I have had a lot of experience with trying criminal cases in San Fernando courthouse and I believe you can get a fair trial in that courthouse, but you also should realize there’s a number of factors that determine whether you’re going to be found guilty or not guilty, and that determine whether or not you really get a fair shake in a criminal case in the San Fernando courthouse.
First and foremost, in my opinion and experience in handling hundreds of cases over the last twenty-five years in both San Fernando and throughout Los Angeles County – San Fernando is one of the more conservative jury pools. What does that mean? That just means that you have jurors there that are going to be tough on crime, so you’re going to need to show those jurors that your case is not a case where they need to be tough on crime because the prosecutors have not proven their case and it’s not their job to sentence people; it’s their job to figure out whether they are innocent or guilty. Obviously, all of the jurors would want somebody on their trial if they were charged with a crime who is fair, open-minded and will listen to all the evidence.
This is really where the rubber meets the road in my opinion as far as jury trials go in the San Fernando courthouse, courthouses throughout Los Angeles and courthouse throughout the nation. If your attorney is not prepare going into that criminal case, doesn’t have the experience. Hasn’t dealt with the judge before, hasn’t dealt with the prosecutors, doesn’t know how to develop a theory in a case, cross-examine witnesses, give a closing argument and win a jury trial case, then you’re not going to get a fair jury trial because the system is set up to put people away. The judges are typically former prosecutors. A lot of times they’re jaded. They don’t really know the evidence so they’re just assuming a lot of times, in my opinion at least, that the person is guilty – even though they would never admit that
So, when you’re coming into a system like that, you better have an attorney that can quickly turn the tide to be able to get the result that you need. I ask jurors all the time in the San Fernando courthouse and courthouses throughout Los Angeles – when you came in here today and you looked at the defendant sitting next to me, how many of you thought that he was guilty just because he was charged with a crime and sitting in the defendant’s seat? And I can tell you right now, every single time multiple people raise their hand. So, if you’re coming in like that, do you think that’s a good start to be able to get a fair trial? So, the question becomes, is your attorney skilled enough? Do they have the experience to be able to say, wait a minute? If you were on trial would you want a juror like you there? You realize that our court system is set up so that everybody gets a fair trial, and then you have to explain the presumption of innocence to that particular San Fernando juror, and then ask them further questions and make sure.
Sometimes jurors can be rehabilitated and they can be made to realize, wait a minute, that’s not the appropriate way to look at the case. I have to evaluate their law. I have to evaluate whether or not the prosecutors have proved their case, and I can typically get a promise whether they mean it or not that they’re going to evaluate the case and if my client was not proved to be guilty in the case, they’ll enter a not guilty verdict. But there are some jurors you can just tell from doing this for many years, that are not going to be reasonable. That are not going to be fair no matter what you say, no matter how you argue the case. Obviously, those jurors are not going to sit on the jury. If you’re the defense lawyer on the case, you have to make sure that you get those jurors out.
So, getting back to the question as to whether you can get a fair trial – absolutely you can – if you get the right jury in there. In my opinion, obviously I’m trying to get the best jurors that are most favorable to my clients in any San Fernando criminal case. But, in my opinion, if I just get fair-minded people and I have a good argument that makes sense, I’m in business. It’s when I have people who are not fair-minded, who are already thinking the person is guilty that my client’s not going to get a fair shake. So, that’s my job as a criminal defense attorney to figure out which jurors are not going to be fair and get rid of them. Get them off the panel so we can get jurors on there that will be fair, that will listen to the evidence, because most of the time when I’m going to trial in San Fernando, I’ve got a good case. I’ve got a winnable case, because you’re not going to take a case to jury trial if you know what you’re doing if you don’t have a solid argument in which to defend your client and win the case.
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