As WWII was coming to a close, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during a meeting with Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin, cautioned Stalin about considering the views of the Vatican during the post war division of Eastern Europe.
"How many divisions does the Pope have?" Stalin sneered in reply.
If trials are wars, then the events and time leading up to the trial are filled with the same angst, posturing, intelligence gathering, and diplomatic entreaties that nation-states engage in right up to the moment the guns begin to fire (or the jury walks into the room).
In both instances fear plays a role in the outcome. Nations capitulate in the face of armies massed on a boarder. Defendants plea rather than face the enhanced consequences of a guilty verdict.
The trial lawyer must manage his/her own fear as well as the fears of the client, much like the general before battle or the President/Prime Minister must mange both their personal fears and the fears of those they lead.
It's a lonely position when a person or a nation places their lives in your hands. Success is partly achieved by facing your fears. Preparation is the key to success. Sun Tzu famously wrote that every battle is won before it begins. So are most trials.
The jury trial is under assault. Prosectors over charge cases, invoke decades of minimum mandatory penalties and then make generous plea offers. The consequences of going to trial, they solemnly warn you, are great. Judges punish defendants who lose. It starts in misdemeanor court with simple trials and escalates in felony courts where the penalties can be as high as life in prison.
There is one and only one way to fight this attack. You must manage your fears, and you must ceaselessly and relentlessly prepare your case for trial. The more cases we try, the more times we stand up to the threats of the prosecution, the more times we file appeals and cite judicial and prosecutorial vindictiveness in unconscionable sentences, the more we preserve our precious right to trial.
Fight the good fight. And never never never surrender.
See you in court.
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