ALWAYS A DEFENSE ATTORNEY. NEVER A PROSECUTOR.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to help people. After attending Arizona State University where I obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, I realized that the degree I had earned would not enable me to help people in the way I had hoped it would. Driven to make a difference, I attended California Western School of Law in San Diego.
During my last semester of law school I was offered the opportunity to work as a legal intern. I knew I wanted to be a defense attorney, but my parents strongly believed that I should at least see what it would be like on the other side. At my parents’ urging, I chose to intern at the Attorney’s General’s Office, a prosecuting agency. I hated it. I didn’t want to put people in prison.
While an intern, I had the good fortune to work for a brilliant prosecutor, who is now a judge of the Superior Court. I was very honest with him about my feelings. Whether out of respect for my feelings, or in an effort to "educate" me, he allowed me to work on a death penalty case that was going to have to be retried. He allowed me to go through all of the police reports and records with, I imagine, the expectation to convince me that the defendant deserved the death penalty. For weeks I pored through the police reports, as well as all of the information related to his social history and mental health issues. After learning all that I could about this defendant, I could not imagine how anyone could be surprised that this defendant committed the crime that he had. Where my supervisor saw a monster, I saw a young child who had been abandoned, beaten, raped and abused in every conceivable manner. That little boy had grown into a man, but I felt the abuse he had suffered and the damage that had been done could not be ignored as mitigating factors.
It was this tenure as an intern that convinced me beyond any shadow of a doubt that my heart was in defense. Instead of being outraged by defendants' conduct, I often found myself more outraged by governmental overreaching, ridiculous plea policies, police abuse and deceit, and discrepancies between the have and have-nots.
With a greater understanding of the myriad problems facing the underprivileged, underserved, and those facing criminal charges in general, I began my career at the Maricopa County Public Defender's Office.
As a Public Defender I had the great fortune to work side by side with some of Arizona's most dedicated lawyers. During those 7 years, my passion continued to grow. I honed my skills, I learned invaluable lessons and I grew as an attorney. I was known and respected as a compassionate attorney. And I also became known as a lawyer who was not scared of a fight, or of ruffling a few feathers. I fought vigorously for my clients and the judges and prosecutors knew it.
I am aware that there are countless “former prosecutors” now working as defense attorneys who really want your business. Here's what you need to consider before hiring a "former prosecutor":
Many “former prosecutors” use that title to suggest to the potential client that they have some kind of inside track because they used to be prosecutors. Don’t be fooled - previous prosecution experience provides no legal advantage.
Some "former prosecutors” make much of the fact that they received specialized training and therefore, they are better defense attorneys. Not true. They were trained by the police and other factions of law enforcement. They were indoctrinated into a culture that believes that law enforcement is always right and that the defendant and his attorney are tricksters just trying to manipulate the law. Prosecutors work closely with law enforcement on a regular basis.
The difference between a prosecutor's job and a public defender's job is distinct. As a prosecutor, you have the luxury of having a completed case handed to you by a member of law enforcement. That member of law enforcement is available to answer any and all questions the prosecutor has. They are available to follow up and provide additional information to the prosecutor. Police officers are even allowed to sit with the prosecutor at trial to assist in the prosecution. The defense team never enjoys this level of cooperation with law enforcement. Essentially, a prosecutor has the power of the government on his side. The system is designed to help them win. This is why you absolutely must have an experienced and aggressive attorney like me by your side.
Nearly two decades of defense work has provided me with a wealth of skills, experiences and resources that you don’t get working as a prosecutor. As a public defender, I had hundreds of difficult cases. More often than not, my clients had extensive criminal histories, and their cases lacked an obvious defense. As if that wasn't hard enough, many of my clients didn't like me on principle; a lot of them believed that I wasn't going to help them because I worked for the County. I put a tremendous amount of effort in to building a good rapport with my clients. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't, but how my clients felt about me never affected my desire to provide them with the outstanding representation they deserved.
I was fortunate to be mentored by excellent lawyers who taught me a lot, but ultimately the large case loads and the limited resources became too much for me. I wanted to be able to provide highly individualized service to all of my clients and I was unable to do that with a caseload of between 30-40 cases at a time.
I left the Public Defender's office for private practice in 2005. In my private practice I continue my pledge of service to the community. In addition to my private cases, I maintain a Capital case contract with the county that enables me to assist those facing the ultimate consequence - death. I have been successful in keeping many people off of Death Row. I also do a significant amount of Pro Bono work. I consider myself incredibly blessed to do a job that I am passionate about, and I am honored to be able to make a positive difference in my clients’ lives.
I fight hard for my clients. Not only have I obtained numerous acquittals, but my efforts have led to the outright dismissal of charges in many cases, including the dismissal of First Degree Murder charges, Child Molestation charges and more.
One of the things that sets me apart from other lawyers is my heart. Aside from being able to see the legal issues, I see and understand the human aspects of a case. I am honored and humbled to stand with my clients during the darkest, scariest and most stressful time of their lives. I am thankful to be able to provide support and guidance to people when they need it most.
I have always understood that a criminal conviction has a devastating impact on a life. I also know that criminal cases are really a matter of perspective. I know that witnesses make mistakes, human actions can be misinterpreted and nothing is ever black and white. I understand that as human beings sometimes we make mistakes and that none of us deserve to be defined entirely by one dark moment or poor choice.
I have a reputation for being a fierce advocate. I am not afraid to speak out when I witness an injustice and I don’t back down. I speak the truth regardless of the consequence.