This past week in Tarrant County, Texas I watched a sexual assault trial that I never dreamed would end in a conviction. We were not defending the case, but I found it interesting, so I went to watch part of the trial. While the defendant was not particularly likable, it didn’t seem to me that she was a criminal. I knew the jurors would not like her, but I didn’t think they would convict her of a felony offense. But that’s the thing about trial. I don’t get to sit on the jury. It only matters what 12 citizens think about the case. I can think about criminal cases in purely legal terms, but jurors are often swayed by emotion.
This case reminded me that there is always a risk in going to trial. An inherent uncertainty. Even when you feel pretty confident about your case. Thankfully, our criminal defense firm has been fortunate enough to get some favorable verdicts in recent trials, but those could have gone the other way very easily. It is a sobering reality for criminal defense lawyers that someone’s life and future is in your hands. Even more sobering, however, is the realization that at trial it’s only partly in your hands. All we can do is prepare, prepare, prepare, and put forth our very best effort.