Defense Attorney Regrets His Prosecution

All of my legal career involved defending someone charged with crimes or offenses against the law. I worked 20 years as a lawyer, trying more than a hundred jury trials, winning more than half of them.

But to be honest, my first taste of arguing the law came not as a defense lawyer, but as a prosecutor, one appointed by some colonel to bring charges against a buck private who broke a law and faced a summary offense for some minor infraction.

I knew the young man. He was in the company in which I served as a training officer in Ft. Polk, LA. I even liked the kid.

gavel

I was “Out of Order.”

I disliked having to “go after” him, but I took my oath to defend the US Constitution seriously. And I zealously presented the facts before a JAG lawyer serving as a judge.

 _______

I can’t tell you how many times the judge — someone actually trained in the law as opposed to me, a Second Lieutenant with no college degree not to mention no law degree — admonished me for walking around the makeshift courtroom, pretending I was a Perry Mason cross-examining a witness. I was ordered to remain within three feet of a podium.

That restriction initially chilled my presentation, but I used my arms to wave and point into the air to get my thoughts across.

I secured a conviction. Something I fought against some twenty years later as a Philadelphia public defender.

But there was no celebration. And if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have taken the assignment but feigned an illness, if at all possible.

And, that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God!

9 comments on “Defense Attorney Regrets His Prosecution

  1. Dr. Suess-Zues Zen says:

    Accepting hard truths, tends to make me feel easier about myself. Excellent stuff.

    -J

    • contoveros says:

      Thanks Dr. Suess-Zues Zen,

      I enjoyed writing it. I guess there was a karmic touch to it. I’m glad I started out on the one side and ended up where I think I might have done some good.

  2. Just doing my job … When will we give up that excuse, and learn to listen to conscience?

    • contoveros says:

      It’s hard to fight the system at such a young age. I guess wisdom comes to those who age well beyond their 25th birthday. Or was it the 55th birthday?

      I can’t remember anymore. I guess I’m simply showing my youthful inexperience with memory recalls . . .

  3. *hug* regrets always have that one piece of our heart – problem is – they live inside us and eat that one piece just slow enough that we can feel their teeth a little every single day. Love to you, L.

    • contoveros says:

      There are not many things in life that I have come to regret. This is one of them.

      I guess some things just have to serve as learning experiences. I always hated it when someone said “it helps to build character.”

      I got enough character to last me a lifetime!

      Love you and miss you.

      Michael J

  4. Heartbreaking for sure. Sending you many prayers to make peace with it.

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