I was talking to a friend at the Kaufman courthouse who noted that I’ve won my last 3 DWI trials (2 bench/1 jury). Neither one of us could remember any attorney who had ever won 3 Kaufman county DWI trials in a row. I’m always proud to achieve my client’s goals in criminal litigation (acquittal). However, my practice is geared toward clients, not stats.
I know that some attorneys prominently advertise their trial win percentage. The idea being that if Lawyer X wins 80% of their DWI trials then this lawyer has an 80% chance of beating your DWI. I applaud any attorney who can get a not guilty verdict from a jury. Too many defense lawyers strive to avoid trial at all costs.
In my experience lawyers who advertise a win % generally exercise great control over (cherry pick) which cases they will take to trial. Not me. The choice of whether or not to have a trial is always up to my client. If I was concerned with my W/L record I would accept only no breath test/good SFST DWI cases. I have chosen to go a different route. If I refuse to take a case it’s not because the facts are bad.
I’ve had clients with high BAC scores who wanted to take a case to trial. That is always the client’s choice. It’s not my job to refuse a trial just because I’m afraid the client will be convicted. Any lawyer who tries DWI cases knows that even the most prepared, experienced, and knowledgeable defense lawyer can and will end up with a guilty verdict. It happens. Guilty verdicts are not always a sign the lawyer did a bad job, or is a sub par trial attorney.
My job is to explain the law, the facts, my experience in front of the judge/jury with similar cases and let the client make a decision on whether to set the case for trial. There are also financial considerations. I use a two part contract and charge a separate trial fee. My clients decide whether they want to invest in a trial or not.
I’m proud of my 3 DWI win streak, but I know some very capable attorneys who have gone on long DWI losing streaks (myself included). A lawyer’s W/L trial stats alone do not always tell the whole story. There is a lawyer in my office in Kaufman, Dennis Jones, who is frequently appointed on the most serious felony cases. Many of Mr. Jones’ appointed clients are convicted. Nevertheless, Dennis is viewed as one of the best defense lawyers in Kaufman county. I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Jones and the judges never hesitate to appoint him. He’s a great trial lawyer who happens to try really tough cases. Dennis can not cherry pick his appointed cases, and is often given chicken shit and ordered to make chicken salad.
Criminal defense isn’t baseball. Some of us are pitching in the Ballpark in Arlington, others at Petco Park. Not that you should go looking for a lawyer who has never won a trial, but don’t discount a lawyer who has lost a few.