There could be someone out there who is charged with a crime and they can end up working as an informant against you; this is why I tell everybody at the first meeting not to speak to anyone about this, even if you consider them a close friend. You can't be talking about this case to anybody else because, over the course of my career, I have seen people testify against the accused that the accused once considered a friend. They made a statement about their involvement in a crime and that friend ends up being a state witness against them later. They said that the accused had confessed to them that they participated in this crime and the friend is now receiving leniency in their own criminal matter in return for testifying against the accused.
You are better off not talking about anything to anyone ever, except your attorney. It is always best to let the attorney manage how it gets presented to the public or the press if it becomes necessary. I almost never talk to the press and that’s one of the differences between me and many other Chicago criminal lawyers. There are a lot of people that get on TV or the radio or talk to newspaper people about pending cases because it is great for their own publicity but, as a general rule, it is terrible for your client.
It seems like being charged with a crime is a very isolating experience when you cannot talk to anybody and you’re frightened. How do you suggest people cope with this difficulty? Is it advisable to talk with a therapist who would be subject to a doctor-patient privilege of confidentiality?
When emotional, vulnerable people come to me for legal counsel they are worried about the serious ramifications and maybe even jail time if they are found guilty. They need to talk about this with someone. I generally suggest that they speak with a therapist who would be subject to a doctor-patient privilege of confidentiality. They can also speak to a priest, minister, or rabbi. To a certain extent, I can empathize with them and give them certain counseling with regard to life matters, but it is better for me to focus on executing what our overall defense strategy is. One of the fundamentals that I need to observe when I'm trying to execute my defense strategy is to leave emotions out of the equation. If I become emotionally wrapped up in a case and my thinking is affected, I might make mistakes in judgment that would not have been made if I looked at the case objectively. If you get angry, it affects your decision making process. If you get upset or sad, it affects your decision making process. Ideally, keeping an even keel is something I strive for.