Then I find out that the local paper featured the trial on its front page. I avoided that paper that week. Of course the only way to see it now is in the archives (which are non-linkable and don't have anything more than the first couple paragraphs).
Here's what's online:
Inmate's cocaine possession lands him 20 more yearsUmmm . . . I know I came out of that trial feeling like a pretty cruddy lawyer, but I'm pretty sure the jury didn't sentence my client to twice the max (the max being ten years). And I know the crystal ball semi-quote makes me seem like an idiot, but I didn't just stand there and say I don't have a crystal ball. There were actually other lines around that which made it make sense - at least I thought so. It wasn't even a major part of my opening statement. I also didn't say that my client's witnesses would be less eloquent because they were inmates. I said they wouldn't have written reports to review and would not have been able compare notes like the guards could and therefore would have more variance in there versions of the events.
By Darrell Elder
Tuesday, a jury of 12 Powhatan residents added 10 years to a Powhatan Correctional Center inmate's current prison sentence.
[John Smith] pleaded not guilty to possessing cocaine on July 10, 2005. Commonwealth's Attorney [Mike Jones] told the jury during his opening statement that the case is a simple one. Defense attorney, Ken Lammers Jr. told the jury during his opening statement that he does not have a crystal ball. He added that the four defense witnesses are also prison inmates therefore they will not be as eloquent as the corrections officers, who will testify for the Commonwealth.
As someone who has been in a lot of cases profiled by the press, both written and broadcast, I can safely say "don't worry about it". I have rarely, if ever, been able to determine that the trial I am conducting is the same one that is being covered by the media.
Attorneys, judges, and witnesses are mis-quoted or taken out of context with great frequency. I have found that a friendly relationship with the media, within bounds of course, can improve your odds of being quoted appropriately because you can get a chance to explain or clarify the issues in the trial. But really, just ignore the media coverage of your case. Unless, of course, it's good. Then frame it and put it on your wall.
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