I won my first trial by using one word. Want to hear how I did that?
I was a 3rd year law student at Wake Forest Law School. They had a program that allowed students to work with various lawyers in the community. My rotation assigned me to the public defender’s office. The lawyer that I worked with was extremely busy and overloaded with too many cases to handle. Eventually she would toss me a stack of files and tell me to work them out and find out if any were trials. The vast majority of the cases results in some type of a negotiated plea deal. But finally, I came to a file that was a trial.
I spoke with the client several times advising him that it looks like he had a good case to take to trial. He agreed and was on board with moving forward. I made my announcement to the judge and she set it down for trial in a few days. I poured over the police report and prepared feverishly. I wrote all kinds of objections that I could make during trial to try and limit evidence that could be used against my client. I determined that there was key piece of evidence that I really needed to attack or we might not win the case.
One the day of trial, I walked into the courtroom to find the prosecutor looking at the police report for the first time. The officer arrived five minutes before trial and could not remember a thing about the case. He had to “refresh” his memory by reading the police reports moments before the trial was going to begin.
The prosecutor started asking the officer questions about my clients DUI arrest. As she progressed through the story, I could sense she was approaching the key piece of evidence that I new we needed to limit. I tensed up as I was getting ready to jump out of my chair and make my objection.
Finally, the prosecutor asked the question. I jumped up and boldly stated “objection”. I gave a really long argument to the judge on the legal reason the prosecutor could not go into that line of questioning and why this key piece of evidence was not admissible. The judge was almost shocked at how well prepared I was to make this argument. After thinking the issue over for few minutes the judge agreed. Because there was no other way for the prosecutor to prove their case, the judge ended up dismissing the case before the trial was even over. The difference between winning and losing this case was one word, “objection”.
The reason I tell this story, is to highlight how one word can change the outcome of an entire case. It can be the difference between winning and losing. On that day, my client walked out the courtroom an innocent man. He saved his license, avoided jail, and did not have to pay fines or perform community service. There are many DUI cases in similar situations. Your case may be one of them. One word can the difference between you winning or losing your case.