Interviewer: What insights have you gained by being a prosecutor now that you’re on the defense side that many other attorneys wouldn’t know about?
Andrew Jezic: It’s important to have a criminal defense attorney who was a prosecutor because every step of the way, decisions are made by criminal defense attorneys which will impact the level of preparation of a prosecutor, which will impact strategy that the prosecutor will adopt in response to what a defense attorney is doing. When you make choices every day in a criminal case, you’re better suited to predict the way a prosecutor will react or a particular prosecutor’s office will react and therefore you can conform your strategy better with that knowledge. It also helps to be a formal prosecutor with the collegiality of the office. In other words, to know the personalities on the other side better because you’re friends with them and you know whether they’re hard workers or whether they’re good lawyers. You get to know all the judges extremely well because you appear in front of them all the time.
The Benefits of Having a Meaningful Relationship with Judges and Prosecutors
Interviewer: What good do you feel it does do by having these relationships?
Andrew Jezic: It helps with judgments, to be able to explain and predict what a prosecutor is likely to do, what buttons not to push and what buttons to push. It helps with knowing a prosecutor will not be extra motivated to get you because they like you. It also helps you figure out what words to use and when to approach a prosecutor if the two sides that are opponents tend to like each other. There is a greater chance that the prosecutor will not dig in and might eventually, in a weak moment, give you something that you wouldn’t otherwise get.
The Perils of Retaining An Overtly Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney
Interviewer: If you’re coming to the court yelling and screaming and demanding this or that; what may happen to your case and your client?
Andrew Jezic: It’s important to have a reputation of being a very aggressive in-court litigator and a very talented communicator with the jury, that’s very important. When lawyers say that, they’re half right. You need to have that reputation among the prosecutors but on the other hand, they’re half wrong because you don’t want a lawyer who the prosecutors dislike or think is fighting frivolous issues at trial. Therefore the prosecutor will have less of a position to want to do favorable things for you. If they don’t like you and they don’t respect you, they’re probably going to dig in harder and fight back harder and prepare more.
Being Disrespectful Towards a Judge or a Prosecutor Can Ultimately Backfire
Interviewer: So, they can backfire if you don’t approach the prosecutor properly and they’ll have the court and the judge get worse?
Andrew Jezic: Exactly, and it’s important. The prosecutor in the back of his or her head will say, “This guy is really good in front of the jury. This guy will do a great job cross-examining. Once we cross the threshold of starting a trial, this defense attorney will do a fabulous job and I may lose”. But before we reach that threshold, if you are somebody that is respected by the prosecutor, up until that threshold is crossed, you’re more likely to get a better deal simply because the prosecutor likes you more and he deals with you every day. He is thinking, “I have to see this guy every week for the rest of my career”, so they tend to be more reasonable and compromise more.