Rip Roaring Rarin' And Ready For Trial

I was set on a jury docket yesterday morning and the case was going to be reached. It was my day to go. Of course, as usual, there were probably 30-40 cases set, but mine was going to be the one. How did I know this?

  • I had taken the case over from another lawyer, about a year after the arrest, so it was old, old, old. And the previous lawyer had used several defense continuances. I burned a few myself after that.
  • After taking over the case, I asked permission to put it back on a contested pretrial docket, and had a pretrial hearing. Significance? If the prosecutors were likely to cut us a deal, it would have been before they had to “do all that work”.
  • I had been contacted by the prosecutors about the case last week, and they re- (or, re-re-re-) iterated their position that they would not offer anything close to what my client would accept – in this case, a reduced charge. The case was not going to settle.
  • Also, the fact that they bothered to contact me at all meant it was high enough up on their radar to be concerned that it was in the top few cases likely to go.

So I was prepared. In fact, I had hammered out an agreement with the prosecutor in advance about some portions of the videotape (DWI) that needed to be redacted. (The complainant in the collision speaking to the officer on tape.) We agreed that would be redacted while we were in voir dire. I had given the prosecutor the exact times that needed the audio redaction.

I had actually gotten myself excited about going. Almost had the trial blinders fully on, convincing myself that no reasonable juror could do anything but acquit my client. It wasn’t a long trip from the evidence, it’s a pretty darn good case for my client, but when you actually work yourself about a case, you can just hear that “not guilty”.

And my client lives several, several counties away, and repeated trips to the courthouse for resets aren’t conducive to anyone’s work schedule. Need more proof that I was going to trial?

  • By coincidence, I rode up the elevator with the chief prosecutor in the court where the case was assigned. He sad, “Jamie, you ready today?” and I told him yes and that I thought I was pretty high up. He said I was number one.
  • The prosecutor trying the case told me that she didn’t have one of her civilian witnesses, but was ready to proceed without him.
  • I took out the jury list and rescanned it, making more notes. As the judge asked lawyers to make announcements, I said “ready, because I can’t come up with any more reasons to weasel out of it.” (The coordinator laughed and told me that meant I wasn’t trying hard enough.)
  • At 10:30 a.m., now beyond 100% convinced that this was the day, I called my assistant and asked her to reschedule a new office visit with a potential client set the next morning. The trial would go into tomorrow, and I didn’t want to strand them at the office. Call it off as soon as you know.
  • This isn’t a separate point, I just want to emphasize my last point. I rescheduled a meeting with potential new business. That’s how sure I was the case was going to be called.

With that lengthy setup, it’s pretty clear that the case didn’t actually go. So what happened? At the second docket call, the prosecutor asked for a continuance, so they could get that civilian witness they previously “didn’t need”. I reminded her that my client admitted driving to the arresting officer, so they really didn’t need anyone else. But the case was reset.

So, was I upset? Nooooooooooooooo. After the case was continued, despite “wanting” to go to trial, I felt exhilarated, positively thrilled! I always feel that way when this happens. Why is that?

Maybe having two days essentially cleared out will give me time to blog.
 

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Jeff Gamso - October 13, 2010 4:42 PM

And as at least one (and probably more than one) fine lawyer has observed, "A continuance is as good as an acquittal. It just doesn't last as long."

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