Just this weekend I was speaking with another attorney who practices in criminal defense. In fact, he conducts enough jury trials that I respect his input. He was telling me a female criminal defense attorney who holds herself out as providing high-end criminal defense and he were speaking with a client who couldn't decide who to hire. The prospective client told him the other female attorney had claimed that she had done so many jury trials that she couldn't guess how many in total she had conducted. Of course, this is a lie commonly told to prospective clients by less experienced attorneys trying to gain new business. All attorneys who practice in my field know exactly how many jury trials they have conducted. I have conducted 132 as of this date. I keep track of each trial and after each I post to my website the highlights.
Another male defense attorney who handles a large amount of cases has a reputation of withdrawing from cases shortly before jury trial. The judges all know who this person is and have expressed their dissatisfaction with his withdrawals in past cases. He continues to obtain new clients because they are oblivious to his pattern of withdrawing should the case get close to trial.
Each jury trial gives invaluable insight into a variety of topics not necessarily related to the jury process. I learn better ways to question expert witnesses, seek more discovery, and negotiate cases. Each win lends credence to my ability with prosecutors and helps negotiate better results for my clients. This year alone I won two first degree murder trials. They were tried in Macoupin and Madison County. There were expert witnesses in both cases. I have received excellent results from the prosecutors after winning the trials. In fact, I have received on a whole, excellent offers from both States Attorney's offices afterwards.
The story about the female criminal defense attorney is common. I am told by many prospective clients that they have talked to this attorney or that attorney and have been told they have never lost a case. Any attorney who tries cases soon realizes that not all cases can be won. If an attorney has conducted quite a few jury trials they will tell you the same thing. If a client is told something along the lines of what was being told to the client above the client should ask for specific instances of jury trials. Even though my trials stretch back to 1991, I can still remember quite a few details about each case. The fact is the female attorney I refer to has only conducted one jury trial in St. Clair county, which she lost. She also has a habit of telling clients they need to come up with a large amount of money shortly before trial and she withdraws from the cases that actually require a trial. She withdrew from a sex assault case at the last moment. The judge in the case was extremely upset with the withdrawal and let her know it in no uncertain terms. The case was assigned to my wife who tried the case as a special defender. The other attorney has done this in more than one case.
I was involved in another murder case this year. I had to withdraw shortly before trial due to a conflict of interest on a late disclosed witness. I spoke to two criminal defense attorneys who both promised me the case would be tried if I referred it to them. One of the attorneys claimed he needed business and also straight up promised me he would try the case. I had filed and argued all the motions necessary to get this matter ready for trial. At the last minute he told the client to plead guilty to a cap of 40 years. The client is in his young 20's and had a good self-defense argument. I'm sure the attorney promised the client's family that he would try the case. I was extremely disappointed that he did not try the case. With a 40 year sentence potential there is no reason not to try the case.
The point I am making is this: a new client may be told that an attorney he/she is speaking with has a lot of trial experience even when they don't. Make the attorney prove their experience. Simply asking them for cases where they tried cases is one way to approach the topic. If you obtain a criminal defense attorney who hasn't tried many or any cases the State's Attorney knows as well as anyone that they can probably roll over on the attorney and force them to take a deal that may not be in the client's best interests.