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- by Stephen Gustitis
Following was a guest post authored by attorney-to-be, Ashley DeHart. Ms. DeHart worked for me and other lawyers fighting for the rights of individuals accused of committing crime. She was smart and fearless.
“The difference between a mosquito and a lawyer is one is a blood-sucking parasite and the other is an insect. Lawyers are often times the target of merciless jokes. One of the most substantial prejudices against criminal defense lawyers is they are heartless and don’t really care about their clients. While that may be true of some lawyers, it’s not true for most.
“I know this from real life experience with two of the greatest lawyers that I know. I assisted Steve and another attorney, Lane Thibodeaux, in a Brazos County capital murder case in which our client was facing the death penalty. After working on the case for about two years, we had come to know him and had built a relationship with him. He trusted us. The looming prospect of our friend being lethally injected pushed us all to work hard and fervently. We followed every lead, researched every probable idea, and spent countless hours digging into the countless mounds of reports and witness statements.
“By the time our case went to court there was no doubt we’d done everything possible to help our client. Stanley was found guilty and sentenced to death despite the extraordinary job we had done. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever been through. It was hard on us all. But I learned there are some things simply out of your control. However, the only thing you can do is put everything into what you’re passionate about and work tirelessly for the best.
“While defense lawyers may appear they don’t care, it’s only a facade. No one sees the mental anguish they confront when retreating back into their offices at night after a long day in court. It’s what keeps them up at night without sleep. It’s what eventually makes them appear insensitive and cavalier. But it’s the only way to deal with the mounting pressure that comes with holding a person’s life and future in your hands. However, it is also what makes an attorney strong and fearless.”
Visit Steve’s Bryan-College Station Criminal Defense Blog for other posts about criminal defense and trial advocacy.