Why I Do ThisTim Anderson Law, LLC
During the summer of my second year of law school I was hired by a solo criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis to assist on a federal bank fraud trial.
It started late that summer and lasted two or three weeks. I did a little bit of everything, sat at the counsel table during the trial, got to go into chambers with my boss and the four other attorneys involved (there were three codefendants at trial; the other two had two attorneys each).
Our client was the nicest guy in the world. He was from Texas, and I got to know him and his wife very well. He and the other two were partners in a real estate venture that was supposed to build a new office complex. I don’t recall all the details, but they allegedly lied in getting the loan from the bank to fund the complex. Our client was the “bricks and mortar” guy, he was in charge of actually building the building – and he did just that.
So, our client did what he was supposed to do with money earmarked precisely for that purpose. He ended up testifying – he had to, under the circumstances. The Assistant U.S. Attorney was not gentle, the cross examination was withering. He eventually agreed that the document he signed was “false.”
Despite that, the jury hung for him – no conviction, no dismissal either. The AUSA then offered a misdemeanor deal, and he accepted mostly because trial had been so stressful and going through it again was unthinkable. And cost prohibitive.
I felt awful for him and his family, but relieved he wasn’t convicted of the felony. He was so appreciative of our efforts it was touching.
As for the other two codefendants, the main guy was convicted – no surprise – and the other one was acquitted, partly because we strongly encouraged him and his attorney not to have him testify, since his name had hardly come up during the government’s case-in-chief. I remember that the guy owned an Indy racing car, and had recently won the 500. It was just a huge, formative experience.
So, it just got into my blood.
I did two more trials that coming year with the same attorney, Fred Bruno. We won both. One resulted in the acquittal of a cop for excessive force, the other was the acquittal of a politician for election fraud. I got to take that second verdict, my first day after being sworn in as an attorney – the jury was out a week and Fred couldn’t get to the courthouse in time.
One day a lawyer, it was another amazing experience. I ended up staying with Fred for 10 years, then went out on my own.
I liked my clients, I feared for them, I celebrated with them, and I commiserated with them. I know of no other area of the law where it is this … real.