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- in Building the Persuasive Case
- by Stephen Gustitis
A fellow criminal defense attorney once wrote about the art of defending people accused of crime. He eloquently noted the job of the defense lawyer was not to seek justice, but to represent the rights of the individual. I enjoyed the way he explained the job of the defense lawyer:
“I don’t think I could be unbiased and zealously represent 80% of my clients if I took time out to consider how best justice could be served. I can’t [fathom] having to weigh in the pain and losses suffered by their victims and their victim’s families. I never personalize the alleged actions of my clients. I take and read the facts of their cases as part of a poorly written story. My job is to fill in the blanks of this story and hopefully finish it with a happy ending. My advantage is that most of the time the DA only repeats and summarizes the poorly written stories, with its gaps, holes and missing pieces. Here is where I am at the advantage because I can fill in those gaps and holes with my version.”
This is where the defense does have a great advantage. Although the wise Texas defense lawyer takes their client’s version with a grain of salt and corroborates as many facts as possible, our clients can help us understand the story in its entirely. And this is where the magic begins. Now we possess a superior mastery of the facts. Now ideas pop out from magical depths. This mastery empowers us to forge a story, an argument, that is laden with fact. An argument which now leaves room for the lawyer’s own emotional commitment and appeal. This is how the defense lawyer crafts the winning argument. Not an argument about justice necessarily, but a winning argument about the individual. This is the magic of preparation. Thanks, my friend,for giving us some insight into your day.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.