By Attorney Michael Komorn
” Lieutenant, this lawyer is a pain in the ass, I can’t stand him, I really hate him”
This was my client’s observation of the prosecutor after exiting the conference room she and I had been in for over an hour discussing and negotiating a possible resolution of his 2 count felony, 1 misdemeanor case.
These were the words my client told me he heard coming out of the prosecutor’s mouth as she stood in the hallway asking, begging the officer in charge to approve of or sign off on the demands I had made during our negotiations.
In the moments before this conversation took place I had made it clear to the prosecutor what I thought of the case against my client.
As it goes in many criminal cases the facts of what actually transpired were in dispute.
The criminal case involving under cover and vice officers, no video, audio or even written recordings are made during the investigation.
These type of “typical” investigations result in cases that revolve around the credibility of the officers. When a prosecutor has a police witness who will assert a fact in a case it is considered the gospel. It is believed that if the officer testified to that fact, independent of any counter facts or versions that differ, it will be believed.
Often the prosecutor in these situations will say during Pre-trial discussions sometime with the officer sitting in the same room, ” counsel are you saying the officer isn’t being honest?
It is these scenarios that we are grateful that we have jury trials so that peers within the community can decide who is telling the truth. But getting the prosecutor to believe the version of the facts that are told by the defendant and disregard the police officer version never happens. This case was a case filled with complete adverse and disputed facts.
Prior to the court proceedings we had done an extensive independent investigation and had uncovered witnesses that observed or were aware of the events alleged in the police reports. I realized these unknowns to the police witness observations were in conflict with the gospel of the police officer witness.
These scenarios usually lead to trials.
These scenarios are why we have trials.
These scenarios never result in the prosecutor abandoning their police officer witness and taking the side of the defendants version of the facts.
Prosecutors never agree with defense attorneys that their police officers versions are in error or untrue.
My strategy was let the prosecutor know that she was going to have to accept my clients version or we would be going to trial.
The prosecutor was obviously unaware that her conversation and advocacy to do what I wanted on the phone was within earshot of my client. During these moments I remained in the conference room and while I was aware she was calling the officer in charge I had no idea and could not hear what her she was actually saying to the officer in charge.
Shortly thereafter the prosecutor came back into the room to explain that they had capitulated and agreed to dismiss all felony charges in exchange for a no contest plea to an innocuous misdemeanor. As I was relaying this information to my client he explained what he had overheard the prosecutor saying about me to the officer in charge.
Michael, I was wondering what was going on in the conference room because when the prosecutor came out of the room and got on the phone she keep telling the person she was talking to how much she hated you and what a pain in the ass you were.
But wait it, the observations in the theatre of so called justice gets even better.
After we secured the charge reduction, dismissal of all felonies and misdemeanors and a no contest plea to the innocuous misdemeanor we still needed the pursued the judge to a sentence that also included everything that we wanted or that was acceptable.
It was late in the morning and most of the cases had cleared out and been resolved. The court room had become empty when me and my client entered the Court with my intentions to discuss sentencing with the Judge.
As it goes the judge invited me ( the prosecutor had waived her presence for these discussions) into her chambers which were immediately behind the Judges Bench. and unbeknownst to me the Judges Chambers also are within “yelling” earshot of anyone who was or remained in the Courtroom.
This scenario and positioning I am describing was also observed by client who also watched me enter the Court room and then leave with the Judge into her adjoining chambers.
While I would like to describe what took place over the next 10 minutes with the Judge in her chambers as a healthy academic debate about current morals and virtues what my client heard was loud voices and yelling.
Of course my client couldn’t see or hear the softer spoken words that the judge and I agreed upon or the friendly handshake she and I had after our academic ” discussion” about morality.
Which is why when I exited the Judges chambers to return to my clients side I could tell he was scared out of his mind.
What happened in there…? my client asked.
I said the judge and I had a healthy debate and she is going do what we want at sentencing.
Really, said my client, because from where I was sitting it sounded like the judge hated you. I smiled and said she is going to do what we want for sentencing.
We left the court room, and went outside into the parking lot and walked together to our cars. As the morning sun was turning to midday my client turned to me thanking me for the outcome and reflected upon his observations.
Michael, everyone in that building seemed to hate your guts. I heard the prosecutor saying how much she disliked you and then it sounded like the Judge was going to lock you up. Despite that he said we got everything that we wanted and I couldn’t be happier.
I realized at this time the perspective by which he had observed the events from his day in Court.
Everyone hated his lawyer, me. Yelling and disdain are the emotions and reactions that he had observed. He described his emotions as total fear when he heard prosecutor talk ill of me and the judge screaming at me from her chambers.
Yet as we stood in the parking lot and his case was resolved he explained his joy and how happy he was with the way things turned out.
There is a joke somewhere that begins with lawyers have thick skin or when can you tell a lawyer is offended … I am not sure what the punch line is but I do know that my client’s reflection on the events of the day and how the hatred and disdain for me brought about the favorable resolution of his case.
I was emotionally devoid of any care of concern of who liked me or hated me.
Being a lawyer is not a popularity contest. It is a commitment to get the best results possible for my client.
Lawyers strategize and the negotiation process can be a disaster if a good strategy is not employed for the process. Sometime the discussions are friendly sometimes they are not. But this experience may be the first where the disdain for me and my involvement in the case was the catalyst to our favorable resolution.
I could be wrong but I really don’t think that the prosecutor hates me, instead she knows that if we are going to litigate the case I am going to make her life miserable by litigating, advocating and fighting the case till the end.
This is not hate in my eyes but respect. Likewise much of the yelling from the judge’s chambers actually was my voice as I encouraged the Judge to see things my way and not her silencing me or yelling over me.
In other words the loud academic debate was meaningful and needed to take place.
On the other hand maybe they do all hate me and maybe my skin is thick, and if that is the case then let their hatred be revered.