John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

Top 10 MORE Things Clients Do To Damage Their Cases

Top 10 MORE Things Clients Do To Damage Their Cases

After the popularity of my previous post "Top 10 Things Clients Do to Damage Their Cases" I received all sorts of feedback and ideas from other attorneys. 

So without further adieu, here is the Top 10 More Things Clients Do To Damage Their Cases:

1. Hire the Wrong Lawyer.  There are many lawyers that are experts in fields OTHER than criminal law.  When you need that great real estate or probate lawyer for a real estate or probate case, go hire him.  For your criminal case, stick to criminal defense attorneys.

2. Be Late. The client who can't make it to court on time is inviting the judge to reincarcerate him so that he is certain to be on time for court next time.

3. Dress Guilty.  Dress for court like a job interview, because both are situations where you want to make a good impression.  While you may be proud of that NORML T-shirt with the 12" marijuana leaf on the back, it is probably not the best courtroom attire.  Men should be covered from wrists to ankle;  Ladies from elbow to knee.

4. Consent To A Search.  I know I've covered this one before and again at every opportunity, but it's a big one. Consenting to a search accomplishes nothing.

5. Play Lawyer.  If you have a lawyer, let him/her do the work.  Don't file your own motions because you read something on the internet.

6. Write The Judge.  Countless times I've seen cases derailed because a client thinks it is a good idea to write the judge in a private plea for mercy.  The letter usually basically says "I did it, but I'm a good guy. I promise to never do it again."  These handwritten confessions are quickly copied and redistributed to the lawyers, including the prosecutor. 

7. Get Legal Advice From Inmates.  If they knew the law, they wouldn't be in jail.

8. Contact Victims.  Especially in domestic cases, a guy will get arrested and released on bail (or served with a restraining order) with a condition that he have no contact with the victim (usually a wife or girlfriend).  Within minutes of leaving jail, he will call her to talk about the case.  Whether he's calling her to apologize or complain, it's all the same violation of his bail conditions and often a whole new criminal charge.

9. Represent Yourself.  I have rarely seen anyone win a pro-se felony case.  It happens, but for every time it happens, I think there are ten other people who got far worse outcomes than they would have had if they had left the legal work to the lawyers.

10. Berate the Judge.  I have never seen a case go well after a defendant berates a judge.  My personal favorite was the defendant who called a judge "white b*tch" and was later sentenced to 10 years for shoplifting a pair of blue jeans.

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