Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF YOUR BOSTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER?

There are a number of areas in which attorneys and their clients  come to disagreements. After all, in most cases, being the party in a criminal or civil law suit, particularly as a defendant, is a high stress endeavor.

Over the years, we have discussed a number of these areas such as lack of communication, the thought that the attorney is not knowledgeable  or simply has the bedside manner of a venomous snake.

We have also discussed the fact that some folks have a different view of reality than the rest of us. Sometimes communication can improve this.

Sometimes not.

Many clients present with challenges which pre-date the issues in an ongoing legal action. Take veterans, for example. Many vets have had to survive living through whist can only be regarded as Hell. How do they do it?

I was discussing’s this with a colleague, Attorney Sarah J. Briones a lawyer whom I greatly respect earlier today. She observed that sometimes, in order to survive, military personnel have to learn to shut out certain aspects of what the rest of us might consider reality. This is not to say they are insane or anything like that, but the perspective they have had to adopt in order to survive might not work during events like lawsuits, prosecutions or divorce.

Unfortunately, this is part of the price they pay in their service to the country and the rest of us. More unfortunate is that, while we pay some lip service of appreciation to them, we fail to understand and take into account this different perspective. We fail to help them truly adjust.

the results re often unfortunate.

Once that happens, they find themselves in an arena in which even people who never had the military experience fail to truly understand. I have said before that, as attorneys, it is part of our job to help the clients through their little path through criminal law odyssey.

I thought that it might help to address what types of expectations folks seem to  have of their newly acquired experienced attorney.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Expectations Of Lawyers

When you hire a physician, you expect a certain degree of expertise. However, most folks realize that, good as the doctor might be, he or she is probably not a wizard or witch. There are limits as to what the doctor can do.

The same is true with attorneys, no matter how experienced he or she is. There are various rules, procedures and laws which govern a great deal of what we do. Many of these may be seen as unfair by you. Fair or unfair, however, they must be dealt with as realities.

Because they are realities.

“But, Sam, we hire you to work around those rules. For example, I am sure you have represented clients who were guilty as charged before. They pay you to try to ‘get them off’.

Yes, but the surrounding details of the procedure do not change. In other words, I cannot say, “Judge, my client is not guilty. We don’t need a trial. He told me he is not guilty. That’s good enough. Dismiss the case.”

“No, but you try to suppress evidence and such.”

 

Of course. And I argue the facts and the law in the light most favorable to my client. However, there are only certain reasons to suppress evidence. I can bring a motion to suppress a statement because my client is alleged to have made a statement which was not voluntary. I cannot bring a motion to suppress because the police were “rude” to him. Or make up new Constitutional Rights to allege they were broken.

Often, a judge will order counsel to do something. It might be providing financial statements, having a client submit to a DNA test or the like. The client may not like it. I may have fought against it, but, for the most part, after the arguments are over, the judge’s ruling stands. You violate it at your own peril.

Part of why you want to retain the services of a lawyer in whom you feel confident is you will have to trust that lawyer to guide you through the system. Often, the rules of the system do not make sense to you. Maybe your lawyer will never convince you as to the reasons for the particular rules to which you are opposed. However, this is an arena where your view of what makes sense is not going to rule the day. The system has formed its present rules through many years and many changes.

“Yes, but some rules have changed. For example, there was not always the requirement for officers to read Miranda Rights.”

That’s correct. But those types of changes occur via appeals courts or supreme courts. You are not going to change the rules at the trial in most cases, nor on the way to trial. I hasten to also point out that some things that are seen as inherently wrong now were not seen as wrong at earlier times. An example of this would be equal protection (and respect) for transgendered individuals. The timing must be right and the issue must rise to the level of Constitutional Rights.

There is no Constitutional Right to not be frustrated, insulted or to even win the case .

The fact that you do not like a particular ruling a judge makes can be revisited on appeal. However, it will likely be decided on the basis of what the law currently is.

The bottom line is that if you have hired a lawyer in whom you have trust, follow the advice you are paying for…at least in terms of what the judge can and cannot do. In any event, do not simply dig your heels in and refuse to comply.

That type of thing is called “Contempt of court” and puts you in even more trouble,

Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

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