Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I just can't take it when people who think they are experts in criminal law try to explain the law. I may have mentioned before my rather compulsive following of the message boards provided on all my area newspapers. Invariably, the articles about criminal cases get lots of comments, usually including at least a few that pose questions of why the case is charged the way it is or what the possible outcomes are. And invariably, some self-proclaimed expert claims to answer those questions.

Often, these know-it-alls get just enough right that it becomes really complicated to explain to the rest of the forum, not to mention the know-it-all, what is wrong with the answer. I probably shouldn't try. But I can't stop myself. I have this compulsive need to have all the legal questions answered correctly. I do my best to set everyone straight on all the minor details that most of the readers never cared about. It's kind of a sickness.

I'm fighting the urge to tackle a know-it-all post right now.

1 comment:

Dennis Wilkins said...

It's worse when a fellow attorney asks me a question about a case. After I have expounded on what do to for 10 minutes, the attorney (many of them do it, not just one) will get ready to leave, and will carelessly toss me another itty-bitty fact. That changes everything in my analysis. Forcing me to spend 10 more minutes re-explaining why I came to opposite conclusion 10 minutes ago.

The reality is that an attorney has a legal education for a reason. This helps us analyze issues with a legal basis, and to know various cases and docrines to draw from. But then you have to have an analytical mind. What are the facts, and how can you use or get around them?

It still amazes me when new attorneys obscure what is going on in a case with meaningless legalese mumbo-jumbo (most of them do this at first, myself included), and then wonder why the jury "didn't get it." The truth is that juries are much smarter than you think. They just have a different agenda and different biases. Many, if not most cases are won or lost in jury selection, and picking a jury is far more art than science.

Dennis Wilkins
Guest PD Blogger at PD Dude

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