Interviewer: I hear of attorneys advertising, “We’re aggressive, we’ll fight for you.” The whole approach sounds like they will be fighting a battle. Do you think that’s the right attitude for a defense attorney to have? Or should they have a calmer and more congenial approach, which you mentioned is more your style?
Carl: I think that you have bought up a good topic. In my opinion, you can protect your client without being a “bull in a china shop.” I think you can get things done in the municipal courts in New Jersey without making enemies. I think you can resolve cases, without putting people on alert that you’re going to try to rip their heads off. I say this because that approach does not get results.
To me, “aggressive” should mean that you have taken the time to fully explain to the client what rights they have. Aggressive to me means that the client has constitutional rights that they should be completely aware of.
I believe in taking the time to go through the police reports and describe for my client where we can be more proactive. Where we might be able to file a motion and argue a point in a professional way that might have an impact. This approach will lead to some leverage that will ultimately result in a good outcome.
A Professional Approach Leads to Respect
Interviewer: Do you feel like there’s a level of respect that is accorded to you? You know if you handle yourself well in the courtroom as a defense attorney, this respect will derive between you and the prosecutors and the judges the whole staff?
Carl: Yes, the idea that you’re mature, you’ve handled cases like this over and over again, you’ve been seen around the courts and you deal with people with respect carries very far. When I go into court prepared the prosecutor can realize in the first 30 seconds that I’m prepared and I’m ready to figure out what needs to get done.
The Defense Attorney Needs to be Prepared
The prosecutors know, in a very short time, that I have a proposal ready for them or that we need to schedule towards a trial. It’s a “bottom line” conversation so we know where we’re going and I’m not wasting anyone’s time.
Interviewer: When you first walk into the prosecutor’s office before the case gets begins, you’ve already studied the case, consulted with your client and you’re already prepared to offer a solution immediately, is that correct?
Carl: Yes, I have a very specific formula. When I first meet with a client I let them know that we’re not making any decisions on their case until a few things have occurred. Number one is that I’ve received all the police reports. Number two is that the client has also received the copy of those police reports. Number three is that we have gone over those police reports because I consider my client my best witness.
Involve the Client in the Defense
They were there. They are the best person to relay to me how the police acted and whether the police reports are accurate or not. Even though my client may or may not testify at a trial or hearing or may never even get a chance to speak in open court, because I’m their advocate, they’re my best witness.
They’re the ones that can supply me with the strategy to go forward. Speaking of strategy, that’s my next step. Before I go to court and after I’ve gone over the police reports with my client, we discuss what the strategy will be. This way we are both on the same page before we walk in to court. We also usually have a Plan A and a Plan B, two strategies, and have decided on which plan we will use in court.
By Carl Spector